For the Home

10 Essential Tips to Help You Declutter & Organize Your Home

Several months ago, I decided I was ready to majorly declutter our home.

We weren’t living in a massively disorganized house, but it was driving me crazy how I’d find trails of paper in every room or pens scattered throughout the house in obscure places. Our kitchen cabinets had sippy cups and Tupperware lids that were missing for who knows how long. Our guest room closets were solely used to store old decor items, notebooks and textbooks from college, and childhood memorabilia โ€” most of which hasn’t been touched in years.

I started researching ways to declutter our home and most of the posts were about living minimally โ€” things like capsule wardrobes, digitizing keepsakes so that you can throw them out, or getting rid of furniture with flat surfaces that might be a landing spot for random items. While that might work for some people, I’m definitely not one of them. And, just because you might not want to live minimally doesn’t mean you are a hoarder either.

In my mind, there had to be a happy medium. A way to live without the clutter while still keeping items that were important to me.

Guess what?ย Decluttering doesn’t have to mean all or nothing! It took a couple of weeks, but we came out on the other side and learned a thing or two along the way. I’ve put together a few tips that helped us declutter our home as well as make decisions about what to keep and what to throw out.


Get rid of unnecessary paper

Paper, paper, paper โ€” it seems harmless enough, but paper can create so much clutter and adds up so quickly.

Start by going through your entire house, gather up all of the paper items, and stack it all in one spot. You can use your dining table, kitchen counters, or even the floor to consolidate it all so that you can slowly start to sort through the stacks. Just keep repeating to yourself, “It’s going to look worse before it looks better.” ๐Ÿ™‚

You’ll want to keep documents like marriage and birth certificates, deeds, warranties, but items like old receipts, out-of-date bills, and other random papers can be thrown in the trash or shredded.


Tidy by category, not by room

One large reason clutter exists is because like-items are spread all over the house rather than grouped together. When you start by decluttering a room rather than an entire category, you don’t get a very accurate sense of what you have.

Instead, start by gathering up everything in a particular category (books, clothes, magazines, tupperware, etc). This will allow you to see, all at once, how much you have, how much you want to purge, if there are any duplicates, what pieces are missing โ€” and you’ll be making progress across your entire house.


Get rid of things you haven’t used in a year

Easy to say, but hard to implement. If you haven’t used an item in a year, that means you’ve made it through every season, every holiday, and every occasion that you might possibly use that item. Do yourself a favor and get rid of items that aren’t getting any use.


Don’t keep things out of guilt

This might be the hardest thing for me, personally. I keep things out of guilt…a lot. It might be a gift from a dear friend that I’m keeping it out of fear that they’ll one day ask me what happened to it and I’ll have to admit that I threw the gift away. Or it might be something I bought myself, but didn’t turn out as I expected. Whatever the guilt, let it go!


Get rid of anything that has expired

When I think of expired items, I think of my refrigerator. Yes, the expired milk is definitely included in this, but some less obvious things are canned goods and other products in the pantry, medication and prescriptions, makeup and hair products, sunscreen, etc. You’d be surprised how many things have probably expired in your house and how getting rid of those items quickly eliminates some clutter.


Don’t keep items you wouldn’t buy now

For me, this is a great measure of whether or not I should keep an item. Would I buy this throw pillow off the shelf right now? Would I try on this pair of jeans and buy them based off of their fit? If the answer is no, it might be a good sign that you can do without them.


Get it down to one box

We had several boxes of memorabilia and keepsakes that were taking up a lot of room. David and I decided to get the stuff we wanted to keep down to one box each. Not only did this free up a lot of space, but it helped us prioritize when making decisions on what to keep since we only had so much space in that one box.


Schedule your donation pick ups

Remember to actually schedule the donation pick ups as soon as you have a collection of stuff to donate. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve been known to let a box of stuff sit in my closet, waiting to be donated, for over a year! You can call or schedule a pick up online or you can load the box in the car and take it to a drop off location โ€” it’s so easy.ย And, if you keep track of your donations, it’s a nice tax deduction.


Maintain a cleaning schedule

I’ve written about this before, but maintaining a clean home can make a world of difference in eliminating clutter. There are daily tasks that we complete each day such as putting away toys and out-of-place items, making beds, and taking out the trash that take just a few minutes when done each day. Keeping a clean home not only eliminates “surface clutter,” but also makes way for you to do some of the deeper decluttering and organizational tasks that may be hiding in closets, garages, and attics.


Have patience and stick with it

Decluttering and organizing takes time. Don’t give up! Take it one step at a time and set realistic goals. If you only have 15 minutes a day, use that 15 minutes to declutter a junk drawer or a basket full of odds-and-ends. The main thing is to stick with it and you’ll start seeing progress in no time!


