Declutter Your Home in 30 Days

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By: , – Erin Whitehead, Health & Fitness Writer
  :  75 comments   :  799,765 Views

Clutter can get out of control in a hurry. Odds and ends get stashed in a junk drawer to remain for eternity. Mud rooms become places where muddy shoes land and never leave. Nightstands breed glasses of water and hand lotion and books. And bookshelves, well, they become catchalls for way more than novels.

So you want to declutter and maybe donate a few things to charity or gear up for a garage sale, but where on earth do you start? The thought of decluttering the entire house is understandably overwhelming. But we've got a process to help you break this massive task into manageable pieces: a 30-day plan to less clutter.

Depending on the severity of your personal clutter, some tasks may be best suited for longer weekend projects or divided into smaller tasks (such as a garage clean-up). But some are smaller and easy to fit into any day. No matter how long it takes you, each item on the list will have you one step closer to a cleaner house and a lighter outlook on life.

Bathroom

Day 1: Medicine Cabinet
Toss expired medications, hotel shampoos that you'll never use, and throw out lotions you've had since 1990. While you're at it, give the mirror a quick wipe, too.

Day 2: Shower 
Get rid of the extras and empties in your shower. Invest in a shower caddy to keep everything organized and in one spot.

Day 3: Makeup Drawer/Bag 
Go through your makeup bag or drawer and reassess some of the items. Hot pink eye shadow you haven't touched since 1980? Toss! Lipstick that doesn't smell quite right anymore? You know what to do. If you haven't used it in a year, it's time to trash it.

Day 4: Linen Closet
Over time those neatly stacked towels start to shift and folded sheets somehow end up on the floor. And why is your kiddo's baseball bat in there, anyway? Take stock of what's in the linen closet, straighten what you want and consider donating items you haven't used in more than a year to charity.


Bedroom

Day 5: Nightstand
Nightstands collect books, water bottles and electronics along with gobs of dust. Clear it off, wipe it down and leave only the bare minimum.

Day 6: Dresser 
Dressers can hide a lot in their drawers. Open every drawer, refold messy clothes and match every sock. Start a donate pile of any clothes you no longer need and a toss pile of holey shirts and socks you can part with.

Day 7: Master Closet
Add to those donate and toss piles by going through your closet. Follow your gut: You know what you're regularly wearing and what haven't worn in ages. Try not to let sentimentality get in the way of decluttering!


Hallway

Day 8:  Entryway/Mudroom 
Check the entrances to your house for out-of-place clutter. Kids kick off shoes and drop bags; adults leave keys and mail. Come up with a system for stuff that should be there (like hanging hooks or a coat rack or shoe cubbies) and instill habits to keep the space clear otherwise.

Day 9: Coat Closet
Coat closets often become hiding places for more than just winter jackets. See what's been hiding in its depths that belongs somewhere else and what you can pull out to toss.

Kitchen

Day 10: Kitchen Drawers 
Why so many crumbs, kitchen drawers? And why is this burned spatula still hanging around? And why are there still baby spoons in the silverware drawer when your youngest child is in kindergarten? Toss or donate! Then organize so the things you use the most are the most easily accessible.

Day 11: Kitchen Cabinets 
When you're quickly cleaning up after dinner it can be easy to throw pots and pans and bowls into cabinets willy-nilly, so take time to straighten cabinets and organize items if their placement isn't working for you. Infrequently used items can go in a pantry or other storage spot to free up more space for items you do use all the time. Those storage containers without lids and those lids without matching containers? Now's the time to toss the lids. Use the containers themselves as storage caddies for small items in drawers or cabinets throughout the house.

Day 12: Pantry 
Give your pantry an organizational once-over. Organize canned goods by type, check expiration dates and get rid of foods you'll never eat (like that trendy food you tried and hated). Unexpired and shelf stable foods can be donated to your local food pantry.  

Day 13: Spice Rack 
I recently went through my spice rack and was appalled that some of my spices were purchased more than four years ago. If you've got spices that could be in kindergarten, you're probably not using them very frequently in your favorite recipes, so it's likely safe to toss them. Plus, fresh spices will taste better anyway!

Day 14: Refrigerator and Freezer 
Many people try to give their fridge a look once a week or so to toss any leftovers that are moldy, but you likely don't think about condiments and other fridge staples. Check all the bottles and jars and toss any that are expired or that you just never use (like that hot sauce you tried and decided you hated).

