The biggest question I get asked is how to start decluttering a home. Today I am going to give you my unique approach to decluttering. Small quick tasks that you can do without freaking out and will, in turn, remove the clutter like magic! Sometimes in order to declutter you just need a few steps that you can do as a part of your daily routine. Once you clean out the extra stuff you will see your home in a new light. This will help you to find things more quickly and also put your things all the way away just as easily.
I know it can be so overwhelming when you have a project this size. Especially one that is in your face day in and day out.
But here’s the thing about having stuff lying out all over your home, it can be contagious.
If your home is cluttered, that chaos can easily spill over to your finances, your job, and even your thoughts. Yes, your head can be cluttered with to-do lists, chores, and unfinished projects nagging at you to get things done.
Another side effect of a messy home is that things can get buried under the clutter, important things, and that, in turn, can cause stress in your relationships, in your home, and even your life.
With so many things affected by clutter, it is not surprising that clutter can make you sick. Both physically and emotionally.
Don’t worry, though, I have been where you are right now. And I have made it to the other side. Yes, I went from super messy and cluttered to organized. And you know what? If I can do it, you can too. I promise!
Confession time. I used to hide dirty dishes in my oven.
I know, right?!
Then one night, my boys decided to make a pizza. They turned the oven on without checking inside, and I am sure you can guess what happened next.
They just about burned my house down!
That was the slap in the face that I needed. My clutter issues were endangering my family. Dramatic? Maybe. Effective? Absolutely.
I knew I needed to get things cleaned up and quick.
I forced myself to clean things up and clean things out. I walked into our most lived-in room and just got started. I put on headphones, played upbeat music, and tuned everything else out.
It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary for my family and myself.
Today I am going to share with you the steps I used myself to get my home back under control. Yes, you will still need to do the heavy work but in the end, you will find a home you love to be in. One that is a joy and not a stress inducer. One that is easy to keep neat and tidy and put away.
How to Start Decluttering Your Home
These steps are more like hacks. Incorporate as many as you can to help keep the clutter put away for good. When you do, you will have a home that is not only easy to keep organized but will just take you a fraction to clean it freeing up even more time for you to do things you love.
Step #1 Take out the trash
I like to call this one of the Three Steps to Uncover the Cutter. More often than not what we think is clutter is buried under stuff that needs to be thrown away. This is a super easy step and will remove more than you might realize.
How it works:
- Take a trash bag and walk around your home.
- If you see any trash at all grab it and keep on going.
- Don’t touch anything else, and do not get distracted. Just remove the trash and move on.
- Papers, napkins, tissues, pop/soda cans, newspapers, magazines, whether you recycle it or trash it the point is to remove it.
Step #2 Dishes Belong in the Kitchen
Many times the stuff that is lying out is not clutter but things that need to be put away. Clothes, dishes, shoes, toys, papers, books, so many things that if we can work to put them away, will transform our rooms like magic.
This little tip takes just a few minutes and can go a long way to clearing out some of the visual clutter in your home.
How it works:
- Use a laundry basket to gather up any items you see that belong in another room.
- Walk your room looking for these things filling up your basket as you go.
- Once finished, you can walk your home putting those items away where they belong.
- Repeat until you have found every last random thing.
Step #3 Make a Weekly Planning Basket
This is a tip I learned years ago and I just love how it works to keep papers from cluttering up my home.
What is a weekly planning basket?
A weekly planning basket is a basket where you can toss any papers or reading material as they come into your home. You can use a clothes basket, a plastic bin-style basket, a hinged woven basket, or even a paper storage box.
Keep all papers that need to be read over or dealt with in this basket. This will help to keep the paper clutter off your counters and corral them into one safe place so you never misplace an important document again.
How it works:
- As soon as you come across any papers that cannot be thrown away, such as mail, toss them in the basket.
- Set aside a day each week to go through the papers inside of your weekly planning basket.
- Be sure to take the next step, file, shred, toss, or take action.
- You can also use a Post-it to add any notes that you want to remember later.
Step #4 Set Up a Command Center
Whether your kids are young or they are grown and on their own like mine, having a family command center is a lifesaver.
A family command center has really helped us to keep the important parts of our family streamlined in a way that is easy to keep and use routinely.
What is a family command center?
A family command center is an area in your home where you can house and organize the running of your home and the schedules for your family. It is a great place to sort out mail for your family members, ensuring that things do not get lost or misplaced.
I am constantly coming across things that I no longer need, but I know my boys will want. Being able to put that item into a basket that is specifically for them keeps the clutter down in my home and keeps me from forgetting to give it to them.
This also works well with the mail which you will continue to get for a while even after they have moved out. Whatever it is, if it’s for them, put it in their designated spot. Try these super affordable baskets for your own command center.
