I know the decluttering process can feel overwhelming. Some people have a hard time parting with unwanted items. Others feel paralyzed about taking that first step. This is where a declutter checklist can help!
In this article, I’ll share with you how I like to declutter my entire home. I’ve broken down my process with easy tips and steps that you can take when you’re ready.
And I’ve created a free printable declutter checklist with easy weekly decluttering and organizing projects. (It’s at the end of this article.) These projects are designed to not take much time but will help you feel accomplished and ready to tackle the next project.
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In this article:
What “Declutter” Means
Simply put, to declutter is to pare down and part with things we don’t need. A cluttered house happens when we have more stuff than space. In order to have a clean clutter-free home, we need less stuff so every item can go in its proper place.
For me, the process of decluttering is cathartic. Getting rid of unwanted stuff makes me feel physically lighter. Walking into an uncluttered, organized space makes me feel calm and peaceful.
Remember, decluttering and organizing your home is truly a process. It may not happen overnight, and that’s ok. Just keep at it! It takes consistent effort to have a decluttered home. But, it can be done!
How to Start Decluttering
1. Pick a Space.
When you have a lot of stuff to declutter, you may think, “How do I even start?” In my experience, picking one space at a time helps me feel less overwhelmed.
If you’re just getting started with decluttering and you have many cluttered spaces, pick one that bothers you the most. Or pick one that you feel you can declutter in a day or less.
You might even pick the first cluttered space you see when you walk into your house. If you get THAT space decluttered and organized, it may give you extra motivation to keep going through your house, one space at a time.
2. Sort Your Stuff into Four Piles.
Once you’ve picked your space, it’s time to start sorting. I recommend four piles:
- Items to recycle or throw away
- Items to sell or donate
- Items that don’t belong in the space
- Items to keep in the space
Start with items that you can recycle or throw away. This is an easy way to free up space immediately. Grab some trash bags and put all those food wrappers, broken toys, dried-up pens, old magazines, etc. in a garbage bag and toss them.
Put anything that can be recycled in your recycle bin. Easy, peasy!
Next, look for items in good condition that you can sell or donate. Some examples:
- Clothes that don’t fit or haven’t been worn in years
- Toys your children no longer play with
- Books you’ve read and don’t plan to read again
- Small appliances you never use
- Duplicate items (you do NOT need four can openers.)
Put those items in a box or bag. If you’re donating them, put them right in your car trunk and drop them off at a donation center within a few days. Don’t let them hang around!
If you’re going to sell them, you can arrange a garage sale or list them on sites like eBay, Facebook Marketplace or thredUP. Have a set amount of time that you’ll sell them by; after that, take them to the donation center.
The goal is to quickly remove these unused or unneeded items from your home as soon as possible.
After that, you can take all of the items that don’t belong in the space and return them where they belong.
Now, look around. You should only see items you plan to keep and have a place for. Bravo!
In the next sections of this article, I’ll offer easy tips for specific spaces in your home.
Tips to Declutter the Closet
Your closet is a great place to start your decluttering journey. Every year or so, I do a major closet decluttering. If you buy clothes a lot (I don’t), you may need to declutter your closet twice a year or seasonally. Whatever works for you!
Here’s a quick closet declutter checklist:
Take everything out of the closet.
I always start with an empty closet. I take everything out and wipe down the shelves and vacuum the nooks and crannies. Closets need a good periodic deep cleaning to get rid of dust.
Decide what to donate.
This is the hardest part for some of us. We hang on to clothes we haven’t worn in years. Why? Sometimes, it’s sentimental, like that little black dress you wore on a first date. Other times, the clothes don’t fit anymore but we swear we’ll lose ten pounds. And, once in a while, we buy clothes and never wear them.
Just rip off the bandage and declutter those old clothes! If you haven’t worn an item in two or more years, donate or sell it. That goes for clothes, shoes and accessories.
Make the most of your closet space.
Before you put everything back, consider ways to maximize the space in your closet. Can you add storage bins? Are there better or different ways to organize and store sweaters or shoes?
You may find these articles helpful when you organize your closet:
Establish wardrobe decluttering rules.
Once your closet is decluttered, here’s a good rule of thumb to keep it that way:
For every new item you bring in, take one item out.
If you make this a habit, you’ll never have a cluttered closet again.
Tips to Declutter the Kitchen
Your kitchen is another place where you want less clutter. Kitchens tend to be drop zones for junk mail and school stuff. It’s easy to jam our kitchen cabinets and drawers full of kitchen gadgets we never use.
And, I’ll bet your home’s junk drawer is in or near the kitchen, am I right?
Here are my top declutter checklist to-do items for the kitchen:
Clear the countertops first.
Follow the same steps from “How to Start Decluttering” at the top of this article. Take everything off the counters, wipe them clean, and pare down before you replace them. Only keep appliances out on the counter if you use them daily. (Think: coffee maker and toaster oven.)
Read more about how to declutter kitchen counters.
Declutter one cabinet or drawer at a time.
