Decluttering Tips To Keep Your Home Clean For Good
Clutter can have an unrelenting impact on your physical surroundings and mental psyche.
That's why you can scour the Internet for hours or days and not read even more than 1% of the articles and blogs dedicated to decluttering tips for your home and life.
This guide however, will provide you more than just decluttering tips because many of these tips are simply Band-Aid solutions; we need to get to the root of the issue for the ultimate clutter conquering journey!
Throughout this guide, you'll discover, with the help of some decluttering experts, how clutter collects in your household to begin with, the effects it has on your well-being, how to combat clutter quickly and keep it away for good.
How Does Clutter Happen?
Clutter sneaks up on you. You buy something you plan on using and never quite get around to it (and spending hard-ending money on it makes it more difficult to get rid of). Maybe you do use it and even after it has served its purpose, you keep it around.
Sometimes we hang onto stuff for sentimental value - a child's first toys, school projects, knickknacks from relatives, and birthday gifts. They all have meaning, but mostly they now collect dust.
You have clothes that you'll swear you'll fit into again just as soon as you renew that gym membership, start using the treadmill or breakout the thigh slimmer.
You have items you hang onto even though you shouldn't when it comes time to declutter your home. The question is "Why?"
Well, it's because cleaning causes pain.
According to a study done in 2013 at the Yale School of Medicine, researchers studied both hoarders and non-hoarders, and hoarders showed an increase in activity in two areas of the brain when they were forced to get rid of their own junk. According to the study, the subjects said they felt "not right" about tossing something out.
The two areas of the brain that lit up are known to be associated with conflict and pain. When we have fondness for an object, for any reason, even the thought of getting rid of it causes discomfort.
If you have children, forget about it; you'll feel like you're resigned to a household filled with clutter. Kids' toys will start to accumulate in your living areas and you'll start to sense there's no escape from it. The mere thought of planning to declutter your home seems daunting and overwhelming.
However, this doesn't have to be the case. Your kids can help prevent the mess from piling up the household, as you'll discover below they can even assist when you declutter your home.
Additional Professional Organizing and Decluttering Tips from Experts
People who don't love to bargain shop don't realize that bringing stuff home can be a habit, but people who do love to shop know how difficult changing this way of life can be. I can abandon a good habit without even noticing, but a bad habit will wrestle me to the ground to stick around.
So how did I stop the shopping habit?
I started decluttering.
I'm telling you, this works.
Grab a black trash bag and start throwing away trash. Grab a donatable Donate Box and get rid of the most obvious things in the most obvious places, on the tops of the most obvious piles.
How Clutter Affects You
While people might find some comfort in their clutter, there is evidence that a messy space impedes performance.
According to a study done in 2011 at Princeton University:
"physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress"
Clutter affects us in other ways too. Sometimes clutter can make a house so messy that people don't want to go home. The results of an online poll conducted by About.com suggests that more than one-third of readers "avoid going home because of the overwhelming mess."
A study shows that 25% of Americans cannot park their cars in their two-car garage because it's filled with clutter. Why work so hard to afford a two-car garage but cannot actually use what it's for. This is just one statistic about clutter... here's more:
- 23% of adults say they pay bills late and incur fees because they lose them
- 1/11 households rents a self-storage space and spend over $1000/year
- $10 average cost per square foot to store items in your home
- According to NAPO 80% of what we keep we never actually use
And there's so much more... According to Psychology Today here's what happens when you live in a chaotic household full of clutter:
- Lower subjective well-being
- Unhealthier eating
- Poorer mental health
- Less efficient visual processing
- Less efficient thinking
Less clutter can actually lead you to paying your bills on time and eliminate a significant percentage of your routine household chores.
An average clutter hoarder spends 365 days, one fully year, looking for lost items because of clutter.
While you venture through your cluttered home, it may not look like a clutter-free home is achievable right now but there are solutions to your issues.
