How to Declutter Your Home for Simple Living? (26 Effective Ways With Expert Insights)

We all reach a point where the heaps of ‘stuff’ we’ve gathered start to feel like too much. It’s not just about freeing up space — it’s about creating a more peaceful, open environment where you can breathe easy and enjoy what truly matters.

In the next few pages, you’ll find practical, step-by-step advice that walks you through clearing out the excess and keeping the essentials.

Whether you’re overwhelmed by books you’ll never read again, closets filled to the brim, or a garage that’s seen better days, I have tips to help you tackle it all.

Set clear goals for decluttering

Before you even begin to tackle the clutter, pause and ponder on what you want to achieve. Is it to create more space, to reduce stress, or to redesign your living area?

Establishing clear goals will not only provide you with direction but also serve as motivation when the going gets tough. Imagine how satisfying it will be to look around and see a home that reflects a more relaxed, more spacious lifestyle.

Remember, your goal isn’t just about throwing things away; it’s about creating an environment where you can thrive.

Whether it’s room to start a new hobby or just the peace that comes with less stuff, setting tangible goals makes decluttering more than just a cleaning task – it becomes a stepping stone to the simple life you’re aspiring to live.

"As for the declutter process... 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... When the buzzer goes off, stop. You're done. Unless you want to keep going."

Felice Cohen | Professional Organizer | Author, 90 Lessons for Living Large in 90 Square Feet (...or More)

Start small with one room at a time

It’s easy to feel swamped by the thought of decluttering your entire house. Instead, why not start with just one room?

This way, the task becomes less daunting and more manageable. Pick a room that you use often – maybe it’s your bedroom, where a calm environment can significantly impact your sleep and relaxation.

As you make progress with one room, you’ll feel a sense of achievement that can propel you to move on to the next. It’s like eating an elephant one bite at a time, except in this case, it’s decluttering your living space piece by piece.

Begin with a drawer, a shelf, or even one corner of the room. Taking baby steps can lead to giant leaps in your quest for simplicity.

Establish a sorting system: keep, donate, discard

Creating a sorting system is like having a map in a treasure hunt – it guides you where to go. As you sift through your belongings, ask yourself: Do I need this? Have I used this in the past year? Could someone else benefit more from it?

These questions help you decide what to keep, what to gift to friends or charity (think of the joy it could bring to someone else!), and what to toss out.

Don’t just eye your stuff and decide willy-nilly. Be systematic. Physically separate your items into distinct piles or, better yet, designated boxes.

One for the keepsakes, one for donations, and one for the things that served you well, but it’s time to say goodbye. A visual representation of your sorting makes it much easier to realize just how much you can live without, clearing the way toward that serene, uncluttered haven you’re longing for.

Use the four-box method for sorting items

The Four-Box Method simplifies your sorting ordeal. Get four boxes and label them: Keep, Donate, Discard, and Relocate. As you review each item, place it in the appropriate box.

The ‘Relocate’ box is for items that belong in another place in your home – this helps you avoid creating more clutter by just moving things around aimlessly. With this strategy, your decision-making process becomes much easier, and your spaces become clearer.

It’s not just about tidiness; it’s about setting the stage for welcoming friends into a home you’re proud of.

Create a ‘maybe box’ for uncertain items

Sometimes, you’ll come across items that stump you – you can’t decide if they stay or go. That’s where a ‘Maybe Box’ comes in handy. Put these indecision gremlins in there and set a date, maybe a month or two in the future, to make a final call.

On that day, if you haven’t missed or needed anything from the box, it’s a safe bet you can let go of these items. This box acts as a buffer, preventing hasty decisions while still keeping your social spaces open and inviting.

Be ruthless with keep decisions

When you’re sifting through your belongings, it’s essential to be selective. Challenge yourself by asking: Do I use this item regularly? Will it help create a welcoming environment for my guests?

If you hold onto too many items ‘just in case,’ you’ll find it difficult to achieve the simple, friendly atmosphere you’re striving for.

Being strict about what you keep ensures that you’re surrounded only by things that add value to your home and social life.

After all, a space free from unnecessary clutter is more relaxing for you and more inviting to others, paving the way for richer social interactions and a happier you.

