Part 3 of 3: 21 tips to declutter your house

Part 3 of 3: 21 tips to declutter your house
Okay, so I've talked about hoarding and living in squalor. Even if you're not a hoarder or a squalor-liver, you can probably use some decluttering. Even I, who strive to live without clutter, was able to find a cluttered spot in my house to take a picture of. See above.

So what do you do to control clutter? Here are 21 tips for controlling the mess:

  1. Make decluttering a habit. Spend a certain amount of time decluttering every week.  Pick, say, Tuesdays. On Tuesday, set a timer and spend time decluttering those problem areas- horizontal surfaces are where clutter tends to hang out, so pay special attention to your horizontals.
  2. Don't get all sentimental, just throw stuff away. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. My Auntie always used to say, "Look one way and pitch the other." If it has *serious* sentimental value or is worth a lot, or is something you use often, okay. You can keep it. Otherwise, toss it.
  3. Get it out of your house today. Let's suppose you are going to sell a bunch of stuff at a garage sale. But you have to store it until the yard sale. You may end up with a garage full of crap. Either set the date for the yard sale, or get it out of your house NOW.
  4. Freecycle! A good way to get stuff out of your house right away is to Freecycle it. But make sure you pick someone to get your stuff that gives you a time they're going to come pick it up. No-shows are a major problem on my Freecycle.
  5. Get rid of paper clutter as it comes in the door. Throw away your junk mail immediately. Shred the credit card offers ASAP. No, you don't need to keep all 42,000 pictures your kid drew at school.
  6. Get rid of some clothes. Especially if you are a man. Mr. Ivy has sweatshirts he wore in high school in his closet. Seriously. No, he doesn't fit into said sweatshirts. I have no idea why he keeps them. It's not like standard grey sweatshirt #49 is sentimental or anything. If it doesn't fit or is out of style, get rid of it, period.
  7. Clutter builds up over time, so it might take some time to get rid of it. That's okay. Just keep chipping away at it. Someday you'll realize your house is much less cluttery.
  8. Getting rid of kid toys 1: Observe what they play with. Keep that stuff. Trash the rest.
  9. Getting rid of kid toys 2: Do this when they're asleep, not home, or otherwise not in the picture.
  10. Getting rid of kid toys 3: If they're upset that their toys are missing, lie. Tell them the toy fairy came and got their old toys and gave them to the poor kids. Or something.
  11. Go through your pantry. I bet there's pumpkin pie mix from 1992 in there, or something equally as oogy.
  12. Same goes for your bathroom storage. I recently cleaned out my bathroom storage and found neosporin that had expired in 1998. Whoops!
  13. Cull the pet toys. Does Tiny really need 4 rubber bones? Does Fluffy really need ALL those catnip mice? Doubtful.
  14. Go through your books. If you're anything like me, you hate to get rid of books, but really. Think about it. Aren't there some books you hated so much you'll never read them again? Give, or trade them away.
  15. Make a place for your stuff. Sounds simple, but break your house down into "centers", like they have in kindergarten. Make a "craft" center and a "cleaning supplies" center, etc.
  16. Do NOT toss your junk in your garage or attic. You know what is supposed to go in your garage? It's a novel idea, but your car is supposed to go in there. I know, the idea shocks me too. Leave space for your car. Same with the attic, but I don't suggest putting a car in there. Christmas decorations should go in the attic.
  17. Back to cleaning out your closet: Turn your hangers backwards. In a few months, you'll be able to see which clothes you never wear and get rid of them. Seasonal stuff, of course, notwithstanding.
  18. Get rid of those videos you never watch. Feel good, and donate them to a women's shelter or children's hospital.
  19. Give yourself a reward as you see your house getting cleaner and neater. Like, computer time, or a bubble bath. Don't go out and buy stuff to celebrate.
  20. Go through your car and declutter it. I was horribly embarassed at the OLD junk I pulled out of my trunk the other day. We're talking baby clothes in size 6 months. My youngest is three.
  21. Finally, throw a party with your newly spotless and clutterless house. If you set a date for your party, it'll make you work faster since you have a deadline. 

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jasimar on Jun 22, 2007:

Hah!  Love it.  See, I'm minimalist.  My husband, however, is a total packrat.  His favorite phrase is "We'll need that!!... someday."  I'll apply the toys rule to his stuff.

badbadivy on Jun 22, 2007:

LOL, Surly, I can definitely see putting a motorcycle in the garage instead of a car. I'll give you that. ;)

Surly on Jun 22, 2007:

I have a problem with number 16. Garages are for motorcycles. The driveway is for the cars. Or the yard ;) I've had my garage for three years, there are currently three motorcycles in it. Never been a car in it since I moved it here. http://surlycamera.blogspot.com/2005/06/garage-has-new-home.html

Of course, I may be the exception to the rule.

Uncle_Skanko on Jun 21, 2007:

That's the Tyler Durden method of home organizing.

Uncle_Skanko on Jun 21, 2007:

An easier way to clear your house of clutter is to set a fire, then whatever you can escape the house with was obviously important.  Everything else is just useless stuff.

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