How To Start De-cluttering without feeling overwhelmed: 24 Tips to get started

Easiest Way to Get started with Decluttering

Shortly after my husband and I got married, we moved in to our dream home. We went from a one bed room apartment to a 4-bedroom house with lots of storage. There was plenty of closet space and room to grow. I KNEW this house would never run out of space and we could stay in this house clutter free if we chose.

My husband’s aunt moved in with us. My husband’s uncle moved in while he was between jobs. My husband’s aunt passed away, and left a lot of stuff behind. My husband’s uncle eventually moved out, but also left a lot of stuff behind.

My son was born about a year after we moved in to our house, and as adorable and sweet as little baby items are, it was more stuff!

Suddenly my big beautiful house was busting at the seams with stuff. I had to put myself and my type “Z” as in just a little lazy personality at the helm of a decluttering effort. For a long time, it seemed overwhelming so I would just put it off, but recently I started taking steps to tackle the decluttering effort.  

Simple Decluttering Tip 1:  Small Consistent Steps for Big Impact

Clutter does not happen overnight, and decluttering will not happen overnight.  I decided to make an effort to devote about 2 hrs. per week to tackle the task of decluttering.

Two hours is not enough time for me to declutter an entire room, but it is enough to make progress.  If you choose a room or type of clutter to focus on for a month or two, you can make real progress over the course of the year.

Decluttering for two hours per week, on average equates to 8hrs per month of decluttering. That is the equivalent of one whole working day of decluttering per month. Or two and a half working weeks’ worth of decluttering per year with that type of time devoted to decluttering, I am fairly certain that I can get my house in order during that given amount of time. 

Simple Decluttering Tip 2: Start by Purging

The best way to start decluttering is to donate or discard items. I skipped this step, and had a difficult time getting organized.

Simple Decluttering Tip 3: Store Similar Items Together

When I initially started decluttering, I would try to store items where they are most likely to get used. In the winter months I would keep some scarfs and sweaters by the door so I could grab them quickly on my way out.  I like to dress in layers in the winter months.  I like to pair a lightweight top with a scarf and a duster sweater. The problem is when I would get dressed in the morning, I was never quite sure if the sweater and scarf I wanted to wear was upstairs in my bedroom closet or downstairs in the coat closet.  This happened because when I was cleaning up if I found a scarf upstairs it went it my bedroom closet. If I found a scarf downstairs, it went in the coat closet.

My morning became chaotic running between the coat closet and the bedroom closet to find the sweater and scarf that I wanted. I ultimately decided to keep all my sweaters and scarfs in my bedroom closet.

A similar situation would occur for my husbands tools. My husband keeps some tools on the second floor, some tools on the first floor and some tools down in the garage.  He is always running around frantically asking if I have seen tool XYZ.   I usually have no clue which tool he is talking about, and I am not sure which stash of tools I added it to.

While I am decluttering.  I plan to keep ALL of his tools in the Garage in a tool chest with the exception of one set of screw drivers which I will store on the first floor.  We use screw drivers all the time to swap out batteries or assemble toys.

The remainder of the tools get used infrequently and going to the garage is not a huge imposition. That way it is simple tool=garage.  If I find a tool other than a screw driver lying around it goes to the garage, if my husband is looking for a tool he knows it is in the garage. This keeps things simple.

Simple Decluttering Tip 4:  Drawers and Closets are not Hiding Spots

This is still a work in progress for me. It is so easy to stuff clothes in a closet, or stuff receipts in to a drawer. The problem is eventually drawers and closets reach capacity. Also, if drawers and closets are cluttered, it is difficult to find the things you are searching for.

I recently purchased a few tools to organize my closets and drawers. These include clear plastic drawer dividers and clear plastic shoe organizers.

Simple Tips for Decluttering The Kitchen

Simple Decluttering Tip 5:  The Easiest step to Declutter your Kitchen

I hesitate to throw things away because I am afraid, I will need them again.  Occasionally, I do throw things away and wish I had held on to it for another week or two. I love expired items in the Kitchen, because discarding expired items is a guilt free decision.

