Exactly Where to Start Decluttering Your Home

IN THIS POST: If you’ve ever wondered ‘where to start decluttering my home?’ — you’ll find the definitive answer here! When you’re so overwhelmed that you can’t even think, you need the absolute basics for clearing clutter and where to start. This is one of my very favorite declutter tips.

Keep reading to find out the BEST place to begin organizing a messy house, why and how to get started, and how to keep going successfully.

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How do you declutter when you don’t know where to start?

I’ll be honest. I’ve never wanted to come right out and say ‘start here’ because decluttering is such a personal journey. But then I realized — especially after being asked many times — everyone needs a starting point.

My usual answer to the question of where to begin clearing clutter has always been ‘the place that bothers you the most.’ But for some people, every.single.place bothers them.

Then when I say ‘the place that will make the most difference in your life,’ I can almost see the panic.

When we’re overwhelmed by clutter and mess, our brains don’t operate at peak efficiency. Having to decide where to begin anything is sometimes more than we can handle because we just don’t KNOW what would help us the most.

So here are some very simple ‘getting started’ instructions. Let’s call it decluttering for beginners. By the end of this post, you’ll be ready to tackle your first space and enjoy the results of your efforts.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through an affiliate link, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. You can see my full disclaimer here.

Before You Begin Decluttering

It’s important to be READY to declutter.

This is not something that should take days or weeks. Don’t read a dozen decluttering books or watch hours of YouTube videos for inspiration and claim you’re ‘getting ready.’ The ACTION of decluttering will motivate you more than any book.

These preliminary steps should only take you about 15 minutes.  

1. Photograph the clutter

Take ‘before’ pictures of your entire house. They don’t have to be perfect, and you never have to share them with anyone. You want real life here, not magazine-worthy staged scenes.

This will do two things:

  • Help you see clutter you may have forgotten about or become blind to.
  • Give you a reference to look back at so you can celebrate your progress.

2. Prepare your decluttering supplies

Gather your supplies:

  • Black trash bags. They must be black so you and other household members can’t see what’s inside.
  • Donation box or bag. It’s best to only have one empty box waiting in your house at a time. Fill it up, donate it, then get another box. Use smaller boxes or bags so you can remove them from the house every day.

Since action is more important than dreaming and planning, don’t spend too long on the preparation steps. Use what you have, and let’s begin…

Begin Your Decluttering Journey HERE

Start with your kitchen counters.

Did that surprise you? I can already hear the objections…

‘But, Marie Kondo says to begin somewhere else.’ Okay, but if Marie’s method were going to work for you, wouldn’t you already be decluttering instead of reading this post?


Let’s get back to the point. Clear your kitchen counters.

‘But shouldn’t I do the cabinets first to make room for the things from the counter?’ Nope. Your goal is to make your life simpler, NOT to shuffle the mess.

‘I don’t have much counterspace, so there’s really not much I can do. I don’t have anywhere else to put things.’ Even if you don’t have much space, you can find a way to make it happen!

‘I like pretty decorations.’ Great! Hang a picture. Just get the decor OFF the counter.

It’s worth the effort because empty kitchen counters will make a world of difference in how you feel about decluttering.

stacked white dishes on kitchen counter with cluttered sink in background

Why start there?

Here’s the basic problem: Horizontal surfaces attract clutter. Anything you place on your kitchen counters will start to snowball. Papers, food, appliances, dishes, decorations… it doesn’t matter what was there first. It ALL turns into clutter.

You need to start over with a clean slate.

Plus, beginning your clutter-free journey in the kitchen will give you an immediate feel for what it’s like to live in a decluttered space. You work in there every day, right? Maybe you make three meals plus snacks every. single. day.

You need as much clear surface area as possible for food prep and cooking without frustration.

And here’s the best reason… a kitchen without counter clutter is SO MUCH EASIER to clean!

Honestly, it makes cleaning up after cooking so fast! Load the dishwasher, do a quick wash of what can’t go in the dishwasher, spray the counter, one easy swipe… DONE! And it’s actually CLEAN — no dust and grime hiding under and behind ‘stuff.’

Action steps:

  • Spend 15 minutes decluttering one counter. Get everything off!
  • Put each item in the donation box or relocate it to a more appropriate drawer or cabinet.
  • Take a break.
  • Repeat until your counters are clear.
  • Larger appliances like a coffeemaker or toaster oven can stay. But that’s IT.

Your kitchen will soon be a comfortable, easy-to-use, clutter-free space that you enjoy working in — whether that work is making a full meal every night or re-heating leftovers for the third night in a row.

More Decluttering Help

The Simple Refrigerator Command Center You’ll Actually Use

5 Reasons Why I DON’T Keep a Large Stockpile

Why Highly Sensitive People Need Minimalism

4 Fast + Simple Habits to Keep a Clean and Tidy Home

Must-Have Resources for a Clean and Clutter-Free Kitchen:

With this information in your knowledge base, you’ll never be stuck asking where to start decluttering your home.

Then, once you begin using and maintaining your clutter-free kitchen counters and see just how much easier it makes your life, you’re going to be even more motivated to work on the rest of your home!

You’ve got this!

Click here to grab the printable  ‘62 Things to Declutter That You’ll Never Miss’ checklist.

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Click here to get a printable list of 62 Things to declutter today!

6 thoughts on “Exactly Where to Start Decluttering Your Home”

  1. What do I do with the bread box, stand mixer, blendy and cookie jar. Still need them convenient. Don’t want to haul them off a shelf every time I make something. I primarily cook from scratch.

    1. Hi Becky! I totally consider a stand mixer to be a major appliance like a toaster oven… those things are way too heavy to move. If I didn’t have an appliance garage for mine, it would definitely sit out on the counter. My favorite place to keep bread is in a lower drawer, but an upper cabinet works too. Interesting thought about a cookie jar — they are more of a special occasion thing at my house and don’t last long enough to need a cookie jar for more than a day. LOL. 😉 Do you have an always-full jar?

      In the end, you need to do what works for you! But I would suggest at least TRYING to live with as few things as possible on the counter for a month or so to see how it goes. 🙂

      Thank you so much for reading and for the comment! 🙂

  2. Just need to give you a big virtual high five BC I am in love with your straight forward approach! You did not have me “at hello” I was SOLD at the Mary Kondo says to do this part first comment ! HAHHHH!!! YOUR AWESOME! STAY FEARLESS! PLEASE!

  3. Vicki-Maree Reyburn

    Great idea, I will start on my kitchen counters tomorrow……so excited to have a starting point and yes this is one of my main areas of concern. Thanks again I will checking in too see where to go from here. 🙂

  4. Felt so great to read a paragraph, get up and go in that kitchen, and clear those counter tops (all 4′ of them, but still). I felt so awesome afterward, gave myself a high five! Next….:)

  5. I don’t have a problem in my kitchen. It’s the laundry room. It has a counter that is the catch all for way too many things. Unfortunately, I’m the guilty party because it’s just my hubby and me here. That’s where I’ll be starting.

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