Holy mess! Are you surrounded by chaos and disarray? Is your life a hodgepodge of litter and bedlam? Maybe understanding how to declutter your home will help you with putting some order into your home and life. People who take action in decluttering their lives and homes swear by its life-changing effect. Indeed, studies found that a cluttered home is one of the major causes of stress. An article on Psychology Today points out how a disorganised home affects its inhabitants’ wellbeing. It is frustrating, distracting, and not at all relaxing. Truly, nobody would want to live in a house like that!
An Australian study of this clutter crisis gives us a glimpse of how bad it is on our side of the planet. A survey of 1,000 homes in late 2007 showed that almost 90% of homes had at least one cluttered room in their house. The survey also revealed that the top three “clutter hotspots” in any given house included the spare room and bedrooms, the kitchen and the garage. Here are 18 tips on how to declutter your home and declutter your life.
Decluttering Tip #1: Organise your bedroom closet
In decluttering your closet, it might be helpful to think of two keywords: necessity and – to borrow from Marie Kondo – joy. If you haven’t worn a particular article of clothing for a year or more, then it’s time to discard it. Unused clothes aren’t exempt, especially if you have no intention of actually wearing them. On the concept of joy, only keep clothes that you are 100% comfortable wearing and which give you happiness.
On average, Australians buy 27 kilos of new clothes annually. An overstocked closet that contains things you don’t or can’t wear is a result of a couple of things: clothes shopping as a hobby and choosing to buy cheap and trendy clothes. Not only is fast fashion bad for the environment, it’s also bad for your mission to declutter your closet. So once you are done getting rid of all unnecessary and joyless clothes, keep that space you have just created by swearing off from buying more.
After you have reduced the number of items in your closet, it’s time to explore ways on how to hang, fold, or store them. There are countless websites that show you the way. A quick search on Pinterest will even give you diagrams on how to fold items from t-shirts to socks to create more drawer or closet space.
Decluttering Tip #2: Utilise the space under your bed
Now that you have only the essential things in your closet and have gotten rid of all the unnecessary ones, what should you do with the rest? These may be the things that you need to access from time to time – documents, photographs, off season clothing and bedding. You can always get some under-the-bed storage drawers and boxes and utilise the space under your bed. You’ll end up with a clutter-free bedroom but with things still close at hand for when you need them.
Decluttering Tip #3: Clear the bedside clutter
Another clutter hotspot in the bedroom is the nightstand or bedside table. Let’s see if you pass this one: can you reach your alarm clock without fear of knocking some things off your nightstand? If the answer is no, then you must clear your bedside clutter. First, as we did with your closet, take a look at the things on your table and in your drawers. Throw away all the unnecessary items. Second, make sure that only the top 3-5 things you absolutely need, remain on top of your bedside table. This could be a book, your glasses and alarm clock. Keep the rest in the drawers of your nightstand.
Decluttering Tip #4: Clear the spare room floor
Can you still see your spare room floor? Or do you need to move things around just to walk around in the room? Keep piles off the floor by getting shelves and making use of vertical space. That way, you keep the floor clear and maximise your spare room’s storage capability. Another way to declutter the spare room is to figure out the purpose of that room and then keep it that way. Whether you intend it to be a guest bedroom or home office, put things in there for that purpose alone. This will prevent your spare room from being a clutter magnet.
Decluttering Tip #5: Let go of the spare room clutter
Did you know there are many different types of clutter? When people go about their home organisation project, they tend to just move the clutter into the spare room instead of letting those things go. So go in that spare room with at least three boxes – a donation/give away box, a trash bin, and a sell box. Sell expensive things you don’t use on Ebay so that you can get some money back. One person’s trash is another’s treasure after all.
You can even go one step further into generating income off your spare room by renting it out. A survey showed that Australian spare rooms can earn as much as hotels, especially if you live in cities such as Sydney.
Learn more about how you can earn some extra cash from our post on the 31 ways you can earn passive income from the sharing economy.
Decluttering Tip #6: Create more space in the spare room
Space saving furniture is your best friend when it comes to creating more space in your spare room. The bed, for example, is a major floor space hugger so consider using folding beds, sofa beds, or one of those cool wall beds. Also, explore fold down desks that are designed to create more space and keep your work area clutter-free. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Head to your nearest Ikea store or make your own.
Decluttering Tip #7: Clean the kitchen cupboard
There is a Japanese workplace organisation concept called “5S.” It is also adaptable to organising the kitchen, particularly the cupboard. Translated into English, it begins with sorting, setting in order, shining, standardizing, and ends with sustaining everything. The cupboard holds a lot of things in it, from food items to utensils. Sort things out in each cupboard, and throw away broken, unused and useless items. The remaining useful ones should then be put together and put in the right place. Next, it’s time to do the actual cleaning. Come up with a system to ensure that everyone in the household does their part in putting items back where they were originally and maintain cleanliness. When this is done over time, then keeping a clutter-free cupboard becomes sustainable and doable.
