Surrounded by too much stuff? Constantly digging through piles of clothes, papers, and other items just to get what you need?
Realistically, it takes a while to completely declutter… and that’s NOT a bad thing. First, you have to learn how to reduce clutter in your home from a near-hoarder look to something more like the trendy cluttercore style. This post is all about what steps and tricks you can use to bring the clutter down a level or two and maintain the ‘reduced’ clutter level until you’re ready to tackle the next layer.
Let’s discuss how you can accomplish the two things necessary to reduce clutter in your house in a stress-free way with great results. Keep these declutter tips in mind as you make your way through each area.
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How To Reduce Household Clutter?
It can be difficult to keep up with all the clutter when it starts piling up around the house. Simply put, you have to do two things:
- Maintain your spaces with habits
But of course we all know it’s not quite that simple. Eliminating some of the visual clutter might SOUND easy enough, but when we look around at an entire house it can be overwhelming.
Plus, that whole thing about habits? Well, isn’t that how the clutter built up in the first place? You’re probably wondering, ‘How in the world can I make this work?’
Remember, we’re not going for total minimalism here… This is all about taking the clutter down a few notches and LEARNING how to maintain. It’s not instant, but it IS possible… and it doesn’t have to be nearly as difficult as it seems.
How to Begin the Decluttering Process
Once you have a good decluttering mindset in place, the first thing you should do is take a fresh look at each of your rooms and find the main source of clutter.
Possible sources of clutter to keep an eye out for:
- Clothes in your closet or dresser that you haven’t worn for more than a year
- Old books and magazines on your coffee table or bedside table
- Piles of dirty or clean laundry on the floor, the couch, or pretty much anywhere
- Kitchen counters cluttered with appliances and dishes
- ‘I need to look at this later’ papers all. over. the. house
- Junk drawers
- Outgrown or rarely worn piles of shoes and boots next to the door
- Broken items and other trash that you haven’t even noticed in far too long
- Decorative items that mostly gather dust
You Have Your List of Sources of Clutter – Now What?
Here’s where many people get stuck… It’s time to decide where to begin.
You want to tackle each area one at a time in the order that makes sense for YOUR life. Look at the list you just made. Which area would make the biggest positive difference in your life if it were clutter-free? Start there.
You’re going to do a little work in that one area every day so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
This means once a day you’ll find 10 items that you can get rid of in 10 minutes or less.
This is what I call the slow declutter method. It’s how I decluttered my own home, and it’s nearly always what I recommend to others for two reasons:
- No mess
- No stress
Altogether, that’s a win-win-win. Yes, when you begin, it will seem like it’s going to take much longer than the ‘classic’ method where you pull everything out of the room and pile it up on other places to sort later. But it’s very likely you’ll see better success with slow decluttering!
If you’ve tried and failed with that other way of decluttering (let’s be honest, for most of us the ‘classic’ way just turns into shuffling clutter and making new piles), then try this slow declutter method.
Why? Because while you’re slowly decluttering in a more relaxed way, you can ALSO implement the second necessary part of reducing clutter in your house… maintaining each space as you declutter.
Your first few days or weeks of decluttering may simply consist of removing and tossing trash, old papers, empty boxes, and/or broken items. It may even take you a few more days to handle the dishes and laundry you discover.
THAT’S OKAY! Don’t be embarrassed… Be proud that you’re taking action and making positive changes.
This is absolutely dropping the clutter level a few notches!
Let’s quickly review how to start reducing clutter in each area of your home. Where you begin depends on how YOU use your home. But if you can’t decide, the kitchen is always a great place to start.
Reduce Kitchen Clutter
Start by clearing off the countertops. Clear horizontal surfaces are usually the most difficult areas to maintain, so doing this first will give you plenty of practice.
Next, move on to cleaning out the refrigerator and pantry.
Throw away any food that is expired or spoiling, empty containers with dried up contents, boxes of cereal or other items you don’t like anymore, and anything that is past the expiration date.
Sort through your spices to ensure they are still fresh and in date.
Related: The Perfect 3-Step Pantry Declutter – Centsable Momma
Sort through those fancy small appliances that seemed like a great idea but you never use — such as the ice cream maker, two or three different popcorn makers, soda maker, two or three choppers or food processors, etc.
Declutter Your Living Room
After you’ve decluttered that pile of stuff next to your favorite chair, go through your bookshelves and box up items that you’re not using or no longer need.
Old toys, games, DVDs, electronics — all piled up in the corner? Give them a good once over to determine if they are worth selling on an app like Decluttr or if they should be donated or tossed out.
What activities happen in your living room? Do toys, games, and craft supplies end up strewn everywhere? Eliminating what you don’t use AND utilizing proper storage ideas for clutter you ‘need’ to keep can make a big difference!
Reduce Bathroom Clutter
Go through your bathroom cabinets and drawers. Throw out outdated beauty products, cosmetics that have gone bad (look for any mold or change in color), grooming products you don’t use anymore, old toothbrushes — anything that is expired should be tossed away.
Consolidate grooming products as much as possible. Think 3-in-1 products and similar. This is especially important if you live in a small home.
If there are three or four people in your home, you probably don’t need two dozen bath towels. Usually two, maybe three towels per person is sufficient.
