The Slow Declutter: A No-Mess Method to Declutter Your Home

Feeling the effects of too much stuff stress? This slow declutter method WORKS for taking charge of clutter! It’s the perfect gentle starting point to declutter your home. Later, when you’re ready, you can use these declutter tips to tailor the process to your needs.

The best part? With slow decluttering, there’s no ‘messy middle’ when your house seems even more chaotic. Seriously, you really can declutter without making a mess!

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In this post we’ll talk about:

  • the best way to start decluttering when overwhelmed
  • how to declutter without making a bigger mess
  • purging house clutter in a no-stress way
  • how to get into the decluttering mindset

Negative Effects of Clutter

Did you know Americans who rent storage units spend an average of $1,000 every year to store their clutter? Imagine having that money available to spend on FUN things.

We also waste nearly an hour every day searching through clutter to find important items like keys, paperwork, etc.

Related: How Much Is Your Clutter Costing You? – A Mess Free Life

Have you ever watched a show about hoarders? Homes destroyed, bank accounts demolished, sometimes relationships and lives irreparably damaged. Now that is some hard-core clutter, and I truly hope you never have to deal with anything that extreme.

Still, it’s an example of what can happen if we were to let clutter take over. And judging by the number of professional organizers and clutter consultants, it happens far more often than we probably think.

Even if you are not to the point where you need decluttering tips for hoarders — and I really hope you aren’t — you probably KNOW that even a little clutter here and there makes life more difficult.

Are You Overwhelmed With Too Much Stuff?

Are you ready for a good spring cleaning? Or you would be, except you’re looking around at all the piles of ‘stuff’ that have accumulated and you’re so overwhelmed that you can’t get motivated to clean and declutter.

So, maybe you decide to ignore it.

Or you run out and buy some storage bins to hide the stuff. But maybe you don’t actually get the clutter into the bins, so the containers sit around empty and take up even more space.

Ouch. It’s painful to acknowledge, but it happens to many of us.

The #realtruth is that you cannot organize clutter. You must get rid of it.

I hear it every day: ‘My house is so cluttered I don’t know where to start.’ And I get it… I’ve been there!

Lighten the load on your house and your mind. Let’s talk about how to clear your house with a slow declutter…

Break the Clutter Cycle Without Overwhelm

Obviously, to truly end the clutter problem, you need to stop bringing any extra stuff into your home. That can be a hurdle in itself, and it’s one of the 3 ‘pre-decluttering’ steps I recommend when you’re overwhelmed by clutter.

Say you can stop acquiring new things and adding to the problem. How do you deal with everything you’ve already got?

Although I strongly believe in planning and completing most major projects in two weeks, decluttering is something that doesn’t always fit into that timeframe or level of focus.

I think you can declutter in parallel with other projects because it’s something you can work on in just a few minutes a day. It doesn’t require hours of constant brainpower or hard physical labor.

Certainly, there may be times when decluttering is more intense than others — like when you’re decluttering sentimental items. But for the most part, you can set aside ten minutes or so every day to work and then be done with it until the next day.

Working in this way helps you build a long-term decluttering habit, rather than a quick purge that leaves you wondering whether or not you can figure out how to live clutter-free long-term.

The wins of daily slow decluttering are like resetting your brain with a positive ‘I can do this’ attitude that will carry you through whatever else you need to do during the day. With consistent effort, you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly slow decluttering makes a BIG difference in your home.

Beautiful decluttered kitchen with white and black cabinets.

How to Begin Slow Decluttering

First, understand that this is a long-term process. You won’t be finished in a week or two, but you WILL feel more confident in your abilities as you continue.

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Choose the room or area that means the most to you

I recommend decluttering your bedroom first if you need an oasis to escape to every evening.

Or, if you spend a lot of time frustrated by your food preparation efforts, begin in the kitchen. A cluttered kitchen is often the result of impulse ‘gadget’ buys which we have no place to store and no actual need for.

Get rid of the gadgets.

Ask yourself the tough questions

Be sure to answer honestly and quickly.

  • Is the item broken?
  • Do you use the item often? If not, will something else do the job?
  • Do you LOVE it?
  • Does it fit you or your lifestyle?

The slightest hesitation in answering any of these questions means it needs to go!

