Spring is in the air. That means a deep cleaning and decluttering is in order, right?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve struggled to keep an organized house. You try to keep up with day to day cleaning, but somehow things pile up. Then, when it’s time for company to come over or you’re hosting an event, you’ve got to devote hours to cleaning and organizing. You know the drill.
What is it about your system that isn’t working? – You might wonder. It seems like you’re always doing chores, but your house never looks tidy.
It’s frustrating to put in so much work without seeing results. That’s why I wanted to share my tips on how to declutter your house, so you can live a better life. Let’s get to it.
Take it one room at a time.
When you’re tackling a project the size of decluttering your home, it’s best to break it down into multiple steps.
If you work on one room at a time, you’ll be able to go through the process slowly, rather than stressing about finishing your entire house in an afternoon.
When working with a vague idea like, “I’m going to organize my house”, it’s easy to get discouraged and give up because you aren’t able to check off measurable goals.
It’s much more motivating to work on smaller, achievable goals. You’ll feel calmer, and with every room you finish, you’ll have more drive to continue to the next one.
Determine what you’re using and let go of the rest.
Some key signs you own items you don’t use are (1), you find yourself saying, “I might need that someday” a lot, and (2), you’re overwhelmed by how much you own but never feel like you have what you need.
As you go through each room in your house, ask yourself, “Have I used this (item) in the past year? If so, how often?”
As you’re working through your belongings, make four piles – keep, donate, sell, and throw away. This works for all kinds of things – clothes, toys, home decor, personal hygiene products, gadgets, and anything else you can think of.
Don’t be afraid to let go of duplicates, either. How many of your pots, pans, and utensils do you really use? How many plates would you use at one meal, maximum? We keep six of every plate, bowl, saucer, and glass out, and the rest are wrapped in paper, stored in the attic.
Everything you determine you are using at least somewhat frequently, put it in the keep pile.
Anything you don’t use that’s past its lifespan or obviously trash, go ahead and throw it away.
For items you don’t use that are in relatively good condition, put them in the sell or donate pile.
From personal experience, I know it can be a little scary to let go of something you think you might need but don’t use much (or at all).
My tried and true trick to solve this problem is to put my donate and sell piles in storage temporarily. For me, the trunk of my car works best. A closet, basement, or attic would work too.
Set a timeframe you’re going to stick with, like 3, 6, or 12 months. If after the time goes by, you haven’t missed or thought about any of those items, you know it’s okay to move forward with donating or selling.
Once you’ve pared down your belongings to what you really use, it’s time to assess again. Is there anything you need and don’t have that you didn’t realize before? If so, make a list and create a schedule for when and how you’re going to acquire those items.
Create places for everything to go.
I owe one of my best tips for keeping an organized house to my Realtor. When my husband and I sold our first home, she walked through each room and taught us how to stage for showings.
What I realized after that is how easy it is to keep a clean and organized house when everything we own is tucked away in a designated place.
When you don’t have a place for something, it ends up being left out, creating clutter.
Have a coat closet? Use that to hang outerwear and stash your vacuum, furnace filter replacements, and other storage.
Use your kitchen cabinet space strategically so nothing has to stay on the counter. You can store items like keys, wallets, and phone chargers that create pesky clutter in a basket. A small bookshelf nearby works, too.
Mail, bills, and receipts easily collect and make a mess wherever they are. They can be conveniently stashed in a storage caddy or file cabinet until you have a chance to sort through them, though. Speaking of file cabinets, definitely get one to store important documents. Tax returns, employment contracts, medical records, rental leases, deeds, and identification documents are so much easier to find when organized in a file cabinet.
You can get creative with clothing storage by folding garments upright in your dresser drawers so they all fit. Keeping off-season items in storage bins in the closet or under the bed makes sure you can quickly access your options for the current season.
If you find your bathroom counters stay cluttered, try storing personal hygiene products in a basket under the sink. Only take out what you need when you need it, and put it back in the basket after.
Take steps to enjoy what you have so you don’t accumulate more things.
Isn’t it boring to only have a few belongings? What about variety? If you’re wondering this, I don’t blame you.
One way to tackle this problem is to rotate items instead of leaving everything out at one time.
Choose 25-30% of your toys to keep in a basket or box for your children and put the rest in storage, and then when they grow bored, swap them out for a different 25-30%. The toys will feel new even though they are not, because your children haven’t seen them for awhile.
This trick works for clothing, too. Instead of leaving all four seasons’ worth out during the year, put your warm weather clothes in storage during the colder months and vice versa in the spring and summer. You’ll feel like you’re getting a new wardrobe twice a year, even though it’s the same clothing you already owned.
Instead of adding more to what you already own, try to only replace what is old, worn out, or broken. We keep a one for one rule at our house. For every new item we buy, it replaces one that we sell, donate, or throw away (if it is worn out).
If you find yourself wanting to purchase new things often, it might be worth asking yourself some questions. Do you really like what you own? Does everything function as it should?
It’s worth the time and effort to invest in quality belongings that work for you and you really like. You’ll find it easier to enjoy what you already own, and the desire to add more will start to fade.
Plan designated times to declutter every year.
Despite your every day efforts, sometimes clutter builds up and you need to set aside some time to tackle it. That’s why it’s important to revisit these steps one or two times a year.
Now that you know how to declutter your house, your space will stay clean, organized, and enjoyable year-round.
Take a look at our interview with The Clutter Consultant on YouTube for more helpful tips.
Are you decluttering your space to prepare for a home sale? Be sure to read our post on how to prepare for a home inspection, then. Following the tips we cover, you’ll be set to have the best inspection report possible.
If you have too much in your home to go through on your own, you might benefit from professional help. We recommend Bio-One for their top notch cleanup services. If you’re overwhelmed about a decluttering project you’re facing, don’t hesitate to contact them today!