10 Ways to De-Clutter Your Home

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By: , – By Valerie Rains, for Family Circle
4/24/2012 6:00 AM   :  39 comments   :  38,568 Views

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Follow these simple solutions for bringing order to your home.

Tip 1: Purge Perennially

To really stay on top of the organizing game, constantly get rid of your unwanteds.
  • In the living room and other high-traffic spaces, it's what you see first that counts. "Make sure the room's focal point, whether it's the fireplace mantel, a console or a coffee table, is the least cluttered area," says Jennifer Ford Berry, author of Organize Now! 12 Month Home & Activity Planner (Betterway Home). Keep surfaces pared down by limiting what you display to only a few items.
  • Make laundry day a time to discard stretched-out T-shirts, mismatched socks and threadbare linens.
  • Take stock of utensils and other kitchen paraphernalia each time you unload the dishwasher, Berry says. If you find you have multiples—more than two can openers or potato mashers, say—keep one on hand, store the duplicate and donate the rest.
  • Toss clothes you no longer want or that don't fit into a bin in the corner of your closet. "Do this on a regular basis," says organizing expert and founder of simplify101.com Aby Garvey. "When it's full, take the container to Goodwill."  
Tip 2: Enforce Term Limits

If you haven't used it or seen it in a year, give it away.

Tip 3: Group Like Items

Storing similar objects in the same place eliminates the thinking part of tidying up. There's no more hunting for the perfect spot to put something—or racking your brain for where you stashed it the last time.
  • Arrange garments in your closet by type, fabric weight and color—you'll save time getting dressed in the morning and have a more accurate idea of what you need (and what you don't) the next time you're out shopping.
  • It's easy to lose track of what you don't use often. "Pick one central location for things like batteries, lightbulbs and candles," Garvey says. The same rule applies to cables, cords and attachments for your family's various electronic devices.
  • In the bathroom, divide products into categories—cosmetics, hairstyling tools, nail care and hygiene—so that you can easily grab the item you need.
  • Arrange your favorite things—a small cluster of vases or a short stack of art books—by kind or color. 
Click here for more ways to de-clutter your home.
 
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Comments

  • 39
    This system of organization seems VERY wasteful. The main elements are "toss" and "buy crap that helps you get organized." In this world, where our landfills are filling up with the stuff we "toss," how can anyone support this idea?

    The best way to avoid clutter and organize you life is to…buy less stuff, learn how to do more with less, learn how to reuse and repurpose items in your house. Seriously. "Tossing" things doesn't make them disappear. They just go the dump…and make problems for everyone else (especially future generations). - 1/16/2014   7:08:09 PM
  • 38
    www.flylady.net . Helped me learn to toss toss toss. Totally free site. - 5/9/2012   12:12:57 AM
  • 37
    I am in the process of decluttering, also. This blog has great ideas. - 4/29/2012   12:02:04 AM
  • 36
    I have done some of these decluttering ideas but I have found as a crafter that it is difficult to get rid of craft materials cause I might "need" that some day. Y'all know what I'm saying. LOL - 4/27/2012   2:40:30 PM
  • 35
    I needed this today! I'm trying to limit the stuff I save to only my very favorites. That helps. - 4/27/2012   9:29:39 AM
  • 34
    Good pointers!! - 4/27/2012   9:18:54 AM
  • 33
    Cool starting points!

    I have learned NOT to buy the books on decluttering, but to borrow from the library or a friend until I make sure it is something I can really use. Why add more clutter?

    I also have been copy\pasting suggestions that resonate with me from posts like this into a Word file, I can search my hard drive for files containing the word 'clutter' and voila'! I have my notes with hyperlinks...WAY less frustrating.

