How to De-Clutter Your Home

Perhaps your kids have gone off to college and you need to downsize; or maybe your third child is on the way and you need more space. Regardless of the circumstances, clutter can be a major deterrent preventing you from moving. After years or even decades of accumulating “stuff”, the task of de-cluttering can be daunting, but it’s not impossible. When you put your mind to it, it can even be fun and liberating! Here are some tips to help de-clutter your home.

Sell Unused Furniture

Remember that couch you bought for your first apartment? Or the dining room set you purchased when you got married? If you still own old furniture like this, you just need to ask yourself one simple question: Do I still use it?

Chances are, much of the furniture you’ve accumulated over the years is just collecting dust. Perhaps it’s taking up space in your basement, a guest bedroom, or even in a storage container. If no one’s using it, then why not sell it?

Selling furniture is easy, now more than ever. With websites such as Craigslist, Letgo, and the Facebook Marketplace, it’s incredibly simple to find ready and willing buyers for your unused goods. I personally prefer the Facebook Marketplace, because it’s simple to use and literally has millions of users.

Simply take a picture of the furniture you want to sell and post it online. If it doesn’t sell in a week, just drop the price. Who cares if you only get $200 for that table you paid $899.99 for in 1985? If you haven’t used it in 15 years, then it shouldn’t matter. Not only will this save you time and money on your move, it will also clear up space to make your home feel bigger and more welcoming!

Helpful Hint: Selling is not limited to furniture. Once you have some success selling big-ticket items, try selling some smaller things, such as kitchen gadgets, DVD’s, video game consoles, etc.

Donate Old Clothes and Household Goods

Let’s face it. There’s certain things that you can’t sell, or aren’t valuable enough to make it worthwhile. I’m mostly referring to clothes, but this also applies to old houseware items (plates, bowls, etc.) and home décor.

I estimate that you only wear about 25% of your wardrobe on a regular basis. Another 25% of your wardrobe is reserved for special occasions (weddings, ski trips, camping, etc.). And that leaves a whopping 50% that you hold on to, just in case. Perhaps this is a good time to purge. If you haven’t worn something in over a year, chances are you don’t need it…so donate it!

The same idea also applies to household goods and home décor. You know that hand mixer you got from Miss Dixon at your wedding in 1979? You probably should’ve donated it when you purchased a KitchenAid mixer 10 years ago, but you’re holding on to it just in case Miss Dixon comes over for a dinner party. Sound familiar? Donate it!

How many old pictures, posters, curtains, etc. do you have on your walls just because you don’t know where else to put them? If you don’t like something, then get rid of it. If it doesn’t bring you joy, then you don’t need it. Do you cringe every time you walk past that vintage print from the 1972 Munich Olympics? If so, donate it!

Helpful Hint: Some non-profits, such as Volunteers of America, offer porch pick-up, which can save you tons of time and is extremely convenient for large or heavy item donations.

Throw Away Your Junk

Sometimes it’s best to toss things in the trash instead of donating them to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Non-profit organizations are often over-inundated with “junk” that they have to sort through and throw away. Here’s a list of common donations that are better off going to the trash:

  • Clothing with holes and stains
  • Underwear (unless it’s new or like-new)
  • Mismatch electronics (these should be properly recycled)
  • Books – except for classics, textbooks, and antiques
  • Partially-used candles
  • Open make-up, sunscreen, household cleaners, etc. (this should be obvious)
  • Games and puzzles with broken or missing pieces
  • Promotional products (plastic cups, frisbees, cozies, etc.)
  • Mattresses
  • Large appliances (refrigerator, ovens, dryers, etc.)
  • Infant car seats and cribs (due to liability and recalls)

Here are some other items that can be tossed. Chances are, you have some of this in your home that’s just taking up space.

  • Old paint
  • Product boxes for TV’s, appliances, etc.
  • Cheap plastic and wire hangers
  • Magazines
  • Old/expired food
  • Kid’s art and school projects from 5+ years ago
  • Bank statements and bills more than 7 years old

Pack What You Don’t Need Before the Move

Once you’ve sold, donated, and thrown away everything you don’t need, your home will look significantly better! But there’s always room for improvement. The next step is to pack away everything you love, but don’t necessarily need to use before you move.

This includes seasonal clothes, kitchenware for special events, etc. If you’re not going to miss it between now and the move, then start packing early and get it out of the way. Store it neatly in your basement, garage, or a storage cube if necessary.

Not only will this remove extra clutter from your home, but it will also give you a head start on packing.

Helpful Hint: When in doubt, throw it out! Or in this case, pack it away. If you’re hesitant to pack something up, just remember you may be able to borrow the same item from a friend or neighbor if you find you need it before your move.

Put Everyday Items Into Mobile Boxes & Caddies

One of the most common pain points people have when selling their home is trying to keep it clean for showings, while still maintaining a semi-normal lifestyle. One strategy to help this is to setup boxes and caddies for commonly used items.

You can have multiple caddies for your toiletries, pet goods, coffee supplies, and even kid’s toys. These should be small, simple boxes of your essentials that can quickly be tucked away when a showing is scheduled.

The goal is to get clutter off your countertops, and into a discrete box. It’s easier to move a box than to clear off your counters, isn’t it?

One Room at a Time

Okay, so you now you know what you need to do, now what? Perhaps the task still feels a bit daunting so it’s time to put a plan together. One such plan is called one room at a time.

Start with some low-hanging fruit. Maybe a spare bedroom or bathroom. Then work your way into the dining room, kitchen, and living room. After you knock out a couple rooms, you’ll be a bona-fide expert in de-cluttering, ready to take on some larger projects such as the basement, garage, or even your son’s closet!

One Item Per Day

Another strategy I often recommend is called one item per day. This is especially useful for people who don’t have a lot of time, or have a difficult time purging their belongings all at once.

Focusing on one item per day is simple enough for anyone. Just find one tee-shirt, bowl, or picture frame to get rid of, and repeat the task daily. In just over three months, you’ll have de-cluttered 100 items from your life. Your home will look much better, and you’ll begin to feel liberation from some of the stuff that’s been holding you down for all these years.