Every Decluttering Tip You Need to Clean Out Your House Right Now

There's never been a better time to clear the clutter from your life. Here are nine tips for how to start.

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Clean living room

Sheltering at home can be stressful, but it also provides lots of time and opportunity for home projects you've been putting off. To help you, we've created a collection of all the best, expert-approved decluttering tips on Guideposts.org.

1. Start small

Guideposts blogger Holly Lebowitz Rossi recommends starting your clutter clearing with a small task. She calls it a "rearranging project."

"A rearranging project is something that can be done in 15 minutes or less, and it will leave a single corner, surface, drawer or shelf in your home looking noticeably clean and orderly," Rossi writes.

Read more of Rossi's advice on how to start decluttering your home.

2. Follow the 60 percent rule

Because cleaning can be so overwhelming, decluttering expert Kathi Lipp created the 60 percent rule. This rule suggests that you're allowed to take a cleaning break, when you've gotten rid of 60 percent of the clutter. Lipp says this will help you avoid burnout and leave mental energy for you to move on to other spaces.

Read Lipp's tips for decluttering every room in your house.

3. Donate your giveaway pile

Joshua Becker, author of The Minimalist Home, says one simple way to keep yourself motivated is to not try to selling the things you're decluttering. “Trying to sell everything you’re getting rid of just adds time, stress and usually frustration to the process,” Becker says. 

As an alternative, he recommends donating your cast offs instead. “You can't change the past, you can only learn from it,” Becker says. “Just because you made a mistake by buying things that you're not using doesn't mean you have to carry [them] into the future.”

If you can't donate immediately, at least take the time to label and pack up your donation boxes, so you can take them as soon as you are able.

Read six more decluttering tips from Becker.

4. Use the container concept

Dana K. White is a decluttering expert whose life changed when she gave up organizing and started getting rid of things instead.

One of her secrets to clearing out a space is called the container concept. This simple idea states that the size of your storage spaces determines how many items you can keep.

“You can have as many socks as will fit in your sock drawer,” White says. “Let that be the deciding factor.”

Read White's tips for cleaning out your closet in seven simple steps.

5. Think about what clothes you actually wear

When clearing out closets, Colleen Ashe, the founder of Ashe Organizing Solutions, suggests remembering that most people wear 20 percent of their clothing 80 percent of the time. That means most of us can get rid of a lot of clothing.

"If you haven’t worn it in over a year—maybe it has a stain, maybe it is missing a button or maybe you never liked the color—it’s probably time to give it away," Ashe says.

Read more of Ashe's tips for decluttering your bedroom for a better night's sleep.

6. Ask one question

Happiness expert Gretchen Rubin recognizes that decluttering can cause decision fatigue.

“I don't think you can avoid the decision fatigue,” Rubin says. “But you can manage it.”

To help her make hard decisions, Rubin asks one question to determine whether or not she keeps an item: "Does it energize me?"

Read Rubin's six practical decluttering tips.

7. Consolidate

Another one of Dana K. White's tips is to get rid of any duplicate items.

“Put 'like' things together,” White says. Doing this will allow you to see how many of each item you own. Then, using the container concept, figure out how many of that item will fit in your space and keep only that number.

Read White's five tips to declutter your kitchen.

8. Organize by category—not location

Marie Kondo, star of the Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, says most people mistakenly declutter by room instead of by the category of an item.

Instead of organizing your bedroom and then your front hall closet, Kondo’s method prescribes a specific way to go through your belongings:

  • Clothing
  • Books
  • Papers
  • Miscellaneous
  • Mementos

For each step, she recommends gathering the set of items in question from around the house and gathering them in one central location for decluttering.

Read more of Kondo's decluttering advice.

9. Leave empty space

What should you do when you're determining where to put things away? Designer and blogger Myquillyn Smith recommends leaving a designated empty surface in each room of your home.

"I know for so many years I always felt like, 'Oh, we need a bigger house because I don't have a place for my stuff,'" Smith says. "Really, I just needed less stuff."

Read more of Smith's best decluttering tips.

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