How To Finally Conquer Surface Clutter

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If you struggle with clutter and long to have a more simplified home, then today I have the help you need. How to conquer Surface Clutter will get you back on track to creating a more simplified homestead. Clutter can turn a room into a chaotic mess, by eliminating some of the extra stuff you can bring peace back to your home for good. 

how to conquer surface clutter 4

One of the biggest frustrations I hear from my fellow declutters is the neverending piles covering every surface of their homes. I get it, even I have to sleep with one eye open when it comes to this type of clutter.

Surface clutter is a force of its own.

Empty counters are like a magnet calling for items to flock to its shiny surface. Sure, you may start out neat and tidy and but before the week is through, you have piles of randomness all over your tables and counters. If you are here to conquer surface clutter then read on good friends, I’ve got some tips for you!

messy couch in a cluttered family room

Unfortunately, there is no magic wand to stop surface clutter, and that’s the bad news. The good news is how to get rid of the clutter is actually quite easy. And there is more than one plan of attack for you to pick from so you can finally get rid of the mess once and for all using a system that works for you. 

As homesteaders, we are always looking for ways to make things easier.

To set up a home and life that is more simplified so we can get through our days with less fuss and stress and chaos. That is why removing the extra stuff we don’t need is so important. To only keep in a room with the items we need is the key to decluttering and organizing each room in our homes. 

How to conquer surface clutter

When it comes to dealing with clutter let’s break it down into smaller steps. Focus on just one at a time so you can work your way through each area in your home quickly and easily.

Tip #1 A place for everything and everything in its place.

Our grandmothers were definitely onto something when they said “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Have a home for your things, so you know where they are when you need them. Then make a point of always putting those same things away when you are done using them.

Ta-da! No more surface clutter.

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I know, probably not what you wanted to hear but hear me out.

More often than not the clutter we think we have lying out is only items that need to be put away.

  • Trash that belongs in the trash can.
  • Dishes that belong in the sink or dishwasher.
  • Empty shopping bags that belong in the drawer.
  • Papers or mail that belongs in the office.
  • Blankets that belong in the bedroom.
  • Clothes that belong in the laundry room.

I could go on and on.

If you have a home for your things and you make a goal of always putting them where they belong when you are done using them, the clutter will not end up on your counters. And just like that you have a neater space.

Tip #2 Put the stuff in baskets to deal with later.

The problem with tip #1 is not all of our things have a home. So what, then?

That is where this amazingly simple basket tip swoops in to save the day. I have a basket in every room of my home to help keep each space mess-free. If I find clutter in a room that I should put away but I am not ready to do that at the moment, I can put it into the basket temporarily to get it out of the way.

This is by far my favorite organizer. Baskets are easy to use, simple to set up, and look great in any room.

An set of shelves on the end of a kitchen counter with baskets and cookbooks

The most important part of this plan is to make sure you do not ignore these baskets.

Set a day right now and make that “basket day.” This will be the day you go through any clutter baskets you have set throughout your home. For example, if you choose Friday as your basket day, that is the day you go through each basket one at a time putting away any items that have a definite home.

The remaining items (those without a home) can be dealt with now by finding a home for them. As you get better at organizing, you will find it easier to choose homes that make sense for each item.

Read:  Use Catch-All Baskets to Reduce Clutter

Tip #3 Keep clutter, clutter.

Let’s get real. Clutter should never include these four items.

  • Clothing
  • Dishes
  • Toys
  • Trash

If you look around your home right now and you see any of these items, get up and take care of them. I promise you it will take no longer than just a few quick minutes to gather up dirty clothes and toss them in the laundry room, dirty dishes and put them in the sink, toys into the kid’s toy box, and trash in the trash can.

Messy colorful clothing, closeup

From here on in, those items should be put where they belong and nowhere else. Listen, it’s easier to spend seconds doing it along the way rather than spending hours time doing it after it builds up.

Make this the next habit you instill and watch your surface clutter issue slowly disappear. Because after all, you can clean it up and put it all away but if you don’t change your habits you will be right back where you started.

SLCG Pro Tip:  Laundry room too far away? Use these large baskets to corral clothes and keep your rooms neat and tidy! 

Tip#4 The never-ending paper clutter.

This beast can be a bit tricky to tame.

When you are constantly getting hit with more and more paper every single day, how on earth are you supposed to keep up with it? Here is a new clutter-free habit to start using right away. 

Never put papers on an open surface. You can either use tip #2 and toss it into a basket set aside just for daily mail or you can deal with things right away. 

As soon as a single piece of paper comes into your home, you have 3 decisions to make.

  1. Toss it in the trash
  2. Deal with it immediately
  3. Put it in a pile to deal with later

When you have a paper you need to deal with but not at this moment, what do you do? You put it on the nearest table or counter, right? Sure you do, that is exactly what I used to do. The problem is before you know it, that important paper gets shuffled or covered or lost completely by all the other things lying about. What if, instead, you had a spot to put all of these papers that need your attention but not this very second?

Cue the weekly planning basket.

This tip was given to me by one of my readers and it is by far my favorite decluttering tip EVER and will help you conquer surface clutter forever! 

I have a basket in my office that is nice and big and bonus…has a lid! Oh, I just love hidden clutter! Haha! You can find my favorite basket here.

A blue woven basket with a lid filled with papers.

Each day as papers come into my home, I will put papers that need my attention in that basket. Then on Sundays, I will spend some time on my comfy couch with my basket, pen, and stack of post-it notes. I will go through every piece of paper and either take care of it now or make notes on a post-it and schedule that task on my planner for the upcoming week.

Since I implemented the Weekly Planning Basket, I have removed 90% of my paper clutter and cleared off just about every surface in my home.

Try it, I promise….you will like it!!

Read:  Dealing With Paper Clutter

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So, let’s do a quick recap on how to conquer surface clutter

#1. Have a home for your things and put them away as soon as you finish them.
#2. Use baskets in each room to hold your clutter until later.
#3.  Always take care of clothes, dishes, toys, and trash immediately.
#4. Use a Sunday Basket to eliminate all paper clutter and never miss a bill payment again!

When you have a plan for clutter, it really helps to see things in a different light.

The things you use the most must have a home, so they are no longer lost in a pile, and priority is given to what is important.

Be aware of the tools you are using, whether that be getting dressed, cooking dinner, or watching television. When you are conscious of the things you are using to do something, you can then be more alert to where you are putting them when you are finished.

The more you put things all the way away, the less you will have lying out, and just like that, your surface clutter will be a thing of the past. 

Have a plan and stick to it so that before you know it, clutter is a thing of the past. Now you can use this game plan to conquer your surface clutter for good. 


  1. I don’t comment often on blog posts and find many of the same tips online but this was a really well written and unique post on dealing with clutter. I really loved the idea of having a basket in each room! I generally keep a prettttttty tidy house (as much as one can with two toddlers) but there is always that one (or two) piles in each room. Going to try this out and check out some more of your blog!

    1. Hi, Amanda!!

      I am so glad you enjoyed my post, yep…I am all about simple! If it’s not simple I won’t do it. Hey, kudos to you keeping a neat house with toddlers!

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Tracy Lynn

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