DECLUTTER – AND MAKE ROOM FOR THE THINGS IN YOUR LIFE THAT MATTER
By Shiela Frampton
What is the meaning of declutter?
The definition of declutter is ‘to remove unnecessary items from an untidy or overcrowded place or to remove clutter from a room or an area”
Clutter is anything you’re keeping that doesn’t add value to your life – and decluttering is about making room in your home for the things that do matter.
Whether you are moving house, settling into a new home or simply trying to create more space, decluttering can have a positive effect on your mood and your well-being. It is a case of ‘declutter your home, declutter your mind’ and ‘mess causes stress.’
If you surf the internet you’ll find plenty of advice – whether you’re looking for a decluttering guru or a declutter book. One of the most popular books is how to declutter the Japanese way – ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering’ by decluttering expert Marie Kondo.
If you’re moving home, your removal company may offer a declutter service and you’ll be able to ask them for declutter quotes.
It is important to recognise when it’s time to declutter – if you aren’t able to relax, not sleeping well or can’t find things, it’s probably time to declutter.
Declutter, where to start?
Start by making a plan and looking at your house with ‘fresh eyes’ as a stranger would – we get too used to seeing our own clutter. Then make a plan….
- 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- Start with easy decisions – get rid of items that are broken, have an expiry date that is long past and outdated technology.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
- Take a declutter before and after photo of each area or room – it will provide you with some declutter inspiration!
- 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.
Disposal of clutter:
- If you sell your unwanted items – either through at a car boot sale, an auction house, on eBay, local websites or Facebook or privately, put the money towards a treat to yourself.
- Donate those items you don’t want to sell to a charity shop – we’ve all got our favourite charities and remember that someone will really appreciate the things that you no longer need.
- Recycle where you can – plastics, paper and cardboard and electronic items can often be taken to the recycle centre.
- If you have lots of items to get rid of, hire a skip
How to declutter your home
The more clutter you have, the more time it’s going to take you to do something about it. All the clutter is weighing you down and the more stuff you have the longer it takes to find something and the longer it takes to clean. Getting started is the most difficult part – it can be a little overwhelming at times so the best thing to do is to declutter for a short time or in just one area and do a really good job. Then start again later – or another day. Keep only what you need – you may entertain once a year but do you really need 24 wine glasses when you could hire them from the wine suppliers? Do you need more than two sets of towels per person in the house and a couple of sets for guests? The best way to declutter is to focus on individual areas or rooms before moving onto the next one.
Decluttering tips on how to declutter your house
Declutter your kitchen
- Worksurfaces seem to attract clutter – from mail to work projects. This is usually because they don’t have a specific place to go. The best thing to do is to create storage for such items – shelves and a labelled basket/box system and letter racks are ideal.
- Check out your cupboards. If there’s anything from spice to jars of pickles that have been hiding in there for a few years, throw it out.
- Use airtight labelled jars and plastic storage boxes in your kitchen cupboards. This makes it easy to see when items need replenishing or restocking.
Declutter your bathroom
- If you have more than one bathroom, declutter them at the same time so you know how much you have and what needs restocking – shampoo, conditioner, soap or toilet rolls.
- Put all your bathroom items together – piles of medicines, cosmetics, towels, toiletries and cleaning supplies
- Create ‘keep’ and ‘throw-away’ piles
- Check the expiration dates on all your products – sunscreen, creams, antiseptic lotions – anything out of date should be put on the throw away pile.
- Go through your cosmetics – anything that you don’t like, have never worn or is old and out of date should be given/thrown away as appropriate.
- Sort out the keep piles according to the number of bathrooms you have – and make a note of anything you need to buy/restock.
Declutter your living room
Living rooms are designed for relaxation. It’s difficult to do so when the space is full of toys, newspapers, books, blankets and more.
- Remove clutter than doesn’t belong in the living room
- If you have too many DVDs, CDs or video games invest in some storage – shelves, boxes, baskets or furniture that will house your items.
- Choose items of furniture that double as storage – for example, footstools with storage inside.
- If you have books, CDs or DVDs you no longer want – sell them or donate them
- Keep your coffee table and surfaces of any furniture clear of all but a few items – a maximum of five is a good guide.
Declutter your bedrooms
Bedrooms often become places to ‘dump’ all sorts of items that don’t belong anywhere else. You don’t need much more than a bed, bedside cabinets, drawers and storage for clothes and shoes and somewhere for jewellery and make-up. Ask yourself:
- Does it belong in the bedroom?
- Have you used it in the last year?
Keep flat surfaces in your bedroom almost clear – a lamp or a couple of pictures on a chest of drawers may be fine but try to have no more than five items on any surface.
Children’s toys may be put into storage boxes or baskets or on shelves in their rooms.
Declutter your clothes and shoes
- When it comes to clothing we generally only wear 20% of the items in our wardrobe 80% of the time. We buy more clothes each season but many of us rarely get rid of the ones we don’t wear – so we soon run out of storage space. Put your clothes into three piles – yes, no and maybe. As you sort them, ask yourself:
- Does it fit?
- Is it damaged?
- Do I like it?
- Have I worn it in the past year?
- Is it out of date/style/fashion?
- Zone your wardrobe – everyday items and formal, seasonal, occasional items should be separated. Think about rotating your wardrobe – storing out of season clothes so you only have clothes appropriate to that season in the wardrobe.
- IKEA and other similar stores sell great under bed storage boxes ideal for clothes, linens and towels.
- Think about vacuum packing your storage items – using a specially designed clear bag, you just pop your clothes or linen inside and suck out the air with a vacuum cleaner.
- Put formal shoes into clear or labelled boxes on higher shelves and everyday shoes in a basket on the floor of the wardrobe.
Declutter Your Utility Room/Laundry Area
If you have a utility room, there’s a possibility it could have become a ‘dumping ground’ for a whole variety of items but with careful organisation, you could make the most of the space.
- Put up shelving to stock with washing powder, tumble dryer sheets and stain removers.
- Put detergent into clear jars with scoops which make it easy to see when you need to buy more stocks.
- Have a divided laundry basket – to separate whites and colours from the start and add a small bin for small items like socks
Declutter your 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 around to putting on your car, advertise them.
The Declutter Challenge
There are a number of challenges facing anyone who is decluttering.
- If you love getting ‘freebies’ you’ll bring them home and add them to the clutter. Ask yourself do you need the free item before you bring it home.
- If you just love shopping and can’t resist buying things stick to the one in/one out rule – for everything you bring in, you have to throw a similar older item out.
- Your partner or spouse is a ‘hoarder.’ This is a tricky one and you’ll need to find out why they hoard before you help them declutter, step by step, starting small and getting rid of broken or out of date items first. Give the hoarder a room or space – an attic or a spare room, where they can keep their clutter.
- You think all your clutter has sentimental value – whilst sentimental value is important, too many of these types of items became more clutter and less sentimental. Sometimes we keep them because we feel guilty for not seeing the giver as often as we could or because the person who gave them might expect to see the item when they visit. We might hold onto an ex’s belongings because getting rid of them means the relationship is over. Memories are in the heart and mind not in material possessions. Taking pictures of the items can be helpful if you decided to donate or sell them.