Ever felt that your home is overwhelmed with boxes of mementos and unused stuff?
It’s probably time to declutter!
We asked 15 experts “How to declutter your home for simple living?”
See their amazing tips below!
Neighborhood and Home Improvement/Decorating/Organization Expert
Makeover your schedule and important papers
Do you find school homework lying on the table, schedules on your phone but nowhere else, and sports forms hidden under piles on the counter?
Set up a command center in the busiest spot in your home (typically the kitchen).
Include a whiteboard calendar, a wall file for important bills and papers, and a cork board for attaching important papers that need immediate attention.
Use a different colored whiteboard pen for each member of the family to help keep the schedule organized.
Each day as you go through backpacks and bags, check for papers and dispose of any that you do not need to keep right away in order to avoid piles on the counter.
Read related article: 19 Best Books on Minimalism and Simple Living
Organize your kitchen cabinets to save time and money
You may already know that an organized kitchen saves you time when cooking, but did you know that it also saves you money?
When your kitchen cabinets and fridge are clean and organized, you know exactly what ingredients you have on hand and don’t overbuy the same things.
Also, a messy kitchen doesn’t beg for home cooked dinners. A kitchen that is unrelaxing and cluttered screams “take out.”
Over time eating out gets costly. So decluttering literally saves you money and actually pays.
Get your bathrooms in top shape with a little organization
Bathrooms are typically the smallest rooms in the home yet can easily be the messiest.
The smaller space requires the ultimate organization and decluttering to stay neat.
Regularly check your medicine cabinet for expired items. Pitch anything that has passed its best by date so it’s not taking up important space.
Keep items you don’t use regularly separate from items you use daily.
Install a shelf above the bathroom door to create extra storage. It’s perfect for stashing extra towels, toilet paper, and bath products.
Invest in divided drawer organizers and under counter baskets to store all your bathroom items from towels to make-up and shaving items. It helps give everything a home.
Invest time and energy in your hardworking garage
If your garage is like most, it becomes the household catch-all for everything and anything.
That combined with the hardworking needs of a garage—storage, tools, bikes, lawn/gardening supplies—it can become an unorganized land mine quickly.
Now’s the time to get it organized and keep it organized.
The first big step in garage organization is to purge like you mean business. Once you’ve gone through one big clean-up—do it again—toss like your life depends on it.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I need this for something?
Can it be easily and inexpensively replaced if necessary?
Do I really want to store this again?
Once the exercise of purging is done, you’re ready for step 2.
Since the garage is responsible for so much, create areas for storage. One area could be for bikes and outdoor equipment, another for gardening/yard supplies, and another for tools.
The garage is ideal for vertical storage units, especially due to the fact many items stored in the garage aren’t used very often and need to be accessed.
Keep everything possible in large storage bins that are properly labeled. If you’re feeling ambitious, paint the walls and floors. You’ll find you’re more interested in taking better care of the garage.
Set up a system for toss, donate, save
As you venture into each area of your home that needs organization and decluttering, set up three big storage bins.
Label the bins with toss, donate and save.
The idea is to declutter and purge before trying to organize the space.
One big mistake people make is attempting to store everything without getting rid of anything.
Look at the stuff you’ve collected and really think about how much you need or love each item.
If you haven’t used it in years, if something doesn’t fit or has something wrong with it or it has an expiration date that’s passed, place it in a bin to toss or donate.
Now’s the time to minimize clutter and only save what you genuinely need and use. If you’re torn about tossing something, put it in a storage bin temporarily and if after 3-6 months you don’t miss it, it’s time to toss or donate.
Home Organization Expert, Modular Closets
Organized and decluttered closets are one sure-fire way to a more organized life
You will save time and energy not having to painstakingly piece outfits together every morning or searching for that other mitten, soccer shin pad, or you name it. Plus your mind will feel decluttered knowing that behind your closet and cabinet doors, everything is laid out exactly as you need it to be.
Here are a few ways to accomplish getting your closets into shape:
#1 A hanging shoe organizer is not just for shoes!
Attach a clear shoe organizer with pockets to the back of your clothes or linen closet. Use it to store all the stuff that gets lost in most closets.
For clothes closets, use it to store socks, gloves, swimsuits, scarves, and more. For the linen closet, store cleaning products, lost socks, a roll of garbage bags, sponges and scrub brushes.
#2 With just a few minutes of your time, your clothes closet can be organized and coded to make getting dressed a breeze—it doesn’t matter whether your closet is big or small.
