Over time, most people tend to accumulate more things than they get rid of. The result is a cluttered home that is unnecessarily stressful to live in. With an excessive amount of things lying around, it can be difficult to find things that you need without devoting a considerable amount of time and energy to the cause. Your anxiety level may increase, and you may even buy some things again because you cannot find them when you need them.
Clutter also impacts your office or workspace and can be equally challenging to live with. While decluttering your home and office will take time and will require regular effort to keep up with, this is an entirely attainable goal. Here are some easy and effective ways to declutter your space. If you need a professional to declutter your home, check out the best philadelphia house cleaners.
1. Toss Out Old Keys
Decluttering your entire home or office is a major project that can seem intimidating. A great way to get the ball rolling is by removing unused keys from your keychain. You can also pull off old discount tokens, access cards, and other items from the keychain.
2. Remove Receipts from Your Wallet
Do you toss receipts in your wallet or purse when they are handed to you? Now is the time to file the receipts that you need to keep and to throw away unnecessary receipts. Consider asking for paperless receipts in the future.
3. Dump Out Your Purse or Briefcase
After you clean out your wallet, turn your attention to your purse or briefcase. People tend to put more items into these accessories than they take out, so a regular purge is essential for the organization.
4. Empty Your Inbox
Spam and junk emails tend to become problematic over time. Before you delete unwanted emails, take a moment to unsubscribe or to block the sender. This will dramatically reduce the number of unwanted emails you contend with in the future. You can also create subfolders to organize messages that you need to keep.
5. Reduce Obligations
If your home and work area is cluttered, your calendar may also be chaotic. Spend time assessing what matters most to you, and adjust your calendar accordingly. By freeing up even a few extra minutes each day, you may find more time and energy to focus regularly on the organization.
6. Create a Decluttering Plan
Before you jump into a major decluttering project, create an action plan that will guide your efforts. This project may extend for several days or even weeks, and following a detailed plan will help you to see the progress that you are making.
7. Gather Your Supplies
As you move from room to room, you may need to purchase numerous organizers, bins, and other gear. You may not know exactly what you need for each space until you are in it. For all rooms, however, you will need trash bags as well as boxes or bins to corral the items that you intend to sell and donate.
8. Set Rules
It is easy to make excuses about why you should continue hanging onto items that you probably should get rid of. Set general rules that will help you to make rational decisions for each item in your home or office. These rules may relate to how frequently you use the items if you have other items that can do the same job and more.
9. Create a Tracking System
For items like clothes, books, shoes, and more, a good rule of thumb is to toss out items that you have not used in the last year or two. Turn the clothes inside out, and store the books and shoes backward. When you use the items, turn them in the right direction. After a year, you will be able to clearly see which items you should get rid of.
10. Move Items to the Right Room or Space
A common reason for clutter is because items are not in their allocated space. Before you begin deciding whether to toss, donate, keep or sell your belongings, put them in the right space. This will streamline your efforts to declutter and to organize your space.
11. Clean Flat Surfaces First
In every room, flat surfaces like the counters, tables, dressers, and more are gathering places for junk. These spaces make your home look cluttered, and they contribute to disorganization and general stress. As you move through each room, clean off these surfaces before you dig inside the drawers, cabinets, and other areas.
In the Bedroom
12. Invest in a Shoe Rack
Shoes are a major culprit of clutter in the bedroom, and this mess can extend to your hall closet and to the areas near your front and rear doorways. After you have eliminated shoes that you no longer wear, invest in a shoe rack that accommodates all of your footwear. This gives every pair of shoes a home.
13. Use Storage Boxes in the Closet
Your bedroom closet likely has numerous miscellaneous items, such as Halloween costumes, meaningful heirlooms and more. Group similar items together, and place them in labeled storage boxes or bins.
14. Group Clothes by Season
After dealing with the shoes and miscellaneous items in your closet, you are ready to tackle your clothes. Organize all of your clothes by season. If you lack ample storage space in your closet, you can store off-season items in another area.
