Does your house feel cluttered? Does it feel like no matter what you do, it never gets better? I know that feeling. When you have a houseful of people—and especially when they’re all home all day long—the clutter can quickly become overwhelming. It can make you feel claustrophobic, closed in, and stressed out.
While your house may never look like a model home (mine certainly doesn’t!), you can reduce the clutter. Yes, even a small house with lots of people in it can be less cluttered.
You will need to involve the other people in your home and get them on board with reducing clutter. This won’t happen overnight. In fact, there may be pushback, and the clutter may get worse before it gets better.
But if you keep at it, you can declutter your home. Here are some simple steps to declutter your home that can give you some quick wins.
End it at the Entry
Are the entrances to your home traffic jams? Do your family members come in and drop shoes, backpacks, jackets, purses, lunchboxes, or whatever they’ve brought in and leave them for everyone to trip over?
This may take some time because it requires new habits, but you can put a stop to it. If there’s a bench or shelf that has become a piling place, remove it (at least until new habits are made). Replace it with bins (they don’t have to be fancy–these sturdy plastic bins have worked well at our house for years). Label each with a family member’s name. What fits in the bin can stay (this is why small is good). Everything else gets put away immediately.
If you’re a no-shoes-in-the-house person, add a designated shoe bin or shoe rack at the entry. All shoes go in the bin as soon as the wearer comes in. You may need to have an end-of-day or end-of-week bin cleanout to avoid buildup, but the bins will end having everything spread all over the floor.
Decluttering your entry is one of the quickest steps to declutter your home. It’s usually the first thing you see when you come in, so it sets the tone for your home.
Clear Your Counters
Are your kitchen counters a cluttered catch-all? Is it sometimes hard to find space to prepare meals? This might be the most common clutter issue ever. Mine used to be that way too. But I developed the habit of clearing the counters of everything before going to bed at night. That way I could at least get up in the morning to a clean counter.
Decide what needs to be on your counters and make it a point to remove everything else. I have a small kitchen with not a lot of counter space. So all that gets to live on my counter (mostly) is a cookie jar, a napkin holder, a pen cup and the toaster. Your house may be different than mine. You may have a coffee maker or a blender—or nothing at all. At least once a day, at whatever time works for you, clear the counters of everything that doesn’t need to be on them.
You’ll be amazed at how quickly this step works to declutter your home and make it feel better.
Do the Dishes
This is a subset of clear the counters. If you want your kitchen to look clean and decluttered in a hurry, do the dishes. When dirty dishes pile up over the sink, it’s instant clutter. Putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher (if you have one) or washing, drying, and putting them away will give your kitchen an instant lift.
Manage Your Mail
Mail isn’t quite the clutter maker it used to be, but there’s still some. If you combine it with papers from school and work, it can get out of control quickly.
For mail itself, sort and open it as soon as you bring it in. Throw away or recycle the envelopes, inserts and junk mail on the spot (do you really need to ponder on junk mail for a few days?). If it’s something that needs to be acted upon at a future time, like bills, create a designated space for them. The best place is near where you will pay them. Even better, switch to online bills, if you can.
As for the other papers, designate a specific place for the kids to put them, and a specific time each day to go through them. Read them, sign any forms for school, and have your kids immediately put them back in their backpacks. Same with work papers.
Dealing with papers as they come into the house will keep them from turning into messy clutter piles everywhere.
Corral the Clothes
Laundry, whether clean or dirty, is another clutter contributor in many homes. Let’s face it. Laundry is not fun. I have no idea how to make it fun. That’s probably why it’s such a clutter problem.
I do have a solution, though. It’s not fun, but it’s do-able. First, for the dirty laundry: put a laundry bin in every bedroom—and if you have room, the bathroom. Training your family to put DIRTY laundry in the hamper will end a big part of the problem. One of the ways we made this work, was making it easy for them to get the laundry to the laundry room. We’ve had these wheeled laundry hampers since our children were little. Super sturdy, and the wheels mean they can can get it to the laundry room, even when it’s stuffed full and too heavy for small people to carry.
Next DO the laundry. By DO the laundry, I mean do it all the way. Wash it, dry it, sort it, and put it away. When I sucked it up and started completely doing my laundry, I was amazed at how much this one change decluttered my home. For more tips on how I survived laundry day with four kids, check out this post.
Tame Your Tchotchkes
Are you a knick-knack lover? Do you feel a strong need to have stuff displayed on every shelf, table, and wall? Too many tchotchkes can definitely make your home feel cluttered. And they make for a lot of dusting.
You don’t have to get rid of your beloved treasures, but try displaying fewer of them at a time. Perhaps you could change collections monthly or seasonally. Pick a few favorites and carefully pack the rest away for a month or two, then swap them out. Not only will this reduce the clutter, but it will help your home feel fresh with each change.
If you don’t love them, no matter who gave them to you, you have my permission to part with them. That’s your call. You don’t have to, but you also don’t have to display everything every day.
Small Progress is Still Progress
You don’t have to do all of these at once. If the clutter is overwhelming, and the thought of decluttering is even more overwhelming, choose one. Find one spot you want to declutter in your home and focus on that. See how decluttering it feels. Does it make a positive difference for you? If it does, then you can declutter more spaces, one a time. And you’re making simple steps to declutter your home.
Need more help and ideas for creating a decluttered, peaceful home? Download my free guide with 20 more tips for a more organized life here.
And, as always, feel free to comment below or message me through the link at the top of this page with your feedback, comments and questions.