When should I declutter my home?

It’s important to recognise when the time has come to declutter - if you are finding it hard to relax, can’t find things in your home or aren’t sleeping well, it could be the right time. If you’re moving home, decluttering in advance of your move is a good idea.

What is the meaning of declutter?

The definition of declutter is ‘to remove unnecessary items from an untidy or overcrowded place’ or ‘to remove clutter from a room or an area.’ 

Clutter is anything you’re keeping that doesn’t add value to your life - and decluttering is all about making room in your home for the things that matter.  

Why declutter?

Whether you are moving house, settling into a new home or simply trying to create more space in your current home, decluttering can have a positive effect on your mood and wellbeing. It is a case of both ‘’mess causes stress’ and ‘declutter your home, declutter your mind.

Where to start decluttering

The best place to start is by looking at your home with ‘fresh eyes’ as a stranger would - we get used to seeing our own clutter - and then make a plan.

  • Give yourself a set time - 10 minutes, an hour, a morning, a day 
  • Start with easy decisions - get rid of broken items, those that have passed their expiry date and outdated technology 
  • Tackle one room, one space or even one cupboard at a time and make sure you complete the decluttering process in that area before moving onto the next area
  • Take a declutter before and after photo of each area - it will provide you with some declutter inspiration! 
  • Get a number of boxes or containers and label them as follows:
    • To Keep - things that need to be kept and tidied 
    • Recycle - anything like plastic, card, paper, glass or small electronic items 
    • Mend/clean - anything that needs repairing or cleaning 
    • Donate - things to go to friends, family or the local charity shop
    • For sale - to take to auction, a car boot sale, ebay, facebook or private sale 
    • Rubbish - to be thrown away 

Think about how you are going to dispose of the rubbish - are you going to get a skip or take the rubbish to the tip? If you sell items you don’t want, think about treating yourself to something that you really do want. This will inspire you to sell even more! 

How to declutter your home

The more clutter you have, the more time its going to take you to do something about it. All the clutter is weighing you down and the more stuff you have the longer it takes to find something and the longer it takes to clean your home - so start sooner rather than later.

Getting started is the most difficult part - it can feel a bit overwhelming at times so the best thing to do is to decide on your time frame, concentrate on one area and do a really good job. Keep only what you need - you may entertain once a year so do you need 24 wine glasses? Could you hire them from the wine supplier when you have a party? Do you need more than two sets of towels per person in the house with a couple of extra sets for guests? 

Decluttering tips: how to declutter your house 

Declutter your kitchen 

  • Worksurfaces seem to attract clutter from mail to work projects. This is usually because these items don’t have a specific place to go. The best thing to do is to create storage - shelves or labelled basket/box systems and letter racks can all provide a solution 

  • Check out your cupboards - if there’s anything from spices to pickles that have been hiding in there for years, throw them out. 

  • Use airtight, labelled jars and plastic storage boxes in your kitchen cupboards. This makes it easy to see when items need replenishing or restocking. 

Declutter your bathroom 

  • If you have more than one bathroom, declutter them at the same time so you know how much you have and what you need - shampoo, conditioner, soap and toilet rolls

  • Put all your bathroom items together when you take stock - pile medicines, cosmetics, towels, toiletries and supplies in ‘like’ piles

  • Have a ‘keep’ box and a ‘throw away’ box

  • Check all the expiry dates on your products -cosmetics, sun screen, antiseptic creams and various lotions. If its out of date - throw it away. 

  • Get rid of anything you don’t like or don’t use 

Declutter your living room

Living rooms are designed for relaxation and it’s difficult to relax when the space is full of clutter - from magazines and newspapers to toys, books, trinkets, blankets and more. 

