5 steps to clear your clutter

by Katrina - The Organised Housewife

Acknowledging that you have clutter and need to make some changes is the biggest step of all. Clutter can be anything from overfilled drawers, too many clothes in the wardrobe to a room filled from floor to ceiling with things you may consider special. My Mum was a hoarder (she had rooms filled with ‘precious stuff’ floor to ceiling) and she struggled immensely with purging as she felt that she would one day need it, despite not having a purpose for it at the time of purchase.  Unfortunately, my Mum passed away, leaving my dad, brothers and I to go through it all.  Whilst I have my home organised and don’t collect too many things I do understand the pain that comes with parting with items that you believe are special to you.  I know how much my Mum’s clutter affected her mindset and happiness, which is why I really want to help others to make a home a place that they enjoy.  I’ve shared 5 steps to help you start to clear your clutter- they aren’t steps on how to organise the space, but steps on how to make a start.

1. Get organised

To start decluttering you will need a few things:

4 STORAGE BOXES: Gather together a bucket, bin, bag or storage container and label each… charity, sell, rubbish, keep.  I have a set of these labels available as an instant download from my shop here.

GARBAGE BAGS OR BOXES: have these on hand so that you can throw out the rubbish and hand items to charity straight away.

CREATE A TO-DO LIST: Help prevent overwhelm by looking at the room, area, cupboard/drawer and create a to-do list of everything you want to do, achieve, clean or buy before you start. Download my FREE To-Do List, subscribe to my weekly newsletter by entering your details in the form below.

2018ToDoList_Image_The Organised Housewife_Free Printable

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2. Create some time

Don’t overwhelm yourself by dedicating a full afternoon or day to decluttering.  30 minutes a day is all it takes to make a start. Devote some time each day purely to decluttering one particular area or room.  Set aside 30 minutes one day this week in your calendar to make a start.  Commit to it, DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!

3. Concentrate on one area

Start small, try starting with a drawer, wardrobe or a small room like a pantry or laundry.  But don’t choose the most cluttered room, this can be too overwhelming.

Divide your clutter amongst the labelled boxes, when each one is full transfer to a garbage bag.  Place rubbish directly into the bin.  Place charity bags in the garage ready for a trip to the charity store/bin.  Your sell box may contain items that you would like to sell on eBay, list these items before you start the next room.  Remember to finish one area before you start another.  When you have finished the room, unpack the keep box designating each item to its new home.

  SORTING LABELS:  Use these labels to label your areas/storage containers to help organise, purging excess items and throwing away rubbish. Gather together a bucket, bin, bag or storage container and label. Available from my shop here.

4. Stay motivated

Clearing the clutter will boost your mood and you will start to feel energetic and be more positive about the direction of your household.  You may even find it becoming addictive! You will start to feel a lot more relaxed living in an uncluttered house.

5. Stay in control

Keep on top of your clutter, don’t allow it to take over your life again.  When bringing a new object into the room/area/draw create a home for it.  Always return all items back to their home.  Soon it will become a habit, and you will find it a lot easier to find your belongings.


  • If you haven’t used it within 6-12 months, more than likely you won’t use it, donate to charity.
  • If it gives you negative feeling or makes you feel sad, donate to charity.
  • If something has sentimental value but it’s in a box in the top of your wardrobe, more than likely it will stay there.  You are not attached to the object you are attached to the memory of the person that gave you the object.  Give it to charity or somebody you know that will cherish the item.
  • If it is expired, throw it out.
  • If you have double of items, eg…2 toasters, give one to charity.
  • Out with the old, in with the new.  eg. brand new bedsheets = old sheets to charity
  • Give yourself permission to throw out items that are rarely used.
  • Old toys and games can be donated to the local childcare centre.

If you know you need to make some changes in your home, be proud that you’ve read this….. that is a fabulous start!!

You may also enjoy reading

CLEANING TIPS – Follow along in the weekly cleaning series where I give you a task along with steps on how to clean an area/item in your home each Tuesday.  Most of these tasks will be easy, from light switches to toys, towels to stinky shoes, cleaning many of the forgotten areas or things in your home.  See cleaning tips here.

CLEANING CHECKLIST – A cleaning checklist which includes daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual tasks.  This checklist will help you remember cleaning tasks and create a routine to suit the time you have available. This checklist is available as an instant download here.

5 steps to clearn clutter PIN

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Katrina - The Organi September 18, 2010 - 9:03 PM

that's right, organising to organise!!

Tanya December 13, 2010 - 9:23 PM

I have trouble with decluttering because I like to make new homes, but because I live out of town can't always get the basket or box that I would like to make things neat & tidy & then the decluttering will last a week or so…*sigh* then I lose motivation.

Thanks for your inspiration, I'll give it a go & see if I can get things in order a little more

Di February 28, 2011 - 6:38 PM

I’m loving your website and I’m now motivated and ready to de-clutter my home and my life. I have tried to click on a few of the links here but they seem to have been deleted.
Any chance we can see them again?

Katrina February 28, 2011 - 9:00 PM

You can do it Di, you sound determined, you go girl!! I didn’t realise they aren’t working, I closed down my old site a few weeks ago, it may have messed up with a few links. I will have to fix that up. As an alternative try using the search box in the sidebar or use the categories. Thankyou for letting me know!