15. Toss Items That Do Not Fit
Many people hang onto clothes that no longer fit because they hope to get back into them at some point. Realistically, this may never happen, or it may not happen until those clothes are outdated. If items do not fit, remove them from your wardrobe.
16. Store the Hamper Out of Sight
Your hamper serves the important purpose of collecting dirty laundry, but that does not mean that you need to see it as soon as you walk into the room. Find a concealed space to store your hamper so that a pile of dirty laundry is not always staring at you.
17. Empty All Dresser Drawers
The best way to tackle your dresser drawers is to completely empty them. As you touch each item, decide if you want or need to keep it. Fold and organize all items that you place back in the dresser.
18. Use the One In, One Out Rule for Clothes and Shoes
After consolidating your wardrobe and shoe collection, you understandably want to maintain organization in your closet for as long as possible. A smart idea is to remove one article of clothing or one pair of shoes each time you buy a new item.
19. Donate Unwanted Gifts
Everyone receives gifts that they do not actually want or need from time to time, and many people wind up tossing these items in a drawer or closet rather than getting rid of them. Donating these items clears your home of clutter, and it puts new or like-new items in the hands of those who want and need them.
20. Toss Out Broken Items
Do you keep broken or damaged items because you hope to repair them one day? If your damaged items have been sitting around untouched for more than a few months, it may be time to get rid of them.
21. Invest in Storage Shelves
Storage shelves give you the incredible ability to expand your available space upward. In the closet, shelves can be used to organize folded clothes, belts, scarves, and more. In the bedroom, they enable you to give books, trinkets, and other items a space of their home without cluttering dressers.
22. Install a Shelf Over the Nightstand
Nightstands can be particularly problematic because they may be used to store everything from a book and remote controls to a smartphone, glasses, night cream, and more. If you do not have room in the nightstand to keep these items organized and out of sight, a shelf close to the bed is a smart alternative.
23. Use Storage Space Under the Bed
After removing clutter and adding organization to your bedroom, you may still lack ample storage space. Invest in flat storage bins for out-of-season clothes, holiday attire, extra shoes, and more. These bins can slide under your bed out of sight.
24. Adjust Your Folding Strategy
Another way to free up storage space is to alter how you fold the clothes in your drawers. While many people fold clothes in neat squares or rectangles, tightly rolling them may save space.
25. Make the Bed Daily
If you are not in the habit of making your bed daily, now is the time to develop better habits. A tidy bed makes it easier for you to keep other areas in the bedroom cleaner. It also sets the tone for the day with a focus on neatness.
Check out the recent Redfin article we were featured in: The Complete Bedroom Cleaning Checklist
26. Donate Unnecessary Towels and Bed Linens
Your collection of towels, linens, and blankets can accumulate dramatically over time. There is a general misconception that you can never have too many towels, sheets, or blankets, but this is not the case. At most, you should have an extra set of towels for each bathroom and an extra set of sheets and linens for each bed. If you have more than this, consider donating them to free up a substantial amount of storage space.
At Your Desk
27. Tackle Paper Piles
For your desk at home and at the office, review each piece of paper that has piled up. Organize these documents so that they can be tossed or filed appropriately.
28. Update Your Accounting System
For personal finances and for your self-employed business’s finances, adopt a better accounting system. For example, through some apps, you can scan a receipt and keep it safe and organized for next year’s taxes.
29. Improve Your Filing System
A poor filing system is a surefire way to become inundated with clutter. For personal and work files, remove all unnecessary items from the filing cabinet or drawer so that you can start organizing with a clean slate. Then, develop a labeled or color-coded system that is easier for you to keep up with.
30. Remove Non-Essentials from the Desk
The top of your desk is a functional work area rather than a storage space for pens, staplers, and more. At most, you should have three or four items on the desk besides computer gear and possibly a landline phone. If you have many trinkets or other items that you prefer to see during the day, place them on a wall shelf nearby.
31. Invest in Desk Drawer Organizers
Office supplies should be stored inside the desk drawers. You can maximize this space and keep the drawers organized by investing in various caddies, bins, or other organizational features.
