12 Instant Ways to Declutter Your Home

12 Instant Ways to Declutter Your Home


Most of us have too much stuff, and it shows: Rooms are hard to move around in, floors are littered with toys and closets are stuffed to the gills. If the state of your home bothers you, think about getting rid of some of the excess through recycling, donating or, as a last resort, discarding. Follow the dozen tips below to declutter your home and get instant no-mess gratification.

1. Discard unread magazines and newspapers.

Who doesn’t have a stack of reading material on a side table that’s been piling up for months, even years? Face it: If you really intended to read those magazines and books, you’d have done so by now. “Round up everything that is more than two months old and toss them in the recycle bin,” says Jeffrey Phillip, a professional organizer in New York City.

2. Remove one piece of furniture from the living room.

Chances are, you’ve got one too many end tables, chairs or bookshelves crammed in there. Pick out the least-used piece and reorganize the remaining furniture to give the room some breathing space.

3. Fill a large trash bag for charity.

Walk around your house and fill the bag with unwanted clothes, toys, household items and books. You’ll be shocked by how much stuff you can give away.

4. Get rid of duplicate kitchen tools.

Pare down your kitchen drawers and utensil holders by removing duplicate items – two can openers, multiple spatulas, three whisks. “An easy way to make the call is to get rid of the ones that are worn and beat up,” Phillip says.

5. Lighten up the linen closet.

Do you save your old towels, sheets and blankets in case you have overnight guests? If so, would you really use those frayed items for guests? A better idea is to donate tattered and stained linens to an animal shelter, Phillip suggests. They can be used to dry off wet dogs, line cages and provide warm bedding on chilly nights.

6. Take the five-minute challenge.

This classic tip speaks to the competitor in each of us: Set a timer for five minutes and see how far you can get cleaning out a shelf, drawer or tabletop in that time frame. Stop when the timer goes off. You’ll be surprised how much decluttering you can accomplish in just a few minutes.

7. Eliminate old electronics accessories.

If you’ve got cables and cords from electronics and devices that you no longer own or that no longer work, recycle them at your local recycling center or nearest Best Buy store.

8. Junk the junk mail.

Keep a wastebasket near where you look at the mail every day. As soon as you come across what’s clearly a piece of junk mail, throw it out on the spot.

9. Discard old tapes.

If you still have VHS movies but no longer own a VCR, get rid of the tapes. “It’s a quick way to open up shelf or cabinet space,” Phillip says.

10. Recycle all takeout containers.

Sure, they’re sturdy and easy to store but if you never use them, why keep them? “Throw out condiment packets and takeout utensils, too!” Phillip says.

11. Determine the clothes that make you happy.

If you’ve kept certain items in your closet because they’re still in good condition yet you never wear them because of a negative connotation (you were wearing the blue dress when your boyfriend broke up with you), donate the threads. Give someone else a chance to make happy memories.

12. Throw displaced items in baskets.

Give each family member a labeled basket kept in an out-of-the-way place in the family room or living room. When you come across an item that’s somewhere it doesn’t belong, place it in the basket. Each person is responsible for emptying his or her basket every night.

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