I find it far less overwhelming and tiring to declutter a kitchen when I do it piece by piece. I start at one end and clear one cabinet or drawer at a time. Here are the easiest things to declutter in the kitchen:
- Coffee mugs: almost everyone has too many. Choose a few of your favorites and let the rest go!
- Cooking utensils: you don’t need that many spatulas or similar items. Trust me. Keep only what you need to cook one large family dinner.
- Mismatched plates and bowls: these tend to accumulate like dust bunnies.
- Small appliances: if you haven’t used that fondue pot or ice cream maker since your wedding, say bye-bye.
Establish zones in your kitchen.
Zone organizing is the most efficient way to organize your home. In your kitchen, you can have a zone (area) for baking pans and tools, one for mugs and cups, one for pots and pans, etc.
Think about the layout of your kitchen and how you can create zones to reduce the time you spend getting things out and putting them away.
Read more about how to set up zones in your kitchen and home.
Use drawer organizers in kitchen drawers.
Drawer organizers are by far the best way to keep kitchen drawers decluttered and organized. My favorite kitchen drawer organizer is this adjustable bamboo solution. I love that it can fit many sizes of drawer.
You may find my kitchen organization articles helpful as you declutter your kitchen.
Tips to Declutter the Home Office
A home office is a place where old cables, cords, adapters, chargers, printers and other useless items take up space. It’s also a dumping ground for bills, mail and paperwork.
Here are my favorite declutter checklist tips for the home office:
Tackle the paper clutter.
Your home office is often where you have the most paper clutter, so this is a good starting point when you declutter the space.
Sort it all into piles: file, shred, take action. Then do those things! A small shredder is helpful for old bills and paperwork before you toss them in the trash.
Toss that old technology.
You do not need to keep the ancient printer or first-generation iPad! Take those old devices, wipe them of any personal information, and see if you can sell/donate/recycle them.
And definitely toss any old user manuals you no longer have the technology for!
Declutter those office drawers.
Chances are, you’ve got dried-up pens and highlighters and pencils without erasers in there. Probably some decades-old white-out and a broken stapler, too.
Take everything out, wipe down the drawers, and pare down to the essentials.
I have LOADS of great home office organization tips — check them out if you need inspiration for desks, desk drawers, office supplies and more.
Tips to Declutter the Bedroom
If your bedroom is a small space, it can become cluttered pretty easily. Here are my favorite tips to turn a messy bedroom into a peaceful oasis:
Declutter the dresser first.
When your dresser is a mess and busting at the seams, clothes and accessories tend to spill into the rest of the bedroom. So, I recommend you get that dresser under control.
Start by decluttering and paring down on your clothes, then invest in some drawer organizers. Check out my tips on how to organize a messy dresser.
Tackle the nightstand next.
Clear off that nightmare of a nightstand! Declutter old books and magazines. Put knitting or needlework in a basket. Keep only what you might need in the middle of the night on top of the nightstand.
Check out my helpful ways to organize a nightstand.
Add furniture with built-in storage.
If you have the budget, consider a tall armoire to add storage to a bedroom. Add under-bed storage containers for seasonal items and clothing. A storage bench at the foot of the bed can store items, too.
For more ideas, read my articles on bedroom organization ideas.
Tips to Declutter the Bathroom
Boy, do bathrooms get cluttered! From haircare and skincare bottles to cosmetics and styling tools, this is a space that needs regular, consistent decluttering. Here’s my bathroom declutter checklist:
Check expiration dates.
If you’ve been hanging on to some products too long, it can actually harm your health. Check your medicine cabinet bottles and your skincare and cosmetic products.
Toss any that have expired. Do NOT keep these items past their prime.
Use up your beauty products.
Make a pact with yourself that you will not buy another shampoo or body wash until you have used what you have. The same goes for body lotion.
Declutter hair accessories.
You may have children who no longer wear bows or clips. Declutter those items. Also, toss elastic hair bands that have lost their elasticity.
Add storage bins that maximize space.
I have some great recommendations for bathroom organization products — check them out!
Tips to Declutter the Garage
The garage may be the most overwhelming space to declutter for some people. It tends to get crammed with boxes when we move into a new house, and it’s a dumping ground for sports equipment, tools, DIY supplies and holiday decor.
This is a space that you might need to tackle over a weekend (or two), so take it one wall or section at a time.
My favorite tips to declutter the garage:
Declutter holiday decor before and after each holiday.
I always do this! It makes a huge difference and keeps my storage bins manageable. I check every bin when I decorate for the holidays.
I’ll toss all broken Christmas lights and declutter old decor that I don’t like or use anymore. Some things get battered and chipped after so many years; time to toss those items, too.
Get rid of duplicates.
In my household, the garage is where I tend to find the most duplicates. The last time I decluttered, I realized we had WAY too many screwdrivers, paintbrushes and nails. Only keep what you REALLY need.
Declutter old power tools.
Sometimes, we buy power tools and only use them once, for one project. Or, we upgrade to new, better tools but don’t declutter the old ones. See if you can donate or sell old power tools to free up some space.
Free Declutter Checklist
Be sure to grab my weekly decluttering and organizing challenge checklist, free to download! It features 52 simple decluttering and organizing project ideas to keep you motivated and inspired all year long.