How to Properly Declutter Your Home

Almost any guide on how to upgrade your home interior includes a compulsory section dedicated to making your house more spacious and minimalistic. It is no surprise that an uncluttered home not only looks better, but it also makes you feel better and less stressed. It seems like an effortless thing to accomplish. So, what’s the catch?

Desperate woman sitting on the sofa in a cluttered living room.

Often, the clutter problem tends to be recurring—you arrange a “death cleaning” of your home, remove all of the unnecessary things, but soon the clutter accumulates again. You can always blame it on the entropy, or the so-called “measure of disorder” in thermodynamics. But don’t worry, there is a way to break this vicious circle. Let’s consider the following eight steps.

Change Your Mindset

This step is essential—if you won’t change your way of thinking about material things, there is no use in trying to win the battle with clutter. You must put an end to impulsive purchases. What’s interesting is that, quite often, even before the purchase, you realize that you don’t need this particular chair or a piece of decor, but it seems like you convince yourself to buy it. Ask yourself this: “Does this item perfectly fit me or my home”? Or, maybe it is simply “fine”, “not bad” or “cute”? Remember, if it doesn’t seem to be the best option you can get, then don’t get it. If it is not a definite yes, it’s a no.

A woman with a shopping cart, lots of bags and gift boxes on a blue background.

Speaking about home items, you can play around with the decor and furnishings using some special software before actually buying any items.

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Stop Mindlessly Buying Organizers

Another common misconception about how to properly declutter your home is the idea of buying myriad organizers intended to help make your home appear more polished and put together. Most of us don’t even think about the irony of this “genius” idea that buying more things will help us somehow reduce the amount of stuff in our home. The truth is that organizers just help us to hide the clutter away, to remove things so they’re not on display, but they do not contribute to the idea of minimalism. It is not overall a bad idea, but it is definitely not the first thought that should come to mind when you try to make your home less of a mess. Getting rid of the unnecessary stuff should be your first priority, and organizers? Frankly, not even second. But, we will get back to them later.

Racks filled with organizers for towels, napkins and linen.

Create a Plan to Declutter

When you think about a major cleaning of your house, the task may seem so daunting that you don’t even know where to start. This causes you to regularly postpone the cleaning, and, in the end, you might not even get it done at all! To facilitate this process both mentally and physically, create a plan of decluttering. Take time to clean up one room, one cabinet or one closet at a time. If you are struggling to create such a plan yourself, you can easily find suggestions on the internet. Choose a plan, and you will see how the whole process will appear less challenging, and you are ready to dig in.

A picture of a 30-day decluttering plan.
We thank House by the Preserve for the decluttering inspiration.

Start With the Fridge

For those who don’t know what to put first on their decluttering plan, here’s a suggestion—start with the fridge. When starting with your closet, you may come across a lot of items that are useless but dear to the heart. You can be hesitant about throwing away a lot of things, which will make the whole process seem pointless. Starting with the fridge is good because it’s unlikely you will get a twinge of nostalgia while looking at a moldy tomato. Throw away all the expired and obviously expired food from your fridge and arrange the groceries in a rational and convenient way. The amazing results will motivate you to reduce clutter in other areas of your home.

A woman in yellow gloves cleaning the fridge.

Plan for a Daily Tidy Up

To keep your house clean and organized, take time for a daily tidy up. You can spend 10–15 minutes every evening, getting rid of all the mess on surfaces and countertops that accumulates throughout the day. Put all the things in their designated places. By doing this on a regular basis, you train your brain, and become more and more organized every day. Also, if you notice that your daily clean-up takes a lot of time, that may be a signal that you need to let go of more stuff in your home. Some use the rule of 5 minutes: each room should take you no more than 5 minutes to tidy up; if it takes longer, that’s a sign that some things need to go.

A white kitchen with clean, uncluttered countertops.

Donate

When you are decluttering and looking through all of your possessions, you inevitably encounter things that get you thinking “Well, I haven’t used this in ten years and probably won’t use it during the next ten, but it seems to be such a waste to just throw it away.” What should you do when you come across stuff in your home that evokes such thoughts? The answer is simple—donate! When you are getting rid of items to make your house less messy and more spacious, throwing them in the trash is not the right solution. There are many people who can find the thing in question useful, so it’s only right to share with those who might be in need.

A cardboard donation box filled with clothes and a clothes rack in the background.

Store Away Smartly

When you evaluate all your belongings and, at the very end of the process, realize that there are still some things that you don’t use but still cannot let them go, it is time to store them away smartly. Stash all those things in cardboard boxes with a tag on them that will list the item and the date of packaging. This will help you understand how important those items really are to you. For example, if you packed and stored the box away on September 15, 2018 and accidentally found them again in July, 2022, then maybe all those things inside the box you haven’t been thinking about for four years are not that essential to keep?

A pile of cardboard boxes of different sizes and a single plant standing near the white wall.

Harbor All Your Belongings

Now it’s time to make organizers part of this discussion again. After you have successfully decluttered your home, you have to think about a dedicated place in your house to store each useful item. You can get special organizers for things like keys, pins, spices, bathroom items, etc. Once you buy these items, each one should immediately find its own “home” where it will permanently reside. When you have dedicated organizers for things, it prevents those things from lying all around the surfaces, creating a messy look. Additionally, when you train your brain to put things in their designated places immediately, you spend way less time on your daily or weekly cleaning, and this process becomes easier and more enjoyable.

Organizers for bathroom accessories standing near and under the sink.

In Conclusion

The major clean-up of your home is no simple task, and parting ways with some of your possessions will not be easy either. But, no matter what design style you choose for your home interior, whether it be Scandinavian, wabi-sabi or something else, clutter doesn’t fit into any design aesthetic. If you follow all of the steps and are consistent, you will notice that your home looks and feels so much better, and so will you.

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Published: September 2022