Does the very idea of decluttering your home sometimes overwhelm you? Then start small. I’ve compiled this list of 29 quick and easy tips to declutter your home. And you can do almost all of them when inspiration strikes, you have a spare minute, or you’re waiting for dinner to finish cooking.
When you only have a few minutes, come to this list for tips that you can use RIGHT now to declutter your home.
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There’s sure to be something you can do in the time you have available. In fact, you very well may be doing some of these things already! In that case, find something new to try that you may not have thought of doing. Either way, pick and choose tips that work for you. Ready? Let’s go!
Start with the stuff you won’t miss
- Throw trash away.
- Donate leftover themed birthday party supplies that you won’t reuse.
- Toss old sports equipment that is broken or worn out beyond repair.
- Get rid of any ratty t-shirts or worn-out clothes in your dresser.
- Get rid of socks with no match.
- Same for plastic food containers with no lids.
- Hunt down and eliminate duplicate items by category (i.e. plastic rulers, old pencils, potato mashers or other single-purpose kitchen gadgets.)
- Toss any unloved toys that come with kids meals or from the dentist or birthday parties. PRO TIP: Donate to your child’s teacher if she keeps a class reward treasure box. (I keep a bag hanging on my pantry doorknob and all those toys my son doesn’t play with go immediately in the bag to give to his teacher when it is full.)
- Get rid of expired coupons, newsletters, flyers for events, and offers.
- While you’re at it, toss expired makeup, lotions, sunscreen, and beauty products. PRO TIP: take any expired or unused prescription medications to your local pharmacy and see if they are a medication collection site.
- In fact, just get rid of anything expired. Especially food. Check your pantry, your spice rack, your refrigerator, and your cupboards.
- Throw out any advertising products you don’t want or need. (Calendars, magnets, business cards, notepads, pens, throwing discs, etc.)
- Clear off your refrigerator surface of old notes and invitations and flyers.
- Ready to keep going? Grab our list of 60+ things you can declutter today, guilt-free (no kidding!)
Try simple tricks and switches for less clutter and more organization
- Just say “no” to keeping junk mail. Handle it ONCE and move on. Don’t need it? Instantly goes in the recycling bin or shredder or trash can before you can put it down on any surface. PRO TIP: Go to the DMA Choice website to take your address off advertising mailing lists and keep the unwanted paper clutter from coming to your home in the first place.
- Put it away before you walk away. If it comes out of a cupboard while cooking or working on a project or what-have-you, put it back before you do anything else.
- Use multi-purpose tools to replace single-use tools when possible.
- Change over to LED lightbulbs in all lighting fixtures. Properly dispose of any old compact fluorescent bulbs in a local recycling facility, such as a local government location or retail store like Batteries+. Donate any remaining incandescent bulbs.
- Put things where you actually use them. Stop telling yourself that you should store them somewhere else if you always take them out and use them in another place.
Train yourself to think like a declutterer
- Start five Keep/Toss/Recycle/Donate/Sell boxes and any time you come across an item you realize you don’t use or want anymore, or something out of place, put it in the box. All but the Keep box, which you should put away regularly, if not daily, can sit and collect items over time until you are able to process them in bulk.
- Write out your goals for your home. Visualize the end result. How do you want to really use your home? Dig deep to find the most motivating “why” for your desire to declutter. Then post that somewhere you can see it every day to remind you.
- Reach out to a friend or family member (or fellow member of a decluttering group like mine, Clutter Fighters!), to be an accountability partner. State your intentions for your decluttering process and ask them to check in on you regularly to see how you’re doing.
- Make decluttering a game! Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and declutter a cabinet or drawer. When the alarm sounds, stop. Try to beat the timer. PRO TIP: this helps eliminate avoiding decision making.
- Remove just one item per day. Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist makes the recommendation to start small and toss or donate just ONE item a day. After all, for most years, that’s a whopping 365 items in the end! And in 2020 (and other leap years), you could declutter 366 items if you started on January 1.
- If you’re having trouble deciding if something stays or goes because you might need it “just in case”, use this tip from Melissa of Simple Lionheart Life and follow the 20/20 rule: if you can replace the item for under $20 and in less than 20 minutes, get rid of it.
Use containers and organizers creatively
- Whenever possible, use a single, preferably closed, container for similar items or items that are used together, so that visually they appear as ONE item instead of MANY. (i.e. a box for photos, a basket for toys in the living room, a stand-alone pantry for office supplies and educational toys and books if you use those or a pencil cup for writing utensils.)
- Put all spare change in a jar or bank. No more pennies hiding under the couch cushions or quarters on the counter! PRO TIP: Keep a jar in the laundry area to put spare change and bills in from pockets. Then, when it is full, use the money to buy yourself something nice. Finders keepers, amiright?
- Use an inexpensive shoe organizer on closet doors to maximize small-item storage. I usually say don’t by organizers until you’ve decluttered, but this is one exception I will make. I have a shoe organizer in my pantry for all the little things my son needs for projects or outdoor play, or potentially hazardous supplies that I don’t want just lying around for him to easily access. For instance, our Krazy glue and permanent markers are on the very top row of the shoe organizer. Some cleaning supplies are in the middle. And his storage with glow sticks and kids scissors and random little toys is on the bottom.
- Use trays and bowls to put items you need to keep out and accessible sorted and organized. There’s something magical about how a simple tray holding items can make a desk or table or counter seem instantly tidier! PRO TIP: You don’t even need to spend money if you have some serving trays being stored in your cupboards. I once used a cheese and cracker tray I got as a wedding present to store my hairbands and jewelry on my dresser.
The bottom line
To sum up: start by decluttering the stuff you won’t even miss. Things like old mismatched socks and expired coupons. Or, if you have that under control at the moment, practice some methods to retrain your mind to think like a declutterer. Write out your goals. Ask for accountability, put these back where they belong, make simple swaps to create less clutter. Then be creative with your organizing. Use over the door shoe organizers, trays, and bowls to separate items attractively but keep them accessible. And come back to find new tips you might not have tried yet as you have the time. You’re worth it.