32. Toss Dry Pens
For some people, there is a tendency to place dry pens back in a drawer or pen holder. This may hold true for white-out, highlighters and more. Now is the time to toss out these unusable items.
33. Use a Bulletin Board
If your work area is covered with post-it notes, reminders, memos, and more, install a bulletin board on your wall. By doing so, you can clear your desk and ensure clear visibility of those notes and documents that you do not want to get rid of.
34. Group Odds and Ends Together
Are some of your pens and other small essentials inside the desk drawer while others are floating around elsewhere in your office? All of these supplies should be grouped together. Likewise, all instructional manuals, warranty documents, personal items and more should be grouped together.
35. Find the Right Cord Management Strategy
Electrical cords are problematic in many offices, and they can be challenging in living rooms, bedrooms and other areas as well. There are a wide range of cord management systems to choose from based on your needs.
36. Store Cords in a Decorative Container
If you only have one or two cords to contend with, a full cord management system may seem like overkill. An alternative is to neatly roll the cords into a decorative container so that they are out of sight.
In the Kitchen
37. Remove Most Items from the Kitchen Counters
Kitchen counters tend to look messy because of all of the items that are permanently stored on them. Things like dirty dishes, mail, and other miscellaneous items only add to the mess. Except for items that you use daily, such as a coffeemaker, clear off the counters.
38. Keep the Dishwasher Unloaded
A smart way to keep the sink and counters free of dirty dishes is to unload the dishwasher as soon as the wash cycle is completed. Then, you can simply slide the dirty dishes directly in the dishwasher as needed.
39. Eliminate Your Junk Drawer
A kitchen junk drawer is often viewed as essential and is used as a catch-all. By removing your junk drawer from your life, you are giving yourself extra space to keep your miscellaneous items organized. Use drawer organizers to get the job done right.
40. Reorganize Kitchen Cabinets with Zone
Your kitchen should be as functional as possible, and this may require you to create a zone system for your belongings. For example, pots and pans should be next to the range, and cups and glasses should be next to the refrigerator.
41. Use Pull-Out Trays in the Cabinets
Many people tend to heavily use the front of their cabinets, and the back areas are not used or only house items that may have not been used in years. Pull-out trays in your cabinets enable you to easily access the back of the cabinets so that it is easy to use this space.
42. Invest in a Lazy Susan
A Lazy Susan is a functional organizational feature that has a place in most kitchens. This feature enables you to more easily view, organize, and access items that otherwise would have been crammed into the back of the pantry or cabinets.
43. Hang Pots and Pans
Do you tend to use the same few pots and pains almost daily? Rather than tossing these items in a full cabinet, give yourself extra space and easier access to those items. Simply invest in a pot rack so that you can grab what you need.
44. Store Spices Alphabetically
In many pantries, commonly used spices take a front and center position. Specialty spices get crammed in the back and can be challenging to find. Add organization to your spice storage system by alphabetizing your spices.
45. Install a Spice Rack Behind a Door
You can even step up your spice organization efforts by investing in a spice rack. While some pantries can accommodate a shelf-style rack or a Lazy Susan feature, you can save space by installing a spice rack behind the pantry door.
46. Remove Unused Small Appliances
Between waffle makers, juicers, bread machines, deep fryers, and more, your kitchen likely holds numerous small appliances that have not seen daylight in years. Now is the time to pull those items out and to make better use of the storage space in your kitchen.
47. Match Storage Containers with Their Lids
Are your food storage containers stored chaotically in a cabinet? Match each container with its lid, and store these items together. Discard any unmatched containers and lids.
48. Toss Convenience Utensils
Is your utensils drawer filled with thinks like a melon baller, an apple corer, and other various items that you do not use regularly? These convenience items may come in handy very irregularly, and there are other ways to get the job done. Toss utensils that are taking up valuable space without adding regular benefits to your life.
49. Store Items in a Donation Box for a Month
Are you trying to decide if you should donate specific dishes or utensils? Nobody wants to get rid of items that they actually will use. You can more easily decide what to do by storing questionable items in a donation box for a month. If you do not dig in the box to pull an item out in the next month, you can feel confident about getting rid of it.