Simple Decluttering Tips & Solutions
Your most direct decluttering tip is to simply get rid of useless, the old and broken, memorabilia that does little more than collect dust and make a home a mess... But you must be thinking, "my house is so cluttered I don't know where to start" and that's okay, we're here to help you.
And although you'll find a lot of articles on "how to declutter your home in one day," we all know that it's not possible unless you have one piece of clutter in your whole house which you just read above that it's not the case. The hardest part about cleaning clutter and getting organized is figuring out where to start in your home.
A Friend To Help Declutter Your Home
When you're ready to tackle your decluttering head on, your simplest and best method is to rent a residential friendly dumpster from Bin There Dump That. With 4-5 sizes available at all franchise locations, Bin There Dump That's dumpsters are ideal for a home clean out.
Clearing clutter can feel like an overwhelming task. Follow a cleaning schedule and tackle the task in small doses and clean one room at a time. There's a decluttering challenge called 40 Bags inn 40 Days by the blog White House Black Shutters.
The majority of us like to keep items that remind us of loved ones, faded memories or significant milestones. We keep things because we are sentimental.
Sentimentality is the enemy. These items were once important, but now those items trigger memories. And while that's not a bad thing, the clutter they create is.
Get the entire family involved and make decisions about what to keep and what to save based on utility and sentimentality. Be sure to ask your kids whether there's anything they want to hang on to before you abandon them.
Pace yourself, cleaning is not a race. Rome wasn't built in a day (and neither was a clutter free home or a clutter free garage). To improve the organization of what goes and what stays, try keeping your items relegated to three categories: trash, donate and keep.
To help you see what category each item belongs to you should answer these 4 simple questions:
Do You Need it?
No one wants a letter from the Internal Revenue Service, but if you get audited, you'll need to have the support. The rule of thumb is to have tax records going back seven years.
But while that Father's Day card that Junior made in third grade might have a lot of sentimental value, it may be time to discard it. There is no problem keeping things with sentimental value, the problem is keeping everything with sentimental value. Remember... Sentimentality is the enemy.
As you go through the house, ask yourself if the item is something that you need, or if it just has sentimental value.
Does it Have Financial Value?
Just because something has no value to you doesn't mean it's instantly garbage. On the flip side, just because it has value doesn't mean you have to keep it. Value is ONE of many factors to consider but sometimes value might not be the reason it's worth keeping.
Take a second to look at all of your clutter and think about how much you spent on each item... This realization can be quite overwhelming and probably a wake up call to many. Instead of letting the unwanted items continue to pile up, turn them into cash.
Remember that we don't use 80% of the things that we buy and thus never really got value out of them. If you can give the items away to a qualified organization, then you're able to write off your donations as a tax write-off and maybe that's the value this object truly possesses.
If you have a box of items ready to donate, put it in your car right now, at this moment. The next time you're out, you'll have a box of donations riding shotgun. It's the perfect reminder to make a quick stop at your local donation center. (You can find store locators on their website, like Goodwill.) Some donation centers also offer a home pickup service, which means steps toward a clutter free home might be a call away.
In terms of the place being a qualified donation center, the IRS Exempt Organizations Select Check Tool will make sure you and your donations are headed to the right place.
Some popular items that can help you save a buck during the tax season and clear out your clutter in the process:
- Miscellaneous Items like kitchen supplies, books, sporting goods
Qualified donation centers and the IRS ask donors to value their items at a fair market value. If you claim an item is worth more than $500, then you will need an appraisal attached to your tax return.
Once you've attached a fair market value to your donations and dropped them off, make sure you're leaving with a receipt of the donation. This will come in handy when it's time to file your taxes. If your donations total more than $500, you'll need to fill out the IRS Form 8283. It's good to keep those records around should the IRS decide to audit your tax return.
If you want to make an extra buck without the forms and the IRS getting involved, there's always the possibility of selling the item. An appraisal is still necessary for more expensive items to make sure you're not under pricing or overpricing them.
