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Decluttering Your Home: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Decluttering Your Home: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Although having clutter throughout the home may seem harmless, there are people who become anxious and feel as if their lives are out of control when clutter surrounds them. Whether tackling clutter as a means to downsize or just simplify one’s life, a whole home declutter is an enormous job. Nonetheless, as long as the home is separated into zones and tackled in stages a successful home declutter is probable.

Getting Started

The amount of clutter present in the home is irrelevant. Before beginning the decluttering process, create a plan and set specific goals. These goals can help reduce the likelihood of becoming frustrated and hitting roadblocks.

Focus on one space, one room or one zone within a room (e.g., the pantry), before moving on to another area. Following these recommendations, helps build confidence because individuals will clearly see the difference they are making.

Create a Decluttering Challenge

Create a decluttering challenge so that the process feels more like a game than a chore. Approaching decluttering in this manner may make the process seem more appealing to children, especially if there is the potential to win a prize.

Set Completion Dates

Set realistic completion dates for every phase of the decluttering process. For example, when using the one room at a time method, it is feasible to complete one room each weekend.

Schedule Times to Work in Specific Areas of the Home

Create a schedule to work on specific areas of the home. Especially areas that will most likely take a long time to complete (e.g., the basement or garage, etc.).


Declutter the rooms that are used most frequently first. By starting in these rooms, the results of the organization process become evident, which leads to the individual feeling positive about the decluttering process.   

An Easy Sorting System is the Key to Success

By creating a sorting system that is easy to follow, even the smaller children in the home can participate in the decluttering process.

The Three-Box Sorting Method — Keeping It, Putting It in Storage and Getting Rid Of It

This sorting method forces an individual to decide which items to keep, store or get rid of one item at a time.

Determining Which Box to Use

The "Keeping It" Box

This box is for the items that are used on a daily basis. After completing a room, the items in this box need to be put away.

The "Putting It in Storage" Box

This box is frequently used for keepsakes and seasonal decorations. Following the completion of a space, this box needs to be emptied into storage containers. Label these containers and neatly stack them near the doorway, so they can be transported to the self storage unit.

The "Getting Rid Of It" Box

This box is for items that are no longer being used (e.g., baby bottles, clothing, etc.). After finishing a room or space, this box needs to be emptied. Take some time to decide whether to throw away or donate each item. Remember to create two more boxes; one should be labeled throw away and the other, donate. Consider storing the items that are being donated in a climate controlled storage unit until the whole house has been decluttered.

Tips for Decluttering the Home — One Room at a Time

Decluttering the Kitchen

Due to the numerous activities that occur here (e.g., cooking, socializing, eating, etc.), a clutter-free kitchen is hard to find. Nonetheless, by using the three-box sorting method (i.e., keeping it, putting it in storage and getting rid of it), it is much easier to eliminate clutter.

Kitchen decluttering can be accomplished by focusing on a single category (e.g., utensils, glassware, spices, etc.) or by creating zones.

Begin with the larger storage spaces (e.g., the upper cabinets and pantry, etc.).

Once those areas are finished, move to the drawers, lower cabinets, refrigerator and freezer.

The only items on the countertops should be those used every day (e.g., a coffee maker, etc.).

Declutter the Bathroom

The medicine cabinet is a good place to start. Take everything out of the medicine cabinet. Examine each medication and check the expiration date. If expired medications are discovered, these medications need to be discarded; however, it is not wise to empty these products into the toilet as these medications could contaminate the water supply. Instead, throw them away in the household trash.

Nevertheless, before tossing a medication out, black out any personal information on the bottle, including the type of medication it is. Take the medication out of its bottle and place it into a Ziploc bag. To keep others from taking the medication, add an undesirable liquid to the bag that contains the medicine. Place the bag in the garbage can.

Just as in the kitchen, when decluttering the bathroom remove any items on the countertop that are not used on a daily basis.

Store Similar Items Together

After removing all the items from the medicine cabinet, start grouping any similar items together. For example, put allergy medications together, Band-Aids, etc. If multiple Band-Aid packages are present, consider combining them, so they take up less space in the cabinet.

Take Advantage of Organizational Systems

Today numerous products designed to assist with organization are available. From drawer organizers and dividers to small boxes and baskets, these products are ideal for organizing the kitchen and the bathroom.

3 Tips for Disposing of the Items in the Getting Rid of It Box

  1. Recycle plastics, glass and paper by transporting it to the local recycling bin.
  2. Donate unwanted products to a local charity or add them to an online resale group. Before taking donations to a specific charity, remember to check the guidelines for item donations.
  3. Have a yard sale. Keep in mind that some neighborhoods have designated yard sale dates, so be sure to check with the homeowners’ association before scheduling a yard sale.

If even after decluttering your home you realize that you still need additional storage space, you may want to consider finding a self storage facility near you.