50. Combine Products in One Container
Between spices, cleaning products under the sink, and more, you may have multiple open containers that have the same product. Combine these products together so that you can dramatically consolidate your storage space needs.
51. Create a Pantry Organization System
Several types of pantry organizers can be used to help you deal with all of the items in this space. For example, you can use storage bins to hold the kids’ snacks. Through the use of bins, you can make it easier to find what you need and to see when you are running low on specific items.
52. Group Like Foods Together
While many of your food items can be grouped together in storage bins and other containers, you will have others that are too large to be placed in these features. All foods that are not in organizers or bins should be placed next to similar items.
53. Toss Expired or Bad Foods Weekly
While going through your pantry, toss items that are stale or outdated. Each time you buy groceries, you should take this important decluttering step for the fridge and the pantry.
54. Use Airtight Canisters
Between coffee grounds, flour, sugar, pasta, cereal, and more, many products may be exposed to air after their packaging is open. This exposure can lead to spoiling and other issues. When possible, move items like these into airtight containers. In addition to protecting your food, this can help you to stay organized.
In the Bathrooms
55. Pull Everything Out of the Bathroom Drawers and Cabinets
Bathrooms are small spaces that are often filled with many small items. The best way to tackle organization in this type of space is to completely clean out all cabinets and drawers. Then, carefully decide which items should take up some of the limited storage space available.
56. Organize Similar Items Together
Bins, in-cabinet shelving, and other storage features can boost available storage space. To maximize their benefits, you should organize similar items together. By doing so, you can better determine which types of organizers are a good fit for your needs.
57. Give Each Family Member a Bathroom Bin
If multiple people share the same bathroom, they likely have both shared and individual hygiene items in the space. Use bins to cluster each person’s individual items together and to organize shared items.
58. Utilize Storage Space Behind Doors
Because space is limited in most bathrooms, you must maximize every nook and cranny. By using door-hanging shelves, you can expand available space. When everything has dedicated home, it is easier to keep the room organized.
59. Declutter All Bathrooms at the Same Time
In many homes, items like extra toilet paper, shampoo, towels, medications, and more may be stored in multiple bathrooms. By decluttering all of the home’s bathrooms at one time, you can make smarter decisions about which items to collectively donate, keep, or toss.
60. Combine Containers
As you go through your bathrooms, you likely will find multiple containers that are half-filled with the same products, such as shampoo and liquid body soap. Consolidate these products to conserve space.
61. Toss Out Old Medications
While cleaning out the bathroom, look at expiration dates on medications. Safely dispose of expired products.
62. Throw Out Unwanted Cosmetics and Hygiene Products
You may have tried a few hygiene products or cosmetics over the years that have not impressed you, and these items may still be sitting in your bathroom. If you do not use items regularly, it makes sense to get rid of them.
63. Use Trays to Organize Bathroom Drawers
Drawer trays are a convenient way to organize your bathrooms’ small storage spaces. As you go through your daily hygiene routine, you can pull a full tray out to use the items in it. Then, you can return the tray and move on to the items in the next tray.
In the Laundry Room
64. Use Bins or Baskets for Laundry Room Organization
You likely spend very little time in the laundry room, but this space can become chaotic if you do not take steps to organize it. As is the case for bathrooms, pantries, and closets, use storage bins and baskets to create an organization for laundry products, hangers, and various other items.
65. Maximize Vertical Storage Space
Many laundry rooms are small, and the washer and dryer take up most of the square footage. The wall space over the washer and dryer is a great area to install a shelf. The storage bins and baskets can be placed neatly on the shelf.
66. Remove Clutter from the Top of the Washer and Dryer
Your inclination may be to store items on top of the washer and dryer rather than to invest in a shelf. However, this casual storage strategy often leads to unnecessary clutter.
