Decluttering is a word that makes most people cringe. It is not something most people like to do so they don’t know where to start. I’ve talked about decluttering before and how it’s the foundation needed before you stage your home. However, I never discussed HOW you really could do it. Let me explain 4 different ways to declutter your home whether you are moving or not.

Take the 5-5-5 Decluttering Challenge

Decluttering should be done in stages because it can be overwhelming. Take it in bite-sized pieces and you will feel that you accomplish something. The 5-5-5 challenge is a decluttering tip that you can start today…right now even.

Find 5 things that need to be donated, 5 things that need to be thrown out and 5 things that need to go in it’s proper place. Start with one room like the kitchen. You may go through your kitchen cabinets and realize you have too many tupperware pieces or their lids are missing. Find 5 of those to throw out/recycle.

Next you may find 5 pieces of kitchenware that you don’t use anymore or received as a gift that you never used. Donate those 5 things. Don’t let them clutter up your counters or cabinets thinking you will use them “some day”. Better to give it to a person who will really use it then hold on to the clutter.

Then in your kitchen you may find 5 things that don’t belong in the kitchen. I ALWAYS find my husband’s tools in the kitchen or random socks left by the kids in the kitchen. Take those 5 things and put them where they belong.

I start with 5-5-5 but it can be any number. It can be 10-10-10. But start small and work up to it. Don’t feel like you have to do a marathon session. Each day do a bit more and you will find your home clutter-free more often.


The 15 minute decluttering timer

My kids love to make a mess and my middle child REALLY hates to clean up her room. When it comes to decluttering or cleaning up a room, I like to do a marathon session and take about 30 min to an hour if needed. However, kids can’t handle cleaning for that long, especially my daughter. So I break it down into 15 minute chunks.

Set a timer for 15 minutes and whatever needs to be removed, picked up, put away, or thrown out is done in those 15 minutes. You take a break and do something you enjoy and then do it again later that day or the next day. You can even do it as a “game” with the kids and each one gets a room so that more decluttering is done in a day. Turn on some music while you declutter because I know how boring this chore can be, especially for kids. Don’t forget to reward yourself for decluttering a room. A reward can be something like watching a movie, playing games, having a glass of wine etc.

Start with one corner and touch everything

If you are having a tough time with the 5-5-5 challenge or the 15 min timer, then just work on one corner/area of the room. In a living room, if the books are scattered or the bookshelves have too much stuff, then work on that area ONLY. You will still accomplish decluttering your home one bit at a time. Then take a break. You will notice that one area looks great now while the rest of the room may still look a bit messy. This should hopefully motivate you to keep on going. It’s kind of like seeing a room in the “Odd Couple” where one person is very neat while the other is not.

Make sure you touch all the items you have in that area. This will help you decide whether you need it, donate it, throw it out or is packed up if you are moving soon. When you touch something, you have to make a decision.

Does it really belong here?

Can I live without this?

Is it broken?

Decluttering is also one of the steps homeowners need to take when getting their home ready to sell. Notice how I snuck in the 5-5-5 challenge in this step? This step combines a few techniques all in one. It gets results a bit faster.

staging a bookcase decluttering

The Hallway Dump

Finally, this technique is one of my favorites. I call it the “hallway dump”. When I am staging a home, I go into one room and start pulling things out that do NOT belong in that room. Take a kids bedroom for example. I will remove most toys, any trash, all arts and crafts supplies and school supplies because that is what I tend to find in a kids bedroom. I will have a plastic trash bag to collect trash but everything else gets dumped in the hall.

While yes, this creates a HUGE mess in the hall, you can visually see the room for what it SHOULD look like. A kids bedroom should have no more than 2-3 stuffed animals and the rest should be packed up. Extra stuffed animals are just…clutter and we are DECLUTTERING. I talk about staging kids bedrooms in another blog post so you can see how to get them involved and not freak out when they see less stuff in their room.

I find all sorts of things under beds, dressers and inside closets that don’t belong in a kids bedroom. A kids bedroom should only have a bed, nightstand, lamp and dresser with or without a mirror. If their room is big enough you can put in a desk and chair or a bookcase, but otherwise, that is all the furniture they need in their room. Add artwork and curtains and you are done. Notice I don’t mention toys. If you have a playroom, then all toys should be neatly put away there. Otherwise, if you have toys in the bedroom it shows that there isn’t a playroom or storage for it. A doll house should NOT be in the bedroom either. We are trying to minimize things in each room so that you have less to clean up before a showing.

Once everything is in the hallway, I go through and decide what gets packed away, what gets donated, what is trash and what goes to another room. Again we are combining techniques into this “Hallway Dump” so this is when you need to do a whirlwind cleaning session and you are up for the challenge. It’s best to do this when the family is out of the way so you can easily discriminate things into each category.

One final word on the items that you will donate. Once they get boxed up or put in a bag, put them in your garage or straight into your car. That way when you head out, you have everything ready to go and can drop it off at your favorite donation place. Don’t let it linger in a room. Move it and get it out to declutter your home.

Now if you still find you are at a loss as to what is clutter and what needs to be removed, get on my calendar and set up an appointment with me. I want to make this easy on you!