Internet resale sites like eBay and Craigslist can be amazing clutter busters. It makes it fairly simple for any and every one to buy and sell personal items locally and nationally. If you're not too sure about a price point, just search it up on eBay or Craigslist to give you an idea of how much they're going for.
Another great way to grab a buck while decluttering without getting the IRS involved and the scary, scary internet is hosting a garage sale. If you have a tight knit community, you could even pull together a group community yard sale which would attract passersby.
Does it Work?
Older technological appliances won't work or they work very inefficiently. If it doesn't work and you haven't fixed it by now... will you ever? Just like 80% of the items that we'll never use, these items are part of that 80% because they're broken.
There's an old saying: "If it ain't broken, don't fix it." But there's the very infrequently heard second half to that old saw: "If it is broke, throw it away." Okay, maybe we made up the last part, but the sentiment is real. Most modern appliances and electronic gadgets are filled with computer circuitry that ordinary users won't be able to repair; keeping a broken device around the house isn't worth it.
When Did You Last Use It?
If it has value and isn't broken doesn't automatically mean it's something that you should keep. If you haven't used it in more than a year, then it's probably something you don't need to keep.
Rule of thumb is that if there is stuff in the basement that haven't been touched since you moved in, it's probably stuff that you don't need to keep. If there are clothes that haven't been worn in more than a year, then it's part of the donation pile.
Get the Kids Involved
Surely, your kids will try to cling to baby toys they haven't used in years, claiming they played with them last week; it's nonsense. Rather, treat purging these old toys as part of their development, growing from a toddler to a big girl/boy or from a little kid to a teenager.
More importantly, reinforce how the toys that are no longer used could still find a good home for more unfortunate children. Make it a routine to periodically collect these unused toys with your kids and drop them off at a Goodwill donation center.
Additional Professional Organizing and Decluttering Tips From Experts
Decluttering means decision time! Which items do you keep and which items need to go?
Most people who are decluttering feel psychologically overwhelmed and tight on space. One great question that often helps people make swift decisions when deciding whether to keep or release an item is "what do I want more right now?... more space? or this item?"
Most people are decluttering because they are starting to realize the wellness that comes from living within their spacial means. In other words, a lot of people are waking up to the energetically draining "cost" of having more physical items that reasonably fit into their space.
It is wise to remind yourself while you are editing your items that you are engaging in this task because you are longing for more order, ease, clear surfaces and easy-to-find items
When to Start with Clutter
Decluttering your life is a journey because you realize you need to declutter at certain times. When you're downsizing, when your kid leaves the house, when you're moving to another house are all appropriate times to face your clutter and organize your home.
A New Empty Nest
The kids are gone, off to college where they can gain an education, get a great high-paying job and take care of you in your old age. In the meantime, you've got some work to do. The nest is empty.
Start in the Playroom
There's a good chance you have a box or two or 10 of old children's toys, things that haven't been played within years. Maybe they're tucked away in a corner of the basement or behind a pile of old clothes in a closet. You were going to save them for the grandchildren, saying, "This is what mom and dad used to play with!"
Maybe there's one or two worth saving - and that's a big maybe. Donate them if they're in good shape. If they're scratched, broken or damaged in other ways, dump them.
The Kitchen and Living Room
Your budding Picasso's artwork has likely been stuck on the fridge with brightly colored number and letter magnets for years. Choose your favorites and fill a small box with those treasured works of art. The rest should find their way to the circular file - your kids will understand!
Consider downsizing your kitchenware. Your teenage son (and his football friends) are no longer invading your home and kitchen like they are a gang of marauding Vikings. Your daughter and her clique no longer need every pillow in the house for their get-togethers. Consider getting rid of those pillows, and maybe even some furniture that is out of style. (Now is as good a time as any to reinvent your home's style... freedom!)
The Kid's Bedrooms
Before you can turn the space they grew up into a man cave or rent it out to a border, it needs to be decluttered. If they didn't take some clothes with them to school, those clothes aren't important. If they're in decent shape, donate them. If they're not, dump them.
