Spring Cleaning

Decluttering Our Homes to Restore Their Beauty

Spring cleaning – a common tradition in most homes – is known as a time to clear the clutter and get ready for spring and summer. Most of us need more than an annual event to keep our homes free of clutter. A tidy home offers a sense of control and comfort. Some might even say it provides a sense of peace as well. “Clutter busting” expert Brooks Palmer puts it this way: “The trash in your home… consumes precious space and zaps energy from your life… It’s time to renew your energy. It’s time to take out the trash.”

Trash in our homes? This may sound a bit harsh; after all, most of the things stored away in our closets, garages and attics are things we need or will need some day, aren’t they? Not according to organizational expert, Lorie Marrero, a certified professional organizer and creator of ClutterDiet.com. She offers essential tips on “losing clutter pounds,” as most of the things stored in the home are accessed only once a year, if at all, and would be better off in self-storage units or garage sales.

Here are some tips for losing some of those “clutter pounds” and bringing a sense of order back to your home:

  • Toss what you don’t need. Remember this well-known rule among experts: if you haven’t used it in a year (some say two), put it in storage or be rid of it!
  • Tackle each room separately. Identify the purpose of each room and then identify the clutter. For example, the bedroom should be a place of intimacy and rest. Marrero recommends avoiding “stressed out” spaces.. “If there are too many major functions in the room, if there are too many things going on in the space, it will be difficult to accommodate them all adequately.”
  • Assign everything a place. Taking the extra minute to put things in their assigned places will help keep clutter at bay. It will save you the stress of being unable to find items. It will also keep your house organized and inviting, and it will ultimately prove to be a huge time saver.
  • Avoid feeling overwhelmed, and remember you have options. Your junk may be someone else’s treasure. Give to others. This includes family, friends, and charities. Some charities will even pick up the items from your home, saving you extra time and trouble.
  • Categorize “useful” items. After cleaning and working hard, the fun part can begin: organizing those things you actually need and use. You will most likely find many of these things are seasonal items such as seasonal decorations (i.e. Christmas or Halloween trimmings, fall and spring ornamentation, and summertime items) or seasonal sports equipment, such as ski or camping gear. If you are only accessing these items once or twice a year, it may be best to get an inexpensive storage unit rather than cluttering your home with them.
  • Make the most of your space, but don’t overdo it. We often have too much stuff in one space, making it difficult to use what we do have. In this case, it is important to clean out these spaces, determine the extent to which items are used, and prioritize what is truly useful. In other words, is it used on a daily basis or once a year?
  • Avoid “invisible clutter,” the clutter that is often hidden in those rarely visited spaces such as the attic or the garage. After determining the use of every room, try to keep in mind that the garage is the car’s room. This is where most people keep clutter hidden. In his book Clutter Busting, Palmer puts it this way: “Can you park in your garage? I’ve learned to assume that most stuff in the garage is crap. A car is okay to have in the garage. Tools for the car are okay too, provided they are for the car in the garage and not for a previous car.”

Pat yourself on the back. You’ve done it! You’ve tossed the trash that was taking over your home, and you’ve categorized all those useful items you had forgotten about.

At this point you may have realized you don’t have a place for everything, because there is no more storage space in your house. Peter Walsh, professional organizer from TLC’s hit series Clean Sweep, suggests the option of a self-storage unit, a great place to store seasonal items, including home décor, sports gear, power tools, etc. Here are a few tips when considering a storage unit:

  • Estimate the size of the storage unit you’ll need. Sizes can vary from a 5′ x 5′ to a 10′ x 30′. Only get the amount of space you need. This space shouldn’t be used to keep “invisible clutter.”
  • Consider availability and location. If you’re only storing seasonal items or items you hardly use, you may not mind renting a storage unit that’s a bit further away. However, if you are storing items you need more often, you may want to get a unit closer to your home.
  • Consider Rates. Depending on the availability and location of the storage unit rates can vary from $27 to more than $400. However, keep in mind there are ways you can save time and money. For example, you may find discounted prices by reserving your storage unit online. Also, in some cases they may include the cost of a truck rental or offer it at a very low price.
  • Drain the fuel compartments of any motorcycles, scooters, chainsaws or other gasoline-powered tools you are planning to keep in your storage unit.
  • Organize your storage unit. Get sturdy packaging, some labels, and wardrobe boxes for hanging clothes. Also, make a list of contents and number each box as a form of inventory. Leave those items you know you will hardly use at the back of the unit, and place the more frequently used items at the front. Remember to leave a walkway so you can access the back.

