As the best season to declutter approaches, I thought that I’d share with you a round up of my favorite and best decluttering tips that I’ve shared over the years. Yes, you can declutter fast! But keeping your space clutter-free takes maintenance. We’ll talk about both here!
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Best Decluttering Tips
Here are my posts that I think you’ll find helpful if you’re just starting out or if you find yourself getting stuck and need a boost >>>
- 9 Tips to Get Started Decluttering
- 21 Things to Get Rid of with Zero Regret
- The ULTIMATE Decluttering Guide
- Why We Keep Clothes We Don’t Wear and How to Let Go
- How to Declutter Décor
- Decluttering When You’re Overwhelmed
- 5 Decluttering Roadblocks and How to Move Past Them
- Dealing with Decluttering Guilt
- How to Shop What You Already Own
- How We Feel Secure Owning Less
- Finding Contentment and How to Stop Wanting New Things
- Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Anything New
Create Decluttering Goals and Envision What You Want Your Space to Look Like
The urge to purge your home of unwanted items can be overwhelming if your drowning in clutter. But before you start, have a clear goal in mind.
Write down your wants and needs from each of your spaces.
What do you want your space to look like? To feel like?
This is NOT a vision of how you want things to be organized or how specifically you want a room to be decorated. We’ll get to that later.
Put Things In Their Homes Before You Start
Think of all the places in your home random items accumulate. The kitchen counters or table, your dresser or closet floor, under your kids’ beds…
Before you start decluttering, one of the best decluttering tips is to get those items back to their home. Socks in the dresser (or laundry basket), mail taken care of, toys back in the toy box, blankets folded up. You get the idea! It doesn’t have to be completely put away, just back in the general area of where it belongs.
Now when you start decluttering, you don’t have a pile of “now where does this item even go???”! This makes the whole process a lot faster.
Clear the Top Layer of Clutter First
Let’s chat about the top layer of clutter. The top layer of clutter in almost every home is the stuff that is likely trash or damaged, or doesn’t fit any more. Once you clear the top layer of clutter, you can dive into the middle layer (stuff that’s still useful) and bottom layer (generally sentimental).
To get you started, this easy list of 100 things to declutter has a printable checklist that you can reference. It is organized by room.
Make Four Boxes
You have your goals, things have gone back to their homes, and you’re ready to start on the top layer. There’s just one more step to get you organized and stay on task! Boxes!
I highly recommend having five boxes to organize your possessions:
The keep box I think is the trickiest of all! What you’re keeping after you declutter doesn’t have to fit all in one box! … unless you want to be an extreme minimalist of course 🙂 This box is solely there to contain the items you want to keep while you figure out what you want to get rid of. Once you finish an area of your home, take out those keep items and place them where you think you want their home to be.
The repair box – This is for items that you love and use, but could use some TLC. Clothing that has a rip but you want to wear again, toys that need new batteries, frames without pictures, etc. Items that go in this box must not stay there forever! Set a reminder on your phone for 30 days to get the items in this boxes taken care of. If not, away it goes!
The sell and donate box – These boxes have a time limit too – surprise! Work on getting items out of your home as quickly as you can! More on how to sell and donate your unwanted items below and in this post.
And of course, the trash box. These are things that are truly of no use to anyone anymore. Check local ordinances on what can go in the garbage vs. recycle bins or if there are special instructions for disposing of certain items (electronics, batteries, paint, etc.).
Work By Rooms
Some decluttering and tidying experts suggest that their best decluttering tip is to work by categories (clothes, books, miscellaneous, etc). While that is a very valid and useful method, I have found that working room by room rather than by category helps contain the mess.
It will look like a pit before it looks like paradise!
BUT containing efforts to a single room or a single space can help you not only stay on task, but it can reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Read More >>> 6 Tips to Declutter When You Feel Overwhelmed
Clear Out Unwanted Items ASAP
Hooray! You have a good pile of things you want to get rid of – that’s great! But what do you do with it all?
Get it out as soon as you can.
When to sell –
Selling an item that you no longer want can give your budget a big boost. I have sold many items that I’ve decluttered. Often times, if I am on the fence about getting rid of an item because it was expensive, selling it helps me let go.
When to donate –
Donating items to a local charity or thrift store gives us all those warm fuzzy feelings. I enjoy donating my decluttered items because of the good feelings, but also because it’s easy. Just make sure you are donating items that are in good to great shape and are items that people actually want.
When to toss –
I hate sending things to the landfill. Tossing things into the trash is a last resort for me! But when something is past its useful life, it has to go. This is why taking care of your items is so important.
When you’re deciding whether to sell, donate, or toss an item, ask yourself these questions:
- Can I sell this item to make a little money back?
- Would someone in my community value and use this item?
- Does a family member want this item?
- Could I repair or repurpose this item to get more use out of it?
- Is this broken beyond repair or is this at the end of its useful life?
If you answered “yes” to #5, then trash it (or recycle it!). Don’t toss an item if it is still useful or someone else could get use out of it.
See the full post on selling and donating with loads of details HERE.
Decluttering Can Be Done Quickly, But…
Can you declutter a full home in a weekend? Sure! You just need that full 48 hours.
Can you declutter a home with small kids very quickly? Of course! You might need someone to help with your kids while you go through things.
Decluttering can absolutely be done rather quickly. However, you may not enjoy the results.
Decluttering thoughtfully and taking your time (but not too much time) allows you to truly see what you “need, use, and love” (the Afrominimalist writes a lot about this in her book – The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living with Less).
In our first week after finding minimalism, we went through the majority of our home. I felt so much lighter! I thought I was done decluttering. Truthfully though, I had only rid myself of the top layer of clutter. There was so much excess that I didn’t stop to think about what lied beneath. In total, it took about one month to get through our very full three bedroom, 1500 sqft home while we both worked full time.
If you take anything away from these best decluttering tips, let it be this: A clutter free home is a sanctuary, building a sanctuary doesn’t take a day. It takes thoughtfulness, effort, and time.
Maintaining and Organizing a Clutter-Free Home
Once you’ve cleared the clutter, it’s now time to get your home in shape! This is the time to set systems in place on how to control clutter. This could look like:
- Putting up hooks for your kids’ backpacks so they don’t end up in a pile
- Placing a single basket on the counter for mail and other papers that you go through after dinner each day
- Setting up a nighttime routine of clearing the counters, sinks, and other flat surfaces
- Encouraging your kids (and spouse) to tidy up spaces before they move on to the next task
- Implementing the one-in-one-out method (one item enters your home, one item leaves)
- Resetting your shopping habits with a low-buy
- Keeping a donation box in your closet so as you see things around the house that no longer serve you, you have a spot to easily let go
These are only a few of the best decluttering tips for when you’re done with your big declutter. Organizing your items is highly personal. I suggest implementing systems first and then organizing as you see how your newly decluttered space works.
What are some of your favorite decluttering tips or what tip has helped you on your journey to less the most?