67. Install a Hanging Rod in the Laundry Room
Keep a few hangers accessible on a hanging rod in the laundry room. You can pull items directly out of the dryer and hang them up immediately. By doing so, you can eliminate the time-consuming step of ironing them, and you can slide the clothes directly into the closet.
68. Create a Bin for Unmatched Socks
If you do not currently have an effective way of dealing with lost socks, now is the time to make one. One idea is to keep a collection bin in your laundry room that holds lonely socks until their mate is found.
In the Living and Family Rooms
69. Return Toys to the Kids’ Rooms
Kids have a tendency to carry their toys to every end of the home, and the toys may be more likely to gather in the living room or family room where the kids spend a lot of time. If you do not have room in these areas to neatly store a toy bin, those toys need to be returned to the kids’ rooms.
70. Donate Old Board Games
Some board games can be played repeatedly for years and will never lose their appeal. Others may no longer hold your interest. Donate or sell the latter type of games so that you keep your space organized.
71. Invest in Furniture with Extra Storage Space
Storage space is in limited supply and high demand in these rooms. If necessary, upgrade to furniture with built-in or concealed storage spaces. For example, some end tables have drawers.
72. Replace Shelves with Cabinets
Shelves are a smart way to maximize vertical space in a family room or living room. However, when these features are loaded with items, they can become an eyesore. If the items that you need to store on these features detract from décor, upgrade to cabinets.
73. Upgrade Your Storage Space for Video Games and Consoles
Whether you have one gaming console or several, the area around your TV can be cluttered with controllers, games, and more. Use cabinets, bins, or other features to group and store these items together. Sell any games that you no longer play.
74. Cut Down on Home Décor
Even an organized home can look messy if it is over-decorated. With décor, it is better to let a few items make a big impact rather than to overload the space with too many features.
75. Less Is More with Throw Pillows
Throw pillows on sofas and chairs add comfort, color, and texture to the décor, but too many pillows create a cluttered feel in the space and cause discomfort for those trying to relax in the room. At most, have one pillow on each chair and two pillows on the sofa.
76. Purge the Hall Closet
When you walk down the hall to the home’s main storage area, you likely will find a huge mess. Everyone in the home may toss items haphazardly into the hall closet, so the clutter can pile up. Remove everything from the closet to get started, and invest in organizational features that can help you to intelligently store the items that you truly want in this space.
77. Clear Off the Coat Rack Seasonally
When your coat rack is loaded with scarves and winter coats in July, you know that something needs to be done. Each season, a coat rack may store different types of outerwear, so it should be cleaned off seasonally. Only items that are used at least once a week should be stored on this visible feature in the home.
78. Convert Videos and Pictures to Digital Format
If you have piles or boxes of photographs and old home movies, now is the time to modernize your memory-keeping system. By converting pictures and videos to a digital format, you can secure and organize them in the cloud. You can also free up much-needed storage space in your home.
In the Basement, Attic and Garage
79. Apply the 5-Year Rule to the Basement and Attic
In most areas of the home, the rule about tossing out items that you have not used in the last year applies. In the basement and attic, however, you may want to extend this to five years. The attic and basement are generally used to store items of importance that are not used regularly, but you should place a limit on how long you will keep most of these items.
80. Organize the Basement and Attic into Zones
It is generally not feasible to remove everything from the basement or attic in the same way that you may when you start cleaning out a closet. A better strategy for these spaces is to work in smaller sections or zones.
81. Get Rid of Unused or Damaged Holiday Decorations
If you do not regularly purge holiday décor each time you pull it out, now is the time to trim down your décor. Specifically, remove damaged items and items that you no longer use each year. If you have recently moved, you can pull out items that do not have a space in your new home.
82. Protect Heirlooms
Do you have precious heirlooms sitting in cardboard boxes and mixed with random junk? Pull out the items that are most meaningful to you and your family members. Toss out the junk so that you can keep the meaningful items as safe as possible.
83. Label Boxes and Bins Clearly
All items that you will continue to store in the attic and basement should be carefully and concisely stored in bins or other durable containers. Group like items together, and ensure that their containers are clearly marked.
