A complete & comprehensive guide on clutter-clearing your house.
If you are here, then probably your house is quite cluttered and you need some input to get started on clearing that clutter with as less stress as possible (and as much efficiency as possible).
Clutter seems to accumulate without you even realizing it. Suddenly, you look around and realize that your once tidy home is now a mess.
Decluttering your home can be a time-consuming process, but it’s worth it in the end. A decluttered home is a happy home.
An interesting fun fact brought by NAPO is that after clearing the clutter, your housework will downsize by 40%. So I wouldn’t wait for even a second to get started on clearing clutter.
I have some tips to offer on how you can clear the clutter in your home and finally achieve that sense of peace and orderliness you’ve been longing for.
What is clutter?
In order to avoid some confusion, I want to define what clutter means.
Clutter can be defined as anything that’s not being used or needed and is just taking up space. It can be clothes that no longer fit, old magazines, broken toys, or anything else that’s just taking up space without serving any purpose.
Let’s be clear: Clutter is not your hobby items, collections, or anything else that brings you joy. These things are not clutter, they are part of your life and make your home a happy place. So, do not get rid of anything that brings you happiness just because it doesn’t serve a “practical” purpose.
Ask yourself these questions while clearing clutter
Before you start throwing things away left and right, you need to pause and ask yourself some questions. These questions will help you to make clutter clearing more efficiently and make better decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of.
These questions are:
- Do I use this regularly? Regularly means at least once a month. If you don’t use something more than that, then it’s probably not worth keeping.
- Does it bring value to my life? If an item doesn’t serve a purpose or bring you joy, then it’s probably time to let go.
- Do I have more than one? Do you really need 6 coffee mugs? Probably not. If you have duplicates of something, then get rid of the extras (there are exceptions of course, like having multiple sets of sheets, or more T-shirts).
- Is it broken? If something is broken and you don’t plan on fixing it, then get rid of it. There’s no point in keeping something that doesn’t work.
- Do I keep it just in case? Be sincere with yourself. If you’re keeping something just in case you might need it one day, then get rid of it. “Just in case” is usually never.
- Am I emotionally attached to this item? This question is for your sentimental items. If you have something that has sentimental value but doesn’t serve a purpose, then ask yourself if you really need it. If you have a box of old letters from an ex-boyfriend, do you really need to keep them? Sometimes it’s best to let go of the past and make room for new memories.
- Am I keeping it just out of guilt? Let it go if you’re holding on to something just because someone gave it to you. You don’t need something in your house that doesn’t bring you joy just because you feel guilty.
- Am I keeping it just because it was expensive? Those items can be sold or gifted to someone who is going to use them. Just because you spent a lot of money on something doesn’t mean you have to keep it.
Steps on starting clearing clutter
There are a few main steps to start clutter-clearing your home.
1 – Make a plan.
You need to decide what areas you want to declutter and in what order. You also need to set some timelines.
For instance, you could start with clutter clearing your closet let’s say this week. Next week, you could move on to your bathroom drawer, and the week after that you could declutter your home office.
You need to be realistic with your timeline. Don’t try to declutter your entire home in one day, it’s just not possible (and not practical).
Also, I would recommend setting some decluttering goals. Your goal could be to get rid of 50 items this week or to donate 5 bags of clothes. Having a goal will help to keep you motivated and on track.
2 – Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally.
This might seem like a weird and unessesary step, but it’s important. Decluttering can be emotional and overwhelming, so you need to be prepared for it.
I would recommend taking a few deep breaths and reminding yourself why you’re decluttering. This will help you to stay focused and on track.
3 – Clear that clutter.
Now it’s time to start clutter clearing! This is the fun part.
Start with one area at a time and go through each item. Ask yourself the questions I listed above and make a decision about whether to keep or get rid of it.
Below, you can find tips on clearing clutter that will help you to make the decluttering process easier.
Also, make sure to sort the clutter. Make a few piles, depending on what you want to do with the clutter:
- throw away
4 – Organize.
After you’ve decluttered each area, it’s time to put everything away.
Related: Life After Decluttering: Now What?
Make sure to put everything in its rightful place and to label everything. This will help you to keep your home decluttered and organized.
Everything has to have its own place, no items should be left out on countertops or tables.
Tips on clearing clutter
I have for you a few tips that will help you to clear the clutter effectively:
Start with fast decluttering.
What it means is that you go through your house with a big bag and you fill it with items that you no longer need. This is a quick way to get rid of a lot of unused things.
The idea is that you don’t need to think a lot about each item, you just grab it and put it in the bag. This is because when we start decluttering, we tend to get sentimental about each item.
However, if you just grab things and put them in a bag, you won’t have time to get emotional. Your mind will be in the “Do I NEED this?” mode.
Get rid of big items.
Big items take up a lot of space and they can be difficult to declutter. But it feels so satisfying to get rid of them and make lots of free space!
If you have any big pieces of furniture that you no longer need or want, get rid of them. The same goes for any large appliances like a TV or a fridge.
It is also so motivating to see all that free space!
Get rid of duplicate items.
Do you have more than one iron? Or more than one coffee machine? Why?
Chances are, you will never use that second iron or coffee machine, so get rid of it.
There are of course exceptions. For instance, having two pairs of scissors can be useful. Clothes are another exception. But in general, try to get rid of duplicate items.
Don’t be emotional.
It can be difficult to let go of things, especially if they have sentimental value. But it’s important to remember that the sentimental value is in the memory, in your mind, not in the object.
If you’re holding on to things because of the sentimental value, take a photo of the item and then get rid of it. This way, you will still have the memory, but you won’t have the clutter.
Get rid of items that haven’t been used in the last 6 months.
This is a good rule of thumb when it comes to decluttering.
