For 9 years, my husband and I lived with our four children in a home that was just slightly over 1000 square feet. Yes, that’s a very small space for six people! And it would be easy to get overwhelmed with the belongings for six people in one little house. But I’ve come a long way in my housekeeping over the years and these easy decluttering tips keep me on the path to a clean and tidy house every day.
25 Day Challenge with Easy Decluttering Tips
Can you really take back an area in your house in less than a month? Can you truly declutter and organize an area top to bottom in 25 days? Yes, with these easy decluttering tips, you’ll feel much more tidy and organized.
I’m sharing my tested checklists and tips that will get you and your home back on track. If you put yourself on a deadline right now you’ll be more likely to get it done rather than do a little here and there. At least one task on the list should be checked off each day.
If you’re like me and checking things off your to-do list is important, you’ll like that I’ve added a spot on each of the tasks to insert your check mark when the job is complete (I’m a lefty so my checks go to the left!)
Getting Ready to Organize
- Get yourself a clipboard and a pen/pencil.
- Print off the checklists and then work room by room to complete the process.
- Check off things as you go.
- Some of the items on this list will take several hours to complete. Others can be accomplished quickly.
- Save the larger tasks for when you can complete them in one cleaning session. This will ensure you see the job to completion.
- If you have the time, combine several of the quick jobs in one day.
- Set a goal date in which to have ALL the tasks completed (this cleaning challenge is intended to be completed within 25 days).
Why Would I Want Organizing Tips from a Slob?
Once upon a time I was a big time slob! So bad that when I was a kid, my dad used a shovel to put all the junk on my bedroom floor into trash bags! Every morning was a scramble to find my things in the piles scattered about. Even as a grown up I had a huge pile of dirty dishes in the sink that I’d procrastinate to clean for days and days (I’d just drain and refill the sink with soapy water each day, hoping those dishes would wash themselves, I guess!).
I’ve mentioned on the blog before that I’m a former slob. In fact, I still have messier tendencies and occasionally, need a kick in the pants to get myself straightened out. Being married to a “neat-nik” helps me from slipping into hoarder-mode.
So why would you want organizing tips from a slob? Because I know the feeling of wanting things to be tidier but not knowing where to start. Because that scrambling feeling of misplacing things because they are lost somewhere in the house, isn’t a great feeling. And I know how it is to be feeling overwhelmed with too much stuff. Because if I can do it, then you can do it, too! So keep reading for my top tips for organizing and tips to stay organized.
Where to Start Cleaning Up?
If you’re trying to declutter and organize, assess your biggest need. What area stresses you out the most? Is your dining room table piled with junk and you really want to eat there again? Then this is definitely where you should start cleaning first.
I want to make this very clear right away. If you want to declutter and organize your house you’re going to HAVE to get rid of things.
Yes, you need to get rid of things. You will not be able to clean around the extra stuff. You’re going to have to make some tough decisions on what to keep and what to purge. But the end result – an organized and decluttered home – will be so worth it in the end!
Keeping Up with Regular Housekeeping
In between deep cleaning and organizing, you need to keep up (or begin) regular housekeeping. There are a few ways of tackling regular housework. You can choose to save it all up for a single day of housekeeping. Or maybe you have daily chores that you do each day to break things up.
In our home we have basic chores we do each day. These are tasks like wiping the bathroom sink, cleaning toilets, collecting laundry, emptying trashcans and washing dishes. Some chores we do twice a week, including sweeping the entire house, vacuuming and mopping.
Once a week chores are relegated to “whole house” day, generally on Saturday when the entire family can get the task done quickly together. Things like window and mirror cleaning, dusting, and clearing out the fridge happen on this day.
In keeping up with regular housekeeping, breaking up the tasks into more manageable bits can help you keep up. Letting things wait and build up for one day of cleaning can easily overwhelm. I highly recommend you start incorporating the daily housekeeping chart first!
Things to Do Daily
As I mentioned, my husband is a neat-nik. So much so, that we have a laminated printout of our daily chores for reference! Perhaps you aren’t going to obsess so much as my husband, but I will admit that our house is very clean (and we rarely get sick, either). No baskets of clean clothes waiting to be put away, as we do it right away. No overflowing bathroom trashcans; they get emptied every other day.
