A Room-by-Room Guide to Decluttering Your Home

A week’s worth of mail is littered across the coffee table, your child’s schoolwork is scattered on the kitchen counter and a jumble of toys is making the staircase a fall hazard. Sound familiar?

Things can get a bit cluttered from time to time. You’re not a messy person; life just piles up. But should learning how to declutter your home really be a priority when you’re already busy?

A study by Princeton University found that a cluttered environment affects your ability to focus and process information. Think of clutter like a dog begging at the dinner table. You can ignore it for a little while, but eventually the annoyance will put a strain on your productivity.

Here’s how you can reorganize your home, one room at a time.

Living Room

Keep only the books that are important to you, or those written by your favorite author. E-readers are a great way to keep the stories you enjoyed without taking up space on your shelf. In addition, save only the last two issues of your magazine subscriptions. Tear out the articles you want to keep and file them in a binder for future reference.


If your kids haven’t played with a toy in several weeks, consider donating it or storing it away for play dates and other special occasions. Place baskets and bins in easy-to-reach locations so kids can pick up after themselves after playing. Similarly, make it a rule that they must put away one toy before getting another.


Because the countertop often needs the most TLC, keep only the dishes that your cabinets can hold. If you’ve only got space for six coffee mugs, for example, you only need six.

When you do buy a new item, throw out the old version or set. It’s tempting to want to keep an old, warped cake pan because you “might use it one day,” but it only takes up valuable space in your kitchen in the long run. You don’t need dozens of plastic storage containers, either. Instead, keep 10 or 12 of various sizes.

Seasonings are another common source of clutter. However much you cook, don’t keep spices that are more than a year old. They’ve very likely lost their flavor, and if you haven’t used them by now, you should expect that you won’t.

Home Office

Organize papers into two categories: file it or frame it. If it isn’t appropriate for filing (bank statements and bills) or framing (children’s artwork), throw it out.

Most of the mail you receive can be tossed immediately, as well. Place important mail in a highly visible basket so nothing goes unpaid or unanswered, and eliminate the number of catalogs you receive with CatalogChoice. Or, elect to receive catalogs through mobile apps like Catalog Spree.

As you shop, staple receipts to warranties and owners’ manuals. Place them in plastic sleeves and file in a binder where they’ll be easy to locate if needed.


Bathrooms, especially small ones, look cluttered when products and tools are left lying on countertops. Make your bathroom tidier using trays or baskets for brushes, cosmetics or bottles. Although lotions and cosmetics tend to have a long shelf life, they don’t last forever. Toss expired products or those you don’t use.

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