    I like the reminder to photograph something that is purely sentimental, that you never use...yet you want to be able to see them occasionally for a smile or memory. - 4/26/2012   3:21:03 PM
  • LESSIE59
    32
    What works for me is put it away when you are done with it. - 4/26/2012   10:59:05 AM
  • TCARP8
    31
    One great idea I found in "Throw Out 50 Things" by Gail Blanke is to take a photo of something that you think you need to keep, but have had in a box for years. When we moved to a smaller place I thought it would be impossible to sort out all of the old boxes. I took my camera to the basement with me and took a great photo of my old, beat up stuffed animals. Only sentimental value there, and they had been in a box, unseen, for 10 years. They were not coming out into the house in a smaller place, so now they are gone, but I can see the photo in my album upstairs any time I want to, and it feels good. - 4/26/2012   9:02:43 AM
  • 30
    I read Denise Schoefield's "CONFESSIONS OF AN ORGANIZED HOUSEWIFE" years ago and she had great ideas for how to be organized with five children and a husband. Also, The Slob Sisters, Pam Young and Peggy Jones had great help with "From Pig Pen to Paradise." - 4/26/2012   12:43:45 AM
  • SPAUTUMN
    29
    It is funny that I have been thinking about how I will begin decluttering. I have attempted it so many times and failed. I was going to hire a service to help me. I think the ideas given in the article are great. I was thinking about buying some bins to begin the grouping process and from there throw out or donate the unused or things that I no longer need. I believe it is a problem with letting go, but it is time. Here goes......... - 4/25/2012   11:47:48 PM
  • RUNESHADOW
    28
    Out of sight, out of mind is part of my problem. I have a need-desire-compulsion to have my stuff visible and near me. If I don't have my creams, sunscreen, etc in view in the bathroom, I forget to use them. I was the victim of ID theft, so I have my calculator out to verify my figures several times a week. Some things are very organized. I have one shelf for library books, one for library DVDs, a box on its side for DVDs loaned from my daughter, batteries, flashlights, etc have a special place.

    My place is about 50% clutter. I do better weeding out clothes. I shop at thrift stores and when I bring home a new top or whatever, I put an old one in a bag to donate. But my medicine and supplements are out in view; my crochet patterns, yarn (mostly sorted by color in a special bookcase) and hooks; books, CDs, DVDs. My fireplace mantel is covered completely with candle holders, pics, beloved stuff. I know there is a lot I could eliminate, but I get overwhelmed.

    I get bogged down by pain when I sort, and I don't drive, so except for the occasional bag of clothes I can take on the bus, I have no way right now of transporting donations. Flylady is a great resouce, but I couldn't stand her approach. The best hint I got from her is that I can spend 15 minutes at a time doing anything, so when the pain permits, I do 15 minutes sorting papers and disposing of one bag at a time. - 4/25/2012   7:04:28 PM
  • GYMRATWANNABE
    27
    For those trying to convince a loved one to get rid of a few things, here's a trick:

    Place all the things that you feel are clutter in a box that's easily accessible. Date the box. Show the box, its contents, and its location to your sig other. Tell your loved one that anything remaining in the box after one year (or 6 months, if you can't wait) gets tossed. No exceptions.

    Then follow through on the "toss" date. Don't involve them in regard to throwing it out/donating, they will probably freak out and want to keep it all. Once it's gone, I can guarantee they won't even notice it is gone. Or if they do, they will shrug and say oh well.

