A cluttered home can make you feel out of control. You might start blaming yourself for not having your act together or think something is wrong with you. Maybe you’re just a messy person, or you’re lazy. Maybe you belong on a reality TV show. But what if you are just a normal person with a few legitimate reasons for the state of your home? Dealing with clutter is expected, and once you understand why it occurs, clutter solutions make it easy to solve.
Where do I start when my house is cluttered?
When a person’s house is cluttered, it stays that way because they have no idea where to begin. It feels overwhelming, so to overcome that, start with one area at a time. Choose one room and then pick one area to work on. Little by little, the clutter will dissipate and feel much neater.
If you’re frustrated figuring out how to deal with clutter, there are 4 main reasons you might have house clutter. Read on for clutter solutions you can start implementing this month.
Problem #1: You Have Too Much Stuff
Having too much stuff is one of the most common challenges with a mess in the home. Items accumulate over time as you purchase more things without eliminating anything. When you have emotional attachments to things, it can be hard to part with them. The more stuff you accumulate, the more clutter is created.
Clutter Solution: Eliminate The Excess
Getting containers to organize your stuff may make more sense, but the most obvious and painful choice is best. It’s time to eliminate the excess. You can’t and shouldn’t organize excess clutter in your home because you’re not treating the problem.
Getting rid of clutter can feel overwhelming. Aim to remove a specific number of items each day to ease yourself into purging excess items Whether that’s as few as 3 or as many as 10, choose a number that’s doable for you.
For items with an emotional attachment, look for creative ways to preserve memories. Pranali Patel from Emperical Mama has a great clutter solution for baby clothes that hold sentimental value. “Rather than storing them, look for creative ways to upcycle baby clothes into useful items and keepsakes or something meaningful that you can cherish every day.”
Items to get rid of right now:
- Old magazines and newspapers
- Extra cooking utensils and small appliances you don’t use
- Old and expired toiletries
- Anything that is broken that you haven’t gotten around to repairing
- Excess bed linens beyond two pairs per bed
- Old technology like DVDs and CDs
Problem #2: You’re In a Transitional Season
Clutter tends to multiply whenever you experience a life change or a stressful period. Life-altering experiences such as having a baby, changing a job, moving, or a financial setback can cause routine changes. Things tend to pile up because you assume you will get organized once things “settle down.”
Clutter Solution: Start With Small Tasks
Don’t wait for ideal circumstances to start tackling clutter. Life is a series of transitions, so it’s best to find simple ways to get things in order when possible. Focus on areas that frustrate you the most every day, such as your dresser or closet. You can improve today by spending just a few minutes decluttering and organizing things you use daily.
How to remove clutter in less than five minutes:
- Walk through your entire house with a box in hand, and place any item that is out of place inside it. Put items back where they belong as you continue through each room.
- Pick one small section and focus on decluttering this area only. This could be a bookshelf, junk drawer, or linen closet. Get rid of any items you no longer need or that don’t belong there. Then organize the rest.
- Create a “donate” box. Scan your home for items you’d be willing to give to charity or sell online.
Problem #3: You Don’t Have Simple Organizational Systems
One of the fastest ways for your home to become disorganized is if you don’t know where to put things. When you don’t know what to do with something, you set it down anywhere. And those areas become clutter magnets. With a few doable organization systems in place, it can make a world of difference in eliminating mess.
Clutter Solution: Identify the Problem and Address It
Stop and take notice when you find yourself gravitating toward clutter spots. Why are you setting things there instead of putting them away? Maybe your bills pile up on the coffee table because you don’t have a bill tray or recycling system. Maybe your kids toss coats on the kitchen table because they don’t have designated hooks for their jackets.
Once you can identify the problem, set aside time to set up a new system to take care of it. Start with just one area at a time to avoid overwhelming yourself with systems. Then, be open to making changes as needed to find what works best for everyone.
Simple organizational systems:
- A designated spot for mail and keys
- Hooks by the entryway for coats
- An organized pantry and fridge
- A laundry system that makes sense for your family
Problem #4: You Are a Perfectionist
Perfectionism can be paralyzing. While you know you have clutter, you don’t feel equipped to handle it perfectly. Since you can’t do it perfectly, you simply do nothing.
Maybe you haven’t found the perfect organizational system yet. You don’t have time to clean out the entire closet or can’t decide what is important to do first.
Clutter Solution: Get Through the Rut
Create a mantra for yourself that challenges your perfectionist tendencies. Dr. Sharon Martin has two perfectionism affirmations that can be useful here: “Done is better than perfect” and “Progress, not perfection.” Remember, you’re not looking for a perfect area. You just need it to be better than it was.
You may never have enough time to clean up or reorganize an entire room at once. Try spending 15 minutes a day tackling one small area like a counter or tabletop. It doesn’t matter which one you start with. Just start with something and make it better than it was.
How to tackle clutter when you’re in a rut:
- Scan a room in your home and visualize how you want it to look. Make a mental note of items you like or don’t want ahead of time. This will help streamline the decluttering process. Visualize one corner at a time if your room is really out of hand.
- Create to-do lists. Start with tasks that are attainable at the moment. Setting realistic goals for yourself will help keep clutter at bay. You’ll also feel satisfaction whenever you cross a task off the list.
- Make sure everyone in the family is on board. Nothing will take the wind out of your sails like when you spent all weekend decluttering your home to find it a disaster again the next day. A decluttered life is all about building daily habits for you and your family that will eliminate clutter for good.
How do I clean out a room full of junk?
Whether dealing with a messy garage, basement, or spare bedroom, you may have a huge task ahead of you with a room full of junk. The best way to tackle a large space is to section off the area. Work on one section at a time to start eliminating and organizing junk.
Don’t try to do it all in one day or one weekend if that feels like too much. Take it easy and work diligently to complete it on a schedule that fits you.
What are the best clutter-free storage solutions?
If you have a small home or live in an apartment, finding storage solutions within the home can be challenging. Even the most convenient organizational system might not be feasible. One of the best storage ideas for clutter is to invest in a climate-controlled storage unit. Storing items you use infrequently, such as holiday decorations or outdoor equipment, will help free up space in your home to reduce clutter.
A cluttered house can infuse a lot of stress into your home but finding solutions won’t happen overnight. With these tips, you can consistently identify the problem’s root and practice clutter solutions. It will take some time, but once you’re on the other side, you will be grateful for the work you put in.
Updated on 5/9/23 & 5/1/17 from an article originally published 11/27/2012.