How to start decluttering - 7 tips to help you start your decluttering journey
Updated: Oct 30
How we store the items we own in our own homes can make a huge difference to the way our home makes us feel. Being surrounded by things that we love can make us feel relaxed, comforted, safe, and inspired. Our homes should be a space where we feel all of these things, but sometimes clutter builds. There are so many reasons that I see this happen. Often physical or mental health plays a factor in our ability to keep clutter under control. Bereavement, trauma, and becoming a parent are just a few of the reasons why our homes can flip from being our relaxing space to becoming a constant source of stress.
What can you do about it?
There is always help out there. If the reasons your home became cluttered are still present in your life, you may wish to look for outside help by finding a Professional Organiser. An APDO (Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers) Organiser will work with you to resolve your clutter issue and help you to restore your home to the way you want it.
If your clutter has not built up to become unmanageable and you can tackle it yourself, here are my 7 tips for how to start decluttering your home.
1. Start with items that you are not emotionally attached to.
Toiletries are a great place to start, not many of us feel sentimental about our deodorants. This is a good place to begin and you can make quick progress by removing anything past its best or no longer used. Unwanted but useable opened items could be donated using an app like OLIO
2. Start small.
Breaking a large task down into smaller chunks makes it more manageable and less overwhelming.
Choose a room to start in. Don’t try to clear the whole room at once, instead chose a part of it. It might be a drawer, a desktop, or a floordrobe. Take everything out, and sort it into 3 piles - keep, donate, and throw. Put everything back you are keeping and get rid of the rest.
3. Pick up 5 items from a room that don’t belong there and return them to where they should be. Encourage children to do this with their toys too.
4. Group like items together
When working on an area, put like items with like, this way you will see how many of each you have (make a note not to purchase any more until they're used up).
5. Contain things
If you are decluttering drawers or cupboards, use containers to keep similar items together so that the drawer doesn’t become a free for all. Use (washed) free plastic veg containers, tins, and anything you have that fits in the space will do.
6. Use a timer
If you feel you don’t have enough time or find decluttering exhausting, allocate yourself 10, 20 or 30 mins. Set a timer and then see what you can complete in that time. Don’t feel pressured to do more (though you might feel that you want to). 10 mins a day soon adds up and before you know it you will have cleared a whole room.
7. Don’t add things to your home unless you need to.
Buying more than we need is one of the reasons homes become cluttered. Before you are tempted to buy something new, ask yourself whether you really need it. If the answer is yes, can you declutter an item you already own to make room for the new one? Better still commit to decluttering 2 items for every new one you buy.
The most important thing is just to start. Remember that it can often look worse before it looks better, this is ok. Don’t forget to remove any donated items soon after each decluttering session.