This guide will show you how to declutter your home room by room. It’s all too easy for clutter to pile up in your home, no matter how tidy you naturally are.
OK, some of us may have more than others, but we could all benefit from having a clear out and getting ourselves organised from time to time. Whether you’re planning on downsizing, or you just want to simplify your life, decluttering your whole home can be a big job.
The best way to tackle it is to do it in stages so you’re not deflated from the get-go. And complete one job, no matter how small, before moving onto the next. This will make you feel like you’re achieving something as you’ll be able to see your progress as you go.
Why should I declutter my home?
We can sometimes feel a little overwhelmed when we’re surrounded by “stuff”. Mess can cause stress, and it’s easy for that pile of letters, books, or other odds and ends to take over our space. It can mean we spend more time looking for things we can’t find.
Or it could just make it more time consuming to clean around objects which don’t add value to our lives. Decluttering is all about making space in your home for the things that matter.
Many people enjoy decluttering as it gives them a sense of control and accomplishment. Some people like to clear out the junk to free up space for new things. And other people may need the space for a growing family, or perhaps to downsize. By owning less, there will be more room for you, your family, and your friends.
And you’ll be able to sit down and enjoy a good book or favourite film in a more relaxed environment. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to stop clutter in its tracks.
How do I start decluttering?
It’s best to tackle one area or room at a time. This could be as small as one box or cupboard in your kitchen. Or maybe you want to start with the bathroom first as it tends to have the least amount of clutter. Wherever you want to start, here are some useful decluttering tips to get you going:
- Start with 20 minutes at a time. If you don’t want to dedicate a whole weekend to decluttering your home, you can slowly build momentum with just 20 minutes a day.
- Take a before and after photo. It doesn’t have to be of a whole room, just one small area is fine. This will help you see how much progress you’re making and you’ll feel a real sense of achievement, motivating you to do more.
- Give away one item each week. This would remove 52 items every year from your home. Or over 100 items if you give two away each week, whether that’s to a friend or a charity shop. What you see as clutter could be very useful to someone else.
- Donate your unwanted clothes. Decluttering your home means clearing out your wardrobe too. If you’re someone who never seems to have anything to wear, it could be because you can only see a small percentage of what you actually own. Donate anything you haven’t worn in the last year to make space for things you actually do wear.
- View your home as a visitor. You see your home and what’s in it every day, and it’s easy to forget what your home looks like to someone else. Enter your home as if you’re visiting a friend’s house. Note down your first impressions and what sticks out to you as being messy or cluttered so you can make changes.
- Ask a friend for help. They won’t have such an emotional attachment to things and may be able to spot unnecessary items more easily. Why not have a glass of wine together while you’re going through it? It will seem much more like fun and less of a chore.
Decluttering with The 5-Box Method
You can start to organise quickly and easily with The 5-Box Method. It’s a simple idea which forces you to really think about each individual item. If you don’t have five boxes, grab five large containers, carrier bags, or even just organise your things into piles. The principle is still the same.
Box 1 – Put Away: These are the things you want to keep in your home. If it’s loved and/or useful, it should be neatly put on display for all to see. Or stored away in a draw or cupboard so it’s easy to get to when you need it. If it’s neither loved nor useful, it belongs in a different box.
Box 2 – Sell: This box is for anything you want to get rid of, but it’s in good condition/valuable and could be sold. You could list your items on an online selling platform such as eBay, Depop or Shpock. Or why not book yourself a slot at the local car boot sale or market? Just make sure you concentrate on selling them quickly so you’re not hanging onto the clutter.
Box 3 – Donate: This is for anything you no longer want and which could be useful for someone else. The item needs to be in good condition, and may be of lower value (not worth your while selling). You can take them along to a local charity shop, or there are many organisations who will collect your unwanted items for free.
Box 4 – Recycle: This container is for items such as paper, plastic or glass which could be recycled and turned into something else. Many high street retailers such as H&M, Primark and TK Maxx now also recycle unwanted clothing (in any condition), with items being reused, recycled or repurposed, with nothing going to landfill.
Box 5 – Bin: This is simply for anything you can throw out immediately. That’s any junk you’ve accumulated over the months/years, or anything that’s broken and beyond repair. Don’t let it take up valuable space in your home, just get rid.
This process could take days, weeks or even months to go through everything, but you can get rid of boxes as you go, once they’re full. You can be thorough, but it also allows you to be flexible and declutter at your own pace. And you can get the whole family involved too.