There is still a chance that you “needed” the expired item, but because it was expired, you would have had to replace it anyway. 

Simple Decluttering Tip 8:  Give Kitchen Gadgets an Expiration Date

I have a drawer full of kitchen gadgets that I seldom use. I brought them because they were on sale, or I had a brilliant idea. I ordered pot pie makers because I was sure I would be making pot pies at least once a week. It has been over two years since I have actually made a pot pie.

My plan for these barely used gadgets is to put them in a clearly labeled container and store them in the basement anything that does not come up within the next 12 months is getting donated or discarded!  I feel comfortable with this because it reduces the guilt and the chance of “what if”. It allows me to go threw all 4 seasons, so that I have a chance to hold on to seasonal kitchen gadgets like cookie cutters.

For rarely used kitchen gadgets. Gather them in a container, mark them clearly with a date a year from now. As you go through the year and use these gadgets you can find a home for them in your kitchen. At the end of the year if it is still in the container, it gets donated or discarded.

Simple Decluttering Tip 6: Find Matching Lids

I love glass food containers, especially the ones with snapping leak proof lids. Once the lids for this food storage containers have been damaged, I can’t use them as intended. My plan to clear some of the clutter in the kitchen is to get rid of the food storage containers that do not have lids.   

Simple Decluttering Tip 7:  Ditch the Junk Drawer

I am a work in progress, and this is something I am working on. Growing up we always had a junk drawer.  A catch all for items you did not want to throw out, but you didn’t have space for.  However these drawers eventually start overflowing, and you can not be sure where to find something you placed in the junk drawer. So it is best to evaluate the items that you typically put in to a junk drawer and get clear plastic shelf dividers to help keep it organized.

Simple Decluttering Tip 8: Check the Fridge

Check the fridge before you go shopping to keep from re-purchasing the same ideas again and again. In addition to helping you to declutter, this step can also help you save money at the grocery store. I recently wrote a post about how this can help you save money at the grocery store.

Simple Decluttering Tip 9: Tackle the Deep Freezer

Deep Freezer can be convenient. It allows you to stock up on deals at the grocery store, or prepare large batch meals…freezing some for later. Go through the deep freeze, yes all the way down to the bottom and get rid of anything that you KNOW you will not eat. If you are unsure how long it has been there, toss it.  Start Fresh and be sure to label items with use by dates before placing them in the deep freezer.

Simple Decluttering Tip 10: Clear Paper Clutter

Making decisions about how long and where to store important documents can be overwhelming. Easiest place to start with paper clutter are expired coupons. Discard them, they are not useful anymore. You may go through your junk drawer and realize that you have 5 of the same menu to your favorite take out spot. My advice get rid of 4 of them and discard any that come with your next order.

My husband comes home from the grocery store, drops the receipt on top of the microwave and never gives it a second thought.  I made the “mistake” of tossing a grocery receipt he needed for a return and I never heard the end of it.  My compromise, I hold on to grocery receipts for about a week before I discard them.

Unless it is a receipt for a large purchase, or something that is under warranty. I plan to keep receipts in an envelope and go through it about quarterly to throw out receipts that are older than 90 days.   Using this envelope gives me a home for my receipts clearing some of the clutter around the house.

You can also put papers you are not sure about in a box, and give it an expiration date.  Tape or seal it shut, and write a note to shred after a certain date between month to one year after you sealed the box. This helps to declutter with out the risk of discarding something that may be useful.

Simple Decluttering Tip 11: Clear the Countertops

It is amazing how clean a Kitchen feels when countertops are free of clutter! I used to think those tidy kitchens were reserved for staged houses and pretty photographs in magazines. I am now working to achieve more clutter free counter tops.

My plan is to put away small appliances when they are not in use.  If you have the space for it store blenders, coffee pots, waffle irons in a cabinet when they are not in use. 

Simple Decluttering Tip 12: Keep Decluttering

Get in to a routine of regularly decluttering set aside a few minutes each day to maintain your newly decluttered space. Keep up is easier than catch up. Set time aside to regularly declutter your space.

