In this article, we help you simplify the process of decluttering your home by breaking it down into manageable steps.
We spent hours researching and experimenting to provide you with a reliable process, along with tips unique to each room.
You know that feeling? You’re standing in your bedroom, surrounded by piles of clothes and shoes. Or it’s the kitchen – there are dishes piled high in the sink and more on the counter. It feels like every time you try to put something away, another pile comes out from nowhere! Or worse, you have no idea where to start.
It’s hard to find motivation when you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything that needs done around the house. Yes, it feels great—amazing—when you’ve taken steps to declutter your home, but getting there is often a daunting process.
Keep reading for solid hacks to declutter your home and turn it into a hygge haven.
More often than not, we need a reason for everything we do, and if it doesn’t bring value in some form then why bother? We all strive to be better. If you’re setting goals to improve your relationships, career, and wellness, the list should start with an organized space where you can be the best version of yourself. Here are some motivations.
More time: The adage ‘less is more’ applies here. The less time you spend cleaning, finding and organizing stuff, the more time you free up for other priorities in life. Imagine the change of mood every morning by a simple reach for the car key versus having to scramble about looking for it. Or cruising to a designated area to pull the pram for a relaxing walk versus having to forage through a mountain of items.
More financial resources: Decluttering helps to reduce your debt and save money in 2 ways. First, by knowing what you already have and need, you will spend less adding to your clutter. So, with less debt, more options are at your fingertips! Use the extra to build up savings for emergencies or investing in assets. You can also divert resources towards other experiences in life that matter – family time or trips abroad (finally).
More energy and less stress: With more time, less debt and a neat home, you will feel less stressed by everyday hustle and more at ease. Decluttering can be a therapeutic process akin to clearing one’s mind. It leaves you with a sense of clarity, control and accomplishment. And when you and your living space feels liberated, there is less sense of embarrassment. This opens up opportunities to invite people over and make connections, an essential part of hygge living.
Where to start?
The best thing you can do when it comes to decluttering is to take small steps.
Identify hot spots: Start by identifying clutter hot spots around the house. Rank hot spots from 1 (not cluttered) to 3 (messed up).
Start small: Focus on decluttering a small zone rather than a whole room. For example, clean out the kitchen cabinets before tackling other areas in-depth. This will help build confidence and make the process go faster for yourself!
When to declutter
Removing clutter is a personal choice. Some people wait till there is a sense of overwhelm whilst others like it neat and clean at all times. Whatever your preference, decluttering your home is an ongoing process that doesn’t need to rush or transform instantly. It can take time, but you are farther along if today marks the first step in this journey!
Set timeline goals: Be realistic on the time you can spend on decluttering. A few hours for a zone as compared to one weekend for one room is practical. See it as a process rather than an immediate transformation
Be consistent: It is more of a habit to declutter. Return items to their designated spot and tidy up everyday. For example, keep the dishes, throw clothes in the laundry. Set a schedule of mini decluttering every 3-6 months. This will keep the house organized and manageable, giving you a sense of fulfillment and harmony. This also avoids making redundant one’s effort to declutter a space, just to divert to another over time.
How do I declutter
After identifying where and when you would like to declutter, the next question would be a deceptively simple question. How do I declutter? What if I’m undecided on some items? Here is a method to bypass decluttering purgatory and reaching organized nirvana.
4 Box Method: Before you start purging each room, you will need a system of assigning the fate of your items. Consider having 4 boxes (or piles if you like) on a spectrum of usability.
Keep (Functional): On one end of the spectrum are items that you use FREQUENTLY or on a daily basis. They could be in good condition or well used with little or minimal maintenance. For instance, shoes that need cleaning. These are items that return to its designated area once used. This is to ensure everything has a spot where we know exactly where it belongs.
- Method: Use the 80/20 rule: Keep what you have used 80% of the time for the last year. Get rid of duplicates unless it’s for a practical or emergency use like lighting bulbs or batteries.
- Tip: Create designated spots on shelves or inside drawers with clever container ideas. Every type of object deserves some kind of home!
Store (Sentimental): These are items that have no use to you but are kept due to sentimental or monetary value. The dilemma of what to do with your old stuff is a common one. It can be difficult, especially when the memories associated are priceless and you find yourself struggling to let go because they have so much meaning (or money spent!) in who we are now.