Decluttering Tip #8: Use cupboard doors for storage
Still lack storage space for kitchen items? Cupboard doors are excellent places for when you need extra storage room. Some genius ideas for cupboard storage include things like repurposing magazine racks and shoe holders as spice cabinets and racks or you could even use them for housing cleaning equipment.
Decluttering Tip #9: Keep your kitchen counter clutter-free
Don’t use your kitchen counter as a display counter. It’s nice to have some decorative items on it, but keep it to a minimum. For a truly clutter-free kitchen counter, follow a minimalist advocate’s suggestion: don’t let the kitchen appliances you use even on a daily basis sit on the kitchen counter permanently. Put them out of sight and only take them out when needed.
Decluttering Tip #10: Empty the dishwasher
Speaking of “everything in its right place,” check that dishwasher. Are you using it more like a storage place instead of a machine to clean the dishes? Remember to put away all the dishes after they’ve been cleaned and washed–every single time. This is an important checklist item for a really clean kitchen. Some people recommend cleaning your dishwasher once a month; others every six months. Determine what suits you best. Handyman Australia recommends to clean, check, or replace everything regularly – from spray holes and hoses to filters.
Decluttering Tip #11: Grease off the stove
Now let’s head to the heart of all the action in your kitchen – the stove. An article on the Huffington Post lists the many wonderful ways you can use bi-carb soda in cleaning the kitchen, especially the grease on your stove top. While you’re at it, make use of a homemade cleanser in cleaning your other kitchen appliances such as microwaves or ovens. Adopt a “clean as you go” policy every time you use these appliances to keep them clean and shiny.
Decluttering Tip #12: Declutter the refrigerator
As for your refrigerator, purge and then reorganise! Toss out all expired food items, condiments and other formerly edible things from your fridge. Maximise your fridge space by putting only items that actually need refrigeration. Also, it’s a good idea to use stackable containers for food. Even the shapes of the containers you pick are relevant in maximizing your fridge space. Go for square instead of round ones.
Decluttering Tip #13: Properly store fire hazards in the garage
Let’s talk safety first. Just like the spare room, the garage is a major clutter zone in the house. But the big difference of garage clutter is that it’s not only unpleasant to look at; it’s potentially dangerous, too. Most Australian homes store flammable liquids, chemicals and other fuels in the garage. This is why the Melbourne Fire Brigade came up with safety tips on the proper storage of these dangerous items. Read the labels carefully for information on proper storage. Also, be careful in the removal or disposal of these hazardous materials. Make sure you dispose of them properly when you do your garage decluttering.
Decluttering Tip #14: Time your garage decluttering project
The first step on how to declutter any room always begins with purging or getting rid of things. The same goes with the garage. But don’t be overwhelmed. Break it down. Just set a time limit to your garage decluttering project, and soon you’ll have your own clutter-free space back. If you’re working on weekdays, set aside just 30 minutes to go through your garage clutter. On weekends, consider extending this to an hour so.
Decluttering Tip #15: Categorize and label items in your garage
Do you have boxes and bins ready for your garage decluttering project? Get some labeling materials ready, because it’ll make categorising them and putting them in certain areas of the garage will be that much easier. The next time you look for or store something, you’ll know exactly which part of the garage to go to. Having big, clear labels on boxes and bins will also help you locate things quickly. No more digging through overpacked boxes filled with junk you have to sift through!
If you think you still have need for some items in your garage but don’t want to deal with the clutter, you can always rent out a space and store your things there until they’re needed. Spacer utilises unused spaces within households, so you can just choose whatever space suits your needs and store away!
Decluttering Tip #16: Put garage floor markings
Borrowing from the 5S system of floor markings, why not use some colored tape to create zones in your garage? Put some yellow floor markings to indicate an aisle that should never be blocked; red floor markings for areas to steer clear of for safety reasons; and even white tape to indicate placement of certain materials such as the recycle or rubbish bin.
Decluttering Tip #17: Utilise the garage wall space
To create more space in your garage, utilise the walls. Pegboards are very popular. Attach magnetic strips on the walls. These work well with metal tools.
Decluttering Tip #18: Utilise the garage ceiling space
Still need more floor space in your garage? Consider overhead storage racks. Buy ready-made ones or do it yourself. If you own a bike or several bikes, hanging them from the ceiling is a great way to use that wasted space above. You can always create more space by adding hooks to your ceilings and walls, and mount your bicycles onto them.
Now that you have done this major decluttering project and are living in a clean, organised, stress-free house, you can now congratulate yourself. You’ve managed to do what you thought impossible! Make sure you keep cleaning and organising on a regular basis though, as you don’t want to fall back into past habits. If you have other members in the household, establish rules and systems that work for ensuring a clutter-free home. Remember that it’s not enough to declutter. It’s also important to stop accumulating unnecessary stuff that you don’t need.
So get your decluttering game on and be on your way to a clutter-free home.