None of us live in a home design magazine, and most of us don’t have a staff of ten to keep our homes spotless and tidy, so here are some easy to use pointers to de-clutter.
Even if every room in your home needs a complete reorganization, begin with a few simple steps. Make a list; this may seem like a worthless task considering all the actual work that must be done but it allows you to organize the job. Which room needs immediate drastic help? Which room can be the last on your list? By creating a master list and then a list for each room, you will have a guide to follow. Think of it as a lesson plan.
Buy a variety of bags, baskets or bins to sort your things into these categories:
Trash: Things that are too used or broken to consider salvageable.
Donation: Items that you and your family no longer have a use for but are still in usable condition. Some examples are toys, books and clothes your children have outgrown, and clothing that you will never wear again.
Friends and Family: This may include many items from the last category but may also include sentimental objects.
Saleable Items: If you own a valuable object that no longer appeals to you, put it in a separate bin and you can sell it at a later date.
Stuff to Keep: Obviously you are not going to get rid of all your things; just keep them in a separate bin or pile so they don’t accidentally get tossed. These are the items you will be putting back into closets and drawers, in an organized fashion, of course.
Whether you live in a small apartment in Columbus or a penthouse in New York City, spring is the traditional time to de-clutter and re-organize a home. In northern climates, it is the season when windows can once again be opened to allow fresh air in, and kids can go outside to play. If you are hesitant to begin a whole house de-cluttering project, start with something simple and fast, like a spice cupboard or the junk drawer in the kitchen. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and once started the task will seem less daunting.
The bathroom is a quick place to de-clutter because it is a relatively small space. Start by taking everything out of your medicine chest, check medications for expiration dates and toss anything that is beyond its date. Clean the shelves, then analyze items that will be going back in. Items that are rarely used, or need to be away from small hands, should go on the uppermost shelf. Items that are used daily should be placed on a lower shelf. If you can grab your toothbrush without having to move three other things there is a better chance the cabinet will stay organized. Make-up and hair supplies should be sorted into small baskets and then put into clean drawers and cabinets. By keeping similar items together, you create less chance for a mess.
Before you tackle closets and dressers, make the bed and put dirty clothes in the hamper. If you have a clean surface to work on, it will be easier to keep track of the piles of stuff you will be sorting. The dresser can be done one drawer at a time or you can take everything out, sort, then replace. Try to keep like items together.
The most effective method for closets is to remove everything, clean the shelves and bars and sort as you return items. Some people arrange their clothing by season, others by color. Remember, keep slacks with slacks and shirts with shirts. After you have finished the closet re-organization remove hangers each time you take a garment out of your closet. It saves space and clutter.
This may seem like the most daunting of all rooms, but just de-clutter the kitchen in stages and you will be done in a flash. Start with the nastiest cupboard in the room—probably under the sink. Take everything out and wipe the entire interior. Make sure the space is dry. If not, check your dishwasher connection and the waste pipes.
Next, find small plastic bins and sort cleaners, paper products, sponges, and trash disposal by use. If you keep each category separate you will never have to hunt for an item again. Now you are ready to sort and clean the other cupboards and drawers one at a time. Don’t worry if the kitchen takes a couple of days to de-clutter because we all keep a lot of stuff in our kitchens. Work your way through in an orderly fashion, clockwise or counterclockwise from the sink.
Anyone who lives with small children knows how fickle they can be. One day they love a toy and the next they hate it. It is usually best to clean the play areas without your children present. If you want to use this opportunity to teach the kids to be aware of children who have fewer toys, sort through most of their stuff first. Then allow them to choose from the smaller number of toys to donate to less fortunate people. If a child feels overwhelmed at the thought of giving their stuff away simply tell them that it is okay, and they can tell you when they are ready to be done using something. It should be an act of kindness, not a gut-wrenching activity.
In short, de-cluttering is a good way to take stock of what you own, understand how you use the things in your house and decide what is extemporaneous.