  • Ask yourself if each item belongs in the living room 

  • If you’re overwhelmed by CDs, DVDs and video games, sort out which you want to keep and think about investing in some storage - shelves, boxes, baskets or furniture with storage 

  • Choose items of furniture that have inbuilt storage - for example footstools and coffee tables 

  • Keep your surfaces clear - a good rule is to have no more than 5 items on a surface - picture, lamp etc

Declutter your bedrooms

All too often bedrooms, particularly spare rooms, become dumping grounds for everything from suitcases to ironing boards. Your bedroom doesn’t need much more than a bed, bedside cabinets, drawers and storage for clothes and shoes. Children may need a work space and room for their toys. With every item, ask yourself:

  1. Does it belong in the bedroom?

  2. Have I used it in the last year?

  • Keep surfaces clear and clean - here again, the five item rule for surfaces ensures less clutter - pictures, lamps, trinkets - but no more than five item

  • Colourful storage boxes and baskets in children’s rooms keep toys out of the way - and encourages children to tidy up.

Declutter your clothes and shoes:

When it comes to clothing, we generally only wear 20% of our wardrobe, 80% of the time. We buy more clothes each season and never get rid of the ones we no longer wear so wardrobes and drawers are full.  

  • Put your clothes into three piles - Yes, No and Maybe. Ask yourself:

    • Does it fit?

    • Is it damaged?

    • Do I still like it? 

    • Is it out of style/fashion/date?

  • Zone your wardrobe - everyday items in one area, occasional and formal clothing in another area. Think about rotating your wardrobe - storing out of season clothes so only the current season’s clothing is on hand. Then at the start of the next season, you can go through the clothes that have been stored from the previous year and decide whether to keep them or dispose of them.

  • Some stores and online shops - including IKEA - sell great underbed storage solutions ideal for towels, bedlinen or out of season clothes. You can also buy special bags that you fill with your clothes, towels or bedlinen before ‘sucking’ the air out with a vacuum cleaner. This is a great space saver. 

  • Put formal and out of season shoes and footwear in clear boxes or labelled boxes on high shelves and current, everyday footwear in baskets at the bottom of your wardrobe.

Declutter your utility room/laundry area 

  • Add shelving for your washing powder, tumble drying sheets, bleach and stain removers 

  • Put detergent and scoops in clear glass jars so its easy to see when you need to buy more stocks 

  • Have a divided laundry basket - to separate whites and coloured washing and add a small bin for items like socks 

  • Add some hooks so ironing boards/drying frames can be wall mounted 

  • Put washing lines and pegs into a shoe bag with a string 

Declutter your garage/shed 

There are sure to be broken items in the garage and shed. If you have not bothered to throw things away, this is where they may end up. Think about:

  • Donating old plant pots to the local nursery/garden centre

  • Sort out ‘bits and pieces’ - put nails and screws in clear glass jars 

  • Take any old metal items to the local recycling centre or scrap dealer

  • If you have old tyres with ‘life’ left in them or hub caps that you haven’t got round to putting on your car, advertise them on social media 

  • Put shelving up and hooks on the wall to increase storage space 

The declutter challenge 

There are several challenges you may face if you are decluttering: 

  • If you love getting freebies, you’ll bring them home and add them to the clutter. Ask yourself if you really need that particular freebie.

  • If you enjoy shopping and can’t resist buying, stick to the ‘one in, one out’ rule. For every item you buy, you have to get rid of an item.  

  • A member of your householder is a ‘hoarder.’ This is a tricky one and you’ll have to face why they hoard before helping them declutter. When you do declutter, start small and get rid of broken or out of date items first. Give the hoarder a space - a cupboard, a room or an attic, where they can keep the clutter they can’t bear to part with.

  • Your clutter has sentimental value. Whilst this is important, too many of these items become clutter. Why are you keeping the item? Some of us keep items because we feel guilty for not seeing the giver as often as we could or we believe the giver will look for the item when they visit. We may hold onto an ex’s belongings because getting rid of them means the relationship is over. Try to tell yourself memories are in the heart and mind not in material possessions.Taking pictures of the items can be helpful if you decide to sell or donate them.

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