DECLUTTER YOUR HOME – CLEAN YOUR HOME
By Sheila Frampton
Whilst in lockdown, so many people have started ‘sorting out’ their homes – clearing out wardrobes and cupboards, reorganising storage, restacking shelves. Why is this? And why might we need to declutter?
According to the principles of Feng Shui, which is the art and science of balancing your interior environment, clutter is low, stagnant and confusing energy that constantly drains your own energy. It can negatively influence, or even completely block, the flow of energy and events in many areas of your life. Decluttering can make us feel better, clearer in the mind and more energetic – and there are other reasons why we should declutter.
- Having a cluttered home can lead to low self-esteem. Decluttering can help create order, not only in your home but also in your head.
- If you’re planning to put your home on the market, a clutter-free home is more appealing to buyers.
- If you’re planning to move, you don’t want to take your clutter with you – so it’s best to sort it out before you make your move. It will be cheaper and easier to remove if you’re clutter-free.
- Excess ‘stuff’ can cause anxiety, affect your sleep, reduce your focus and increase stress levels.
- Less clutter – less dust, dirt, pet hair and consequently fewer of the associated pathogens and toxins.
- Your home will be easier to clean when it’s free of clutter.
- You’ll save time – it will be easier to find things that you have misplaced.
- Decluttering will make your home look much more spacious.
Obstacles to decluttering
Making decisions about your clutter means taking risks – you risk letting go of something that you might need or that you’ll regret getting rid of. Ask yourself if you really need it/really like it – would the items be easy to replace if you ever needed them? And how often would you need them?
If you have an exercise cycle that gathers dust or a collection of keep fit DVDs that you never watch, then these represent your unfulfilled ambition to get fitter or slimmer. You will feel so much better if you get rid of them – sell them and buy something you would like – because they are constant reminders of your ‘failure’ to achieve that particular dream/ambition.
Of course, some items have sentimental value but if you have too many of these, they become more clutter and less sentimental. Sometimes we hold onto gifts in case the giver expects to see them when they visit – in reality, most givers don’t expect that. Sometimes we keep things out of guilt – we hold onto Great Aunt’s lamp because we didn’t really see her as often as we could – but guilt is an unhelpful emotion. We may hold on to our ex’s belongings but if the relationship is really over, the healthy thing is to move on and decluttering can be symbolic of a new start – it’s something we can do to make that first move. If we have inherited clutter, remember it’s not your clutter – it belongs to someone who no longer needs it and you may be better without it. If you have sentimental items because you are bereaved, give yourself time and/or space, or perhaps find a way to reuse sentimental items. Do remember that your memories are in your heart and mind – not the sentimental item and your home needs to be a living space for the present life, not a storage space for the past. Take pictures of the sentimental items if you are going to donate or sell them. Declutter one sentimental item every week – after a few weeks, you’ll realise you don’t miss it.
Not enough time/decluttering is overwhelming
Start small – you don’t have to do it all at once. Focus on one room, one area or one cupboard – or even one shelf. As an alternative, set an alarm clock and just do 10 minutes of decluttering.
You live with a partner/spouse/family member who ‘hoards’
Talk to the person and find out why they hoard and then help them declutter step by step, starting small and getting rid of broken or out of date items first. Their objections to decluttering could be those mentioned above. Give your ‘hoarder’ a room or space where they can keep their clutter. Clean out the attic and give them their own space or a spare bedroom. As you get rid of your own clutter, you may inspire them to get rid of theirs.
How to start
- Take a good look at your house with ‘fresh eyes’ as a stranger would – we get too used to seeing our own clutter
- Give yourself a set time – 10 minutes, an hour, a morning, a day.
- Start with easy decisions – get rid of items that are broken, have an expiry date that is long past and outdated technology.
- Tackle one room, one space or even one cupboard at a time and make sure you complete the decluttering in that area before moving onto the next
- Get a number of boxes or bins or containers and label them as follows:
- Put Away – things that need to be kept and tidied
- Recycle – anything such as plastic, paper, card or glass that may be recycled
- Mend/clean – use this for anything that needs cleaning or mending,
- Donate – things that can be donated to your local charity shop
- For sale – items that you can sell on eBay or another similar website.
- Rubbish – things that need to be thrown away.
Decluttering your rooms:
The bathroom: throw away anything that is out of date – make-up, skincare, medications. Out of date make-up and skincare can cause skin reactions. Wash/clean your hairbrushes. Make sure your toothbrushes have good bristles and are not worn out.
The bedroom: take a good look at your clothes – is your wardrobe overflowing? Think about buying an under bed storage contained from somewhere like IKEA and put your winter clothes – sweaters, hats, etc, – into the storage box. You can use clear vac-pack bags that you ‘suck’ the air out with a vacuum cleaner. One good rule is that if you haven’t worn it for two years, then you may not wear it again – the only exception being winter coats and evening dresses. Try things on – don’t keep things you think you’ll slim into or grow into. Look on your bedside table – any books that you’ve read and won’t read again? Hang clothing or fold it neatly in drawers.
Hallway: it doesn’t create a good impression on visitors if you have a cluttered hallway. There are some great slim shoe storage units on sale and you can put your shoes away out of sight. You may want a coat handy – but you probably don’t need three or four coats hanging in the hall.
Kitchen: decluttering the kitchen is challenging. Focus on one area at a time and empty each space, assess the items and put everything back where it belongs. Move as much as possible off the countertops and into storage spaces – put the items you use most at the front of the cupboards. Do check for foods that have expired – packet sauces, jars and boxes – throw everything away that isn’t in date. Empty out the under-sink cupboard – check cleaning products. You may find that you have products that you’ve forgotten.
Living room: make sure you have storage spaces for the items you use most – bookshelves, magazine racks. Give old magazines or books to charity shops or the hairdressers/doctors/dental surgeries. It’s nice to have a few ornaments and pictures around but if you’re trying to sell your home, having too many personal items can put prospective purchasers off.
Garage/Shed: there are bound to be broken things in the garage or shed. If you haven’t bothered to throw things away, this is where they end up. How about donating old plant pots to the local garden centre? Sort out bits and pieces – put nails and screws in glass jars. Take any old metal items to the recycling centre. If you have old tyres that still have ‘life’ in them or hub caps that you have never got round to putting on your car, advertise them.
- Create a weekly ‘organising routine’ – a set time when you put items back into their proper places.
- Do a monthly ‘mini’ spring clean – and get rid of clutter before it builds up.
- Give yourself a treat – with the money from sold items, why not buy yourself something you’ve wanted for a long time – or book yourself a spa treatment or go out for a special meal.