Start by categorizing all the shirts. Once pulled together, file them by short sleeved and long sleeved, then match up by color.
Next, do the same with pants and skirts.
Now, when it’s time to get dressed, you can simply look for a shirt by sleeve length and color. Then you can quickly pair it with a skirt or pants of choice.
No more sorting through racks of clothes looking for a missing item stuck between two totally unrelated things.
#3 If you’re dealing with a small closet, think outside the box and create more space by building up and down.
Add storage cubes on top of a shelf. Add a second hanging bar if you need more space to hang clothes.
Storage bins fit nicely under hanging clothes rods to store off-season clothes.
#4 One of the easiest ways to store belts and scarves is by hanging them from simple plastic shower curtain rings.
They’re inexpensive, come in big packs and perfectly hold those items that may not have another place to go. Simply snap the ring into place on your closet rod and you’re ready to go!
Professional Organizer | Co-founder, Henry & Higby
Don’t just relegate this organizational tool to the office as they can be used throughout the house. Use them to store cookie sheets in your kitchen or even clutches and small handbags in your closet.
To achieve and maintain a tidy small space, you need to start by decluttering it and then finding a home for everything that is staying in it.
When starting the decluttering process, you can start with the categories below which are items that often tend to gather in homes and can often be removed without an issue:
- Magazines: Outside of some sentimental exceptions, getting rid of old magazines will clear up a lot of space in your home. If you have some attachments to the content – whether for work or for pleasure – take a few moments to go through each issue and cut out the article and/or images that you would like to reference down the road.
- Books: Clear your cluttered bookshelves by getting donating books that you have already read or no longer need.
- Linens: You really only need one extra set of linens per bed so clear out your linen closet of any extra sets or single pieces whether they are fitted sheets, top sheets or pillowcases.
- Cords/Chargers: Gather all of your old electronics, cords, and chargers and take a hard look at what you actually still use and what can be donated to local charities.
- Take-out Items: Throw out the plastic containers, utensils and sauce packets that come with food deliveries. Even if you reuse them for leftovers or lunches, there are probably a lot of extras in your home.
- Plastic & Reusable Bags: Most people have a bag full of plastic shopping bags at home. Unless you use them regularly as garbage bags, you can probably declutter your kitchen by getting rid of at least some of them. This can also apply to “reusable” bags which most stores seem to offer now. A collection of ten reusable bags or totes is typically enough for the average household.
- Paperwork: This will require a bit of work as you will need to sort everything before it is tossed but going through your paperwork is a good idea to help clear the clutter. Outside of important paperwork needed for taxes, insurance or family, most of it can be shredded.
Professional Organizer | Co-founder, Henry & Higby
Be Ruthless: If you are living in s small space, you need to be ruthless about the belongings that you keep and the new items that you bring into your home.
Every item should have a purpose and be something that you use or really love.
High Shelves: Maximize storage in small apartments by adding a shelf above doorways or high up in your closet if the ceilings are tall to store extra items like paper goods, luggage or seasonal items. (See attached photo for an example.)
Double Duty: Every piece of furniture in a small apartment should do double duty.
This means that the square-cube that your friends sit on when they visit doubles as storage for your craft supplies or that your coffee table ottoman also store off-season clothing.
Visual Space: Create and maintain a visually tidy apartment by getting items off of the floor.
From nightstands and lamps to even bikes or scooters, mounting furniture pieces and fixtures to the walls will help create more visual space as well as actual floor space.
Professional Organizer | Author, 90 Lessons for Living Large in 90 Square Feet (…or More)
The first step in decluttering your home for simple living begins with a simple question: What do you want your home to look like?
Think about this and picture it clutter-free.
No piles on the kitchen counter?
The dining room table not covered with stuff?
Closets you can open without the fear of something falling on your head?
The trick is to hold onto this image and remind yourself of your end goal as you begin to declutter, because along the way you are going to get overwhelmed. It happens.
As for the declutter process, here are a few simple tips to get you started:
#1 Put out one box for Donate and one for Trash, then give yourself a goal of putting 5 things in each box every day. (If you want to add more, go for it)
#2 Roll a pair of dice. Whatever number you get, that’s as many items as you need to donate/toss. (Kids love this)
#3 Set the timer on your phone for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, whatever your energy level is.