It might be worth hanging onto the bed. After all, there is a chance that they'll return home during their breaks and maybe even for a short time after school, but that beanbag chair they begged for, for years? It can go.
All those participation ribbons and trophies, you know the ones every kid got just for showing up, those can go. The milk crates and wood plank re-purposed as a makeshift desk. Those can go, too.
Hobbies and Collections
The problem with baseball cards and comic book collections, unless you were collecting before the 1970s, is that you're not going to find too many worth the space they're taking up.
That Beanie Baby collection, the dolls, and the rock star and movie posters - they all need to go.
Over the years, the stuff piles up. The initial enthusiasm fades away until the only thing being collected is dust. New passions come along and with them, new things that will one day join the other knickknacks on the shelves. Dump them.
The kids are finally out of the house, but not for college. For good. They're starting careers of their own and the risk of them returning home has finally dwindled to near zero. It's time to downsize.
Downsizing can be a financial windfall. According to mortgage lender Freddie Mac (The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Company) downsizing is a part of the home buyer's cycle.
But before you can make the change, you must rid your home of years of collected life. Nearly 10 percent of Americans rent a storage facility at an average cost of more than $1,000 a year. Simply put... clutter costs money.
Downsizing is far more than just getting rid of the kids' old toys. There's a pretty good shot that over the decades you've collected tons (maybe literally) of material that you no longer need or want. Basements and attics have become repositories for the remnants that once seemed so important. A two-bedroom apartment doesn't have the storage space of the old home. Tough decisions (and some not so tough) have to be made. Remember... memories aren't made with things; they've made with friends and families.
Over the years, how many hobbies have come and gone? Woodworking, needlepoint, quilting, and that attempt at beer can collecting just never quite worked out.
- Start by making a list of things that you can't live without. If you haven't touched it in more than a year, it's probably something you don't need.
- Discovering a clutter free home can be a time-consuming process. Don't wait until the weekend before the move to get started. Take one room at a time and work your way through your home.
- Let the kids keep what they want. Get rid of the rest.
- Start off organized. Moving clutter to a new home with the thought that you'll straighten up once you've settled is a bit of a fantasy.
- Remember the Pareto Principle. You only use about 20 percent of what you have. The other 80 percent just sits there. Get rid of as much of the 80 percent as you can.
Find it, Don't Buy it
Have you ever needed something you knew you had in your home but couldn't find it? You'll either have to do without it or buy a new one.
By decluttering your home, you'll know where to find everything. Not only will that save you time - and time is money - but it will also keep you from making unnecessary purchases to replace the lost item.
Instead of doing this, once you've decluttered you should know where this item is... and if you don't, don't give up until you do.
Downsize Your Home
After you utilize these decluttering tips and your home is cleared out, with just the essentials remaining, you'll look around your home and realize you have too much space; downsizing your home may look like an attractive alternative to your current living conditions.
To give you an idea of how much money clutter is costing you in your home, think about it like this: if your mortgage is $1,500 a month and you have a 2,000 square-foot home, you're paying 75 cents per square foot.
Look at how many square feet your items are taking up and calculate what you're spending to store things in your home. Putting a real number on your clutter may surprise you and motivate you to keep it clean.
Downsizing might be a great option because you won't have the space to collect the clutter again.
Additional Professional Organizing and Decluttering Tips from Experts
The stories are still there, with or without the "stuff", and those favored relationships and the memories of them will not disappear once you pare down your household contents.
To start winning this tug-of-war between your "stuff"... try picturing-the positive. I've seen with my clients that it is helpful to view ourselves in the future. When thinking about downsizing to a smaller home or senior residence think about the positives that would happen if it were to happen.
Decluttering Tips to Keep Clutter Away for Good
Are you ready to remove all the clutter from your home and keep it away for good?
What's your first step? Are you going to create your decluttering schedule? Will you implement the trash/donate/keep rule?
Leave your comments below; we can't wait to hear more about your journey to a clutter-free home and life.
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