Whether you made a resolution to be more organized this year or looked up and realized your house has become Clutter Mountain, it’s likely you need some fresh decluttering tips right now. Knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to crack open that storage closet, though. So to help curb the overstuffed space scaries, we reached out to some experts who could share a few tips for decluttering.
First up is Lisa Jacobs, the founder of Imagine it Done, which is an exclusive organization company that teaches clients tried-and-true methods to keep their homes tidy—even after the cleaning fad fades away. Then we have Kate Pawlowski, one of the founding partners of Done & Done Home, which offers clients help with moving, home organization, and managing estates. Together, they curated 10 decluttering tips everyone can apply.
1. Plan Ahead
We’ve all had that moment where we’ve spontaneously decided this will be the day to clean the place from head to toe. But Lisa insists that it’s important to “be realistic and set goals you know you can accomplish” vs. diving right in. Going in with a plan means you’re more likely to get everything done and establish new habits you can use over and over again instead of a one-time job.
2. Ease in With the Entryway
If you’re not sure where to start, your entryway is a good place to consider. “Containment is key in this space because piles of shoes, backpacks, and outerwear all give off a disorganized vibe,” Kate explains. She suggests adding a few coat hooks or bins so you have plenty of easily accessible spots to store your stuff. (And less room to make excuses for not putting things away.)
Shop Hooks and Bins
3. Avoid Distractions
The thing about tackling chores is that it’s easy to discover another one you’ve totally forgotten about mid-sweep. But even if you think you’re being productive by starting another project, that kind of distraction can be deadly for decluttering. “You do not want to press pause and promise you will get back to it at another time,” Lisa says. “Keep the pace, miracles will happen.”
4. Make Cleaning the Kitchen a Habit
“Maintenance is key in the kitchen, and consistent daily habits will go a long way to keeping things functional,” Kate says. Before heading to bed, consider wiping down the counters and starting the dishwasher. That way, you can wake up to a fresh start (literally).
5. Find an Assertive Friend
Many hands make light work, and the opinions that come with those hands can be helpful if you’re prone to indecision. “Work with someone who is either professional or authoritative to assist in making quick decisions,” Lisa says. “They should have the information you need for a successful process and curation.” With that person nearby, you’re less likely to get hung up on what ifs.
6. Have a Basket Handy for Kids
If you have children, then you’re probably used to toys and crafts taking over the entire house. To try and hold back the tide, “I recommend fabric bins that blend into your decor and a unit like the Ikea Kallax to hold them if space allows,” says Kate.
Shop Fabric Baskets
7. Hold Off on Color-Coding Your Closets
As tempting as it can be to make your closets look all nice and uniform in a photo, Lisa explains that it’s best to “sort clothing by season first, then category, then color.” Function is more important than aesthetic, and this method still allows your space to look neat while keeping items easy to locate.
8. Take Advantage of Every Inch of Your Bathroom
Bathrooms have a lot to hold, even while being one of the smaller rooms in a house. The solution Kate has to offer is to “make sure that your under-sink storage is functional and that you’re taking advantage of all the vertical space available.” (Psst: if you’re wondering how to do that, these bathroom storage ideas can help.)
9. Weigh All Your Options
Taking a trash bag to your closet is a great way to clear out the clutter. But as you go, start incorporating these thoughts into your process: “It’s important to find a reason why and a reason why not to throw out any item,” Lisa says. By looking at all sides of the problem as you go, you’re more likely to understand what it is you truly value and are less likely to let impulsive purchases sway you into overfilling your closet again.
10. Don’t Let Flat Surfaces Become a Dumping Ground
Dining and coffee tables have a tendency to accumulate all the knicknacks you figured you’d have time to clean up later. “Take a few minutes every day to put things away in their proper place,” Kate says. That way, when guests come over, you’re not scrambling to figure out where you can hide keys or unread mail.