Then begin to work in one area, your sock drawer, T-shirts, Tupperware, etc. When the buzzer goes off, stop. You’re done. Unless you want to keep going.
These tricks remove the pressure of thinking you have to do everything all at once.
By breaking it down, by making it a game, it feels less overwhelming.
Professional Organizer | Owner, On Task Organizing, LLC
Here are some of my suggestions on how to declutter your home for simple living:
#1 Take an inventory of your home by walking through it and making a list of items that can be sold, donated or consigned.
#2 Begin decluttering in the room that is your highest priority, the one space that bothers you the most.
#3 Sort through your home room by room, focusing on one box, shelf, drawer at a time.
#4 Gather similar items together, such as all sweaters or all skirts in one place. This will help you see how much you own, and make it easier to keep only your favorites and declutter the rest.
#5 When looking at each item, ask yourself when you last used it, and if or when you will use it again. If you haven’t used it in over a year, it usually means it can go.
#6 Save sorting through sentimental items such as greeting cards and photographs for last. These are the items that take the longest time to sort through.
#7 When decluttering, make one of these choices for each of your belongings: Keep, give away to friends or family, sell or consign, donate to charity, recycle or toss.
#8 Tackle the decluttering process in short bursts of time, after about 3 or 4 hours you may feel decision fatigue and will need to take a break.
Organizing Expert |Life Coach
Whether you live in a tiny apartment or a huge mansion, your home is a sacred place.
It holds your loved ones and encompasses endless memories, dinners, laughter, pizza nights, and love.
It is important to remember the meaning of your home and how special it is because it will act as a motivator when decluttering your home.
At the core of decluttering, you are getting rid of anything that no longer serves you
Your home should be filled with things you find useful and need, things that have meaning to you, and things that add beauty/ decor to the home.
Clothes, a spatula, dishes etc are purposeful. Photo frames and family heirlooms are meaningful. Art, knick-knacks, and furniture add beauty and decor to the home.
Simplicity in the home means you are conscious of what you have in your home and what you bring in your home.
If you are aware of what is inside your home, it will help you spend and buy less when you are out.
We convince ourselves we need more, but if you remember what the meaning of a home is at its core, you realize you really don’t need all that “fluff.”
The people, photos, memories, dinners together, hugs, laughter, and game nights are enough.
It is also important to remember you can add to your home as time goes on.
For example, with the holidays approaching I encourage my clients to only buy 1 -2 decorations at a store if they absolutely love them.
If you don’t see anything you love, don’t buy anything this holiday season. I add holiday decor to my home over the years – little by little.
Be conscious of what you are buying, and find joy in adding a little over the years.
If you buy every holiday decoration in site every single year, your home will be filled with an excessive amount of clutter. This applies to all other categories as well.
Decluttering your home may not come as easy to everyone, but it can be learned because it is a habit.
I naturally declutter and organize every day because it is a system and habit in my life.
If you begin to learn how to declutter and organize your home, I believe you will fall in love with the airy, light feeling your home exudes and find joy in keeping your home decluttered.
In your heart, you know if you need something or not. You have to be honest with yourself, and declutter anything that no longer serves you or your home.
Where to Start:
I always have my clients write down EVERYTHING they want to organize so it’s out of their mind and on paper, but then we compartmentalize it and start small.
Which area/room bothers you the most? This is a great place to start.
Worst Phrases You Can Ever Say:
As soon as you hear yourself saying, “I’ll put it here for now,” you need to STOP.
The 2 minutes it takes to put your things away has a direct effect not only on having a clean space but your overall well being.
You say, “I will put it here for now” over 15 items, and your sub-conscience knows that you didn’t put it away. That is mental energy you are taking up.
Think about how good you feel when you put it away. It feels like you checked something off your list.
Christina’s 8 Minute Rule * Perfect for the bedroom
A great rule that I swear by is my 8-minute rule.
Everyone that has ever tried this rule loves it.
I usually suggest my clients use this rule for their bedroom. Set a timer for 8 minutes, and put things away every day.
I like doing this before I go to bed. It puts my mind at ease and completes my day, but you can do it at any time that is right for you!
Whatever you can put away in 8 minutes is terrific.
The goal is not to finish organizing the entire room, but to do a little bit each day so by the end of the week your room doesn’t look like a cyclone.
This is going to prevent the space from getting chaotic. Eventually, this will become a habit, and when it becomes a part of your lifestyle your space will never get out of control.