- Method: Cue Marie Kondo! Ask yourself if the item sparks joy or energizes you, or is it heavy and confusing. If it is the latter, it could mean that you are burdened by a heavy past or fear. Let go with gratitude. In doing so, you are deciding to live a life of hope and fulfillment as reflected in the spruce and tranquility of your home. If you find it hard to do alone, it’s timely to find a loved one or trusted friend for a ‘heart’ intervention!
- Tip: Label and relocate items kept in this category to a designated area so you know what’s where. Revisit them in a year to revisit your decision. You can also exhibit items with nostalgia to become heritage or conversation pieces.
Dispose (Recycle, Donate, Sell): These items fall in the middle, where they can still be used or repurposed but have no functional or sentimental value in being kept. Find joy and meaning in disposing.
- Method: Digitize hardcopy documents. This saves a ton of space and reduces hazards. Plus buy containers only after you cleanse. Organizing is wonderful but you risk keeping stuff you don’t need in organizers if they are lying around.
- Tip: These items can be segmented into Recycle (items to recycle, such as paper, plastic, or glass; Donate (items another person may need or want more than you, such as blanket for a animal shelter or toys for a childcare center) and Sell (items of value or to to raise cash; tap on eBay, Craigslist or set up a garage sale to attract resale arbitrage hunters like Gary Vee!)
Trash: On the other end of the spectrum are items that are unusable, and can be binned immediately.
- Method: 10% Method. Group similar items together and lay them out. For instance, your clothes. Make it a goal to dispose of 10% and trash 10%. The key to the method is being able to see everything that belongs to a certain group of items.
- Tip: You can get so much more out of your home by giving yourself permission to buy again. You might be thinking that letting go is hard, but it’ll actually help with decision making down the line. Especially when there are even more items vying for your precious real estate! Less is more.
Even if you have the reasons to declutter and an organization system planned out, the act of decluttering your home can still be a daunting task. With step-by-step tips unique to each room, you will find it easier to take action and whip through any heap!
We will start with the area that has the highest traffic and movement in the home – the living room. Not only does it get heavy use, it doesn’t have a lot of storage space to hide stuff. Add children to the mix and you have a carousel of items (or junk) to rummage through. The aim here is to have a good flow where you and others can move and access items quickly.
- Clean top:
- Start with decluttering open surface areas such as consoles, coffee /side tables and bookcases. Assess what to keep, store, dispose of or trash.
- Put books/electronics/toys away daily. 5 mins a day goes a long way to reduce build up and increase calmness of the home space.
- Countertops are clutter magnets. Avoid putting small things on countertops. Remove or store collectibles that crowd open tops. Instead use an organizer or tray to consciously limit items in open areas. This is particularly relevant for the entry-way or foyer.
- Simplify and streamline
- Consolidate the number of throws and pillows to a few statement pieces. This will help integrate the room and pull visual focus to specific areas.
- For smaller couches, follow the rule of three pillows with complementary colors and patterns. Bigger couches can manage five pillows.
- Conceal with storage
- When there are too many things lying around in the open, it will make the space feel crowded and noisy. Consider storage solutions that conceal or tuck away. These options can either be permanent like floating shelves or cabinets, or flexible pieces like baskets or dual function furniture (trunks, ottomans). This in turn adds storage space while opening the space of the room.
- Wired up
- Not only are hanging wires unsightly, it can feel like a WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) match wrestling them up. Save yourself the brouhaha by tying up or hiding your chords.
Another high usage area is the kitchen. It is a challenge as so many functions happen here – cooking, washing, storing, eating, socializing. The goal here is to divide your kitchen into zones for clear storage spaces and easy access.
- Zone out
- Divide the kitchen into zones and empty one section at a time. Consider grouping items by usage with their own designated area. – cooking utensils, food pantry, storage for small appliances, cleaning supplies. Daily use items should be designated to a convenient area. Lesser used items such as seasonal items should be stored or binned.
