Having a clean and tidy home can feel impossible to do when you have work, kids, pets, and other commitments. You could be moving soon or simply want a more welcoming, organised home, so decluttering is key!
However, decluttering can feel like a giant task that you just have no time for! Here are a few tips including a quick decluttering checklist to help you get on with it.
Be mindful of what you bring into your home
Being mindful of your purchases seems obvious. There is less to declutter if you try to avoid bringing unnecessary things home.
The clutter may be so overwhelming you’ve even thought of becoming a full-blown minimalist! If this feels extreme to you, you can still think about applying the mindset in an easier way.
Whenever you’re tempted to bring something home or buy something ask yourself:
Do I already have this or enough of this at home?
Do I have something at home that could do the same task?
Do I really need it? Do I really want it?
Will I get bored of this or stop using it eventually?
A good way to check if a purchase is worth space at home is to consider giving yourself a month to purchase something. If it can’t wait because you need it urgently, or if you do wait and still need it a month later, chances are it’s a good buy.
Adopt an in and out policy
If you do bring something new home, consider getting rid of something else. If you have a one thing in and one thing out approach, you will never increase the total number of household items.
This approach also feels a lot more doable than a big decluttering project that can feel overwhelming and unpleasant to start.
When you’re decluttering your items, you may feel a false sense of attachment or start justifying why you should keep it even if you haven’t had to use it in months. This is very counterproductive and will make decluttering much more difficult than it needs to be.
Before you declutter, make it clear why you want to do this and what you don’t need in your life. Think of rules which can help you go through your things, e.g. getting rid of extras, duplicates, items unused for the past year, expired and damaged items. Then stick to this rule.
If you don’t love it or need it, chuck it!
Plan to declutter little by little
Speaking of overwhelmed decluttering projects, instead of doing it all just before you move or all in one weekend it’s a good idea to split the project into weeks by room or category.
If room based you might decide to do one week for each bedroom, a week for the kitchen, a week for the living room, a week for the garage, etc. Breaking the job up into manageable chunks will make the whole project seem less daunting.
If you decide to do it by categories you could do: clothing and linens on the first week, tools and electronics the second week, storage areas the third week, toys and hobbies the fourth week, documents, photos and books the fifth week and so forth.
After you complete each deadline, you will also feel a sense of accomplishment and feel excited and maybe even look forward to decluttering the following week.
Go through room by room, drawer by drawer, shelf by shelf
Whether you take a room by room or category-based approach it’s good to check every nook and cranny, so you don’t miss anything. There are a lot of unused items sitting in the back of cupboards, shelves, and drawers.
The fact that you don’t take these items out or use them often is a sign that you should probably get rid of them.
Use our quick checklist
If making the decision on what to throw out is stressful for you, go through the checklist below for items you can throw out, sell, or give away today:
Clothes you haven’t worn in a year or with damage
Socks without a pair
Clothes that are off by 2 sizes
Toys and books your kids have outgrown
Duplicates (especially kitchenware, unused linen)
Past best before date food, herbs and spices
Containers without lids and lids without containers
Unused small appliances (waffle maker? Blender?) kitchenware, tools, arts and craft
Old documents (may consider scanning and storing soft copies instead)
Outdated makeup, beauty products, toiletries
Expired drugs and vitamins
Old or damaged shoes
Old or damaged cleaning products
Unused or old devices and their cords, chargers, covers, etc.
Turn it into a habit
Make decluttering a daily or weekly habit by incorporating it into your cleaning routine. Whenever you’re dusting or wiping down shelves and cupboards go through them to see if there is anything you can get rid of.
When you’re putting laundry away look for clothes that aren’t being taken out at all. When you visit the linen cupboard look for linen that you haven’t used in a year.
When you’re deep cleaning the kitchen, declutter your bakeware and pantry items. Making decluttering part of your routine will make the task feel a lot less overwhelming. When it becomes a habit, you’ll be doing so regularly you’ll feel your home is generally a happy, clutter-free environment!
Doing it all on your own can be tedious. Get friends and family to help you. They will probably be more ruthless than you when it comes to getting rid of things too! Even if they don’t help you, just having some company will make the chore a lot more pleasant.
If your home has accumulated so many things over the years and you still don’t know where to start, hire a professional. The rise of home organisation businesses means you can find a professional to help you tidy and organise your home for you!
If you’re not quite ready to part with your items, self-storage may be the thing for you. Putting items into storage means you can retrieve them if you change your mind while giving you the benefit of seeing what it’s like to live with less clutter.
Self-storage can be used to house your off-season clothes, Christmas decorations, collectables, and documents you don’t need regular access too. This way you can live in an organised space without having to bin anything!
Give yourself a reward
Though the long-term reward is having a tidy, organised home, motivate yourself by giving yourself a reward after you do any decluttering. It could be a nice cup of tea and a biscuit after cleaning and decluttering the kitchen or buying yourself a big-ticket item after 3 weeks of decluttering.
Having something to look forward to will keep you going!