As I have worked to keep my home and life uncluttered, I’ve noticed that there is a theme to it all: The key word is work! You have to invest in something to keep it clean, organized, or otherwise uncluttered. The more you value something, the more effort you tend to put into it. For example, if you value simplicity, you are more likely to put effort into keeping your life simple. That being said, organizing, cleaning, and decluttering your whole house can seem like such an enormous task that, even if you do value organization, you continually procrastinate. That’s why I’ve created this simple step-by-step outline for How to Declutter Your House. When broken down into manageable steps, the task seems much less daunting – and you can also section it out to do over the course of a week, or however long you like!
1.Pick a room to start in
I like to start in the entry area because that’s the first place you see when you come in. This step is important for staying focused and not getting overwhelmed if there is a lot to do. If you try to tackle the whole house at once, it’s super easy to get distracted and not complete the task you had been working on. Also, it’s great to be able to see your declutter progress in one area, and you can divide it up so it gets accomplished over a few days, if needed.
2.If you have kids, enlist their help!
The key is to set it up right: rather than telling them to just go clean their room, make this an adventure. By encouraging them to help you, and making this a fun family activity. You’re also teaching them useful organizational skills that will come in handy later ;). Several principles to remember, especially with little kids: A. Give them “bite-sized” tasks that they can accomplish themselves and feel proud of. B. Encourage, rather than criticize. C. Give them incentive to be enjoyed after they complete the tasks you give them.
3.Sort into “throw away”, “donate”, and “sell”
Before you jump in, grab three boxes or containers. In one, put things that are really garbage: Old receipts, worn out towels, etc. The second box, use for charity items: things that don’t have a ton of value, but are still useful. Clothes you don’t wear, kitchen gadgets you don’t use, etc. The last box is for things that you could potentially sell. This might include shoes in good condition, electronics, etc. Alternatively, you may choose to just donate these items as well. If you want to sell them, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are good places for it. There also may be local consignment shops you can take them to, and receive a portion of what they sell for.
4.Clean up your walking space
Now that you have just the things you want to keep, start with the floor, so that you can walk around to everything else without tripping. If you’re starting with the entry area, tidy the shoes. A shoe rack comes in handy for this, especially if you have kids! It is infinitely easier to instruct them to “put their shoes into a cubbyhole” than to “set them straight, so they look nice”!!
If there are other things that belong on the floor, make sure they have a designated space, out of the way. (Tip: If possible, keep things off the floor – it’s an easy way to make everything look decluttered without having to clean everything!)
5.Clear off the horizontal surfaces
Counters, benches, shelves – anything with a top surface: clear off everything that doesn’t belong there, and put it away. If you can’t say that a thing “lives” in that spot, then clear it off (for example, a couple kitchen appliances may “live” on your counter, and pictures “live” on shelves). You may find more things to get rid of, too!
6.Dive into the cabinets (Not literally)
Now you’re getting serious! These are the unseen areas, and are sooo easy to ignore. But they definitely count as declutter areas, and have huge potential to add stress to your life! (“Junk drawer”, anyone?!) Clean these just like you did the surface areas, making sure things have a place. They may require additional organization, even if everything is in its proper drawer/cupboard. This is just up to your preference; some people like to order their spices alphabetically, and some couldn’t care less. Either way is good, if you’re good with it!
7.Organize the closets
You can use the same outline for hallway closets and areas like the pantry that you did for cabinets. For clothes closets, stick with the principle of getting rid of what you don’t wear. Then organize in whatever way makes it easiest for you to find the clothes you want. For me, that means hanging up dress clothes together, ordering shirts according to type (tank tops, T-shirts, long-sleeves, blouses), etc. For more in-depth and efficient organization, the Capsule Wardrobe idea is a great way to organize your clothes.
8.Check for places you haven’t covered
Are there things leaning against the wall, or hiding in a corner? Look around and see if anything looks cluttered or disorganized, and go back over those specific areas.
9.Wipe it down
As a final touch, wipe down all top surfaces with all-purpose cleaner. (Try my super easy recipe for natural all-purpose cleaner). Wipe down vertical surfaces if they need it as well.
This is the hardest part for most people! Things seem to “want” to get cluttered, so you have to do a little bit every day to prevent it. The best way I’ve found to maintain organization is simply to always put things back where they go after using them. As my dad always said, “Everything has a place, so put everything in its place!”