Detach from sentimental items

Letting go of sentimental items can be tough. These things are like silent storytellers of our past. However, keeping every single keepsake can lead to a cluttered space that leaves little room for new experiences and connections.

Choose a select few that truly matter to you, and find a special place for them. For the rest? Snap a photo or write a note about what they mean to you, and then let them go.

This frees up physical space and makes your home more welcoming to guests, helping you foster new memories in a home that isn’t weighed down by the past.

"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."

— Nancy Haworth | Professional Organizer | Owner, On Task Organizing, LLC

Digitize documents and photos

Papers and photographs can stack up until they take over drawers and boxes. But in our digital age, we have the magic of digitization! Scan or take photos of important documents and create digital albums for your photographs.

You can save these on your computer or store them online. This service not only saves physical space but also protects your precious memories from damage, like water or wear and tear.

With your memories safely stored and out of sight, when friends come over, you’re ready to make new ones without the physical baggage of the old.

Adopt a one-in, one-out policy

To maintain the simplicity of your newly decluttered space, adopt the one-in, one-out rule. When something new comes into your home, something else should leave.

Not only does this help keep your belongings to a manageable level, but it also means you’re constantly evaluating what’s truly important to you. It reinforces the habit of mindful buying which is fantastic for your wallet too!

When living by this rule, your home naturally becomes a place of peace and purpose — perfect for hosting social gatherings without the stress of disorganization.

Invest in effective storage solutions

Once you’ve pared down your possessions to what’s essential, consider how to store them best. Go for storage that helps you quickly see or reach for what you need – like transparent bins or shelves.

This is less about buying more stuff and more about choosing smart ways to keep what you already have. With clever storage, you can easily pull out games or blankets when friends come over without a frantic search.

It makes your home look tidy and inviting, and you look like a host who’s got it all together.

"Use a clear shoe organizer with pockets... to store all the stuff that gets lost in most closets... Storage bins fit nicely under hanging clothes rods to store off-season clothes."

Marty Basher | Home Organization Expert, Modular Closets

Organize kitchen cabinets to save time and money

Organized kitchen cabinets save you more than just space – they save you time and money. When you know what you have and where everything is, you avoid buying duplicates or letting food expire unnoticed.

Start by keeping similar items together – baking ingredients in one spot, canned goods in another. Use shelf organizers or baskets to keep things visible and reachable.

An organized kitchen means you can whip up meals or snacks for guests in no time, showing off your efficient and hospitable side.

"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."

Sophie Kaemmerle | Neighborhood and Home Improvement/Decorating/Organization Expert

Get bathrooms organized

A neatly organized bathroom is a secret ingredient to a serene home. Start by sorting through your products – keep those daily essentials within reach and stash the rarely used ones or throw them out if they’re past their prime.

Use drawer dividers for small items and hooks for hanging towels or robes. When your bathroom is organized, having guests over doesn’t include a panic-induced rush to hide clutter.

Plus, a tidy bathroom always makes for a better impression. It’s these little touches that help your social space feel genuinely welcoming.

Revamp garage for efficiency

An organized garage can be a game-changer. Instead of a dumping ground, picture your garage as a functional area. Install shelves and hooks to store tools, sports equipment, and outdoor gear.

This makes finding what you need a breeze and keeps your space clear for things like home workouts or DIY projects.

A clean garage can even become an extra spot for socializing during a weekend barbecue or a space for your hobbies that you can share with new friends.

Clean out closets for an organized life

Cluttered closets are usual culprits in a disorganized home. Go through your clothes and accessories—do you wear them, do they fit, are they in good condition? By keeping only what you love and use, your choices each morning become quicker and stress-free.

Organize the remaining items by category or color so you can grab them without fuss. An organized closet reflects a life of simplicity and helps you present the best version of yourself to the world, socially confident and unburdened by excess.

Check and reduce collection of books, dvds, cds

Books, DVDs, and CDs often hold sentimental value, but let’s be practical—they also take up space. Reflect on which ones you truly enjoy. Perhaps you could swap books with friends, enriching your reading without needing more shelf space.

For movies and music, digitization is your friend; go digital where possible. With less physical media cluttering your living areas, there’s more room for social gatherings, and your space feels more open and relaxed—just like the atmosphere you want to cultivate for new friendships and experiences.