Daily chores don’t take very long, especially when the entire household chips in. Even preschoolers can help with daily chores, like collecting laundry or tidying bedrooms. We’re able to get these chores done in less than 30 minutes daily. I’ve created a daily housekeeping chart for you. Keep reading to the end where you can download a PDF copy!
Getting Everyone in the Family On Board
In my house, everyone participates in housework, albeit with different levels of cooperation and expectation. I don’t expect the same level of accomplishment from my 4-year old as I do my 17-year old. But, yes everyone (even the preschooler) pitches in with housekeeping.
From making beds, emptying the dishwasher, setting the dinner table to vacuuming, my kids can clean the entire house without much in the way of assistance. Of course, that kind of commitment level doesn’t happen overnight. I share the reasons why our kids do housework with Tips for Getting Kids to Pitch In.
Getting Ready for a Purge
Gather up your empty cardboard boxes and trash bags in preparation for the big purge. Learning to live with less is key to keeping an organized and simplified home. Do you really need that air popcorn popper that you haven’t used in 2 years? Donate it and let another family enjoy it!
Once you’ve completed your whole house decluttering, make sure that you haven’t just relocated your stuff. What’s the point of doing all that work if you now have all the things piled up in the garage?
Now’s the time to move it out – schedule a pick up with your local thrift store to come once a week. Knowing that they are coming to pick up your things will encourage you to keep up with the clearing out. For expired medications, refer to your local laws on disposal.
Before you run out and buy ALL the organizing boxes and bins, start by getting rid of things and truly assessing what you plan to keep. Only then will you know what you’ll really need in the way of organizing essentials.
I own the Brother P-Touch Label Maker and have been busy labeling everything in the house. This way everyone can see at a quick glance where things belong (and where they don’t!)
What to Do with Knick-Knacks
I used to love all my “stuff”. I surrounded myself with so much, decorating every inch of open space in my house. But the clutter of so much stuff made it a challenge to dust. And all those things added to the feeling of mess.
When you make EVERYTHING special, then NOTHING is special.
I learned to live with less and surround myself only with the things I truly loved and cherished. Out went the random knick-knacks. Gone were the seasonal decorations for every holiday. And I let go of a lot. What I have left in my home are only the most special things.
Cleaning Up the Kitchen
One very easy way we keep our kitchen clean is by minimizing the amount of clutter on the counter tops. We limit counter top items to only what we use on a daily basic. There is a crock with cooking utensils. The coffee maker and a bowl of fruit are tucked into a counter. The toaster and a tri-level storage basket for onions, potatoes and garlic are the only other items that take up counter space. Everything else is put away into drawers and cupboards.
These few items on the counter make it easy for us to clean up daily. Yes, this is really how my kitchen looks everyday and not just when company is coming. If your counters are overly crowded, consider clearing them off completely and only adding back the most important appliances.
Clear Out Closets
In each of our bedroom closets, I keep a small fabric storage bin. On a monthly basis, I weed through the clothes in each closet and drawers to remove items that no longer fit. I toss them into the bin. When the bin is full, I bag it up to give away as hand-me-downs or for donation.
The other important thing is to really assess what you wear. If you haven’t worn it in ages and have no immediate plans to wear it, then why have it gathering dust in your closet? Donate it to someone else who will enjoy it. For more organizing solutions, especially in a small home, check out these solutions for Budget Organizing Solutions for Small Spaces.
Laundry and Clothes
When it comes to dirty laundry, it can easily get overwhelming! I find that keeping up with laundry on a daily basis is a must (especially for large families). Every day, each family member can move dirty laundry to the laundry room. Put in a load of wash. Then bring in clean laundry to fold, hang and put away. We never let clean clothes sit in the basket (that’s clutter, folks!) Put clothes away as soon as you bring them to the bedrooms.
We have the instructions on how to operate the washing machine and dryer posted in the laundry room. This way there is no excuse for anyone to not know how to wash their own clothes!
