Have you been meaning to declutter your home? The holidays are coming and I bet stress is already creeping slowly back into your life.
If all the holidays do is remind you of all that junk you meant to get out months before, then this six-week challenge is for you.
A six week guide to simplifying and decluttering your home before the holidays.
We often have around 10-11 family members come into town for Christmas. Although we live in a comfortable 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom home when there you add 10-11 people to that equation, life gets a little harder.
I’m going to give you tips to declutter your home in 6 weeks before the holidays hit in full force. It IS doable! If you start today (9/17/2019) and take only 6-weeks, you’ll be done three weeks before Thanksgiving. If your house is ginormous and filled with things, of course, you can take advantage of those few extra weeks.
Here’s how to declutter your home and organize in 6 weeks, give or take.
What you’ll need to declutter your home
- Boxes or bins for each room for donation/trash
- Some good music or Netflix
- Most importantly,: Patience and the desire to actually declutter your home and spaces.
Rules when decluttering your home
- Once you put an item in the box, it doesn’t leave the box.
- If you haven’t seen the item in a year or more, part with it. (Some seasonal items are an exception, especially depending on the area you live in. Example: winter coats, summer shorts, boots, etc.)
- Optional: Take before and after pictures of the spaces you clear. I wish I would’ve done this because it would’ve helped with motivation.
The best way to declutter your home is to start with either the easiest or most difficult, cluttered space first.
I personally like to start with the hardest space because that means life gets easier as I move forward. For me, that’s my kitchen. The cabinets mainly.
I’m in my kitchen the most and truly love kitchen gadgets (I got that from my mama). My older sister and her husband have almost nothing on their kitchen counters and I envy it. Me? ALL the gadgets are there.
The reality of my situation is I don’t have as much counter space as they do! My next reality is Christmas is difficult with no counter space, I knew something had to be done.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How often do you use it? If you use an appliance less than a few times a month, it can probably be put in a cabinet out of sight. Size depending, of course.
- How large is it? Do you have storage space? If you have the storage space, and your item isn’t over-sized, put it away. If I had the space I’d put away every appliance except for my toaster oven, microwave and coffee maker!
- Will it fit better in a different space? Some items are awkward in a corner, some items fit like a glove. Take a look at your space and play a little kitchen-tetris.
This holiday season, I want all the counter space I can get. This is what I removed from my counters after first weeding through my cabinets.
Decluttering the cabinets:
Things often get shoved into cabinets with no rhyme or reason. We rush, we don’t know where to put things because things don’t have space, etc. Here’s how I approached my cabinets.
- When’s the last time I used it? You’ll find this is a huge factor in how to best declutter your home. Haven’t used it in over a year? Outside of seasonal items, you don’t need it.
For example, I got rid of some margaritas shakers I’ve never used, cake pans I didn’t know were there, and some much more. If I ever find myself needing these items, I’ll reach out to a friend or family member to borrow it.
- Broken items? We all have them. That mug that cracker, the glass on the verge of explosion. Get rid of any broken items or items that can’t be fixed (or that you don’t have the intention to fix)
- Sentimental items? If it’s sentimental and you can’t part with it, it doesn’t belong shoved in a cabinet. Put it on display in a room or other decluttered area. You can place it to the side, for now.
- Are your items grouped? I have tupperware in a few different cabinets. Why? Who the heck knows, honestly.
By stacking your tupperware neatly, you’ll free up more space for other items. By stacking them all together, you won’t have to search each cabinet for that missing lid anymore!
There are a few tools that can be so helpful when organized items with multiple parts (enter: tupperware). Use small bins or even organizers specifically made for tupperware.
I used what I had on hand, putting my lids in small containers like this and stacking the container itself next to it.
Creating stations is something we’ll be doing throughout the whole house. It brings fluidity to your home, making your home an easier space to exist in.
Remember, once you put something in a “Giveaway box” you aren’t allowed to take it out. Next, onto those counters!
Decluttering the counters:
- Remove the items from your counter that you don’t use often. For me, this was my big food saver machine and fruit baskets that rarely had fruit in them.
For now, just set those items aside on your kitchen table and we’ll come back to them. We’ll clear the counters completely and then place the items back where they’ll nicely fit.
- Next up: The fridge
It’s easy to forget about that jar of jelly pushed to the very back of the fridge. How about the cucumber that went rotten 3 weeks ago but fell to the bottom of the fridge? Heads up, that’s a nasty mess to clean.
Go through every single item, throw away expired/rotten food and take note of what can be consolidated. For example, multiple ketchup bottles or jars of pickles.
