For me personally, all it takes is watching about half an episode of one of the TV shows about hoarding and I’m very motivated to make my house look like it just stepped out of the pages of a decorating magazine. Everything is put away, nothing clutters any of the surfaces and it looks like nobody lives here. You, however, might want to adopt a more systematic approach for clearing clutter.

Some of the techniques organizers use can easily work for homeowners:

  • Grab a trash bag and don’t quit decluttering until it’s either full of items to donate or stuffed with objects destined for the trash
  • In the three-box method, you attack a room with one empty box marked “trash,” one labeled “give away” and another that says “keep,” and ruthlessly distribute everything in the room into one of the three boxes (except the furniture)
  • You can set a timer for ten minutes and see how much you can eliminate in that period of time

Another way to tackle clutter is room by room:

1. Kitchen

Go through your pantry, cabinets and refrigerator and throw away any food that has an expiration date that has passed or you know nobody will ever eat. Don’t forget the spices. After a period of time they lose their spiciness. Clear anything off the counters that constantly gets in your way or requires frequent clean-up. Mail, work materials, food wrappers and other debris don’t belong here. If you have more time, tackle the cupboards filled with glassware and dishes. Get rid of what you don’t need. Donate those free souvenir glasses that you kept because they were free. And those kitchen gadgets – put them all in a box. Every time you use one and wash it, place it back in the drawer. After a year, donate what’s left in the box because you’re never going to use those gadgets again.

Packing Dishes

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2. Bedrooms

Be ruthless with clothes and shoes. Donate any that are outdated, don’t fit or are not worn anymore. Move on to jewelry and purses and do the same. Sleep experts say to rid your bedroom of anything that’s not conducive to sleep, including electronics.

Clothes Cluttered In Bedroom

3. Bathrooms

Expired cosmetics, lotions or any toiletries more than one year old should get pitched. Check through your appliances – hair straighteners, flatteners, curlers, etc. – if you haven’t used one in more than six months, give it away. Put whatever you can into drawers or cabinets with like items together. Identify trash including combs without all their teeth, dirty makeup sponges, frayed toothbrushes and anything that’s broken or useless and fill up your garbage bag. The items you want on the bathroom counter should be corralled into colorful plastic containers or primary colored small buckets.

Cosmetic Bottles

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4. Family or Living Room

Old magazines, newspapers, games missing parts and broken DVDs must all go. So should knick-knacks that don’t add to the décor. Give DVDs you know you won’t watch again to a family member or friend who might enjoy them. Clear the coffee table of anything that doesn’t belong there. Tip: This room may be the easiest to declutter so to feel accomplished, start here.

Donating Books

5. Garage, Basement or Attic

Give away duplicate tools, take old paint, oil and chemicals to your local center that accepts hazardous waste, sell old exercise equipment and get rid of any boxes that have been water damaged or otherwise ruined. If you haven’t already, clearly label boxes and store like items together – holiday decorations, sports equipment, gardening paraphernalia, etc.

Cleaning Garage


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About the Author: is a full-service home remodeling and construction general contractor serving the greater Seattle, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco, and San Jose area. Home improvement is hard, and we make it easier for you every step of the way. That starts by understanding your goals, whether it’s making a space more livable, expanding your home, repairing damage, adding room for relatives, or something completely different. We’ll work with you to ensure you’re happy with the project from start to finish.