Declutter Your Life | The Ultimate Guide

Clutter can feel like a never-ending part of life—the overflowing drawers, desks with unstable mountains of paper, or opening a cupboard and having something heavy thump you on the nose. Believe it or not, there are effective ways to declutter your life and spaces, and keep them that way!

Decluttering is the process of sorting through your home or office, and deciding what to keep, and what to throw out. Decluttering isn’t about throwing away things that are important to you, but about getting rid of excess. No one needs 25 bath towels or 15 serving spoons. If you are looking to declutter your life, it is natural to feel overwhelmed by how much excess you have—everything from material things to the people you have in your life. Don’t worry, because with the right decluttering tips, you’ll soon be feeling like an expert.

How to declutter

Decluttering your house can seem like a lot of work, especially if you haven’t had a clear out for a while. But don’t be overwhelmed—one of the easiest ways to declutter your life is to start small, and work in specific sections. For example, starting with your bedroom will remind you how nice it is to walk into a clean space every day, and will inspire you to continue with the rest of your home. If you want to, you can break it down even further, and start with just the cupboards, or under the bed1. Breaking your spaces down into manageable zones means you won’t be biting off more than you can chew, and ending up with a bigger mess than you started with.

Some tips to remember:

  • Be prepared—large boxes or plastic tubs labelled ‘keep’, ‘throw away’, ‘put back’ (to their proper space) and ‘donate’ are an easy way to keep track of your items. You can go one step further for closets, with a ‘to mend’, or ‘seasonal storage’ box. 
  • Be committed to going through every single item in your chosen space—there is no point clearing off your home desk, only to open the drawers and see everything shoved in there. 
  • Get others involved—If you are sorting out a bedroom that you share, your kid’s room, or a communal living room, making it into a game with children, or putting a movie on in the background helps to make clearing out seem like less of a chore. 

Decluttering your home can highlight other areas of your life that may also need a clean out. Maybe your calendar is constantly full, and you have no time to relax, or there is a relationship (platonic or otherwise) in your life that no longer gives you joy. Maybe your mind is always on the go, and you feel cluttered by thoughts of what you have to do or what you should be doing. Living in an uncluttered, minimalist area is much more peaceful than dealing with the constant mess, and this is true for your mind and relationships as well. By getting familiar with your material items, you will be better equipped to recognise what needs to be kept, what can be mended, and what should be thrown.

Declutter your home checklist

If you are unsure how to begin decluttering, here is a room-by-room checklist. You can choose any space in any order—the important thing is to pick one and start. Make sure you have all your boxes ready before you begin, so you aren’t running around trying to find containers as you are clearing out. Keep these boxes in an easily accessed area, put on some music, and get ready to make your home worthy of a Pinterest board! 

Decluttering tip #1 – Bedrooms

  • Start by making your bed—your room will look cleaner in seconds!
  • Next, your bedside tables/bookshelves. Things like pens, books, jewellery, and loose change can create an extremely cluttered sleeping space, and all of these items have other places they can go. You should use the ‘put back’ box for this. 
  • Under the bed—do you have storage space that’s not being used under your bed? Vacuum sealed bags are a great way to store winter clothes in summer, and vice versa, taking up minimal space. Alternatively, you can also get roll-out shoe racks that fit under any size bed. 
  • Dressing tables are next. If you have make-up, cleansing products, or creams with an expiry date, check these. Throw out any expired ones, as well as any you no longer use. 

Decluttering tip #2 – Closets

  • Pull everything out, and go through it all carefully. If anything needs mending, put it in the ‘to mend’ box. If anything is too small or big, ‘donate’, and sort into summer and winter piles. If you aren’t going to be using your bulky coat for another six months, it is just taking up space in your closet. Vacuum sealed bags are great for these seasonal clothes.
  • Put all your regularly-used clothes on hangers, and face them one way. Every time you wear something and put it back, turn the hanger to face the other way2. This way you will be able to keep track of what you wear, and what you don’t. Every six months, have a glance and see what hasn’t been worn—chances are you can donate it or give it to a friend. 

Decluttering tip #3 – Kitchen

  • If you have wall space, utilise this by hanging regularly-used pots and pans on hooks3. It adds a decorative flair to your kitchen, and saves you cupboard space! 
  • Spice racks, dividing containers, and carousels are great ways to order your smaller kitchen items, such as seasonings, salt and pepper, and spices. Putting them inside your cupboard means less clutter on the benches. 
  • Go through your pantry and throw out anything that is expired. 
  • Go through your container drawers and throw out any old, cracked containers, or those without lids. Organising containers by size and shape gives you more room in drawers or cupboards, and it feels great to look in and have orderly piles or stacks, instead of the usual mayhem.
  • Don’t forget your cutlery and junk drawers! Be strict in what you keep and what you throw away—do you really need those seven extra notepads?

Decluttering tip #5 – Bathrooms

  • Start by throwing out any expired items hiding under your sink. 
  • If you are limited on bench space, there are great space-savers available. Toothbrush holders, and racks for hairbrushes or razors can now be suctioned or stuck onto the wall, meaning more space on the bench! 
  • Make sure you are cleaning as you go. Bathrooms have a habit of hoarding hair, make-up, and mould, and wiping this away makes everything feel less cluttered. 

Decluttering tip #6 – Living area

  • Look around and determine what actually belongs in the living room. There’s a high chance a lot of it comes from other rooms in the house. Throw all of that into the ‘put back’ box. 
  • Tackle any TV cabinets—do you watch any of the DVDs in there? Or can they be donated? Any broken PlayStation or Xbox bits, or board games with pieces missing can also go in the ‘throw away’ box. 
  • Take a minute and wipe down surfaces and photo frames. 
  • Now, your coffee table. As these are usually the centre of the room, having minimal objects on here gives the illusion of a tidy area. Keep it simple, with a vase or coffee book the only item to belong there. Everything else has to go!   

Decluttering your home can be a long process, but will be worth it in the end. Not only will you come home to a tidy space, but you will also be more practised at keeping only what is important to you. Declutter your office (home or work) in the same way. Spending five extra minutes at the end of every day putting things in their proper place means you will be walking into an organised office the next morning, ready to tackle the day. The same goes for your calendar and relationships—what is unnecessary? Are you giving an excess of your free time away? What doesn’t bring you happiness? 

Keeping these decluttering tips in mind, and practising them, will ensure you start to live life uncluttered by unnecessary excess.

References

  1. Elizabeth Larkin, 2020, How to Declutter Your Home, Room by Room, The Spruce.
  2. Joshua Becker, 2019, How To Declutter Your Home: 10 Creative Decluttering Tips, Becoming Minimalist. 
  3. Amanda Garrity, 2020, 20 Easy Decluttering Tips, According to Experts, Good Housekeeping.