After you do that, head over to Clean and Scentsible to check out an awesome post on organizing your fridge with bins and mason jars!
My fridge is a little smaller so I’ve utilized these drawers for quick-grab items and snacks.
or a box of pasta from my pre-low carb life. Expired items are set to the side for disposal or to clean out to save the jars/containers!
- Finally, the pantry, dried goods/spices, etc. I think you’d be surprised at how old some of the items in your kitchen might be!
Go through these areas and dispose of the old, expired items. Consolidate just as you did in the fridge. 3 open sage spices? Think of consolidating those bottles (unless one is SUPER old).
My favorite tool to use in the pantry is a lazy susan, especially for spices. Check your local thrift stores first. I found mine for $1.25!
- Now that you’ve cleared all that cabinet space, put the big-ticket items from earlier in the cabinets that are now nice and tidy!
Closets: Utility and storage
Alright, let’s move on to those cluttered closets. Closets can be a great place to shove things!
Opening them later is that reminder to declutter your home (or more of a smack in the face with a basketball). We’re not going to focus on your clothes closets at the moment. I’m referring to your utility closets, storage closets, seasonal decorations, etc.
I tackled the closets next because I wasn’t quite ready to go through every bit of the bedrooms. Not because they’re a difficult spot, just larger with more stuff!
In my hall closet, we had old medications like ibuprofen and such from years ago that we never used. Crusty toothpaste bottles, used toothbrushes, and that broken hairdryer can finally go into the waste bin.
I also got rid of a lot of mini shampoos and mini tubes of toothpaste that weren’t open (donation). I repurposed ripped towels as rags for the house or shed (we try to reduce waste in the home).
All my extra cosmetics and bathroom items were placed nicely into a container with a lid. My towels, which also reside in the small hallway closet, were neatly folded and placed in these nice cloth bins.
Last, I added a 3 drawer container for the miscellaneous items that I need easy access to but don’t want in plain site. These are my rolls of toilet paper, air filters, extra boxes of tissues, etc.
As before, whatever goes in the box stays in the box. Be strong, you’ve got this!
The bathrooms were by far the easiest for me when trying to declutter my home. I don’t get attached to hair products, makeup, etc.
Getting rid of all those empty bottles, expired tubes of mascara, multiple hair shavers and old razors were a piece of cake for me. I almost wish I would’ve saved the bathroom for last!
If you love your cosmetics and bathrooms products, that’s fine! The best way to organize your bathroom quickly is by using bins and making stations.
I love wired drawers for extra wash clothes and hand towels. My hair straightener, hair clips, brush, etc. also live in the space under my sink now. Freeing up the few drawers in my bathroom was a game changer!
For those of you with large makeup collections, consider using vertical storage like this to clear space while still allowing your makeup to be easily accessible.
Unfortunately, a lot of the bathroom stuff was “trash”. Recycle what you can recycle and move on.
I first went through the guest bedroom. I did this for two reasons:
- There’s more stuff in there because the large closet also acts as our storage closet. So this room was visited twice (once with the “closets” and once more to declutter in the bedroom stage).
- I knew I’d be less attached to the stuff in it. I thought if I started with this room and got rid of a large quantity of these, I’d be more ready for my own bedroom!
If I didn’t know what it was and hadn’t seen it in a year or more I got rid of it. Workout/sports equipment nobody knew was there was moved to our shed (eventually) since it didn’t belong inside.
Heavy coats from our days in Tennessee were donated and clothes I wore in the tenth grade were passed down to cousins or donated. Not sure how those made it this far, anyway. Wishful thinking I guess!
I could barely walk in that closet when I started but there was so much space cleared that I was able to move my large filing cabinet into the closet when I was done!
I got 75% of the stuff off the floor from clearing the shelves of items to be donated and consolidating smaller items in larger storage containers. It looks and feels so much better.
The spare bedroom is also my sewing room so I sorted through all of my fabrics and chose what to keep and not. I also added a medium-sized basket to the room for my workout mats, yoga wheels, and foam rollers.
Notice a pattern? I made stations for these items! Gather and group, folks.
I don’t keep particularly nice clothes because, well, I work on a farm and get nasty and sweaty all day. The clothes I do have, though, mean something.
I have shirts that were souvenirs from trips or given to me, multiple pairs of pajamas from multiple Christmases, and so many scarves.
Most of the shirts were kept because of sentimental reasons and the pajamas were almost all donated, keeping just my favorite pair that I actually wear!
