31 Days to a Clutter-Free Home
Do you look at the pristine homes in magazines and on Pinterest and think, “My home could never look like that.”? Well, think again. Just in time for that ambitious New Year’s resolution, we’ve compiled a 31-day guide to help you get organized. Here’s how to organize even the most chaotic home, presented in daily, do-able steps, so you never get overwhelmed or overworked. Dream kitchens, perfectly peaceful bedrooms, and relaxing bathrooms are all just one thorough declutter away. It’s organizing your home, made easy.
Days 1-5: The Warm Up
We’re going to ease into it. Start with these simple, refreshing fixes and you’ll crave a major cleaning spree by day 5.
Day 1: Fill one trash bag of junk from anywhere in the house. Then, toss or donate it.
Day 2: Pick up 5-7 things that don’t have a place, and find a place for them. These are things that you use daily, but don’t have a home. Here’s one of the biggest rules of an organized home: Everything should have a place.
Day 3: Pick a counter and clear off all the junk. Another big organizing tip: Every flat surface should be clear of clutter.
Day 4: Clear a shelf, any shelf. Keep five of your most display-worthy items, and donate the rest, or at least set them aside for storage (but keep in mind that you're aiming to simplify, not end up purchasing a storage unit).
Day 5: Take this day to strategize. We’re going to walk you through general ways to eliminate clutter in every room, but you’ve got to make note of your home’s personal clutter “hot spots.” The table by the back door? Your bathroom counter? Your desk? All of the above? Make note of the spaces you want to declutter, and set deadlines for getting organized. Make boxes for keeping, donating, and storing – these will come in handy. If you’re prone to separation anxiety, make a box called “maybe” – when you can’t quite make yourself throw something away, store it here. After 6 months, pull it back out – if you haven’t so much as thought about an item, that means you should throw it out.
Days 6-8: The Bedroom
Day 6: Take everything out of all of your drawers. If you haven’t used it, read it, or worn it in a year, donate it. If it doesn’t belong in the bedroom, put it in an “elsewhere” bin (and put the collected items in their rightful places when you’re finished).
Day 7: Now that you have drawer space cleared up, focus on your bedroom surfaces (like the bedside table, TV stand, vanity, etc.). Donate the items that no longer have value; and limit yourself to displaying only five things on each surface.
Day 8: Check under the bed. Getting rid of things you forgot you owned will clear up space for seasonal clothes and shoes.
Day 9-10: The Closet
Day 9: Start at the bottom. You’ll free up space to spread out and sift through your sweaters. Get rid of clothes and shoes that you haven’t worn in the past year, that don’t fit, or that are damaged. As for items with sentimental significance, you’re not a bad person for throwing away your best friend’s bridesmaid dress. Snap a picture, and then donate it. Remember that memories exist in your head, not in a piece of fabric.
Day 10: Put everything in its place. Now that you’ve cleared up space, you can make sure that all of your favorite pieces are visible. Organize tops by sleeve length, pants by type, and shoes by occasion. Stow away any seasonal clothing (bathing suits, heavy coats) under your bed until it's their time.
Days 11-14: The Kitchen
Day 11: Tackle the Tupperware cabinet. Once you’re able to open this seemingly endless cave without risking a plastic-container-waterfall raining down on your head, you can do anything! And the technique is simple. Throw away every single container that doesn’t have a matching lid, and every single lid that doesn’t have a matching container.
Day 12: Abandon your useless appliances. If it doesn’t work or if you haven’t used it in over a year, throw it away or donate it. The same goes for pots and pans – keep the ones you use daily; but you don’t need eight sheet pans.
Day 13: Refresh your refrigerator, and your pantry. Get rid of all those random condiments you bought three years ago (they expire), and spices that have seen better days. While you’re at it, donate the cookbooks that you’ve never cracked open.
Day 14: Now that you have all that extra space, clean off your countertops. Again, limit yourself to five items per surface. Store all appliances, besides the ones you use daily, like coffee makers and microwaves, in your clutter-free pantry.
Days 15-17: The Home Office
Day 15: Start with all those papers you have stacked up. You’ll need a system – we like a simple “to file,” “to do,” and “to toss.” Then, file your records in a way that makes sense for you. Be wary when throwing away sensitive personal information and important records. If you need a cut-off date for keeping semi-important documents, a good rule of thumb is seven years (the length of time lawyers are legally required to keep their own records).
Day 16 Now that you can see the surface of your desk, it’s time to de-clutter it. While it’s tempting to display your knick-knacks, keep it in check and limit yourself to five items. Throw away things that you haven’t used in over a year (you don’t need a mini stapler), and put things you want to keep to the side. It’s time to clear out some drawer space.
Day 17: Empty out all of your drawers. Once you get rid of the things you don’t use (last year’s planner, expired coupons), group like items, along with the leftovers from yesterday’s desk surface detox. Take stock of your supplies, and purchase drawer organizers that will fit the things you have. Never buy storage containers before you know what you have to go in them.
Days 18-19: The Bathroom(s)
Day 18: Don’t be intimidated, but some experts recommend decluttering all of your bathrooms at once, so you can take an accurate inventory of all of those long-lost soaps and lotions you forgot existed. Empty and wipe down all of your drawers, shower caddys, cabinets, etc. Throw away what’s expired, what’s nearly empty (that you don’t use), and that overwhelmingly-scented coconut bath bomb your grandma gave you five years ago. The same goes for medicine and makeup.
Day 19: Put like things together, and put them in their place. This may involve buying new drawer storage organization, but a clean bathroom is a happy life.
Days 20-22: The Living Room
Day 20: As in any room that is frequently used, things tend to collect in the family room. Put back items that have wandered from their homes.
Day 21: Take a look at your living room décor. Is it cluttered and overcrowded? Too many pillows, coffee table books, or picture frames? Clear off surfaces, leaving only the décor items you’ve purposefully chosen.
Day 22: Store smart. There are many useful items that do belong in the living room; the trick is to find sophisticated storage options to keep them hidden but still handy.
Days 23-25: The Laundry Room
Day 23: Designating bins for everyday washes, delicates, darks, and whites keeps clothes from piling up on the floor.
Day 24: Clean up your cleaning supplies. Use cabinets, baskets, and wire containers to organize cleaning supplies according to how often you use them. Keep detergent and other daily-use items in clear glass containers for sophisticated storage that doesn’t take up cabinet space.
Day 25: The dreaded sock bin. Honestly, consider throwing it away and starting from scratch. For goodness sake, throw away the socks that don’t have matches.
Days 26-29: The Basement, Attic, and Garage
Day 26: Divide the space into sections. You’ll be emptying out everything so that you can see what you have; these sections will keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
Day 27: Empty everything, one section at a time. Divide your stuff into “keep” or “give away.” Now, go get the rest of the stuff that you’ve marked as storage over the past 28 days. Is there anything that you’d rather give away, now? Adjust accordingly.
Day 28: Group like things together, and assess your inventory. Once you see what you’re working with, purchase storage containers that will fit your needs.
Day 29: Sort, stack, and label. Be amazed.
Day 30: The Mail
Day 30: Now that you’ve created a place for everything and everything is in its place, this is actually kind of fun. Rather than letting mail pile up on your clutter-free counters, sort through your piles of mail. Unsubscribe from useless catalogues, and separate the rest into bills, personal, invitations, charity, etc.
Day 31: Keeping it Clean
On the 31st day bask in your organized and simplified home. You’ll never need another 31 day detox again. Set aside 20 minutes every day for sorting mail and putting things in their place; don’t buy things just because they are on sale; and remember how good being decluttered feels.