Day 15: Junk Drawer
Junk drawers by their very nature are designed to hold junk and odds and ends that don't really belong anywhere else. But give it a look to see if there's any obvious trash, and see if there's anything you could move to another spot. You just might find that set of keys you thought you'd lost forever.

Day 16: Under-Sink Storage
If you've got pedestal sinks throughout the house, you get off easily on this chore. But if you've got under-sink storage, like under the kitchen sink, look under there to see what's been hiding and what needs to go.


Living Room

Day 17: Mantel
A fireplace is lovely--except when it's covered in clutter and junk. It takes away from the beauty of a roaring fire! So if your mantel is a storage place for DVDs or books or mail and other items that don't belong, try to find a spot for the unnecessary items to clear it off.

Day 18: Bookshelves
Bookshelves are great for storing and displaying books, art, accent décor, family pictures and more. But they can be a problem when they start to be holding places for extra clutter that makes them look less attractive. Give your bookshelves a glance to see if there's anything that doesn't belong. Then rearrange the items so it looks deliberate, not haphazard.

Day 19: Storage Furniture 
Go through that console table in the living room, the armoire in the guest bedroom and the trunk sitting in the corner of the basement. See if you really need its contents—and if you even need the actual furniture itself!


Home Office

Day 20: Office Desk
Workspaces can be hard to keep clutter-free. When you're at your desk, you're working or paying bills rather than focusing on keeping it clean. So do a sweep of the surfaces in the office and asses what you can keep and what you can toss.

Day 21: Filing Cabinets
Filing cabinets can get filled in a hurry, so go through yours to see what you can shred or recycle. You probably don't need that phone bill from 2005.

Day 22: Mail
Junk mail, bills and magazines pile up faster than dust bunnies. Clear your mail storage area and come up with a system for discarding junk immediately and storing bills that need your attention where they won't get overlooked. For instance, keep a small recycling bin just inside the front door so junk can go straight from the mailbox into the bin.


Kids' Rooms

Day 23: Kids' Closets 
Kids outgrow clothes at the speed of light and stain and tear the rest. Go through the closets to figure out what's wearable, what fits and what can be donated or discarded.

Day 24: Kids' Toy Bins
It's all too easy to accumulate a lot of toys, but kids also lose interest and outgrow toys fairly quickly, too. Have your kids help you go through toys and sports equipment to figure out what they're still using and what can be discarded, donated or handed down to a friend's little ones.

Other Spaces

Day 25: Laundry Room
The most likely clutter offender in my laundry room? A shirt that's "dry clean only" that has been laying there unlaundered for eons. If that's the situation in your house, label and hang a reusable bag for dry cleaning and get the clutter off the floor. Other laundry offenders include coins and receipts that fall out of pockets and end up on the dryer. Clear it out!

Day 26: Porch
Porches can get cluttered quickly with gardening equipment that never got put in the shed and shoes that got left outside because they were muddy. Take stock of the porch and put items in their proper spots.

Day 27: Hobby Room
Have a space or work room for hobbies or home improvement items? See what you can pitch or donate and what you can better organize.

Day 28: Basement
Now that you've gone through your house and properly stored things in their rightful places or gotten rid of them, check out your actual storage spots. If you've had boxes of books packed away for years, chances are that you don't need them (and won't miss them). Can you rearrange anything to make more space? Can you sell or donate anything you don't need? Is it time to rent a dumpster and really clear things out?

Day 29: Garage
The garage can be quite a chore, so leave it for the weekend and a day when it's beautiful outside. Get rid of what you don't need, pump up flat bicycle tires and get that lawnmower ready for spring!

Day 30: Car
When you're finished with the garage, don't forget about your car. Get rid of the obvious trash (empty water bottles, wrappers, etc.) but also check the glove box for expired insurance cards you can toss and snacks that melted last summer.

Your Bonus Project

You know that area in your house or life that needs to be organized. If it didn't make this list, your final project is to organize that space, whether it's the attic, a loft space, an offsite storage unit or bin full of your childhood stuff.

