(This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. While clicking these links won't cost you any extra money, they will help us keep this site up and running and keep it free!)
Homes are easily cluttered and hard to declutter. As a matter of fact, decluttering is (nearly) impossible. We all know how but never do it. Even if we follow some smart decluttering tips, we either abandon our efforts or never succeed. Why? There will always be a pair of old jeans you didn’t have the heart to throw away although you haven’t worn it for ages. Day by day, year by year clutter will get worse and take over and it will even be more difficult to declutter. So is it hopeless to try? Not entirely. But remember: prevention is better than cure. The easiest way to deal with such problems is not to clutter the home in the first place. How to close the door on clutter?
The best solutions are often products of one single idea. The rest will simply fall into place without great efforts.
When it comes to keeping clutter-free homes, the main idea is to make it a habit: Not to declutter, but NOT to clutter. The easiest way to deal with a problem is to never let it happen in the first place. And remember: clutter finds its way in your house in a slow but constant way. And somehow, it never leaves. Before you know it, everything is cluttered. What you need to do is kill the beast before it grows. In order to do that, you need to become a habitual organizer.
So, what’s our best advice?
Get into the habit of putting away things
For the sake of argument, let us assume you are a 5-member family and you are all in a hurry to get to work or school each morning. If each one of you throws socks, shirts, or jeans on the floor, there will be clutter before the day even begins.
Let’s look at it from another angle. Make room for everything. If socks have their drawers, if there is a toy-labeled bin, if there is a key holder at a specific position, all you need to do is make it a habit of leaving things where they belong. It might sound a bit obsessive to make it a habit of ALWAYS putting things back where they belong, but it’s not. After all, what’s so difficult about putting the magazine you just read to the magazine stand (where it belongs)? What keeps us from doing so is boredom. But there is one more thing to consider: boredom comes where there is already clutter. The mind thinks that the living room is cluttered already, how much harm one more magazine will do!
This whole cluttering thing is actually a vicious circle. As long as you live in a cluttered house, you will continue to cause more and more clutter. When everything is neat around you and every little item has its position, you won’t mind taking the extra step to put things back.
How to do it?
Get organized. Get boxes, baskets, racks, cabinets…anything that can be used to store things. Choose small boxes for little things and big boxes for big things. Otherwise, it will take you two hours to find the keys to the cabinet home. But if you have a special key box, you will never have to wake up an hour earlier just to search the keys.
You will simply know where to find them.
What’s important with organizing your home is labeling. Forget to label and then go figure where you put what. Our advice? We have two of them.
- Don’t overdo it. Separate things by category but don’t get two hundred boxes or you will have everything organized but still won’t be able to find them – not to mention that you will never put things back. Imagine opening and closing fifty boxes a day. Thanks, I’ll pass.
- Organize things in the room they are used. If you have to walk through the hallway, turn left to the kitchen and find your way into the home office to leave the house keys, you will never do it.
Don’t buy just to buy
One of the easiest ways to clutter a home or make decluttering pointless is to buy things just for the sake of it. Don’t get me wrong. Nobody buys only the things really needed. But don’t overdo it. And before you shop next time, make sure you get things you like. So finding your personal style and discovering the ideal home interior design style are both very important things. The next time you get a rug or a stool or a shirt, you will know it belongs in the dining room or it’s the best fit for you. Otherwise, items and clothing will just occupy space.
Speaking of space and the importance of storage…If you plan home renovations, remember to create plenty of storage room. That doesn’t mean you get a free pass to start consuming anything you see again but it will give you the opportunity to store things in a better way.
The perk of your efforts so far? No clutter and more money in your pocket.
Don’t be afraid of junk drawers
Most homes have a junk drawer. I don’t really see the point in cluttered homes but it’s ideal for clutter-free homes, where there is still need to take a breath and find a place for the little bits and pieces.
Afraid NOT to give away
We all have things, which have a sentimental value. The funny thing when you try to declutter your closet is that 99 out of the 100 t-shirts have sentimental value!!! Yes, sure. Once more, the secret is not to wait till the closet won’t shut due to clutter but to give away the old jeans when you try them on and see that they will never fit. Or throw away the worn socks instead of keeping them in the drawer.
