Is the mess in your house getting you down? Could you do with some help and motivation to declutter? We’ve got just the thing for you, 10 Simple Ways to Declutter Your Home to get you started on the path to a more organised home!
I have a confession to make. I am not the worst in the world for untidiness but I am a little bit of a hoarder (“you never know when that might come in handy”) and my husband, being a bit of a neat freak, is constantly at me to tidy up my home office or the linen cupboard or the kids’ playroom.
#1. Read “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying”
You’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo’s book called “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying” or may even have seen videos on social media of her folding things up in a very specific Marie Kondo way. Secret Santa kindly brought me a copy for Christmas and this really started me off on the decluttering process.
So I would recommend as a first step to read this book, because Marie does a great job of explaining why people hold onto things and also delves into how to start letting things go.
My mum has always been a big fan of William Morris, the English designer from the 1920s who you may have heard of because he is famous for his floral prints and designs, but did you know he also said
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Marie Kondo’s principles are the same. Keep only things that you need because they are of use to you or things that “spark joy” in other words that make you feel warm and fuzzy when you look at them. Then get rid of everything else. So it’s a great place to start from, viewing everything through that two-way lens:
- do I need this? is it useful? or
- is it beautiful? does it spark joy?
#2. One Room, One Area
It’s not possible to declutter your house in one go, that would be too exhausting apart from anything else, so you need to work on it systematically and over time. But once you start one area and see what a transformation it gets, this does give you motivation to continue.
So make a list of the most annoying places in your house to start with. My starting list was:
- our linen cupboard where the towels fell out every time we opened the door;
- the clothes drawers in the kids rooms (and my own) which were hard to open as the clothes were stuffed in;
- the toy tubs in the play room which were overflowing;
- my home office.
Then begin with one area – this could be as small an area as one drawer – in the first room, and go through the process of sorting and deciding (remember! useful vs “spark joy”).
Once you have completed that first area, you can move onto another section of the room. Don’t overdo the sorting, it gets too tiring and you will give up half way through. Better to do a small area and finish it than abandon your decluttering half way, you’ll never come back to it.
#3. Indecision is OK
If, as you go through the Useful vs Spark joy debate on every item, you are not sure about an item, don’t panic. Set it aside into an “I’m not sure” pile and leave that pile to the end to come back to finally one more time. Ask yourself
- why am I being indecisive?
- what is holding me back from letting this item go?
- Is it a memory thing as in I want to hold onto a memory by looking at it?
- Will keeping it really enhance my life?
- Would someone else enjoy having this item in their life?
Then be ruthless on the “I’m not sure” pile. Honestly, it will stand you in better stead as you declutter if you avoid being too sentimental.
#4. Be Mindful When Getting Rid of Electronics and Batteries
I don’t know about you but when I started decluttering it turned out I had boxes and drawers full of old chargers, electronic items that no longer worked or were unwanted, and heaps of batteries floating around the place. Why I was keeping them was anyone’s guess (well it was the “this might come in handy one day” mentality again) so it was time for them to go. Don’t forget to remove batteries from any electronic items before getting rid of them, and recycling your batteries and chargers is a good thing for the environment.
#5. Clear Surfaces
In any house there’s always little things floating around that you do want and need to keep. You know things like sellotape or blutack or pencils or chargers or vitamin bottles. The stuff that ends up strewn across tables and counters and surfaces. The trick here is to clear the surfaces as that starts to make your house feel clearer and more joyful.
New storage will help here. I bought some new cute baskets and boxes which not only spark joy because they are in bright colours but also keep all those little bits in one handy place.
And if you buy a set of them they even become a nice interior design feature, you know the type you always see in magazines and admire!
#6. Have a Place for Everything
This sounds a bit obvious, but part of the reason we clutter up our homes is because we aren’t putting things away, storing them or finding one place for them to belong. I’m not talking about a bit of untidiness which happens over the course of the day, but consistent cluttering.
Having a place for everything actually helps keep the clutter quotient down. You can encourage your child to do this too by finding a place for each and every toy, book or game they own.
- You could use shoe boxes with labels (which also helps develop reading skills).
- Back of the door shoe organisers are great for storing small toys, art supplies and pieces of Lego.
- Invest in a few colorful boxes where kids can keep their stuff.
#7. Get Everyone in the Family Involved
There’s no point in you starting a decluttering process if everyone else in the family isn’t on board. Make it a bit of a game and fun for younger kids and encourage older kids & teens to do their bit for decluttering.
Even though my teen mocked Marie Kondo’s notion of thanking an item for its service before you let it go (yes, really) she did get into the tips that Marie offers for folding shirts and other clothes in order that your clothes drawers are neat and tidy, and you can see much more easily what clothes you actually have.
#8. Think of the Help You Can Give
Most charities have clothes banks or drop off points for items that they can resell for fundraising.
Our school runs a Cash for Clobber scheme where we can hand in bags of clothes and they get paid by weight of bags, which all goes for fundraising to buy new things for the school or pay for school trips etc.
Children’s hospitals and other organisations that run kids programs are always happy to get toys and games in good condition.
So by decluttering you can bring assistance and joy to other people too.
#9. Hold a Yard or Car Boot Sale
Make a bit of money for yourself out of the things you no longer want by holding a yard sale or going to a car boot sale. I know someone, who along with her sister, took all their tons of baby and toddler clothes to one of these Baby Sale Events and got quite a bit of cash back in return for the time of sorting the clothes and attending the sale.
Or hop on a classifieds site and sell some things online. We had a lovely wooden play cooker set that I sold along to another family who had younger kids and were delighted to be buying a quality item at a knock down price. And I could put the cash towards something new that my now-older kids wanted.
#10. Have a One Thing In, One Thing Out Rule
This is a little tricky to hold to (I think) but you could have a One Thing In, One Thing Out Rule. So if you buy a new clothing item or toy or game or anything, then give away or sell or recycle one old item.
Try this out the next time you do a shopping trip. There’s probably a t-shirt or top that you’ve kept in your drawer but not worn for at least 12 months. The chances are if you haven’t worn it in that time you won’t wear it again. So donate that old top, fold your new one a la Marie Kondo and place into your wonderfully neat drawer!
Good luck with the decluttering and if you’ve any great tips for how to declutter that you can share, we’d love to hear them in the comments below.