The Bathroom

Simple Decluttering Tip 13: Bath and Beauty Products Expire

Beauty products have a shelf life.  Most of my beauty products say they need to be used within 12 to 24 months after opening.   I started throwing away beauty products that have not been used in a while and are likely beyond their shelf life in the garbage. This is an easy way to start decluttering.

Simple Decluttering Tip 14: Quarantine your bath towels and wash cloths

The road to clutter is paved with good intentions. Are you holding on to well worn towels that you barely use in case you need them some day?  

Take your least favorite bathroom linens store them in a box or plastic tub and label them with a date 6 months to a year from when you store them. Anything that remains in the box after the allotted time, needs to go out for donation, or in to the trash.

Simple Decluttering Tip 15: Put your Bath and Beauty Products on Timeout

Do you have bath and beauty products that you have purchased on sale only to find out that it does not work for you? You want to hold on to it just in case?  Separate your staple items that you use on a regular basis from the ones that you use only “occasionally”.  Use a basket or a plastic bin to hold the occasional items. As you use an item, move it from the occasional basket/bin to the frequently used collection.  Anything that remains in the occasional basket can be discarded.

Simple Decluttering Tip 16:  Go Under the Sink

Go in that under sink cabinet and pull everything out! Try to find a home for your Bath and Beauty Products on shelves and limit the undersink storage to just

Simple Decluttering Tip 17: Manage the Medicine Cabinet

I was surprised to discover how many expired medicine bottles there were in our medicine cabinet. This includes prescription, over the counter medicines, and vitamins. Go  through your medicine cabinet and safely discard any items that are expired.

Simple Decluttering Tip 18: Audit your Beauty Tools

Do you have way too many combs, brushes, hair dryers etc. Consider segregating those that your rarely use  in to a separate bin or basket from the ones you use all the time.  Set a reminder on your phone or write a note on the bottom of the basket and discard after about 6 months of not using a beauty tool.

Simple Decluttering Tip 19: Get Organized

After purging and decluttering. You will have a better idea of the type of storage solutions you need to keep your house in order. This may be baskets, bins, shelf dividers, etc. This is the fun part! Let pintrest and your creativity guide you through the process.

Simple Decluttering Tip 20: Get in to a Decluttering Routine

I am still working on this one. I get in to a decluttering mood, make a lot of progress, only to have the clutter creep back up on me.  I am trying to make it a habit to take 10 to 15 minutes daily to declutter the high traffic areas in my home and about 30 minutes to declutter the less frequently used areas.  Keeping up with a little decluttering each day.  This will prevent the clutter from becoming too overwhelming.

The Bedroom

Simple Decluttering Tip 21:  Tackle this First for the Maximum Impact

This is the first step in the popular Konmari method of decluttering tackles clothes first. Even if you don’t want to ask your shirt if it “sparks joy”. Tackling the storage and organization of your clothes  

Simple Decluttering Tip 22: Make it Clear

For the bedroom, I like to use clear bins, and clear shoeboxes for storage. This makes it simple to identify the item you need. Also, clear storage in the bedroom makes it simple to find space to put things away.  

Simple Decluttering Tip 23: Get a Donation Bin

I used to go through my closets, or come across something I knew I wanted to donate and just left it hanging there until I got around to donating it.  Clothes would literally just hang in my closet taking up space, when I knew I wanted to donate it.

I started keeping a plastic bin, when I come across something to donate, I place it in the bin. When the bins is full, I make a trip to drop off the donation

Simple Decluttering Tip 24: Clean Off Nightstands

My goal ultimate goal is to have a nightstand with an alarm clock, a lamp, and nothing else. Right now, that is not the case. Put keeping surfaces free from clutter help to make a room feel more organized.

Mimi D.

Mimi D is the creator of Dream Plan Smile. An NYC native, she is a wife and mom with a passion for crafting. She holds a Bachelor's in Engineering and a Master's in Project Management. In her current role as a working wife and mom, she is getting a crash course in budgeting, planning, & organization.

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