Declutter Your Home in 30 Days

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By: , – Erin Whitehead, Health & Fitness Writer
4/5/2014 6:00 AM   :  42 comments   :  322,371 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

  • 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
  • 25
    My house is such a wreck that several of these will take me more than one day. But I love having the list. It's going to help me know where to begin and to stay on target. Thank you! - 1/2/2015   2:54:32 PM
  • 24
    This is one that i'm definitely printing and starting - going to set it up ass a daily goal as well - very excited about this. - 10/4/2014   8:30:30 PM
  • 23
    I love how it increases in difficulty as you go. You start out in the smallest area of your house and then each day you tackle something larger and larger. What a great approach! Especially for someone like me who doesn't know where to start. - 5/24/2014   6:23:19 AM
  • 22
    This seems at just the right time Spring cleaning! - 4/7/2014   8:24:41 PM
  • BANNERMAN
    21
    Thanks for sharing. - 4/7/2014   2:04:27 AM
  • 20
    All great ideas, but it sure would take more than one day for many of them!
    - 4/6/2014   11:30:20 PM
  • 19
    These are great motivators! I'm moving soon and some of these are things that I can do to prepare. I'm going to save this article and go through this once or twice a year. - 4/6/2014   5:07:45 PM
  • MOONGLOWSNANA
    18
    Some of these jobs could take a week at my house so I think I will be busy for longer than 30 days. I put Laundry room on my calendar for every day or a week and by closet shelves will require a long time too. I put them down for everyday for a week. My bathroom drawer I can probably do in an hour. Thanks for the ideas and once I have it on my calendar I can check it of when I get each spot organized, clean and put back or pitched! - 4/6/2014   4:12:29 PM
  • 17
    Don't burn yourself out. Give 15 minutes every day to decluttering, using this guide.You can come back next month to spend another 15 minutes, and it does get a little easier to let go of 'just in case' as you see the progress. It was from Spark that I first learned about www.flylady.net ,improved my life!
    - 4/6/2014   3:35:45 PM
  • 16
    Thanks for outlining this de-clutter challenge - will modify and give it a go!! (Am also confused by the references to shopping and going to another site... I didn't experience either!) - 4/6/2014   3:20:02 PM
  • 15
    OMG I had may laugh for the day the one about the baby spoons still in the drawer but the youngest is 5. My youngest is 37 and I have 2 baby spoons in my drawer. Why I know I just cleaned out my kitchen drawers yesterday and guess what those spoons went right back into the drawer. I hopes for grandkids!!!!!! - 4/6/2014   10:10:45 AM
  • MICHELLEMAE1970
    14
    I wish their were "like" buttons on posted comments. Their is a lot of great comments here I like! (What Facebook or YouTube has) - 4/6/2014   9:49:48 AM
  • 13
    For some of these areas, you need the whole day - at least if there needs to be reorganization and trips to donate, throw away and get new storage. I don't know many people who have a full 30 some days with nothing but decluttering to do, so I think I will keep to giving one area of attention during those times when I can dedicate the time, and work around the house...spice rack doesn't need full day... but some cabinets... - 4/5/2014   12:40:13 PM
  • GOLDIENORCAL
    12
    Please remember that it is unwise and unsafe to throw away old medications. Curious toddlers and animals can find them, and once in the landfill they find their way into soil and eventually our drinking water. Many pharmacies and hospitals have drop off sites for outdated medications. You can also call your county health department and ask for a drop off location. - 4/5/2014   12:39:27 PM
  • 11
    GREAT tips! - 4/5/2014   12:28:30 PM
  • 10
    I love these day to day steps and am making a 30 day plan for my home, time to get clutter free! - 4/5/2014   11:00:42 AM
  • 9
    I like the basic structure of the article (all the areas and guidance) but I think the timeline is pretty aggressive. Even just keeping it to de-cluttering and not necessarily cleaning or rearranging is still going to take a while--and if I just took everything out of the closet I'm not about to just fling it back in!

    I think I'll use it but allow a week for some of the tasks (garage, kitchen cabinets, etc.)

    I've used the book 'Organizing from the Inside Out' as a planning guide and it is really is helpful for creating a space that's relatively easy to maintain once the decluttering and organizing is done. - 4/5/2014   10:58:35 AM
  • 8
    I'm not sure what article everyone else here has read, but I just read the article on decluttering, and there was nothing about going to another site to read the rest of the article, or having to go shopping, or putting your sheets in sets in pillow cases (I don't have enough to warrant doing that). I think it's a great article with great suggestions! - 4/5/2014   9:31:41 AM
  • GLENMORRISGIRL
    7
    First - go shopping??????? I was disappointed that this "article" was essentially a shopping list. For instance - bedding: put the sheets in the pillow case. Fold the sheets and then put them in the pillow case. That way they can still be stacked. If clutter is an issue, you do not have room for baskets each containing ONE sheet set.
    - 3/22/2014   2:21:48 PM
  • 6
    You don't need to register at Family Circle. Go to "home" and then you can search for keywords in this article's title, "Declutter in 31 Days". Came right up for me! - 2/25/2014   11:11:28 AM
  • 5
    I love shopping at IKEA and this is my excuse to go shopping. :o) - 1/31/2014   9:01:38 AM
  • 4
    The way I found the rest of it without signing up was to click on home in the upper right of the signup page. Scroll down to find the link for the article in the center column. - 1/28/2014   12:30:38 PM
  • 3
    I read them without any problems. If you hit continue instead of signing up (in the very top right hand corner of that ad), you can read whatever you want. :)

    Love articles on decluttering. Just wish I could wiggle my nose like Samantha and poof, it would all be gone! :)
    - 1/28/2014   10:04:31 AM
  • 2
    I wish it would take each room and organize it - 1/28/2014   8:40:50 AM
  • 1
    I find it very irritating to go to a site and have to register and log in to read the rest of the article. Please, SparkPeople, print the whole article here! I can deal with your advertising, but I'd rather not send my address around the world. - 1/28/2014   6:59:09 AM

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