Try ’10 items a day’ as a theme for your decluttering

10 items a day may not sound like much, but it adds up to about 300 items a month. Do that for 6 months, and you will have eliminated nearly 2000 items from your home.

Really, it’s the entire key to a successful slow declutter. It’s how you declutter without making a bigger mess, yet still get rid of the stuff.

This is exactly how I decluttered my entire home several years ago. It’s still my go-to when I notice a problem area building up and I can’t handle working on the entire pile at once.

Setting that number in your head reduces the stress of decluttering. You’re not stuck working for hours every day and making endless decisions. Declutter 10 items, done, move on with your day.

If you want to step it up just a bit, try ‘100 items in a week.’

You could also set your timer to declutter for 10 or 15 minutes a day, getting rid of as many things as possible in that time period. You may or may not choose to count the items. What’s most important is getting them out of your house.

Work in rounds

A slow declutter may take several rounds to finish. That’s okay. Do what you can, concentrating on removing what you can without creating a bigger mess. Eventually, you’ll get through everything.

Be prepared

Have a trash bag and a donations box handy during each of your decluttering sessions. Get the stuff out of your house immediately and deliver donations as soon as possible.

Related: How to Declutter and Donate Your Stuff Without Regret

Tidy living room after home declutter with grey decor and couch with turquoise pillows in front of window.

Decluttering Mistakes to Avoid

  • Don’t shuffle the clutter. Don’t ever set anything aside to ‘think about later.’ Once you’ve made a decision about an item, follow through.
  • Don’t assign monetary value to items you never use. That kitchen gadget you spent $97 on last year and used once? Unless you are TRULY strapped for cash and can sell it IMMEDIATELY, just donate the thing, releasing the item and the guilt from your life.
  • Don’t get too ambitious. Whatever you do, don’t suddenly decide to declutter your entire walk-in master closet and pull everything out at once.

    Unless you have an entire day (or more) and a LOT of fortitude, at the end of the day you will find yourself either shoving everything off the bed onto the floor or throwing it all back into the closet and having it look even worse than when you began. Instead, go through only a few items until you reach your daily item or time goal.
  • Don’t declutter anyone else’s stuff. Toss it into a box or laundry basket and let them deal with it.
  • Don’t give up. You can do this!

Related: 8 Strategies To Use When Your Partner Refuses to Declutter

Clutter-free kitchen stovetop with grey tile backsplash and turquoise teakettle.

More Decluttering Inspiration and Resources

30 Inspirational Decluttering Quotes You Need In Your Life

How To Organize Papers Without a Filing Cabinet: 5 Simple Solutions That Work

Sink Reflections – Marla Cilley

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own – Joshua Becker

How to Declutter When Moving: Make It a Cinch With These Smart Tips

The Win

You’ll know you’re winning at decluttering when you reach the point where you begin donating your empty storage bins. When that happens, do a happy dance and celebrate the positive steps you’ve taken to Build Your Best Life and eliminate too much stuff stress!

Are you ready to begin a slow declutter? Grab the free quick-start mini decluttering plan below and start today!

You’ve got this!

Did you enjoy this post? Know someone else who might like it? Please take a moment to share on Pinterest, Facebook, or your favorite social media… (Click the sharing buttons at the bottom of the post.) Thank you!

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24 thoughts on “The Slow Declutter: A No-Mess Method to Declutter Your Home”

  1. Great advice here! If we keep up with it on a regular basis it wouldn’t feel so overwhelming! Thanks for sharing at The Blogger’s Pit Stop! Roseann from This Autoimmune Life

  2. This is a great idea. I have slowed the clutter by setting a rule that I must throw away or give away at least one item for every new item I bring into the house. It might be time to step it up by getting rid of more than I bring in! Have a lovely weekend and a happy Easter!

    1. Hi Christie! Yes, maybe get rid of two items for every one you bring in. 😉 Would love to hear if that works! Thank you for the visit and the comment!

  3. Great article. This is what I have been doing for a couple months. Some day’s I only do a drawer or a cupboard, some more day’s I do a lot more. But each little bit is a step in the right direction.

