80% of the clutter in most homes is a result of disorganization, not a lack of space.1 That means that with only a little effort, you can reclaim all that lost space in your home. To help you get started on your journey to a more stress-free, decluttered life, we’ve compiled a list of the best six decluttering tips from professional organizers:
1. Before You Can Get Clutter Out, You Have to Stop It From Getting In
One of the best ways to control clutter is by preventing it from entering your home in the first place. Anything from junk mail, to IKEA catalogues, or free branded notepads you might pick up at events, all usually result in unused and unnecessary clutter around your house. Try to avoid buy-one-get-one-free deals and bargains that make you buy more than you need too. Because, seriously - are you ever really going to use six boxes of staples?
Once you halt the incoming flow of excess stuff, it will be much easier to maintain your decluttering and organizing efforts.
Additional Tip: You can do this with your digital clutter too by unsubscribing from every promo email or email newsletter you don’t read.2
2. Start Practicing the 2 Minute Rule
3. Create a Drop Zone
Creating a drop zone at the front entrance of your home can be the perfect way to allow (but also control) a little bit of clutter in one specific area. For the items that often come in and out like keys, wallets, and sunglasses for each outfit, a small table or set of drawers can act as a catch-all area for these items as soon as they get inside the house.
Additionally, anything that needs to go somewhere, such as your store returns or dry-cleaning, can be stored in an errand basket next to the drop zone. If you have a car and want to keep the basket in there, even better. It’s one step closer to where it needs to be - out of your home.3
4. Make an “Eat Me First!” Fridge Bin
How often do you open a drawer of your fridge to find something you forgot about? And how often does the expired item end up in the garbage? Our solution? Copy Alice in Wonderland and make a labelled “Eat Me First” bin that you keep front and center within your fridge so you see it every time you open the door, especially if you live with more than one person. This lets everyone know where to find leftovers and food that needs to be eaten quickly.4
5. Maximize Your Closet Space with These Folding Hacks
Sweater piles suck. Every time you grab that sweater at the bottom (and why do you always need the one at the bottom?), the whole pile comes tumbling down. Instead of destroying the whole pile every time you want something, try this handy trick and cut out cardboard pieces to put between each sweater. You can pull it out like a shelf to ensure the rest of the pile doesn’t budge.5
Fold-and-roll. Fold-and-roll. Fold-and-roll.
You can get third more t-shirts in a drawer with a fold-and-roll technique. The best part is that this method keeps logos, patterns, or labels displayed, making it way easier to hunt down a particular item. If you’re using a drawer as your dedicated t-shirt space, use dividers to create precise rows.6
Here’s how to do the fold-and-roll:
- Lay your shirt on a flat surface, with the front of the shirt facing the ceiling. Make sure the shirt is smooth and flat as well.
- Fold up the bottom three to four inches of your shirt to make a cuff. At this point, the bottom section of your shirt should look like a sleeve that has been folded up.
- Fold either the right or left side inwards toward the middle of the shirt. It should line up with the middle of the shirt. Then fold the sleeve backward to make it line up with the shirt as well.
- Take the other side and fold it inwards and on top of the first side. In other words, make sure to overlap the first side with the second side. Also, fold the sleeve backward so everything lines up. At this point, your shirt should look like a vertical rectangle.
- Roll the shirt. Starting at the top, roll the shirt toward the bottom until it is fully rolled. The tighter the roll, the more compact the shirt will be.
- Tuck the shirt. Remember the cuff you formed in the beginning? Use this to tuck the shirt to form a burrito shape. Turn the rolled shirt over to locate the cuff. Fold the cuff over the rest of the shirt to form the burrito.7
6. Get Stuff You’re Not Using Out of Sight
The notion of “prime real estate” is a key teaching of almost every professional organizer. In its essence, the rule is that you keep the things you need and use the most in the closest and most convenient spaces. When you open your closet door, you shouldn't see your winter coat in the summer months - an item like that just doesn’t deserve that kind of prime real estate. Moving the coat to one of the rarely used bottom or top shelves, or even better off-site completely is the best way to maximize your space. For items you know you won’t be using for the next several months - like cold weather sports equipment, holiday decorations, turtlenecks, scarves, boots, consider an off-site solution like Second Closet. Second Closet will come to pick up your stuff, store it, and deliver it back to you when needed again in the winter months.
7. Keep a Dedicated Donation Bin
It’s inevitable that you will outgrow clothes or change style preferences as time passes. And it’s even more inevitable that you will end up bringing in some new clothes at some point. Make sure to keep the balance of your closet. Every time something new comes in, space needs to be made for it, meaning that something else needs to go.
Rather than having to do a massive closet clean out every year or two to declutter this space, keep a dedicated donation hamper or bag within your closet and declutter as you go. Having this hamper makes decluttering less of a chore because you can get rid of things the moment you first notice them, rather than in some massive day-long project. When it’s full, bag it up, pop it in your trunk and take it to the charity of your choice.
Ready, Set, Declutter
Now equipped with these professional level decluttering tips and hacks, you’re ready to get going.
If the thought of taking on an entire house wide organization project overwhelms you, make sure to read our step-by-step post on decluttering your home in 2019, and download our FREE Complete Guide to Decluttering Your Home to find out the best approach to organizing based on your personality type.
1. GoodWill, Clutter Facts and Organizing Tips
2. Reader’s Digest, 50 Organizing Tips You’ll Wish You Knew All Along
4. Reader’s Digest, 50 Organizing Tips You’ll Wish You Knew All Along
7. wikiHow, How to Burrito Roll a Shirt