"Remove 5/8th of collection of books, DVDs and CDs... Charitable organizations are always happy to take books, DVDs and CDs. They are easy items to sell."

— Julie Finch-Scally | Consultant in Hygiene Management & Cleaning | Managing Director, The Duster Dollies Pty Ltd

Clear out excess glassware and crockery

Overflowing cabinets of mugs, glasses, and plates might seem like you’re prepared for any gathering, but too many can crowd your space. Keep a practical number that matches your needs and the size of social gatherings you typically host.

Let go of mismatched sets and chipped pieces. With more room, your cabinets breathe easier, and so do you. An organized collection hints at a person who knows the joy of sharing a meal or a drink without the chaos of clutter.

Eliminate broken and excess furniture

That chair that’s been waiting to be fixed for months? It might be time to say goodbye. Broken and unused furniture can be an eyesore and take up valuable socializing space.

Upcycle if you’re crafty or find them a new home, but clearing them out will open your living areas.

Keeping just the furniture that you actually use and enjoy makes your home feel more expansive and welcoming—ideal for hosting friends and setting the scene for new connections.

Involve family in decluttering

Decluttering doesn’t have to be a solo mission; get your family in on the act. It’s a chance to spend quality time together, make decisions as a unit, and ensure everyone’s on the same page about keeping the home clear of clutter.

Kids can learn the value of a well-kept space and the satisfaction that comes from donating to others.

Plus, when the family works together, your living space becomes a true reflection of the collective effort, which naturally feels more welcoming to guests who come to visit.

"In homes where grown-up children have left all their childhood memorabilia and Mum and Dad have been storing the stuff for years... 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."

— Julie Finch-Scally | Consultant in Hygiene Management & Cleaning | Managing Director, The Duster Dollies Pty Ltd

Regularly reassess and purge belongings

Keeping your home clutter-free is an ongoing process. Set a schedule, maybe every few months, to go through your things. Often, you’ll find items that once seemed necessary now no longer serve a purpose.

Getting rid of these is like pruning a plant—it encourages growth. This regular cycle keeps your space ready for impromptu gatherings and means less stuff standing between you and your next social event.

Take the 12-12-12 challenge

The 12-12-12 Challenge is a fun and effective way to keep clutter at bay. Find 12 items to throw away, 12 to donate, and 12 to be returned to their proper place. It makes decluttering an adventure rather than a chore.

You have a specific goal that’s easy to achieve, and it can even spark a little friendly competition among family or friends. It’s a social way to simplify and keep your home guest-ready.

When items are no longer needed but still in good shape, donating them can benefit others and give them a second life. Selling is another great option that can put a little extra cash in your pocket.

Organize a garage sale or post them online. By passing on items you no longer need, you create more space for new social opportunities in your home and life, and there’s the added bonus of potentially meeting new people through the process.

Dispose properly of non-donatable items

While decluttering, you’ll find things that can’t be donated or sold. It’s important to dispose of these items responsibly. Check your local guidelines for recycling and discarding items that are worn out or broken.

This respect for your environment mirrors the respect you have for your living space and for where you invite friends and family.

An eco-friendly approach shows you’re someone who takes care not just of your home, but also of the larger world you all share.

Maintain a routine to avoid future clutter

Developing daily or weekly habits to keep clutter at bay prevents the build-up of mess. Simple routines, like ensuring everything has a place and spending a few minutes each day putting things back, keep your home ready for visitors at a moment’s notice.

Being able to welcome others into your space without the stress of emergency cleaning makes for a more relaxed and confident you, which is exactly what you want as someone keen on building and enjoying social ties.

"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."

Christina Giaquinto | Organizing Expert |Life Coach 

View your home as a first-time visitor

Sometimes, it helps to look at your living space with fresh eyes, just like someone visiting for the first time. This perspective can highlight areas that need attention—the pile of mail on the dining table, for example, or the shoes by the front door.

Keeping these areas clean and clear shows others you value your space and their company. A home with open space is more than just visually pleasing; it provides the perfect setting for new memories to be created with friends and family.

Celebrate your decluttered space

Once you’ve decluttered, take a moment to enjoy the results. Share your newly freed-up space with others—host a movie night, a casual dinner, or a games evening. This not only reinforces the value of your hard work but also encourages you to keep your space clear.

