How To Declutter: a Step by Step Guide to Getting Rid of Your Junk

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I’m not really bad about keeping clutter around. I don’t like clutter at all. But, I live with some people here in my home who like ALL.THE.STUFF. So I have to know how to declutter when their collecting (borderline hoarding) start to get out of hand.

Over the years I’ve learned a few things about the best way to go about decluttering and the pitfalls that you definitely want to avoid. A lot of them I learned from Organizing books, but some of them are just from good old experience.

This is how the Santos Family declutters. It works for us and it might just work for your family, too!

How to Declutter: What I’ve Learned After Living with Collectors (near Hoarders)

Ok, they aren’t really close to hoarders but my daughter has more books than some small town libraries and my son has almost as many video games.

And my husband… He just doesn’t like to get rid of anything. He’s sentimental. About things like shirts.

So, this is the method I use to keep things from getting out of control with these three.

Step 1

Get Ready. Don’t decide to declutter your house randomly on Thursday at 6:30. You do need to prepare a little.

You’re going to need some stuff and you want to make sure you have an idea of how much time to set aside and a general game plan.

Don’t expect to be done in one session and make a plan for where you want to start what you want to do second and so on and so forth.

Step 2

How to Declutter:  The Tools - Trash bags

Gather your supplies. You don’t really need anything fancy.

Trash bags and a basket for what you plan to keep but that needs to be rehomed.

One trash bag for stuff to be donated and one trash bag for stuff to be donated. I’d definitely suggest using a white kitchen trash bag for the stuff to be donated and a black trash bag for the stuff to be tossed.

Or else you’ll stand a pretty good chance of throwing your trash in your donate bag and vice versa.

Step 3

How to Declutter - Pick a Place to Start

Pick one room and one corner of that room and move clockwise through the room.

Don’t wander through the whole house. You’ll end up with a bigger mess than you started with.

But how do you decide which room to start with? I say start with the room that has the most annoying mess of clutter. Not the biggest mess of clutter, necessarily, but the one that annoys you.

Like the medicine cabinet that has all kinds of non-medicine things in it that tumble out on top of you when you go to find the Ibuprofen.

Step 4

How To Declutter - Donate Box, A box of unwanted stuff ready for a garage sale or to donate to a charitable organization.  Shot on white background.

Decide what stays where it is, what’s trash, what’s donate-able and what needs to be moved to another area of the home. Check out our guide to recycling and throwing away electronics and other hazardous materials.

It’s a good idea to think about the room that you are in and what purposes that room serves for you before you start this step. Do you really want to keep a bucket of tools under your kitchen sink or is there a better place in your home for that?

If you have determined the different purposes the room serves before you start this step you will have an easier time deciding whether or not the thing you’re staring at belongs in the room or not.

If you are having trouble deciding whether or not to throw away or donate something, ask yourself one question.

“Would I buy this again if it were sale in it’s current condition in a store?”

If the answer to that question is no, if you wouldn’t spend your hard earned money on it again, then you need to get rid of it. It doesn’t have real value for you.

And if you’re not sure whether or not to donate your leggings with the little hole in the knee or your toaster that works on one side or your plates with chips in them? Toss that stuff. Why would anyone else want your broken crap?

Step 5


Get the stuff you are donating OUT OF YOUR HOUSE IMMEDIATELY.

I mean like, put it on the doorstep for the charity to come pick up, drive it to the drop off place, put it in the Amazon boxes for Amazon to take away (did you know Amazon does that? They do).

But DO NOT let it stay in your house. I know you. You will end up with an attic or a basement filled to the brim with stuff you meant to donate.

Or maybe it will hang out in the trunk of your car.

Don’t let it happen. Promise me.

Step 6

a tidy desk

Wait, we just got rid of the junk, right out of the house, right away, why is there another step?

Because you know those people you live with are going to keep bringing crap into your house, right?

You’re going to be tossing bags of junk out the back door and they’ll be bringing half as much back in the front door.

So you need to make this decluttering thing part of your routine. You can do it weekly, monthly, even daily.

Daily is a great place to start. Set a timer for 15 minutes every day for a week and use those 15 minutes to declutter. You’ll be shocked at how much work you can do in just 15 minutes.

Just make sure you work in time to put stuff away when you’re done or get the donate-ables out of the house. So maybe 10 minutes of declutter and 5 minutes of putting away/getting rid of.

Go Declutter Some Junk!

Do you feel like decluttering is a little more demystified? Are you ready to tackle the most annoying, clutter-y spot in your house?

Well, good! Let’s get rid of all the junk and be peaceful minimalists.

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