Breaking down a massive job into smaller more manageable steps can make a task like decluttering your entire life seem slightly more manageable. In just 30 days, you'll have a noticeably less cluttered house, and maybe you'll even find a few things you thought had disappeared forever! Plus, you might make a few bucks at a garage sale or feel really good about donating some quality items that you no longer need.

About the Author
Erin Whitehead is a health and fitness enthusiast who co-founded the popular website FitBottomedGirls.com and co-wrote The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (available May 2014). Now busier than ever with two kids, she writes about healthy pregnancy and parenting at FitBottomedMamas.com.




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Comments

  • 75
    I fell off so I'm starting over - 8/21/2016   8:34:45 AM
  • 74
    hotel sized bottles of shampoo can be donated to your local homeless shelter, as long as they are unopened. They are greatly appreciated. - 8/20/2016   10:25:14 AM
  • 73
    I'm totally doing this. Let's go day 1! - 8/8/2016   8:34:21 AM
  • 72
    My basement, garage or even kitchen cabinets are gonna take more than a day.
    A mantle & medicine cabinet, about 5 minutes. :-) - 5/11/2016   1:27:10 PM
  • IAMWINNING
    71
    I take unopened shampoos and other stuff the hotels give, and donate to a homeless shelter. I also add a knitted washcloth to the package. In our area, unused Rx medicines (not liquid) are taken to the police station which has a locked metal cabinet to drop them into. - 5/10/2016   7:16:35 PM
  • 70
    Or wait until you go to assisted living - 5/8/2016   2:13:45 PM
  • 69
    Always easier to break big tasks down into smaller segments. Certain things on this list would easily take more than 1 day to complete, so I'll adapt to my own personal need and break things down where necessary (or replace where things don't apply - I don't have a basement or mudroom.)

    This also works in other areas - my yard is requiring a lot of prep for the warmer months. I just finished my third Sunday of cleaning all the dead leaves and ivy out of the flower beds that run along the entire front of my house. Breaking it down into segments made it easier to commit a couple of hours each Sunday vs spending an entire day (and 2 days to recover). - 5/8/2016   1:11:27 PM
  • 68
    Always a great tip too is: Anything new comes into the house, something old must go out. Helps keep your hard work paying off. - 5/8/2016   12:11:10 PM
  • 67
    This is a good article for those with "a little clutter", but I'm a recovering hoarder...Each task could easily take several days. Some (like book shelves) may take weeks. It's so hard to find good articles for true hoarders. - 5/8/2016   9:46:18 AM
  • 66
    this looks like a really good idea