If you have younger children, this tip can be a lifesaver. Lunch money, permission slips, and report cards can all get lost in a cluttered home. Having a system set up for these items will help keep the school clutter under control better than you think. You can read just how easy it is to set one up here.
Even if you don’t have children, a home command center is too important to skip. Having a central hub in your home is a game changer for anyone that struggles with things falling through the cracks.
Step #5 Use Hampers to Hold Clutter
Lightweight hampers are not only great for organizing random things in your home but they are super affordable as well. I just love how great they work at keeping clutter down.
What can you Organize with Hampers?
- Kid’s stuffed animals.
- Blankets in the family room.
- Dirty clothes-so easy to carry to and from the laundry room.
- Linens-if you do not have a place to house sheets and extra blankets this works perfectly.
- Pet toys-use a small one for your pet’s toys and keep in the corner of your room.
- Check the baskets out here and find your own awesome way to use them!
Step #6 Trunk it
Many times we work hard to declutter. Filling up boxes and bags with things we are finally ready to get rid of. The problem is, many times, those donations sit in our homes for so long that we forget to take it to the donation center and after a few months, we are forced to go through those items all over again.
Remember filling bags with donations and setting them in a corner of our home is not decluttering, it’s relocating.
Instead, whenever you fill a bag or a box, no matter how small it is, take it and put it into the trunk of your card immediately.
Each time you are out running errands, stop at the donation center and drop off any items in your car.
This one tip alone will remove more stuff without too much effort.
Step #7 Stop the Paper
If you are having a problem with paper clutter, you may want to find a way to eliminate all that comes in.
Here are a few ideas:
- Go paperless for as many bills as you can.
- Read magazines online.
- Subscribe to online newspapers.
If you have a small collection of newspapers, you can use them in your garden or send them to your local recycling center.
Step #8 Nothing New
If you have an overstuffed closet, maybe it’s time for a tough-love no, clutter rule.
Nothing new can come into your closet until you remove three items. Let’s think about it for a minute. Clothes are so expensive today. When you pay $30 (or more) for a nice top, why bring it home and hang it in a closet that is so overstuffed any clothes on hangers end up stretched, snagged, or buried.
Clothes need to be treated with care, so make sure your clothes can hang freely without being crushed. Purchase no slip hangers that keep shoulders from stretching out.
Need more clothes decluttering help? Try the hanger trick!
How it works:
- Go into your closet and turn every hanger around so it faces backward on the rod.
- As you wear an item, correct the hanger it is on.
- At the end of 30 days you will be able to see the clothes you wear often (hangers on the rod the correct way) and the clothes you routinely pass over (hangers still on the rod backward).
- Repeat this tip every 2-3 months to ensure your closet is only filled with clothes you love to wear.
Step #9 Tough love time
Do not buy anything else. If you are serious about decluttering and truly want to make a change, THEN STOP BUYING THINGS.
Yes, it’s really that simple. Make a commitment to yourself and your home.
Nothing new comes in until you have the clutter under control.
Step #10 Set up systems
If you want to ensure your home stays free of clutter, then make a habit of always putting your things away.
All the way away.
The more you do this one step, the less you will have lying out and the more organized and tidy your home will be.
Without any sweat, tears, or extra work.
Train yourself (and others) to respect the systems you worked so hard to establish. By using them actively, you will slowly see the clutter dissipate. If you want a crash course in system creation, you can read more about how that works here.
I know you are overwhelmed; I get it. The thought of decluttering can paralyze anyone!
Bonus Step – Five Things
Here is a bonus tip for how to start decluttering your home, a challenge for you to try, right now.
Find five things you can get rid of this very second. Don’t over think it, just grab five random things. Go ahead, I will wait right here until you get back.
Did you do it? I hope you did!!
Every big project, even one this big, has to start somewhere, and if you just removed five things, then you got your start. And that means the rest will be easy.
Follow these tips, and between each tip, remove 5 more things. By the time you are done, you will have removed 50 things from your home, all the while setting up workable systems to keep your target areas under control!!
And, finally, remember why you are doing this.
The finish line is a streamlined, organized, and tidy (or at least close to it) home—a place where you can recharge your batteries and relax. Your home will be cozy, and it will be peaceful, just like it should be.
And the best part? Decluttering is contagious!
A few final thoughts, I get it….really seriously get it.
I was a HUGE clutter bug, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be one. Follow these steps, read all my other posts both here and over at our sister site, Declutter in Minutes, and you can finally begin to see light at the end of the tunnel.
These tips are all the ones I used to take back control of my house. These are the same tips my own boys use in their homes. Why? Because they are super simple, and THEY WORK.
Don’t wait. Take the first step with any of these how to start decluttering steps and take back your house and make it a peaceful home again.