If you haven’t used an item in the last 6 months, chances are you won’t use it again. So get rid of it!
There might be some exceptions, like seasonal items. But in general, this rule works well.
Set aside items that you aren’t sure if you need.
If you’re not sure if you need an item, put it in a box and set it aside. Write the date on the box and if you haven’t used the item in 6 months, get rid of it.
This is a great way to declutter because it gives you a chance to think about each item and make a decision later.
This is for people out there who feel overwhelmed by the idea of decluttering.
Start with one drawer or one shelf. Once you’ve decluttered that, move on to the next one.
The idea is to start small and work your way up. This will make the task feel less daunting and it will also give you a sense of achievement as you go along.
Do one drawer at a time.
Don’t go back and forth between different areas. This will make the task more difficult and it will also make it take longer.
Once you’ve decluttered one drawer, move on to the next one, and so on.
This will help you stay focused on one task and it will be less overwhelming since you’re not moving around a lot.
Don’t touch others staff.
It’s important to respect other people’s belongings and not declutter them without permission. Even your kids have to be there with you and agree with what goes and what stays.
I have a blog post about decluttering kids’ toys here.
The same goes for your partner, parents, and roommates. You can’t go through their stuff and get rid of it without them knowing.
Yes, it’s important to get rid of things that you don’t need or use. But don’t go overboard and declutter too much.
You don’t need to get rid of everything in your house, and you don’t need to live a life with only the bare essentials.
Just get rid of the things that are taking up space and that you don’t need.
For instance, don’t give away hobby items, or get rid of your toolbox just because you don’t use it every day.
What I want to say is to be rational and don’t be an extremist. You probably know it, I just wanted to make sure.
How to keep things from coming back?
Now that you’ve decluttered your house, it’s time to focus on how to keep it that way.
Here are a few tips:
Make it a habit.
After the big declutter, try to make it a habit and clear the clutter in your house at least once a month.
You can even set aside one day every month to declutter. This will help to keep your house clutter-free and it will also make the task feel less stressful (or even joyful).
For each item that you buy, get rid of one that you have.
Keeping a good balance between the things that you own and the things that you use will help to reduce clutter.
So for each new item that you buy, get rid of one that you already have. This could be something that you no longer use or need, or it could be something that you can live without.
You can also call it “passive decluttering” because you’re decluttering without even knowing that you do!
Be mindful of what you buy.
Before you buy something, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I really need this?
- Do I have space for this?
- Will I use this often?
If the answer to all three questions is yes, then go ahead!
If you’re not sure whether or not to buy something, put it back and think about it for a day or two.
Sleeping on it will help you to make a more informed decision.
And if you’re still not sure, don’t buy it!
Give things away/sell.
If you notice that you have too many of something, or that you’re not using something as much as you thought you would give it away.
There are always people who could use what you don’t need, so why not give it to them?
If you don’t want to give it away, sell it! This is a great way to declutter and make some extra money at the same time.
And if you’re not sure what to do with something, ask yourself this question: Would I buy this now?
If the answer is no, then get rid of it.
Focus on quality over quantity.
When you’re buying new things, try to focus on quality over quantity.
It’s better to have a few items that you really love and that you use often than a lot of things that are always broken or that you never use.
Not only will this help to reduce clutter, but it will also help you to save money in the long run.
And it’s also better for the environment!
Keep things organized.
One of the best ways to keep your house clutter-free is to keep things organized.
Invest in some good storage solutions and use them!
Labeling things will also help you to keep track of what you have and where it is.
When everything has its own place, it’s much easier to put things away and find them when you need them.
And a tidy house is a happy house.
You might want to consider creating a Minimalist Aesthetic Style in your house, learn how.
Example of decluttering process
To give you an idea of what the decluttering process could look like, I’ve made a list of what I would do if I were to declutter my house.
Day 1. Go through each room and declutter the surfaces (tables, shelves).
Day 2. Declutter the bathroom.
- Go through each drawer and declutter the contents (toiletries, towels, etc).
Day 3. Declutter the bedroom.
- Go through each closet and declutter the clothes, shoes, and accessories.
- Go through each drawer and declutter the contents (sheets, etc).
Day 4. Declutter the kitchen.
- Go through each drawer, and cupboard and declutter the contents.
- + PANTRY, FRIDGE, FREEZER.
Day 5. Declutter the living room.
- Go through each CD and declutter the ones that I don’t want.
- Go through each drawer and declutter the contents (coffee table, side table, etc).
Day 6. Declutter the office.
- Office desk.
- Go through each book and declutter the ones that I don’t want.
- Go through each drawer and declutter the contents.
Day 7. Declutter the kids’ room.
- Go through each drawer and declutter the contents (toys).
- Go through each closet and declutter the clothes, shoes, and accessories.
Day 8. Go through the house and declutter anything else that I can think of.
Day 9. Declutter the car (trash, items that don’t belong, etc).
Day 10. Declutter the garage (tools, sports equipment, etc).
Day 11. Declutter the yard (gardening tools, furniture, etc).
See, if there is something more specific that I think about (i.e. CDs, I write it down).
With a plan like this, you can declutter your house in less than two weeks. It might seem like a lot but if you break it down into even smaller tasks, it’s… not that bad.
Some days when you are busier, you can declutter for only 10 minutes. On other days, you can declutter for a few hours.
The goal is to do something and to make progress. After you are done with this, you hopefully won’t do a big declutter again for a long time.
But you can (and should) declutter on a regular basis to keep your house tidy and organized.
Clearing clutter will not only make the house look better, but you’ll also feel better.
Moreover, it will be easier to find things, and you’ll save time and nerves.
The main idea is not to be perfect but to make progress. Start with one drawer, and then take it from there.
I hope these tips will help you to clear the clutter in your house!
Have a clutter-free day!