    is this a challenge out there? just figured if it were it would be easier to follow - 5/8/2016   8:52:20 AM
  • 65
    Great article and always good to get any new ideas. When I downsized 4 years ago to a smaller house, I got rid of so much. I called goodwill and they picked up 30 boxes of items, etc. Then after moving I still had another 60 boxes of things to have picked up. Most of it was in closets, so I forgot about it and my house did not look cluttered.....Moving to a smaller space made me realized I did not need all the things I had. I got rid of great books, records, household items for shelves,etc. Now I have one book case with two shelves and that is all I need. Clothes I give to my church or two other places that need clothes.
    It is now a weekly project for me to spend about two hours on a Monday and go through paperwork, for filing, and tossing,etc.
    Thanks for all the info. Flylady is good too and it does help to be more organized . Thanks for sharing. I also enjoyed many of the comments here.
    Spark is wonderful with all kinds of suggestions. Little by little my home is looking like a really CLEAN place to live. I have baby spoons too. I keep them for my grandkids. Now they are bigger, so I am trying to decide if my kids would like for their own grandkids, sometime, when they get this old..LOL.......
    I did print this long article and want to highlight areas I may have missed.....GREAT reminder on how to stay on top of things. Paper was a big problem for me, all kinds of old receipts,etc. Good luck everyone and keep at it. - 5/8/2016   8:06:21 AM
  • 64
    So where is the printable version of this plan? :) - 5/8/2016   6:26:19 AM
  • 63
    This is the best anti-clutter plan I've ever seen, and I have a shelf full of books on the subject. I'm definitely going to follow it starting tomorrow. I'' put each task on my calendar with a reminder to nag me! - 4/24/2016   4:13:49 PM
  • 62
    This is the best anti-clutter plan I've ever seen, and I have a shelf full of books on the subject. I'm definitely going to follow it starting tomorrow. I'' put each task on my calendar with a reminder to nag me! - 4/24/2016   4:13:09 PM
  • 61
    You should change this to a challenge, it would work well . - 3/22/2016   5:23:47 PM
  • 60
    When disposing of medications, it's helpful to refer to the US Food and Drug administration, that is, the FDA.gov page, "How to Dispose of Unused Medicines". Apparently some medications are safe to flush away, while others, are not. I can't include the url here, but you can google it and find the page.
    - 3/20/2016   2:47:06 PM
  • 59
    This has been said in the comments but can't be said enough times. Expired medications of all types need to be taken to an organization that will dispose of them properly, NOT in the trash and NOT in the toilet or down the drain. Fish and soil now contain harmful drugs from this practice. - 3/20/2016   10:31:46 AM
  • 58
    I think it is a great idea to do one piece of furniture, or one drawer, at a time. - 3/20/2016   9:53:27 AM
  • 57
    All of this sounds nice. For me, it's not that I need to be taught what to do. I already know very well how to get rid of clutter and organize what's left. My problem is that I have severe ADD/ADHD and I can't do it. I know how, but I simply can NOT do it. My nervous system and brain do not function in that way. - 3/20/2016   7:21:11 AM
  • 56
    I've been decluttering ... slowly ... for the last 2 months or so. I'm nowhere near done, but it's remarkable how much stuff I've managed to either throw out or donate, and having organised drawers, cupboards, even rooms (!) really is a wonderful feeling. I keep opening my kitchen cupboards just to have a look :-) This is my new motto: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful" ... William Morris. - 1/3/2016   2:27:07 AM
  • 55
    Our STOP Team did this in 2014 as a challenge. I loved it. I am still decluttering. We are going to do it again in the Spring this year. I find quite a few things I put in a safe place, then forget where I put them. I only have one junk drawer now. My pantry is more organized. Good feeling. - 1/2/2016   10:51:38 PM
  • 54
    Great ideas. - 12/31/2015   6:49:17 PM
  • 53
    This kinda simplifies the whole process, but each item would take hours not minutes. - 12/31/2015   4:10:50 PM
  • 52
    I am printing this out and USING IT! - 12/31/2015   11:28:15 AM
  • MINIATURIST
    51
    If you repeat this schedule every month it gets easier and easier each time and your house actually feels more peaceful. Most of these tasks take less than half an hour and by month three, most take about five minutes. If your house is really cluttered the initial time will take much longer but in the long run being organized can save you tons of time.
    - 12/31/2015   10:40:38 AM
  • 50
    Yeah. Some of these, great idea. A lot of them would take waay more than a day each in our house. And what about the SO's clutter? Don't dare touch that, cos if one day he can't find something, it's my fault!
    - 5/14/2015   3:51:26 AM
  • 49
    I will use it to make my own calendar. - 5/4/2015   4:21:59 PM
  • HEALTH4MEMA
    48
    This would make a good 30 day printable calendar or better yet, 30 day text reminders! - 5/4/2015   3:00:03 PM
  • 47
    Don't know why that Sparks has a fitness expert, giving us tips on de- cluttering. We flybabies, AKA Flylady have been doing this daily. - 5/4/2015   11:57:00 AM
  • 46
    NEVER toss out expired medication! RETURN it to the pharmacy to have it disposed of properly!! Putting it down the toilet is really, really bad, and putting it into your trash isn't much better. - 5/4/2015   10:47:43 AM
  • 2METOO
    45