My house was built in 1956 and the closets are all very tiny. I am relegated to half of the closet that I share with my husband. Each of my children also have half of a closet in their shared bedrooms (4 kids, 2 closets). I keep out-of-season clothes tucked into bins under my bed. In-season clothing hangs in the closet and is folded into drawers. In the kid’s rooms, hand-me-down clothes that don’t quite fit yet are also in Underbed Storage containers. I like to take advantage of storage places that are out of sight!
The bathroom is one of those places that could almost always use a daily once-over, especially if you have children. But for a small space, the bathroom can hold lots of unnecessary things! Think about all those half-used bottles of conditioner, yucky bath toys and expired medications.
A good place to start decluttering, cleaning and organizing is in the bathroom “hiding spaces” – under the sink and inside the medicine cabinet. If you’re tired of nagging kids about bathroom tasks, try this pre-teen routine daily checklist.
Getting Rid of the Junk Drawer
Why do you have a junk drawer and what’s in it? You probably have a junk drawer because you have a bunch of stuff you don’t want to deal with in the moment. Or maybe the things in the junk drawer don’t have a proper home.
One tip I have for the junk drawer is to make it purposeful. Take everything out and sort through it. Toss out trash, file paperwork and put all the like items together. At this point you’ll want to decide what things really belong in the drawer and what things could be relocated.
Invest in an Custom Drawer Organizer Tray to further manage this space. You’ll be able to see what’s in the drawer at a glance and it will be less tempting to just toss in random things. Items like batteries, scissors, pens, phone chargers and small notepads are now perfect items for your new “junk drawer”!
Toys & Kids
I get it, kids like their stuff. But I guarantee that not everything your kids have in their rooms is useful, practical or even touched. However many kids have strong attachments to their things. If your kid doesn’t care or won’t notice, feel free to declutter in their absence. But if your kid wants to have some decisions about their belongings, make sure to do this process with them.
Pull out everything in the room and put it in a pile. Pick through each thing, tossing what is broken, throwing out trash and adding items to boxes for donation. With whatever is left, decide upon an organization technique that will fit.
For my kids, we store like items together into clear bins. Vehicles are in one box, blocks in another. The wooden train set and all the accessories have a big bin and plastic building blocks are stored in another. Each bin is properly labeled. Once a month we take the time to pull out everything and sort “lost items” back into the proper bins.
It’s a quick process, but for one reason only: We minimize the amount of stuff that’s being played with. I find that my kids gravitate towards their favorite toys, which allows me to store away (or completely get rid of) toys that aren’t being played with very often. Need additional toy storage ideas? Check out this article with full details with ideal toy organization ideas.
Backpacks and School Stuff
Cluttered school stuff can really create a lot of stress between parents and kids. Of course if you’re disorganized, it can trickle down to the kids. If your child can’t find homework to turn it in because it’s lost on a desk somewhere, then grades are going to suffer as well (speaking from experience here!) Streamlining and organizing will result in happier Stress-free School Mornings!
Make sure that backpacks have a home (a hook is a great idea). Remind kids to load up school needs every night before bed and return backpacks to their place. Mornings will be smoother when kids can grab and go, knowing that everything is ready.
Drowning in Paperwork
It can be very easy to get overwhelmed with paperwork. If you’re starting off with a large stack, you’ll need to touch every single paper to make sure it’s a keeper or should be recycled. As you work, pile like items together. Then you’ll be able to sort important paperwork into 3-Ring binders and add a label to the side for easy reference.
To keep paperwork from piling up in the future, I suggest dealing with things immediately the first time it’s in your hand. While holding it, decide if it is a paper you can recycle or if you need to keep it for any reason. If possible, file it right away and resist the urge to pile it up.
Clutter Free and Loving It!
When you’re first learning to declutter, you’ll be coming across things you haven’t seen in years! It will be tempting to sit down and reminisce, but I recommend that you hold off. Place anything sentimental into a box where you can later take your time with it. If it’s truly special to you, you’ll want to find an appropriate place in your home for it.
As you start bringing new things into your home, continually reference your tidy house rules. Will this new item have a home or are you buying it just because you “like it”? Once you’ve started incorporating these easy decluttering tips, keeping your home clean and organized will be so much easier!
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This post originally published on January 7th, 2019 and has been updated and republished with a new date.