- Cooking utensils such as pots and pans should be kept where the stove or oven is. If there is not enough storage space, tap on vertical space to hang the pots and pans to inspire Michelin star restaurant
- Top to bottom
- Consider a top to bottom approach. Start with the countertops, before moving to the cabinets, pantry and under the kitchen sink. Apart from a few big and essential everyday use items such as the kettle or coffee maker, items on the countertops belong somewhere else. Put them where they belong, or on the floor if undecided. This in turn helps you save time decluttering and make the task more manageable. will help make it feel more manageable with
- Stay fresh and clean
- Ditch items that have expired. Clear out and clean up the shelves and cabinets. Not only does it help to reorganize or restock necessary items, there is a sense of cleansing.
- Consider transparent, airtight labeled jars to give the kitchen clean and organized makeover.
Though things move fast in the bathroom, it is one of the most intimate spaces in the house. The aim is to keep it clean, accessible and comfortable.
- Start by clearing expired and moldy items from the medicine cabinet, drawer/ sink cabinet, and shower/tub holders.
- As with the kitchen, organize the bathroom into zones. Consider storage holders or racks to help in maintenance.
- Treat yourself to some essential oil or scent in the bathroom and turn it into a retreat.
Bedroom / Kids room
The bedroom can be a trap for junk with more storage areas as compared to other parts of the home. With children, it can get hazardous at times. The goal is to compartmentalize zones and keep things orderly.
- Sleep on it (or not)
- The bed has the biggest visual impact on the room. Start by making the bed daily to have a tidy room.
- Next clear the surfaces of any stand or table in the room, followed by the cabinets. For example, clear the surface of the night stand before moving onto the drawers. While decluttering the items, ask yourself if it belongs where it is. Relocate or bin if needed.
- Start them young
- For kids’ rooms, baskets, cabinets and chests come in handy. Label the boxes and get the kids to participate in the declutter. Apart from loving it as Mummy’s little helper, the children will have a sense of ownership and develop healthy habits!
- Hide away
- Consider hiding baskets beneath the open night stand or the bed to drop laundry or toys. Use space saver bags for bigger items such as blankets and pillows to keep the dust bunnies away. This also helps to maximize real estate in the room.
The closet or wardrobe can be a challenging space to declutter due to its sentimental nature. However, it can be a cathartic process. Take your time to go through with the objective of feeling updated and connected to what you need. Consider editing and organizing your closet quarterly (once per season).
- Bottom up
- As opposed to the kitchen, clear the closet from the bottom up for more efficiency. The bigger items are often placed at the bottom, such as shoes, boots. Next clear the jackets followed by clothing, with accessories last.
- Consider placing seasonal items together into vacuum bags or containers.
- Hang it right
- Avoid using wire hangers. They can be slippery and get tangled, leaving the closet looking like an entrance to Narnia.
- If you hang your clothes with the hook facing out, flip those you use to make sure they are facing in. At the end of each season, donate clothes on those unused hangers facing out. It’s a great hack to ensure less-used items don’t take up too much space (or time to get new ones!)
With WFH (Work From Home) increasing, it is easy to stash documents and work materials in the home. The goal here is to have a clean, cozy area to motivate and be productive.
- Get sorted
- Start by sorting documents into three piles: File, To Do and Trash. Digitize your documents to free dependency on physical space or time crawling through paper files for information.
- Have a trash bin located at the desk to maintain a habit of clearing unnecessary documents or waste.
- Expand upwards rather than outwards
- Avoid a sterile and cramped work area by maximizing vertical space. Consider smart storage solutions like floating shelves or built in cabinetry to integrate the space. Personalize with plants or accents to inspire.
- Challenge yourself to leave 10% of the shelf free to account for extra items in time. Or stick to the rule of 3 items per shelve for a clean consistent look.
- Similar principles apply to other rooms in the home, such as the storeroom, garage, basement, attic, or game room.
- Start by dividing the area into zones before clearing the items out. This helps with gaining confidence and momentum.
- Next, sort items using the 4 box Method.
- Lastly, organize by relocating items to designated areas or adding storage systems.
Decluttering can be a fulfilling experience that leads to a more satisfying and cozy living space. With this method for success, there’s no need for chaos or madness in your life anymore. Enjoy the cleansing process!
Next, tune in here for a comprehensive guide on how to organize an entire house step-by-step! Time to hygge boost your living space and day-to-day living.