Teach the kids (and spouse)
Picking up after kids is expected till a certain age. But do yourself the favor of teaching them while they are still young (and don’t suspect the burden of cleaning the mess). If everyone cleans after making a mess, the house will be neat. That goes for BOTH spouses (please).
Consider your space
If you live in a small space, clutter is easy. It takes two hours of boredom and the house will be a mess. And so it’s absolutely necessary to do two things: only buy things you need and items that fit in the house & always put things you use away. Tomorrow is another day doesn’t apply here.
The trap is with large homes, where there is enough room for the things you need, the things you will never use, and the things totally unnecessary. So, don’t let large spaces fool you. Take advantage of the fact that you live in a big house and keep it free of clutter. If not, it will soon be a small house (due to clutter) and absolutely impossible to declutter.
Speaking of big and small houses…Which rooms get cluttered easier?
Place your bets, please! One would say the living room or family room since they are used daily and for most hours. Hmm, it could be the living room but I would put my bet on the bedrooms and kitchens. Both of these rooms get messy in no time. It only takes yours and his PJs and a couple of shirts thrown here and there to make a mess. And although this is absolutely fine when you are in a hurry to go, the secret is to purge the same day or next day there will be clutter.
One more thing:
Clutter and Mess are two different things
Clutter and mess are synonyms. No doubt about it. But in real life, they have a slightly different meaning. Clutter is having the home bombarded with all sorts of things, which might not even belong to this particular room, lying around and thus create a busy house with scattered things. That’s a mess too although we like to see this word from the perspective of having a dirty house – in which case, it only needs cleaning. Or from the perspective of having an untidy house that can be easily tidied up.
The difficult question to answer is what to do when the house is already cluttered to the point where decluttering seems to be a nightmare!
Our decluttering tips?
First of all, start following all the above rules meant to keep homes free of clutter. And so stop buying obsessively, organize your things, and start putting everything away once you use them.
One more advice is to take it one room at a time (without re-cluttering the one you just decluttered). If you get exhausted, you will soon give up.
More tips? There is a list you can check out and do the things best suited to you:
- Organize a garage sale
- Donate things
- Give away things
- Throw away items which are worn or broken
- Take your time when you clean the closet – declutter each drawer at a time to avoid changing your mind at the last minute
- Put sentimental ‘old’ things in boxes and off to the garage (in a neat and organized way)
Our advice? Simply start decluttering. If you think about it and plan it thoroughly, you will get stressed out. The decluttering-day will arrive and you will feel sick in your stomach. Just take it slow. And this brings us to another major issue regarding clutter.
Cluttering is bad for you
There are people who won’t mind living in cluttered spaces. Don’t let this confuse you. There is clutter and then there is clutter. One might work better when there is clutter on the desk. And some might like (and afford) the idea of having cluttered kitchen cabinets. But these are different types of clutter. When your home becomes a space where you can hardly breathe or find the things you want, then we are talking about physical clutter that will affect your state of mind too. You won’t be able to relax in a cluttered home. Clutter might increase stress, keep you from cleaning as often as you should, drive you to eat more, make the environment unhealthy and full of germs, and cost you more. Not to mention that clutter can cause accidents (watch out, you’ll trip). So, it’s not good for you.
Last minute clutter-free-home-tips
Decluttering is good. Clutter-free homes are better. Yes, I know. It’s hard to keep homes totally free of clutter. After all, we are only humans. No extreme situation is good for you. If you get obsessed with keeping the house clutter free, you might stress out about organizing things and never leaving things out of their boxes. But it’s good to find balance. Don’t punish yourself; don’t panic if the house was cluttered over the weekend. And avoid tidying up routines. If you know you will have to tidy up as soon as you get home, you won’t want to return home. Just let it grow on you naturally and just teach yourself how to instinctively put things back to have as much clutter as one can stand in the home.