Plus, your friends will enjoy the calm and welcoming vibe of your home. Celebrating the new simplicity of your living environment with others can be incredibly rewarding and reaffirm the benefits of your efforts.

Adopt minimalism for current lifestyle needs

Minimalism isn’t about having nothing; it’s about having just the right amount. It helps to focus on what’s necessary for your current social and personal needs. Maybe you love to cook for friends—keep those items that make entertaining a joy.

If movies are your thing, create a cozy, uncluttered viewing area. By keeping your space aligned with your lifestyle, you make room for things that matter and activities that enrich your social life.

The beauty of minimalism is that it’s tailored to you, helping you to stay clutter-free and ready to embrace social opportunities as they arise.

"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 stores off-season clothing."

Annie Draddy | Professional Organizer | Co-founder, Henry & Higby

More Insights From the Experts

“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.”

Marty Basher | Home Organization Expert, Modular Closets

“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.”

Michelle Hale | Professional Organizer | Co-founder, Henry & Higby

“If you are living in a 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.”

Annie Draddy | Professional Organizer | Co-founder, Henry & Higby

“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.”

Christina Giaquinto | Organizing Expert |Life Coach 

“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.”

— Paloma Baillie | Professional Organizer, 5miles.com | Owner, Balance by Paloma

“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.”

Allen Michael | Editor, HomeViable.com


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between decluttering and cleaning?

Cleaning involves removing dirt, dust, and grime from surfaces and objects in your home. It involves tasks such as wiping down counters, mopping floors, dusting furniture, and sanitizing bathrooms. Cleaning focuses on making your home look and feel clean and hygienic.

Decluttering, on the other hand, is about removing excess items from your home that you no longer need or use.

Decluttering is more about streamlining your possessions and creating more space in your home. It can involve sorting through clothes, shoes, books, and other items to determine what you want to keep, donate, or throw away.

Why is decluttering a difficult process?

Emotional attachments: We often have emotional attachments to our belongings, making it difficult to let go of items that have sentimental value.

Habits and routines: Our habits and routines can contribute to clutter, and it can be challenging to change these behaviors.

Lack of time: Decluttering can take time, and it can be difficult to find the time to tackle a decluttering project when life is busy.

Overwhelm: Decluttering can seem overwhelming, especially if you have a lot of items to sort through. It can be helpful to start small and work your way up.

Perfectionism: Some people tend to hold onto items because they believe they may need them in the future or because they are afraid of making a mistake.

What are some common decluttering mistakes to avoid?

Decluttering can be a challenging process, but it’s important to avoid common mistakes that can make the process more difficult. Here are some mistakes to avoid:

Trying to declutter everything at once: Decluttering can be overwhelming, so start small and work your way up.

Not letting go of sentimental items: Try to focus on preserving positive memories rather than clinging to sentimental items that may be taking up valuable space in your home.

Not making decisions: Don’t get bogged down in indecision. Make decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of, and stick to your choices.

Not creating systems for organization: Decluttering is only half the battle. Establish systems for organization to keep your home decluttered and organized.

Not maintaining a routine: Decluttering is a process, not a one-time event. Make sure to establish a routine for decluttering and maintaining an organized home.

Not being honest with yourself: Be honest about what you need and use. Don’t hold onto items just because you feel guilty about getting rid of them.

Not letting go of items that no longer serve you: Don’t hold onto items that no longer serve you, such as clothes that no longer fit or outdated electronics. Letting go of these items can free up space and simplify your life.


Final Thoughts

If you’ve stuck with me this far, you should feel proud of the strides you’ve made towards embracing simplicity. Decluttering might seem like a task of the hands, but it’s really a task of the heart.

By choosing to keep only what serves you, you’re choosing the kind of life you want to lead. It’s a personal, maybe even emotional, process, but wholly rewarding.

As you continue on this path, remember that less clutter means more space for what you love. Whether it’s hobbies, hosting gatherings, or just having room to think, your transformed space is ready for it all.

Cheers to your success and the ongoing journey of living simply.

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Jahrine is a seeker of knowledge and personal growth. When not exploring the worlds of self-help books and spirituality, she enjoys reading dark fiction and spending time with her beloved dogs. With diverse interests, including career development, travel, and poetry, Jahrine is constantly expanding her horizons and seeking new experiences.