Are you ready to declutter and organize your home? Let me know in the comments below where you plan to start first!

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10 Essential tips to Help You Declutter and Organize Your Home | Decluttering and organizing doesn't have to be a daunting task. These tips will help you approach organization in a simplified way and get you on the right track to having a clean and orderly home.
Jennifer Driskell

Jennifer Driskell

Hi there! I’m Jennifer, a lifestyle blogger and working mom. I help other moms find value, joy, and beauty in the middle of the everyday routines. I’d love to connect โ€” you can find me on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram!

36 comments

  1. Great list!

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  2. Thank you so much for these amazing tips! I’ll be sure to keep them in mind the when I find the time to do an overhaul of my place (hopefully soon huhu)

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    1. You’re so welcome, Ren! Finding the time always seems to be the hardest part. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Thanks for this! It’s just the motivation I needed ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. Great tips!! I love to organize, I always feel so refreshed and calm after decluttering my home.
    – Christine

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  5. Great tips! every time I get organized , I fall off track. Going to start over!

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  6. Hi Jennifer,
    Thanks for the inspiration!:) We take out donations to the local Goodwill. They have very convenient hours and locations for our needs. I call ahead to make sure there is someone to haul my "loot". (I have back issues, so this is a huge help).:)
    Christina

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  7. Love the idea of tidying by category instead of room. ๐Ÿ™‚ And truly if we haven’t used it in a year, we likely don’t need it. We have boxes in the basement, virtually untouched since we moved in a few years ago…time to declutter!

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    1. Exactly! We had no idea what was in a few of our untouched boxes, so as we started sorting through them, I had to keep reminding myself that we didn’t use these things for years. And, if we got by that long without them, chances are we didn’t need any of those things anymore. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for reading, Melanie!

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  8. Tidy by category, not by room is a great tip and such a smart idea. I love this way of looking at decluttering.

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  9. These tips are super-helpful, and a lot of them I NEVER would have thought of on my own, but they make so much sense (like getting rid of expired things). Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Yes! It’s so easy to overlook expired items that don’t visibly spoil, but they take up more space than you would think. Glad you found it helpful, Rebecca!

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  10. I have adopted the practice to purge my closet once a year, but I can’t help but think, "what if this comes back in style?" …lol! I love a clutter free home. Helps me think clearer.

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    1. Haha, I can totally relate! That same question popped into my head over and over when cleaning out my closet. But, when there are things on the shelf from junior high, I figure I’m doing my eighth grade self a favor by throwing it out. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  11. These are such great tips! I always struggle with things that I feel guilty about getting rid of, but sometimes it’s necessary.

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    1. Exactly, Tami. Sometimes it IS necessary to just let it go โ€” both the guilt and the item! Thanks for sharing!

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  12. love this post! I needed this because I do have a habit of being a hoarder when it come to clothes and other things i feel guilty about letting go.

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    1. Yes! The guilt is definitely hard to get past, but I keep reminding myself that it’s not a good enough reason to hold onto something I’ll never use again. Thanks for reading, Natasha!

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  13. We like to have a bonfire each summer to get rid of all the extra cluttered paper from over the winter!

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    1. I love this โ€”ย will have to remember that when we start using our fire pit this fall! Thanks for sharing!

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  14. Some really good tips that I need to stick to! Such a good idea to get rid if you haven’t used in so long – although it’s so hard to do! Love, http://www.amyvictoriabaldwin.com

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    1. Yes, it’s definitely easier said than done. ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad you found it helpful!

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  15. Loved this post. We moved into our new (to us) home two years ago, and I am feeling the urge to declutter it already! Not that we have a bunch of things, but we do have stuff that can be tidied up. Love the idea of tidying by category and not by room. Definitely makes sense when you think about it!

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    1. Yes, I can absolutely relate! I’d love to hear how it works for you!

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  16. Wow! I needed to read this. Love the idea of cleaning by category not room. I’m always one to choose a room, tackle it, and feel like I’ve accomplished something for only about 5 minutes. Like the idea of changing the mindset for better results! Bookmarking this!

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Meaghan! I used to tackle by room as well, but found myself tidying the same things over and over in multiple places โ€” the change in approach has definitely helped with the clutter. Would love to hear how it works for you!

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  17. Ugh, I needed this! I couldn’t find a form for my son yesterday because there were so many papers on the desk in our office. And I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who keeps things out of guilt….thanks for permission to let it go!

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    1. Yes, you are not alone, Emily! ๐Ÿ™‚ And, I’m glad you found this helpful.

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  18. "Don’t keep what you wouldn’t buy now" that is a like a million dollar tip right there! Going to use that motto for now on when purging!
    xo Jen from http://www.styleinshape.com

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    1. I know, right? That one tip has kept me from saving a TON of stuff I didn’t need! Thanks for reading, Jen!

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