Consultant in Hygiene Management & Cleaning | Managing Director, The Duster Dollies Pty Ltd
Decluttering is more traumatic to older people than the young.
Usually due to the number of mementos that have been collected over the years.
But that doesn’t mean that the younger generation are not hoarders. Many people dislike the idea of giving things away, but there comes a time when everyone has to be sacrificial and remove the excess in their home.
Having been in the cleaning industry for over 25 years I have been in homes where hoarding has become a problem. These people live in a confined space surrounded by piles of things.
Of course, this is a problem which affects a percentage of the population, but the rest of us finally bite the bullet and do something about those extra bits that have to go.
The main problem is how to get started. Here is a list of the easiest ways to reduce the clutter, how and why:
Remove 5/8th of collection of books, DVDs and CDs
- The criteria for keeping must be “will I read, watch or listen to this again”.
- Charitable organizations are always happy to take books, DVDs and CDs. They are easy items to sell.
- Pack in boxes and get the charitable organization to pick them up or take them to the retail outlet.
- Pack remaining books, DVDs and CDs into fewer books shelves and give away the excess shelving through the internet.
Get rid of broken and excess furniture
- Many people keep broken furniture with the intention of fixing it one day. That day never comes – the time is NOW to remove it.
- Most charitable organizations will no longer take furniture unless it is in pristine condition or antique – try selling or give away on the internet.
- Collect remaining pieces together and leave out for Council collection or take to Resource Centre (Rubbish tip).
Empty cupboards and extract excess glassware and crockery
- Usually, one piece of a set has been broken – try and make a smaller set of what is left and throw out or donate to a charity the extra piece.
- If the original six-piece set is now five, make into a set of four.
- Similar glasses or mugs leftover can be turned into an oddball set for everyday use.
Check clothes in wardrobes and drawers
- Remove items not used for over a year.
- Those pieces in good condition place in heavyweight rubbish bag and donate to a charitable society that sells second-hand clothing.
- Clothing that is no longer in good condition, place in the council rubbish collection bin.
For older people with lots of mementos and jewelry
- Work out which item you wish to pass on to which member of the family.
- Make those items as Christmas, birthday or anniversary presents to the chosen family member.
- Write an explanation of its history and the reason they have received the item so they think of it as an heirloom.
- Delivering these special items to family members saves having to put the information in a Will – and no one can claim one piece that another might want.
In homes where grown-up children have left all their childhood memorabilia and Mum and Dad have been storing the stuff for years
- Invite all the children and their family around for a special Sunday lunch.
- Tell everyone they have to clear out all their stuff.
- Provide them with boxes for what they want to take home and keep, rubbish bags for what has to be thrown away, and more boxes for things that will be sent to a charity.
- Have a long lunch with much wine and enjoy the tales of each child as they reminisce about the items they found while churning through their stuff.
Certified Professional Organizer
Keep only items that enhance your home now for what your current lifestyle is, or what you aspire it to be
In my experience, there is one simple rule to create a home prepared for simple living: Keep only items that enhance your home now for what your current lifestyle is, or what you aspire it to be.
It’s a different set of items for everyone.
Whatever the items are, they should be items that you literally need, genuinely use and thoroughly enjoy.
Everything else has the potential to get in the way of your end goal.
Rid your space of items that make life cumbersome or remind you of sadder times. Make room for light and experience, instead of more clutter.
Professional Organizer, 5miles.com | Owner, Balance by Paloma
The key: take it one room, one project, at a time, which I call “D-Day.”
Discover: Open up boxes, closets, and items you haven’t seen in over a year. Sort items into four separate boxes (Keep, Donate or Sell, Recycle, Trash).
Declutter: Deciding what to do with an item, ask yourself: Does it improve your life? Does it really hold sentimental value? Would it be hard to replace?
If the answer to those questions is no, it’s time for that item to go.
Discard: Throw away trash or sell those things you haven’t worn or used in the last six months.
Donate: Or choose your favorite charity or donation center and create a tax write-off for your return.
As the average American home contains roughly 35 unused items, most of us have plenty of clutter we can get rid of. This can help rid toxic accumulation within our personal spaces and, in turn, breathe a little easier.
Founder and CEO, Remoov
The first thing to do is to determine what you need and what you don’t
For example, for clothing, anything that you have not used in the past year should be out. Some items may have sentimental value so obviously, that is a keep.
But it is important to keep the item because you want it and not because you want to give it to your kids down the road.