Declutter Your Bedroom
Our bedrooms can easily become a dumping zone, when they SHOULD be a restful personal retreat, so it’s very important to learn how to reduce clutter in the bedroom.
Usually the main culprit of clutter in the bedroom is clothing… dirty clothes that didn’t make it to the hamper, mostly-clean clothes that we might wear again piled on furniture, clean clothes in baskets that need to be folded and/or put away… you get the idea. 😉
The most important step to reduce clothes clutter is REALLY hard for most people. If you’re a clothes hoarder, it’s imperative that you stop making excuses to avoid decluttering clothes and learn how to declutter your wardrobe.
Stick with the 10 items or 10 minute rule on this! Trying to go through everything you have in one day is much too overwhelming. Remember, reduce and maintain before taking the next step.
Go through your dresser drawers and closet and toss out clothes that don’t fit or are stained. If you have clothes in your closet you haven’t worn for over a year, donate them to a charity such as a homeless shelter or a program that provides clothes for women who are beginning a new career.
Although clothes may be a huge problem, don’t forget the rest of your bedroom. I’m sure you’ll find that waking in and going to sleep in a room clear of clutter will help you feel better about how you approach every day.
Reduce Office Clutter
Go through all the paper items on your desk (consolidate the piles from around the house) and determine what needs to be filed away in an organized manner. You need a system where those papers can easily be found later as opposed to piled on your desk or randomly shoved into a filing cabinet.
To reduce paper clutter, consider going paperless. I love Donnie Lawson’s simple system from the workbook that is part of the whole-home organizing course Impactful Habits, Organized Home.
You might want to go through your computer files as well, deleting any old documents or unused programs that take up space in your hard drive.
Declutter Your Garage
This can be one of the most difficult spaces, because it’s usually where most of the clutter from the rest of the home ends up when we don’t know where else to put everything.
Honestly, this may be the very last space you tackle. There are many other living spaces in your house where it’s probably more important to reduce the clutter first.
But, when you’re ready… go through your garage and take a look at all the items that are taking up space. If you haven’t used it in a year, toss it out or donate to charity.
You might also find some pieces of furniture that never get any use because they’re too bulky for your house. You may be able to sell them or let them go via your local Facebook group..
Related: How to Organize a Cluttered Garage
Reduce Clutter In Your Home By Not Letting It Become Clutter
Now for the uber-important key to reducing clutter for good!
The best way to reduce clutter in your home is to stop the stuff from turning into clutter in the first place. This is the maintenance part I mentioned earlier. We all know this, yet it’s so very difficult to put into practice! 😉
One half of maintaining a lower clutter level is by being more selective about what you bring into your home.
For example, don’t buy a new magazine until you’ve read the magazines already on your desk and popped them in the recycle bin.
If your clutter level is already high, you don’t need to make it worse by bringing home unnecessary items. It helps if the entire family is aware of this plan, otherwise your decluttering process is going to go even more slowly!
If an item catches your eye in a store or online, put it back and remind yourself that you have plenty of things to work with already. And remember, ‘just browsing’ is a recipe for disaster when it comes to clutter — don’t ever go into a store or click on your favorite store’s website ‘just to look.’
The other half of less-clutter maintenance is implementing the small daily habits that will keep your spaces clear and tidy.
The most important habits I can think of that will reduce clutter:
- Deal with paper as it comes in (or use one of these paper organizing tools to neatly hold it until your scheduled ‘paperwork’ time)
- Do a 10-minute tidy every night (even better if the family does this together)
- Keep up with dishes and laundry (at first this may be ALL you can do, and that’s okay!)
How can you stay motivated to keep these habits? Find accountability, whether it’s through a friend or family member, setting reminders on your phone, using pretty tracking sheets, setting up a personal reward system… choose something that you know will work for you long-term.
Reducing the overall clutter level in a home is everyone’s responsibility. Just be prepared for the reality that you may have to clear and maintain your own personal spaces for a while before everyone gets on board.
It can take quite a while to become aware of and change lifelong habits, and each family member will have their own timeline for success.
Do I need a professional organizer to help me get rid of clutter?
A professional organizer can come into your home and give you ideas on how to declutter and organize. They will also provide tips on organization for different spaces of your home.
A professional organizer is not necessary for everyone. But if you could use the extra help and an outside set of eyes to help you make sense of the mess and create a targeted plan, don’t feel embarrassed or guilty.
Just like getting into a good exercise routine, it takes time and patience to declutter your home. A professional might be able to do the job for you faster, but they could also charge more than you’re comfortable with spending on such a project.
Also, just because the stuff might be gone doesn’t mean you will have the skills to keep it that way. What’s important is that you start your decluttering project in a way that you can maintain the cleared spaces as you continue to work.
Some professional organizers can help with all aspects of your decluttering and organizing journey. If you do decide to hire one, be sure you know exactly what services and support they provide. Sometimes their help is invaluable!
More Decluttering and Organizing Help
Now that you have good ideas for the best ways to reduce clutter at home, where will you begin?
This could be a lengthy process, but take things slowly and it will make life much easier for you when trying to find things, cleaning, or doing laundry!
Working through your home with the goal of gradually reducing and maintaining ever-lower levels of clutter is DEFINITELY something you can do with success.
You’ve got this!
If you would like to declutter your home but you need a kick-start, why not take a look at the printable 30-day declutter challenge? Sign up below to have it sent right to your inbox…
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