De-cluttering your home will ultimately de-clutter other areas of your life, paving the way to a happier and more fulfilled existence. Jennifer Ford Berry, best-selling author of Organize Now, said it best, “A clean, clutter-free home will literally change your life.”

Sources:

  • The Clutter Diet, The Skinny on Organizing Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life
    Lorie Marrero, Certified Professional Organizer and Creator of ClutterDiet.com
  • Clutter Busting, Letting go of What’s Holding You Back
    Brooks Palmer
  • How to organize just about everything
    Peter Walsh, Professional Organizer from TLC’s hit series Clean Sweep

33 thoughts on “Decluttering Our Homes to Restore Their Beauty

  1. rebecca

    Great article, I put ad in paper 2 weeks ago for sale in 1 week. Having been ruthless in getting rid of “stuff”… when it is over all goes to church battered women. Loved this article..

    Reply
  2. Andrew K.

    I thought of a great way for people that have a hard time of getting rid of things. I did this myself not because my wife and I had alot of stuff but because we are in are sixtys now and just wanted to start to downsize. We started by taking one thing per day each and by the end of the year you have decluttered over 700 items even if it’s just one little thing you get rid of.

    Reply
    • laura m.

      I’m decluttering as eventually we will move to retirement apts. A good time of year to do this as charities are running low on everything. If we don’t sell items after running ads, stuff will be donated to group homes, women’s shelter, etc. I have no need for a storage unit because I’m a minimalist type and quit holiday decorating, and have passed things down to family members. I had way too many pieces of luggage, linens, kitchen gadgets, etc no longer used.

      Reply
  3. Steve C

    One of the better purchases I’ve made for the home (and office) is a scanner. Repair bills, old college term papers, pictures, you name it, all got scanned. I eliminated several office-sized boxes of papers this way. For larger documents, I took to work to use a larger scanner. The scanner is on the network, so I can save the document to a network drive and either email it to myself, or make a CD. Remember, kids, do it before work or after work so you don’t steal time from your employer.

    Reply
  4. Billy The Kid

    “If you haven’t used it in a year or two throw it away. What happens when you need the item again.” Should you just purchase it again? I haven’t used my 10mm wrench in 2 years…so im just gonna throw it away. Give me a break. Its not about how often you use something..its about the value of the item when needed. If I have a stuck 10mm bolt…im gonna be pissed if I don’t still own my 10mm wrench. Who wants or can afford a storage spot. Who wants to go to the storage yard…when they need something.

    Reply
  5. Billy The Kid

    Heres a good piece of advice…throw away all your books, cd’s, dvd’s…basically any media. Keep most everything on computer hard drive’s or download it when you need it. You can get rid of a lot of junk this way. I recently trashed all my cd’s that I spent so much money on growing up. You can download them faster than you can rip them from your CD to your PC.

    Reply
  6. joan

    I read a book a few years back called Simplify Your Life…it basically said what is in this article. All truth be told, we are a generation of packrats, and especially in this economy, if you can’t eat it, wear it or be entertained by it….say bye. It’s only stuff, and it can be replaced. Exceptions are family heirlooms, pictures, your child’s memories. I plan to also have a huge ‘estate’ sale soon before the end of the year…hopefully before the Christmas season, so I can first un-clutter and second earn some money. If you are in the Denver CO area get in touch…I got stuff!

    Reply
  7. need closets

    all good advise. anybody have a suggestion on much needed closet space for clothes? i have four granddaughters that live with me. i have a three bedroom house with small closets. there are clothes everywhere.they don’t have a lot of clothes. it’s just that when the house was built in 1952 the builder didn’t count on people having more than a few outfits. I want to pull my hair out. There are storage units under beds, clothes in the basement, shoes and boots everywhere. And that’s another thing, I live in Michigan so there are coats, gloves, hats and snow boots to contend with as well. HELP!!!!!

    Reply
    • Janet Fanning

      I have the same problem with lots of stuff and little room. Used the idea from the 1940s of above the closets there is drywall and nothing but empty space. Had a handyman cut this wall open and put plywood on the floor of it (can go back to the hall or whatever is behind it) and then put doors on the front of the space. Seasonal stuff esp.

      Reply
    • Louise

      We moved into a 1920′s home and had three children in 5 years. Needed space, seasonal clothes and storage was an issue. Found a way to label the clothes bins for the next season and size outside the container. Donated all clothes when youngest grew out of them … saved me from tearing my hair out! Hoep this helps!

      Reply
    • Spinner

      How about under the beds? Get big, flat bins that can be slid out from underneath. If you put beds on risers you can put bigger bins underneath. Don’t forget hooks organizers on the backs of doors.