Decluttering tips – Room by Room
Decluttering room-by-room is the most efficient way to declutter and organise your home. And you will feel a sense of accomplishment as you complete each room! Here are some tips to bear in mind when tackling each room:
- Entrance/Hallway: This is the first space you see when you/someone else comes through the door. No matter how big or small it is, it’s important to declutter it regularly. Start with any desk or console tables, go over the tops and the drawers too, and make a quick decision to keep or get rid of each item. Do you have a space for your keys and other important items? Make sure everything has a place and there isn’t too much going on as this will make it quicker and easier to leave the house in the morning. It’s easy to use the hallway as a bit of a dumping ground (coats, shoes, umbrella, etc.) so make sure everything is nice and tidy, and just keep one or two coats/pairs of shoes by the door (on hooks/racks) rather than adding to them daily. It’s nice to leave space for your guests to leave their coats too.
- Living Room: This is one of the hardest rooms in your home to keep tidy on a daily basis, as it’s often used the most. And being a multi-functional room, it often takes on a lot of clutter from other rooms. The key here is storage. Decide on permanent storage spaces for everyday items such as remote controls, magazines, and books so they can be put back at the end of the day. Go through any bookcases, console, and side tables, and make use of The 5-Box Method. Then don’t forget your coffee table and TV unit. Look for old magazines which you can recycle, and put any phone chargers, pens, and knick-knacks back where they belong. Put any smaller items – vases, candles, and decorative items – on a handled tray that’s easy to move when friends come round. Fold any blankets, and have a few comfortable cushions rather than ten of different sizes, shapes, and colours.
- Kitchen: Keeping your kitchen clutter-free can be a challenge as it’s used so often, and if you cook even occasionally, there will probably be a lot of stuff in it. Utensils, cookware, small appliances, drinks, food, spices, and more, leaving little space in your kitchen cupboards. Kitchen worktops are often clutter-magnets, so this is a great place to start. Clear everything off your worktops except a few essential items (kettle, coffee maker, toaster, etc.) and find a new place for everything you don’t want on there – you’ll feel like you have so much more space! When organising your cupboards, think about how you use your kitchen. Store utensils, pots, and pans in a cupboard near where you cook. And use your under-sink cupboard for cleaning supplies so they’re all in one place. We’re all guilty of buying small kitchen appliances that only see daylight once a year too, so be ruthless when it comes to sorting these out.Keep hold of items which have multiple functions, and donate anything you haven’t used in the past year to free up space for other things. Be sure to focus on one area at a time (glassware, utensils, bakeware, for example) so you don’t become overwhelmed.
- Bathroom: Start with your medicine/toiletries cabinet. Take everything out and throw away any outdated medications, makeup, and skincare products. Put everything you’re keeping back into the cabinet, with the items you use most often at the front so they’re easy to reach. Do the same with any drawers or underneath your sink, and invest in a couple of storage baskets or drawer organisers to keep your things neat and tidy. Also take a look at your bath and put away any shampoos, body scrubs, or shower gels which aren’t used regularly. Just keep out the ones you use most often.
- Bedrooms: First, make your bed. It’s hard to feel like you’re making any progress when you have an unmade bed staring at you. Then, remove anything from your bedside cabinets that doesn’t belong there, including books you’ve already finished reading, your phone charger, toiletries etc. and return items to their proper places. Do the same with your chest of drawers, dressing table, and your window sill. Go through each drawer, take everything out, and put anything you no longer wear or use into your ‘Sell’ or ‘Donate’ boxes. Fold and put back everything you’re keeping. When tackling your wardrobe, the easiest way to declutter is by clothing type. It’s much easier to decide whether to keep a pair of shoes or jeans if you’re looking at your entire collection at once. Turn around all the hangers in your wardrobe (so the hooks are pointing the wrong way), and when you wear something, put it back with the hook the normal way. If an item still has a hanger the wrong way round after six months then get rid. Don’t forget to clear the top of your wardrobe and under the bed too, and use the The 5-Box Method.
How can I store things neatly at home?
It’s so satisfying to have everything in its place, and that can be done with clever storage and organising solutions. Use desk organisers in your home office to keep everything neat and tidy. Put a few wicker baskets in your bathroom for your towels or toiletries, and add inserts to your kitchen drawers to separate your cutlery. Vacuum bags are handy to store away bedding, or your winter jumpers come springtime. And don’t forget to make use of the space under your bed and on top of your wardrobe. Simple plastic tubs with lids will do the trick. Or choose something a little prettier and make more of a feature of it. If everything is away neatly, your home will be a much nicer and calmer place to be. You’ll be able to find things much more easily, and cleaning will be a breeze!