A few notes for your clothes:
- Geographical location. I live in Florida so the scarves just had to go. I loved these scarves and few were kept for the random chilly winters here in Florida.
The scarves I kept were not only my favorites but the ones I knew I’d actually wear. They fit in a small space, comfortably out of the way, hung on the back of my door with an over the door hanger/hooks. You can also fold them up and place them in a bin!
If you’ve made a few moves and don’t need those heavy fleece shirts anymore, consider reselling them or donating them.
- Closet location. Groups your clothes in a way that makes sense when you get dressed. If you use drawers, consider the top drawer for socks and undergarments.
The next drawers for your shirts and shorts, etc. If you hang everything, as I do, with limited shelf space then take advantage on hangable, vertical storage.
I hang all my shirts, fold my bottoms on the one shelf and use little bins for my socks and underwear. Bras, athletic shorts, pajamas, etc. go in a hangable cubby which my husband and I each have one of!
- Clothes you can’t decide on. After I was done weeding through my clothes, I still had around 45-50 shirts. They weren’t all sentimentally charged, either.
Pro tip: Turn all your hangers around the ‘wrong’ way.
Every time you wear a shirt, turn the hanger back around to the right way. At the end of the year, whatever hangers are still backward are the shirts you’ll be donating or repurposing.
- Accessorize your accessories. First get rid of old knick-knacks cluttering the nightstands, shoes, jewelry, purses etc. that aren’t used or out of (your) style.
Organize whatever is leftover on appealing racks and hanging organizers. This way it’ll make you feel good about using those items, leading to you using them more often!
All of my jewelry now fits on a handmade grid rack that hangs on my wall. It looks nice and I use all the jewelry there, easily getting rid of items that I haven’t used in a while (or using them, finally).
My advice is to keep what you can see. If you have to dig for it, you might have too many clothes..and I’m speaking from experience here.
When you walk in the front door, our living room is the first room see. Unfortunately, it was often the messiest and most in need of a deep declutter session. Between this room and my kitchen table, my anxiety was through the roof!
I desperately needed a “drop space” for when we came into the door with our wallet/purse. We had shoes all over the place, magazines I’d never looked in, etc.
- I started with space by the door, sorted through the shoes and donated all of them. I added a basket for our most worn shoes such as flip-flops and an over-flow rack for shoes we wear often enough to keep there, but not often enough for the basket.
- To achieve my “drop space”, I repurposed a small table from another room.
That table now has my favorite magazines, a box of tissues, and space for my purse. To the left of the table, there’s another medium-sized basket with our most used active gear such as helmets, a yoga mat, a camelback, a frisbee, etc.
It all fits into that basket and no more. Overflow = time to donate.
- I bought a second bookshelf because we needed it. We have many books, but I also got rid of many books, too. Now all of our reading books fit on one bookshelf and the smaller bookshelf is our “music shelf” where our songbooks, board games, etc. are.
No more stacks of unread magazines sitting on the coffee table. The room is starting to look nice! and eventually, I hope to paint the walls, but that’ll be a future project.
I can guarantee that you’ll feel better after decluttering your home. I used to take my Sundays and use them for cleaning days.
There was so much stuff in the house that by the end of the week, it looked like a tornado went off!
When you decide to declutter your home and life, you’re then able to take just 10 minutes every evening and tidy the house/do dishes. Freeing up time to focus on other important things like family, gardening or just taking a break.
For example, on Sundays, I now just vacuum and do laundry. I went from “tidying” every day for at least 20 minutes and cleaning for hours to tidying and cleaning a total of maybe 4 hours a week, and that’s exaggerating.
Now, I do understand that if you have children these tips on how to declutter your home might need to remain a little flexible. Decluttering with kids can be difficult and take a little longer but it can be done.
Sit down with your spouse or children if they’re old enough and talk about decluttering. Notice which toys your kids play with the most and remove the others. If they don’t notice after a couple weeks, donate them.
Declutter your home for the holidays: Summary
Decluttering can be hard, but it’s so worth it. Take your time, breathe and remind yourself why you started doing this in the first place.
If it helps, write a list of the pros and cons and keep it handy. Take breaks when you need to. And, if all else fails, know that there are organizing professionals available to help you when you need it!
If you have any questions, I’m just a comment away.
- NOTE: For any pharmaceutical drug or chemical medication, be sure to properly dispose of it. Look up what the right way is, local to your area.
- BONUS TIP: Some of these pajamas I’ll be repurposing in my sewing room for Christmas gifts! For ways to have a more frugal holiday season, click here!