84. Remove Everything from the Garage First
While you cannot easily pull everything out of the attic or basement to begin your purchase, you can completely empty the garage. Give yourself a blank canvas to work with so that you can maximize storage space.
85. Toss Rarely Used Gear in the Garage
As you dig beneath layers of stored items in the garage, you likely will come across items that have not been touched or even thought about for many seasons or years. These items should be placed in a donation pile, thrown away or sold.
86. Group Sporting Goods Together
A garage may house everything from sporting goods and kids’ outdoor toys to tools, landscaping equipment and more. Pull together all sporting goods, and then separate these by activity. For example, all of the camping gear should be separated from the kids’ soccer gear. You can then store common items together.
87. Organize Tools
Your organizational strategy for your tools will vary based on how frequently you use them. If you keep a hammer, screwdriver, and other common tools around for general use, a small toolbox may be stored on a shelf. If you have many more tools and regularly work on home improvement projects, a dedicated work area with organization features for numerous tools may be essential.
88. Remove Duplicates
Have you discovered duplicate items in your decluttering efforts? While you may think that it is always great to have an extra item on hand, this is not usually the case when storage space is limited. Commit to one of the items, and remove the others.
89. Invest in Garage Shelving and Cabinetry
If your garage is a blank slate with nothing but walls and doors, now is the time to invest in shelving and cabinetry. By doing so, you dramatically optimize the vertical storage space in this important room.
90. Use Overhead Storage Space
If your shelves and cabinets are full and you still need more storage space in the attic, consider installing a pulley-style overhead storage system. This is a great place to store seasonal sporting goods, holiday décor, and items that you do not need year-round.
91. Install a Pegboard
Even a small pegboard mounted to a garage wall can dramatically improve organization and eliminate clutter. A pegboard can hold everything from a spade to a wrench. Because the items are displayed neatly, they are easy to find without creating a sense of clutter.
92. Rent a Storage Unit
If you have followed all of these steps as they may apply to your home and office space and you still need more room, renting a storage unit could be the answer. By doing so, you can free up much-needed space in your closets, cabinets, garage and other areas without tossing out more items than you truly want to.
93. Avoid Buying Non-Essential Items
Now that you have worked so hard to declutter your space, you want to enjoy the results for as long as possible. As a rule of thumb, avoid buying non-essential items that will ultimately contribute to the accumulation of junk.
94. Rent or Borrow Rather Than Buy
When you have a short-term need for something, consider renting or borrowing it rather than buying it. Your needs will be satisfied, and you will not accumulate junk.
95. Focus on Organization Daily
Your home will gradually become increasingly disorganized and cluttered if you do not give it regular attention. Each day, put things back where they belong. If you notice a problem area developing, look for better organizational features or other improvements that could help.
96. Allow Room to Grow
Even when you focus on meaningful purchases and general minimalism, you may still purchase things gradually over time. Create extra storage space throughout your home and office so that you can accommodate those items without stress.
97. Adjust the Flow of the Room
In some cases, rooms tend to collect clutter because of their flow. For example, a table or chair near the front door may be a prime spot for collecting purses, backpacks, coats, and more. Simply re-arranging the space may resolve the problem.
98. Customize Organizational Features
Many organizational features may meet your needs as-is, but others may require customization. Your organizational strategy and features should be fine-tuned for your space and belongings. Everything from extra hooks and shelves to unique usage of these features can be helpful in different situations.
99. Add Fixing or Mending to Your Regular Schedule
You understandably want to maximize the life of your belongings. Rather than storing damaged items indefinitely, incorporate a few hours each month for mending and repairs into your schedule.
100. Keep a Charitable Donations Bin
You do not need to wait until your next major decluttering project to pull together items for charity. Place a collection bin discretely in your home so that you can pull out donation items right away.
101. Prepare for Taxes Year-Round
Clutter and poor organization directly impact your ability to quickly and accurately file your taxes each year. After you upgrade your personal financial management efforts and your receipt collection process, set aside time each month to review your finances and to take other pre-filing prep steps. By doing so, you can stay ahead of the game.