      Reply
  8. Gigi

    Don’t click on the clutterdiet.com link… my virus protection software threw up a warning and blocked me from visiting the site, saying it contains malware!

    Reply
  9. Experience Counts

    Closet storage and clothes.

    With all of your stashes it is Time to review All the clothing: Collectively.

    Pull clothing together into one room: All of it. Separate clothing into individual piles.
    Par down. Elimate ripped, stained, too small/large, and ruined. Each person: Compile mix and match 7-15 piece core group of clothing. (I’m guessing there is more clothing than this for each person; however, I might be wrong.)

    Do you have a mud room/area for coats, hats, shoes? Par down this area’s contents: cubbies for each person. Include Core group outer wear.
    hats/boots, gloves, heavy and light weight layers.

    Pair down shoes to core basics: 2 pair dress, 2 pair sneakers/work, 1 pair play, 1 pair boots, 1 pair bedroom shoes. Same goes for purses and backpacks.

    We live in a 1000 sq foot (2 bedroom & 1 bath) home built in 1925 and had 5 people living in it at one time. Limit books and toys to designated space. Use Taller sets of drawers instead of lower dressers with mirrors, 6 packs of basic underwear (panties, socks, bras, tee shirts), divided closets with dual rods (baskets).

    Rull of thumb when there is too much stuff: Something comes in 3-4 go out.

    Works too! Experience Counts.

    Reply
  10. Margaret

    Even books…my cousins’ college age children got one book each after dinner Thursday. And each time I see certain people I give them a book…and the shelves and kitchen cabinets get emptier by the day.

    Reply
  11. Marja

    Vintage is in–and clutter is out…but with the poorer quality merchandise out there, especially clothing, I am holding on to some clutter.

    Reply
  12. Adie

    Don’t get the storage unit – bad advise. You need to get rid of enough stuff that you fit in your current home. Keep decluttering until you fit in your current space. I know it can be done because I have done it: eight people in 1800 sf. No attic, no basement, no storage unit, and cars kept in the garage.

    Reply
  13. dj

    You made some good points! Don’t agree with getting a storage unit, though… in my hoarding experience, that’s the kiss of death for my stuff. I forget about it, and I pay for it month after month. Think it’s best to just get rid of it. God bless and good luck!

    Reply
  14. Barb

    HELP!!!!
    I recently moved in with my sister, who is a pack rat. No matter how much I try to organize the mess, it just seems endless. She will not consider my discarding anything without her being there and she always says “We’ll do it on Saturday”, she finds some excuse to put it off. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. FYI: I’m a minimalist, but willing to negotiate. AND…she is always complaining about the clutter.

    Reply
  15. Theresa

    The last weekend of the year I made a clean sweep of my clothing closet. I filled a huge bag (used for leaves ) of clothes that I donated to charity. My clothing is now organized. I did this four years ago when I retired and I had two huge bags to donate. I believe after reading the article I should go through all the closets once a year to see what can go out the door. I believe we accumulate too much “stuff” and if we bring home one witem then at least two must go out Thr door. Now I need suggestions how to get my hoarder husband to do the same.

    Reply
  16. Theresa

    The last weekend of the year I made a clean sweep of my clothing closet. I filled a huge bag (used for leaves ) of clothes that I donated to charity. My clothing is now organized. I did this four years ago when I retired and I had two huge bags to donate. I believe after reading the article I should go through all the closets once a year to see what can go out the door. I believe we accumulate too much “stuff” and if we bring home one item then at least two must go out the door. Now I need suggestions how to get my hoarder husband to do the same.

    Reply
  17. Christy

    Anything that I don’t want that can be used by someone else, I donate to Goodwill or other various charities that can use the items. I also use a free site called Freecycle.org (you can google it). It’s a little similar to Craiglist, but everything is free, hence: FREEcycle. You can post ads such as Offer: Miscellaneous Kids VHS movies or Wanted: Washer and Dryer. I am only mentioning this b/c someone said throw out old cd/dvd’s. Don’t throw them out!! Your trash is someone else’s treasure. And if someone isn’t interested in your stuff, then take it to Goodwill, or wherever. You can meet at a public place or just leave the items at your front door for whoever to pick up! Check it out- its a great way to help get rid of the clutter and help someone who might need something!

    Reply
  18. me again

    I am someone who had trouble getting rid of stuff,and then I had kids who have OCD and now I wish I’d been more organized and ruthless about not keeping everything when they were younger and even before I had children because now it’s a battle and it really destroys our quality of life. Visited with one sibling who doesn’t keep everything and her house was a calm and peaceful place because everything had a place – want to get to that point myself.

    Reply
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    Reply

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