How to declutter your home (tips for each room)
Jan. 12, 2021 • 7 min read
What we'll cover
The benefits of decluttering
What to do with items you don't keep
Few feelings compete with the serenity (and sense of accomplishment) that comes from a freshly tidied home. When the laundry is done and folded, kitchen drawers are organized, and bathroom shelves are in order, relaxation comes naturally. But sometimes, getting to that point isn’t always so simple — the thought of a major home clean-out project can sound daunting. But by taking it step-by-step (or room-by-room), you can clear the clutter from your space, discover an elevated peace of mind, and save time and money in the long run.
Benefits of decluttering your home
While things like work, school, and money are more obvious stressors , a messy room can also cause tension, anxiety, and irritability. Studies have even found that clutter can be linked to depressive moods and decreased focus. While tidying up may not be a traditional aspect of your self-care routine, doing so regularly can help you feel more calm in your house, boost your productivity, and sleep better at night.
Decluttering can also have some more tangible benefits, like saved time and money. When you have less stuff, you’re more likely to know where things are — meaning you can spend less time rummaging around searching for things. You’re also less likely to accidently purchase duplicates of items. And when you declutter, you have the chance to focus in on the things that matter most to you (you might have heard the term “spark joy”). This lets you appreciate what you already have and can make you less likely to spend money on items you don’t actually need or care about.
Relax and unwind, room-by-room
As you evaluate your belongings, adopt the mindset of: Keep, sell, donate, toss. And remember to declutter first, organize second, and buy last. While home organization shows can make things like clear storage containers and colorful bins look like essentials, they can be pricey and may not even be necessary. Once you’ve decluttered, you can better assess if additional organizational materials are needed.
Depending on the size of your house (and how much stuff you have), decluttering could be a multiday or possibly a multi-weekend project. So, take it one space at a time.
Your room should be a place of rest, relaxation, and recharging. Set the self-care tone by making sure your bed is made (bonus points for swapping on a set of clean sheets). Then, from the bedside table to the desk to the dresser, examine the contents of all your drawers. Set aside any keepsakes you can’t get rid of but can go in storage. And put unwanted clothes or other things like books to donate in a separate pile. Be sure to fold your clothes neatly (you’d be surprised by how much space opens up when you fold correctly) and hang up pieces that may get wrinkly.
To keep things neat in your bedroom, consider storing items under your bed, like clothes that are out of season or shoes. Repurpose little boxes or decorative trays on top of your dresser or armoire to keep small items organized and jewelry from getting tangled. And keep shelves from getting cluttered by storing knickknacks away in old shoeboxes or displaying decorative bins to hold random objects.
Chances are, there’s at least a few pieces of clothing hanging in your closet that haven’t been worn in a while. So take the time to really think about each item of clothing or pair of shoes. Is it something you’d wear in the future? Would you buy it again? Can you see it coming back in style? If the answers are all no, it’s probably not worth keeping. Remember, if your clothes are in good condition, you may be able to sell them online, via a consignment shop, or donate them.
Keep your closet clean and open up more space by doubling up clothes on hangers, using a hanging shoe rack, or trying an over-the-door hamper. And to make life even easier, consider hanging up clothes by color or by item type to keep things simple to find.
A messy workspace is usually not ideal for staying focused, doing a quality job (especially when working from home presents plenty of other distractions), and staying on top of household financial tasks. Make work a more pleasant and productive experience by giving your office the deep clean it (and you) deserves. Clear clutter from your desk by throwing away dried-out pens and recycling old papers or notes. Toss old technology or software that’s no longer usable. And those random cords that don’t seem to connect to anything? Goodbye.
Keep your office organized going forward by labeling all your cords (try attaching them to your desk by using large binder clips). Use a box or shelf to boost your computer monitor off your desk to open space. Hang a cork bulletin board to pin up important reminders, calendars, or décor. And repurpose mason jars, mugs, or even tin cans decorated with paint or a pretty ribbon to store pens, paper clips, and more.
You don’t need a million woven baskets or stacks of clear plastic bins to have a beautifully organized laundry room. By implementing a smart system to keep the laundry lifecycle moving and designating spaces for all necessary items, you can ensure your laundry room stays tidy for the long run. Consolidate cleaning products in one bin and make sure clean clothes have a neat space to be folded and sorted.
For extra space and storage, consider stacking old crates to repurpose them as shelves. Or, install floating shelves above the washer and dryer to house cleaning products. You might even use an old rolling kitchen or bar cart to act as a folding station and storage spot.
Decluttering the kitchen is like a reset for the heart of your home. Clear the countertops and table of old mail, catalogs, and other items that don’t belong. If you find these items tend to end up scattered here, consider relocating a decorative basket, bin, or magazine rack from another part of your house to store things as they pile up.
You’ll also want to dive into your drawers and cabinets. Think about donating kitchen gadgets you rarely use so they don’t take up space. Only keep items you use every day (like the coffee pot or toaster) on the counter and make sure all others have designated spaces where they’re kept. And if you want to give your pantry and cabinets a cohesive look without spending on pricey food storage containers, store dry goods (like four, sugar, and grains) in repurposed clear glass jars (think sauce or jelly jars) with labels.
The family room is a special place to unwind and enjoy quality time at home with friends, family, or by yourself. Keeping it clean and clear of clutter can make it an even more pleasant place to be. Fold throw blankets or store them in baskets when not in use, put away remotes and gadgets, and return books to shelves.
Existing items like a decorative tray or vase can serve as catchalls for remotes or reading materials. Adding a low bookshelf next to or behind the couch can provide extra surface area to keep items. And using a furniture lifter to raise your couch can maximize your ability to hide things out of sight. You may also want to invest in storage options that pull double duty as furniture for this area, such as a coffee table with a shelf or storage ottoman, so that you always have room to hide away things like games and chargers.
Garage, basement or attic
These areas tend to get filled with old furniture, tools, toys, and more. To declutter, you’ll probably want to carve out at least a day or two. Things you use often, items with sentimental value, or old treasures you can bring out of storage should stick around. But that old vacuum that stopped working or the chess set with four missing pieces? Probably not worth keeping.
How to keep your cool while decluttering your home
Unless you live in a studio apartment, decluttering your whole home may not be a one-and-done job. Try to keep these tips in mind to keep your motivation up and stress down while you refresh your space .
Make a plan: Know which rooms you want to do first and map out a mental timeline for how you’d like to work through the process.
Start with a few minutes at a time: Don’t overwhelm yourself by diving into a huge project. Make progress by designating anywhere from five to 30 minutes each day to work on this.
Donate or sell as much as you can: Many of the things you decide you don’t need could be another man’s (or woman’s) treasure. Instead of going directly to the trash, consider which items are in a good enough condition to be used by others. You might even make a few bucks or lower your tax bill through charitable donations.
Enlist help: Asking for help from a friend or family member can make bigger projects (like the garage or attic) more fun and more manageable.
Declutter and revamp your home
You don’t have to wait for spring cleaning time to declutter your closet, kitchen, or basement. With fewer unnecessary items in your living space, you can save time and money, plus better appreciate what you own to live a more satisfied home and financial life.
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