It’s hard to believe that July is half over already, and before long, kids will be back at school and it’ll be time to put our jack-o-lanterns.
Nothing kicks off a new season right like a clean and decluttered house. Whether you plan to move soon or maybe you just need a fresh start, we’ve got 10 easy decluttering tips to help your house look clean, shiny and ready for a new season.
Check them out and see those piles of mail and clutter on your counters disappear.
Analyze how you clean
Everyone has their own cleaning style, and you need to be honest about yours.
Some people like to take one whole day and do their decluttering all at once. Others tend to get distracted and would prefer to do a little at a time. Both methods are just fine. You only need to pick what works best for you.
In other words, be honest about how you like to clean and don’t berate yourself if it takes you longer to clean and declutter. You’ll get there on your own time.
Go room by room
If you’re having trouble getting started on your decluttering adventure, the best way to start is just one room at a time. Whether you have a large home or a one bedroom apartment, going room by room can make you feel less overwhelmed.
Start with a room that needs decluttering but maybe not the most decluttering in the home. Maybe it’s a bathroom or a spare bedroom. You could ever start closet by closet. Whatever room you choose, you’ll have a finite amount of space.
This method works best for people who don’t want to devote a whole day to decluttering. When the room is finished, so are you. The faster you work, the quicker you’ll be done and off to enjoy the rest of the day.
Focus on small zones first
Sometimes even going room by room is not doable. Maybe you work full time and value the extra down time on the weekends. Perhaps you have other obligations after work such as taking the kids to soccer practice or dance lessons.
If the thought of decluttering your entire house makes you feel sick and overwhelmed, break down the work into small zones that need your attention most. It could be a section of your kitchen countertop or just one drawer in the kitchen. It might be one shelf in your closet or maybe even just the desk in your home office.
Breaking down these small zones in big need of decluttering can help you feel like you’re accomplishing the most work in a small amount of time. These are spots that really need your help and will make you personally feel like you’re tackling an important part of a big job.
Invest in cabinets, bins and storage containers
You probably know how clutter builds up: When you don’t know where to put something — clean sheets, photo albums, even just the mail — you drop it off on the kitchen table or counter or on an end table in your living room. Before you know it, you can no longer see the countertops and you’ve got a huge pile that grows every day.
But if you always have a place for your belongings, then you’ll be more likely to put it away or in it’s spot right away. That’s why investing in storage units, whether that’s plastic bins that fit under your bed or colorful baskets, can help you find a place for everything.
Take the mail for example. Rather than drop it on the kitchen table, use an in-and-box box system — one box for incoming mail and another for outgoing. Now you will have to keep up with the incoming mail, so make sure you put the boxes close to a recycling bin for junk mail, but having a place for it means the mail won’t end up piled on top of a table.
Plastic bins, especially the ones that slide under beds, can help declutter closets. You can store seasonal clothes in them, such as coats and hats, or things you don’t often use but still want to keep, such as photo albums. In your kids’ bedrooms, these bins can be great for storing toys, especially Legos and Barbies, as well as board games and card games. Once you give these items a home, it’ll make putting them away a bit easier.
You can find tons of plastic, wicker and woven baskets at home goods stores, and these items can help you better organize shelves in closets and cabinets. Use a basket to store cleaning supplies in one place so you don’t have to hunt for everything when you need to clean the bathroom.
Donate what you won’t use to charity groups
As you’re getting rid of gently used clothes, toys and other items you don’t need, take out a cardboard box and put everything inside to donate. There are tons of great charities around Houston that would love your donations, so don’t just stick to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.
For example, most people don’t want to buy used towels or sheets — but what about dogs and cats? Donate used towels and sheets to local animal shelters. They’ll use them for bathing animals and cleaning up cages, and as long as the towels are in decent condition, they’re usually happy to take them.
Have some work clothes that look nice, but you know you won’t wear? Or maybe a top that you ordered online but didn’t fit? You could drop them off at Goodwill, but what about donating them to a homeless shelter? Shelters try to help people get back on their feet, and someone going on a job interview could benefit from your nice clothes.