  4. The point you make about not assigning a monetary value to things hit home to me. There are a lot of things we own that cost a bit of money but don’t get used. Whenever I look at them, I think about how much it cost and rather than just come to the realization that I’m never going to use it and just get rid of it, I keep it around way too long. I’m looking at you, cross-country skis!

  5. I have been decluttering for years. When I lost weight it was easy. I just got rid of ‘big’ clothes. I dropped off 3 large bags of stuff at Goodwill this morning and sold a box of books at Half Price Books. It felt great to empty my car. I had mixed feelings about the konmari method. I refused to dump stuff on a floor or a bed. That is too overwhelming. I would rather go through one section of closet or one drawer or shelf at a time. The job still gets done without creating a bigger mess

  6. I have started decluttering since I needed to redesign my workroom which is upstairs. Some of the crates are now empty which I can use elsewhere in the home. Even sorting a shelf or a cupboard hasn’t taken long and it feels good because I haven’t put pressure on myself to do it. In fact it has been cathartic because after being immobile for over a year and now on the mend, I was starting to get claustrophobic and now feel the urge to be a neat freak

    1. Hi Diane! I love this! I’m so glad you’re feeling better these days and becoming a successful declutterer. Isn’t it amazing how much more we enjoy our homes as we declutter? Keep up the great work!

  7. I actually started doing this last week! It feels like a weight has been lifted everytime I get a box out the front door!

  8. airbnb management sydney

    I agree, slow declutter gives less stress to home owners. Thanks for sharing your optimistic view. It’s inspiring.

  9. I agree with slow de-cluttering. I read the Marie Kondo book and decided immediately that making a big pile of anything would overwhelm me. I followed the instructions but did one drawer or one section of closet at a time. I filled my donation bags and put them in my car. Since I take a granddaughter to swim club once a week, I had to empty and clean my car. That means I need to donate the items.

    1. Hi Linda! It sounds like you’ve been very busy! Taking your granddaughter to swim club sounds like the perfect opportunity to get all the donations gone quickly! 😉 Thank you for your comment!

  10. Hi: Your advice is like getting “permission”to take time to declutter for those of us so challenged – without the judgment;)
    I am doing a bit at a time (not a hoarder but still . . . .). At any rate, this is helpful and a relief it is something others experience. I don’t bring in more clutter – I don’t want one more thing. I just want to get rid of what is here and I’m progression. Thanks – so helpful.


  11. I enjoyed the part where you suggested not attaching monetary values to things. When I look at a pile of unwanted/unused items I see dollar signs. I I find it paralyzing, somewhere in the recesses of my brain I believe I might get up the nerve to advertise something on my neighborhood app but I know in my heart of hearts I’m not a salesman. Something I’ve been working on.

  12. Just found this advise on Pinterest and love it. I am entering empty nest section of my life and have 4 kids worth of stuff they left behind, not to mention a spouse that likes stuff without getting rid of other stuff, lol. Having permission to do it slowly and not all at once is a mentality saver. Thank You!

  13. I found your post in 2021 and let me just say, it has helped me tremendously. My apartment is so cluttered, especially my workout room. But I am always so overwhelmed when I think about de cluttering! I love this Slow Declutter method! Thank you for sharing!

  14. Thank you for this! I get so overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I have to do that when I open a cupboard to declutter it I actually close it again and do something else like watch TV so I don’t have to think about it!
    Like this I can do it without feeling I have a week’s worth of stuff to get theory in a day.

  15. Great advice! Very handy since I’m moving soon! Thanks for sharing on Happiness is Homemade at I’d love to have you come share on my newest link party, Crafty Creators, as well. It’s open from Thursdays at 6am CST thru Mondays at 11:59pm. Hope to see you there as well!

  16. I think I could do this.
    Is rather sweet amazing progress, but I think this would be a good goal to actually do something with our busy lifestyle!

    Pinning it for later and sharing on Facebook!

    Thanks for sharing this at the Homestead Blog Hop 386

    Ridge Haven Homestead

  17. This slow declutter worked for me for sometime but then it just wasn’t enough for me. I just wanted more!! My bestfriend helps me once a week because I’m disabled physically. So we began taking on one area of a room at a time. This has then turned into closets!! All my closets are done now!! We do dressers now!! We’ve done my bathroom but want to measure so e containers for this space now!! We just keep going!! Feels so good!!!

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