    Where do you put the STUFF after you clear it off? A lot of things are good. That's my problem can not throw away. HOARDER - 5/4/2015   10:11:21 AM
  • 2METOO
    44
    This article came at the right time for me. I have all kinds of organizing books , articles, magazines on "DECLUTTERING". I need to declutter my personal space. I manage the public spaces of my home, but if one should open the doors of my personal spaces. I am to ashamed. - 5/4/2015   10:09:16 AM
  • 43
    We de cluttered when we had to move to another state. Got rid of some things, but kept stuff that we were happy we kept once we got here, saved money not to but new appliances right away, plus kept clothes that we found we need here after all. Don't be tempted to toss or give away stuff just because some article tells you to. - 5/4/2015   5:21:12 AM
  • STAN06WM
    42
    Good Article - Also agree with MICHELLEMAE1970 .....good comments and additions.....would be great if you could like posted comments. - 4/9/2015   9:37:47 AM
  • CMARRIN
    41
    This is a great and easy plan to follow! While you're spring cleaning, you can also think of ways to make some extra money. You can hold a yard sale or even offer to clean for your friends and neighbors and charge by the hour. I found a lot of good ideas in this blog- www.freetax.com/blog/make-extra-mon
    ey-with-spring-cleaning
    / - it's worth the read! - 4/2/2015   12:43:03 PM
  • 40
    A helpful article with a simple to execute plan. - 3/28/2015   8:45:49 AM
  • 39
    i just finished my project and six trips to good well and seven trash bags later i am ready to paint and enjoy my nice clean living space . - 3/23/2015   2:49:51 PM
  • 38
    I found a better way to declutter. We decided to move out of state so were selling our house. We are really getting rid of the clutter and cleaning everything we can. Even if we don't sell our house my house is clean and no clutter. - 3/20/2015   4:55:50 PM
  • 37
    Great article. love the list for one area a day. I just look at my cluttered house and never know where to start. may try this though going to take more than one day on many of these areas. especially my office and kitchen. - 3/20/2015   3:16:27 PM
  • ITASARA
    36
    The problem with decluttering it that it never ends and for me it never seems to get better. It is not as easy as it sounds at least for me to decide what I don't need anymore and I find my storage spaces are quite lacking in my house even though it is a large house. Also there is another site called flylady.net which can be very helpful as it puts out a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule for cleaning and decluttering. I like this site but I am a very non-routine person so it is difficult for me to keep up. Although "flylady" says never give up, your never behind, etc etc The site has beome somewhat commercial over time in that "flylady" sells all kinds of equipment and items to help with cleaning, but that is a small part of the site. Many people write in on how helpful these items are. - 3/20/2015   2:26:41 PM
  • ITASARA
    35
    I have one suggestion where the article says to trash certain items. Some items can be donated to a site (I belong to one on yahoo) where people offer uneeded, used or old, even broken items or receive items they may want. Even used baby spoons may be someone elses treasure. The idea is to keep usable items out of the garbage dumb which is becoming rather problematic, especially plastic items and styrofoam. Some electronic items (and medications) can be brought to a recycling center. - 3/20/2015   2:20:05 PM
  • 34
    Great timing. I just decided to have a TV shut down for a month anyway. Decluttering was a main reason. Now I have some guidance. Thank you! - 3/20/2015   1:18:53 PM
  • 33
    I agree, great article ... wished it were available in printable calendar format. - 3/20/2015   9:03:00 AM
  • DORIAN109
    32
    Great article, thank you. While going through my night stand I found my wedding ring that was missing for three years. When I had surgery the nurse put my ring in a plastic bag and gave it to my husband, he could not remember where he put it. - 3/20/2015   8:40:08 AM
  • KIMLOU55
    31
    I made a comment then wanted to delete it but no way to do so......had to write something - 3/20/2015   7:35:20 AM
  • 30
    Love this! Wish it was available in a printable 30-day calendar I could stick on my fridge during Spring Cleaning! - 3/20/2015   2:27:46 AM
  • 29
    I just printed this list and while I won't be doing it every day I will make it a saturday morning priority to do. - 3/14/2015   7:13:39 PM
  • 28
    Great list!! One tip for filing cabinets: Set up two sets of files: 12 Months, and 31 Days. When you have paperwork that's not due until next month or beyond, or meeting agendas, reservation confirmations, Birthday cards etc, put it in the proper month folder. At the start of each month, take anything accumulated and move it to specific Day folder. Put bills, insurance, cards, etc in a day that gives you enough time for mailing it.... - 3/2/2015   2:56:14 PM
  • 27
    I will be downsizing in the next year or so and the chore of going through everything that's been in my house for 40 years is overwhelming. But I love the idea of one chore a day. I would have to repeat it for months and months, but what a great start! - 2/17/2015   5:47:18 PM
  • 26
    I got rid of most of my belonging twice! It is the most liberating thing you can do. It helps to cut down on clutter and my apartment is much easier to clean, literally takes about 2 hours. IT is a one bedroom apartment so that might be part of the ease of it and I do not have children living with me. - 1/27/2015   8:26:24 PM

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