    Out of sight, out of mind for most borderline hoarders .... - 4/25/2012   4:06:30 PM
  • STREO2004
    26
    I'm with ALLABOUTLOVE. I'm a purger & my husband too is a borderline hoarder!!! - 4/25/2012   3:15:45 PM
  • 25
    Ohhhhh I so needed this! Time to declutter! - 4/25/2012   3:11:59 PM
  • 24
    I use the excuse of having a bi-weekly housecleaning service to de-clutter before they come. Unfortunately it always seems like I just end up doing surfaces and not much of the deeper de-cluttering and organizing in closets, drawers, etc. I keep trying to use rainy weekend days for that, but never get motivated. :( - 4/25/2012   12:59:16 PM
  • ROBINBIRD1014
    23
    My husband can be a packrat but often he can't find what he is looking for or he forgets he has stuff. It makes it easier to get rid of his stuff because he forgets about it anyway. I stopped asking permission and just started decluttering. Out of sight, out of mind. If I throw it out, I make sure I bury it in the garbage where he can't see it. He gets sentimental and holds on to old papers from previous jobs. We just can't keep everything and he hates to sort. - 4/25/2012   11:09:49 AM
  • 22
    thanks! My new favorite subject! - 4/25/2012   10:18:45 AM
  • 21
    Oh my goodness. I sure wish my hubby could read and apply this. As soon as I get to move out, I'm going to re-read this and apply it to my living facility. I can't wait to get out of this hoarding situation. Sometime soon, I hope. - 4/25/2012   10:11:18 AM
  • 2DIETORNOT2DIET
    20
    Doing my best to declutter, have given a lot away still have a lot to go. - 4/25/2012   9:56:12 AM
  • JMB369
    19
    Like scottcogal, I have subscribed to flylady.net for over five years and find her suggestions for decluttering are practical and inspiring. I think I inherited my parents' depression era mentality, but I feel so much freer now that I have learned to let go of stuff I don't need, don't use, or don't love. Two years ago I met and fell in love with a widower my age (70). We joined households. We are both at the stage of life where less is more, and together we have eliminated duplicates and unused items. Our house is peaceful and uncluttered, even in the hidden nooks and crannies. That means it is also easy to clean. Getting dressed in the morning is not a huge decision when the only clothes hanging in the closet are clothes you love, ones that fit and flatter, and are organized by color and season.. Three cheers for decluttering. - 4/25/2012   8:46:00 AM
  • LSIG14
    18
    Loved Lizabaker's comment - when Hubby was in the military and we moved every couple of years, it was easy to stay decluttered because the Army had a weight allowance for household goods. When he retired, I became a packrat and now fear that I am like those people on the TV show that will die and no one will find me for months because I'm buried under the junk! - 4/25/2012   7:51:56 AM
  • 17
    Love the post. The best way to declutter? Move every few years.... (Not that I recommend that!) - 4/25/2012   7:44:36 AM
  • GHALEY11
    16
    Like the Blog. - 4/25/2012   7:06:45 AM
  • 15
    It takes consistency to stay on top of it. I'm always trying to think if I really need things as I put them away if not it goes into the donate pile. If I have duplicates I am getting rid of extras. And I have set limits on what I am purchasing telling myself less is best. - 4/25/2012   12:40:46 AM
  • 14
    I just find that I have to strike while the iron is hot. I can be a bit of a pack rat - it's so hard to get rid of things that I "might" need again some day! But when I get the urge to purge, I go through everything with a brutal eye. It's the only way! - 4/24/2012   11:35:39 PM
  • 13
    WOW I have been looking for something like this . I will be getting the book also. I am constantly overwhelmed by all the stuff I have. I need a guide and you just gave it to me. THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - 4/24/2012   10:12:47 PM
  • 12
    My hubby does not like to get rid of stuff, he is not a hoarder but gets defensive if I suggest getting rid of stuff. It would be good to have some tips to help convince people to get rid of stuff. - 4/24/2012   3:52:08 PM
  • 11
    I just moved across the country. My furniture is all gone, as is everything I couldn't pack in a box... and many things that I could. There is still much that I could get rid of, but many things become less valuable when you have to pay to ship them... - 4/24/2012   2:07:27 PM
  • 10
    The thought that my husband is a bigger pack rat than me...well...*shudders*
    I know all of this stuff and still....
    I think I'm lazy in the ways of housekeeping! - 4/24/2012   1:30:37 PM
  • 9
    Love the ideas but i have a hard time letting stuff go when its still useful . - 4/24/2012   12:55:36 PM
  • 8
    I liked the blog but it sent me to an advertisement for Family circle which I am not interested in purchasing because I do not like the magazine clutter and I do not read them much now that I spend more time on the computer. but that being said I really liked the Ideas and will implement some of them. - 4/24/2012   12:48:45 PM
  • DIETER27
    7
    I just did this yesterday and it sure felt good. Bags full of old clothes that no longer fit due to being too big. Wow thanks...... - 4/24/2012   10:10:51 AM
  • 6
    I have been decluttering for about the past 10 years and it is liberating. We have downsized to a small garden home and I "let go" of so many things I'd held on to for years for sentimental reasons. Before packing to move I asked myself if these items really made me happy when I saw them. Many of them only brought back unpleasant memories--so to the donate pile they went! Now, in our smaller home I know where everything is, it's organized and no more frantic hunting for anything. Flylady.net provided me with the incentive to begin "flinging" and I intend to keep it up and never be burdened with clutter again. - 4/24/2012   9:54:25 AM
  • ACICEDA
    5
    Great ideas...now to get the husband on baord who is a bigger pack rat than I am... - 4/24/2012   9:23:53 AM
  • ELIZABETH-H
    4
    I Really must take some of these ideas on board. - 4/24/2012   8:14:43 AM
  • 3
    I declutter often. - 4/24/2012   7:43:00 AM
  • 2
    Love this Blog. I am a purger and my husband is a borderline horder! I want to get rid of it if it is sitting there not being used, and he thinks that maybe we will use it someday! I would love to read a blog about how to help my spouse with that issue! - 4/24/2012   6:53:30 AM
  • SBNORMAL
    1
    I am in the midst of decluttering now and it is a calorie burner. - 4/24/2012   6:03:10 AM

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