Jamesj333 July 1, 2011 - 2:44 AM

Awesome tips thanks Katrina

Cheers Jacky

Amanda Jane January 2, 2012 - 11:15 AM

Okay I am going to do the fridge today

Katrina January 4, 2012 - 9:28 PM

How did you go Amanda?

kayla March 7, 2012 - 9:42 AM

I love your website I always look forward and make time to read it

Janet March 7, 2012 - 9:26 PM

I got sick of keeping every one of my kids pictures, craft items and ‘creative projects’ that include cardboard boxes and egg cartons, so now I choose the really great ones to keep but take a photo of the other items and then throw them out. This means that I can still keep the memory but lose the clutter. This works for heaps of things that we have emotional attachment to.

Ketutar J March 31, 2012 - 4:08 PM

Wonderful! Thank you 🙂 I especially love that “remember” list, though one thing to remember is missing… I save things with the “I can make something of this” justification. I’d like to add: “if you have saved it to do something of, give yourself a deadline. If you haven’t used it in 3-6 months, you won’t. It will take more energy to save it and have the expectations stress you, and it will take space from things you actually do make something of. Give yourself freedom to create and let go.” or something like that 🙂

Kristy May 19, 2012 - 8:30 PM

Well I followed your tips and I’m excited to say I did a whole room today. It was really hard to begin with but it slowly got easier 🙂 I’d be de-cluttering the bedroom at the moment but hubby made me stop! Thanks!!!

Bec Waterhouse October 18, 2012 - 3:36 PM

We had two microwaves and gave one away. Of course, the one we kept is the one that blew up lol

Barbara Ceccarello November 7, 2012 - 3:17 AM

It sounds easy … 😉

Karolina Maria January 18, 2013 - 4:13 AM

Regarding the rubbish bin…. my big thing is that I’m a recycling queen. Most things can be recycled, if not composted, which makes it even harder to simply “trash” items that I know I don’t want and no one else would either, because I don’t want it to just sit on a landfill. I want to dispose of it conscientiously, but that quickly becomes overwhelming. I started collecting such things (old batteries, expired medicine, etc.) with the intention of taking them to the landfill to be properly recycled, but I haven’t made that trip yet. I suppose I answered my own concern – start with a “rubbish bin” and make it a separate project to go through the rubbish bin and divide into recycling/compost/garbage. 🙂

Irene Tanya Samek September 29, 2013 - 10:38 PM

I just have a large cardboard box and readily throw recyclable things in 🙂

Kate Povey July 27, 2018 - 7:53 PM

I am just like you! It takes a lot of energy and thought to chuck things away because we try so hard to be almost zero waste and try to pass the right thing gs to the right people. But…it is extra satisfying when it works and your home, friends, charities and the environment all benefit!

Jill Bennett May 4, 2013 - 10:51 AM

Have just come across this site. 2 questions….how do I find time to declutter (or clean or whatever) when I am so busy reading this blog of yours and how does a person declutter when her husband is bringing back inside everything that is set aside for charity or the bin????

Sally Lockrey April 14, 2016 - 2:44 PM

Jill, hide the box from hubby. Don’t let him see it and he won’t miss it.
Karolina , expired medicines go to you local chemist; they will dispose of.
Batteries etc save for 2x yearly “toxic items cleanup”. Watch local papers or ask your kcal Council.

Tania Millan April 14, 2017 - 9:25 AM

Hi I was wondering if you could please tell me where to find how to make your reusable wipes please. I thought I kept it and now I can’t find it.
Thank you so much I love all the wonderful things you post

Kerry July 27, 2018 - 11:49 AM

The first thing I do most days is read your blog. Since joining your mail list I have been through a lot of my house, I finely feel I’m getting on top of things.
Today’s email from you really hit home as my mother is a hoarder and now her house is quite unhealthy to live in but she can’t see that. I’m not sure what to do about it, how did you cope with your Mum, Katrina?

Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 7, 2018 - 11:39 AM

I too spoke to my mum about it, but unfortunately, it did cause disagreements between us both, but what I learnt is they can’t see what we see and after my mum past it was then I realised why she was holding onto her ‘stuff’. Mums hoarding started after the passing of her mum, it was after this she found it hard to let go of alot of things and perhaps too shopping was her comfort as they used to do it together. I guess I’ll never know, but what I can suggest is to try and learn why you think your mum is ‘collecting’ and see if you can help her through the emotions before physically making changes to her home. Good luck xx

Elizabeth Haller December 31, 2018 - 1:24 PM

My whole house is a problem. I have been a hoarder since childhood. The house got out of control when my neat and tidy husband died 29 yrs ago. I lack motivation and decision making, I know that I am lazy

Emma January 7, 2020 - 6:54 PM

Thank you for this article! My guest room became a junk room so full of everything that didn’t have a place and I could barely use the room. I spent a good 12 hours over a couple of weeks to clear it using your process. I donated a full car load of toys and books that my kids had outgrown to families affected by the recent fires, and now have a beautiful organised space that my 3 boys can use to have quiet time / read or play boardgames, as well as having space for guests to sleep. It feels great! I’m hooked now and plan to go through each room.


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