We are seen more and more that kids do not want all the clutter that their parents have kept for them. This is particularly noticeable in categories like china, furniture, and collectibles.
Once you’ve decided what you want out you need to decide what can be sold, donated or recycled. Keep in mind that because of changes in style an item that you may greatly value may be very hard to sell or even donate.
The trick to staying organizing is simple living
Most organizing products or solutions are over-complicated or just pretty but not actually helpful. A system needs a structure like open shelves but also needs to be easy to use.
First focus on quantity.
You can make the best golf ball organizer in the world but if you don’t play golf it is unnecessary. After you know what you are keeping then find the best system for it.
Clear plastic bins work great for remoter storage items like keepsakes, holiday, seasonal and clothing. If you have kids the system needs to be even simpler.
Focus on what is exactly coming home with them from school and what is the action for each item (some stuff goes back to school, some stay home and some gets tossed or recycled).
Professional Kitchen and Oven Cleaner
Here some of the tips I tell my clients when they ask for advice on how to cope with decluttering:
#1. Have a plan.
Prioritize your tasks.
It would be silly to wipe the dust after you’ve just vacuumed, right?
Spending a minute to plan the process may save you a lot of headaches later.
Picture it as a pyramid, the bottom being the last thing you need to do.
For some people, it’s easier to conjure a plan if they base it on the locations that need cleaning and decluttering in the kitchen (start from left to right, top to bottom, from the door and inwards etc.)
Organization saves you time in terms of unwanted back and forth trips.
#2. Save more time from trips.
Arm yourself with a plastic bin bag, laundry basket or cardboard boxes and do ONE trip around the kitchen putting everything that belongs to the rubbish in it on the go.
Same applies for the utensils and other things that you’d want to get rid of.
#3. Adjust yourself for what’s coming.
Don’t hesitate to start from the messiest place.
The mindset that you’re done with the difficult part will actually make you more productive for what’s left.
Another right mindset hack would be to set a timer. And don’t be afraid to play your favourite music while doing the whole thing. The happy worker is always a better worker.
When you want to declutter your home and you’re wondering if you should really throw something away just ask yourself the following questions:
Do I use this? If you’ve never used the item or stopped using it, then you should get rid of it.
Do I have more of this item? If you’ve overstocked on a certain item and don’t use or need the extras, then dispose of them. Give them to someone who’d use them and actually needs them.
Would I still buy this today? If the item you’re pondering over is an impulse purchase and you’re not really using it, then it should go away.
Once you’ve figured out which items should leave your home, you’re ready to separate the clutter in groups – things that belong in the kitchen, things that belong in other parts of your home, things to donate/sell, and things to throw away.
Arm yourself with patience, a dishcloth and a bucket with soapy water and dive into the clutter.
Take your time, you don’t have to finish in a day. Just try not to get too emotional and attached to your belongings.
Some things like tickets from your “first date”, or other things that have a special meaning to you, can be stored in a special memory box or a scrapbook.
Don’t forget to check the fridge and pantry for foods past their expiration date.
Throw away everything that’s open and you can’t remember how long has it been since you’ve opened it.
Organizing Guru | Decluttering Coach
So often my clients have trouble bridging the gap between the life they’re currently living and the life they really want to live and get overwhelmed and stuck.
The transition into a simpler life with less stuff to manage needs to be gradual and intentional so that items that are needed aren’t unintentionally discarded.
The easiest way to declutter your home for simple living is to break up the process into manageable chunks of 15 minutes or so.
I call this method the timer game.
To play, you literally set a timer on your phone or microwave and do nothing but de-clutter for that time.
Do nothing but put items away and if there’s no designated place to put the item, consider if the item is still needed or if it’s time to let it go.
Working in these short, but concentrated time blocks will make the process of de-cluttering effective, but manageable.
Pack it up before getting rid of it
Take steps to purge your house and getting rid of all of your stuff.
Instead, try boxing up what you don’t think you’ll need, and pack it away for a period of time.
Evaluate what you truly didn’t need, and see if there is anything you missed. Then, you can always grab it before its gone for good. You might find that you can get rid of even more, though.
Bonus: Simplify Related Areas
Go further than just decluttering your home – work on related areas of your life as well.
Simplify what you eat, and focus on putting more wholesome things in your body.
Streamline your social life, and try focusing on deepening your friendship with a few people, rather than juggling a lot of friendships.
You’ll notice the effects of simplification naturally spill themselves over back into your home.