Knowing that you’re going to donate your items to a really good cause can help you part with them. Do some research to find a few charities that you’d like to support and start decluttering. You’ll find it’s much easier to let things go when you know they might be able to help someone else in need.
Question why you want to keep things
When we try to declutter, we often hold ourselves back. We look at an item and think, “I’ll use this one day” or “What if I get rid of this and then suddenly I need it?”
It can be hard to get past these thoughts, so when you have them, it’s best to acknowledge them. But then comes the hard part: You need to decide what gives you joy in life. That’s a tall, existential question to ask, but there’s merit to it. Do clothes that you never wear bring you joy? The DVDs sitting on your shelf that you rarely watch, are those worth keeping?
Decluttering can take some deep introspection and honesty as you decide what really makes you happy in life. If some items don’t make you happy and you think they could make a big difference to others, then it’s worth letting them go.
Set small goals and timeframes
Setting goals gives you something to work for and will help you feel less overwhelmed by the amount of clutter. Your goals don’t have to be big. Start small. Have a goal to clear off the kitchen counter in one week. You don’t have to do everything at once, just tackle it piece by piece.
When the week is up, your countertop will be clear, and you can devote the next week to another small task. In a month, you will have completed four major decluttering goals, and you’ll feel like you’re making a decluttering difference in your home.
Use the hanger trick for closet decluttering
Getting rid of clothing can be difficult, especially from season to season. We give ourselves all kinds of excuses to keep clothes we know we won’t wear — just a few pounds to lose, just a new season, just need to buy the right matching shirt. Before we know it, we’ve convinced ourselves to keep a whole season’s worth of clothes that are just taking up space.
But there’s a way to hold yourself accountable to the clothes you don’t wear — the hanger test.
Go through your closet and turn all of your hangers and clothes in the same direction. Now for a month — or a season if you’d like more time — each time you wear an item of clothing and put it back in your closet, turn the hanger in the opposite direction. This indicates that you’ve worn the clothing at least once.
At the end of your time period, be it a month or a season, look back at your closet and check the hangers that haven’t changed direction. That means you haven’t worn them — so why are you keeping the clothes. This is an easy way to help you really see what you don’t wear, and it will help you feel less attached to the clothes. After all, if you don’t wear them, why keep them?
Apply the cardboard box test to the kitchen
Do you have kitchen drawers overflowing with spoons, spatulas, rubber scrapers, can openers and wine openers? It can be hard to clean out these drawers because really they could all come in handy — eventually. But how many of those kitchen tools do you really use in a month?
If you want to find out, here’s how: Get a cardboard box and put all of your kitchen tools inside it. Now for a month or even just two weeks, take out only what you need. Once you use it and clean it, put it in the drawer. At the end of your time period, look again in your box. If there’s anything still in it, keep it in the box and donate it all. You now have definite proof that you’re almost certainly not going to use it.
Get your family involved
Decluttering isn’t just one person’s job at home, especially in households where both parents work. Everyone should be helping out around the home. It’ll save you from feeling overwhelmed and as if all the work will never be done.
Assign jobs based on what is doable for each person and what he or she likes to do. If you’ve got a little chef, assign him or her the job of entering the dishwasher every week. If your kid likes being outside, send them out to mow the lawn, rake leaves or weed the garden.
Your partner should be helping out around the house too. If you feel like you’re doing the bulk of the work, have a conversation with your partner about how you feel and ask to find a compromise. Even if your partner travels or works odd or long hours, he or she can still make time to help around the house.
At Advantage Pro Services, we work with a lot of homeowners who feel like they have too much clutter around their homes. When they call us for pressure washing services, they’re usually taking steps to clean up and out their homes, and we know that the outside of the home is just as important as the inside.
Decluttering doesn’t have to happen in one day. Little steps at a time can make a big difference in just one season. If nothing else, the big takeaway here is that you need to be open and honest with yourself about what you want to accomplish and how much time and energy you can devote to your project.
For some, one big day of decluttering is all that is needed. For others, baby steps are best. Each method works just as well as the other, and it’s really up to you.
So remember: The hardest part of starting a decluttering project is just that, starting! But once you get going and appreciating all the open space you now have, decluttering will feel freeing.