10 Ways to Declutter Your Home

simplifyPerhaps it’s the 75 degree temperature we enjoyed yesterday, or maybe it is the bright yellow group of crocus blooms dancing in my garden, but I am in the mood for some serious Spring Cleaning. And that means some heavy-duty decluttering, too.

I’m all for simplicity, and I believe: Less Stuff = Less Stress.

Doubt it? Try it!

Enjoy these quick tips to help you whip your home into shape this season.

I. First, create FOUR categories:

  1. Trash
  2. Recycle
  3. Donate
  4. Keep (in a new-and-improved organized manner)

2. Then, start with one room, and begin in one corner of that room. DO NOT skip a single drawer, closet, shelf, or cabinet. Tackle it all (even those underneath/hard to reach areas). If you are short on time or tend to get overwhelmed by the BIG job, set a timer and work in ten minute segments. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish in those short spurts.

3. Books: Keep only the ones that trigger specific feelings/memories. For books you enjoyed but don’t need to keep, pass them along to a friend with a note: “Thought you might enjoy these stories.” The rest can be donated to a local Literacy Council, Boys & Girls Club, or public library. (For cookbooks, nearly any recipe can be found online, so unless it’s an heirloom from your grandmother or a favorite family stand-by, consider letting this collection go.)

4. Bedroom Closets: Sort all clothes, shoes, handbags, jewelry, and accessories. Trash anything that is damaged or stained, and donate all that are the wrong size. If it’s something that absolutely cannot be replaced (wedding dress, your favorite vintage coat, your child’s first shoes, etc.), keep it. Otherwise, if it’s out of style or hasn’t been used in the last year, donate it. If you’re having trouble deciding, ask yourself: “Would I buy this today?” If no, donate.  Then, organize by the following categories (and color-code):

  1. Dresses
  2. Skirts
  3. Shorts
  4. Pants
  5. Suits
  6. Sleeveless Shirts
  7. Short-sleeved Shirts
  8. Three-quarter-sleeved Shirts
  9. Long-sleeved shirts
  10. Sweaters
  11. Blazers
  12. Jackets/Coats (if not in a separate coat closet)

5. Linen Closet: Toss any damaged linens. Then, fold each sheet set neatly inside one of the pillowcases for that set. Organize by color, size, and room of use. (One extra set per bed is plenty). Donate any items that are not needed.

6. Medicine: Dispose all expired medication. Then, arrange using the following categories:

  1. First Aid (Band-aids, antiseptic, Epi-pen, etc.)
  2. Cold/Sinus/Allergy
  3. Digestive/Gastrointestinal
  4. Pain
  5. Vitamins/Supplements
  6. Prescriptions
  7. Other

7. Magazines: If desired, keep a few current issues for your guest room. Otherwise, most great ideas can be found online. Recycle or donate to a local retirement home.

8. Pantry: Discard all expired items from pantry, refrigerator, and spice cabinet. Organize in the following categories:

  1. Canned Goods
  2. Cereals/Oatmeal/Breakfast Goods
  3. Snacks/Crackers/Chips
  4. Rice/Pasta/Grains
  5. Beans/Legumes/Protein Bars
  6. Flours/Sugars/Sweeteners
  7. Dessert Mixes and Other Boxed Goods
  8. Sauces and Jar Goods (Honey, Molasses, Preserves, etc.)
  9. Other

9. Dishes/Pots/Pans: Have you used that salad spinner this year? Are all 27 vases necessary? Do you have a stash of mismatched plastic storage containers? Remember, USE it or LOSE it. That’s the golden rule.

10. Restroom/Dressing Room: Again, use it or lose it. Then, organize and keep NOTHING on the countertop except hand soap.

Now photos are another issue entirely, and with years of family snapshots stuck in an intimidating cyber-backlog, I’d love to know your tips on how to tackle this stockpile.

Please share your favorite organizing ideas. Do you sell your items online? Host a yard sale? Sell or bartar in local resale groups? Tell us your tips and let’s all enjoy living the simple life.

when mountains move

Learn more about Julie’s award-winning, bestselling novels Into the Free and When Mountains Move by visiting: http://juliecantrell.com







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Julie Cantrell

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author at Harper Collins Christian
Julie Cantrell is a tree-hugging organic-farm girl and mother of two who happened into a mid-life adventure as a novelist. She's having fun parenting, writing, teaching, speaking, and living the dream.

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  1. says

    While I hate the process of moving, the two times we’ve relocated to another state has forced me to do just what you described in this post. The expense of moving really makes you consider how many boxes you want to pay to transport junk from one place to another.

    I’m not much of a hoarder and actually LIKE to de-clutter!

    Now, if anyone has tips to get the hubby to let go of the junk in the garage, please share!

    • Julie Cantrell says

      Kellie – you are absolutely correct. We moved so many times, it taught me how to let go of things. I’m super sentimental though, so all those special mementos from my kids are prized treasures. And books are my other weakness. I have a hard time letting them go.
      The garage? I hear you!

      • says

        We bought giant rubbermaid containers….one for each member of the family. These are our “keepsake” boxes. They are the things that get grabbed in a fire etc. Inside, we have yearbooks, childhood art and elementary report cards. Boy Scout uniforms….anything that fits inside. I am the only one who gets two….because one of mine is filled with baby mementos. I was so fun to dress my grandson in his dad’s outfit….now I have framed photos of them wearing the same little outfit. I’m not a hoarder…but a sucker for memories!

  2. Nicole Seitz says

    Oh, Julie. You are hired! What a refreshing and inspiring post. I’m afraid if I threw out all the things I wouldn’t buy today or damaged things in my linen closet, we might go around naked and have to drip dry from the shower. But a small dose, yes, I think is in order.
    Happy almost Spring!

    • Julie Cantrell says

      Nicole – You are hilarious. I do understand! I am so frugal, I tend to keep things way beyond their time. But I find when I force myself to toss it, we’re all the better for it.

  3. Lisa Wingate says

    Girl, I so need this! For years, we ended up moving often enough that the de-cluttering happened naturally — a little like Kellie said. When you’re facing having to cram it in a moving van, everything becomes less valuable.

    Now, after years in the same place… we do need some decluttering. My favorite tip from your list: ask yourself, “Would I buy this today?” Good, good point!

    Hugs and happy spring cleaning, girlfriend!


    • Julie Cantrell says

      Lisa, I imagine your house to already be perfectly organized. I have never met anyone more “together” than you seem to be. So take a photo and prove me wrong, please. I need to believe you’re at least half-human (smile).

  4. Beth Anderson says

    Unfortunately, I carried my boxes of “stuff” from one house to the next. I desperately need to declutter, donate, and just plain throw away! My husband wants to move to a micro home when we retire, and while the idea is lovely, I just can’t commit to it until I manage to downsize tremendously. I did recently make a start by cleaning out all of my bathroom vanity drawers so I know it can be done! I’m hoping to tackle the under the sink clutter next. I also have my closet arranged by colors, which helps tremendously when pressed for time, but I am notorious for going back to my old careless habits of hanging clothes anywhere so I need to re-do my closets again. They are slowly creeping back into chaos! Maybe your post will be the catalyst I need!

    • Julie Cantrell says

      Beth, we moved 13 times in 10 years, and many were cross-country moves. I had to learn quickly how to “use it or lose it.” BUT…we’ve now been in this home for four years (nearly the longest we’ve been anywhere since marriage). So, the “stuff” seems to multiply by the day. My tough spots are the kids’ stuff, photos, and books. Congrats on tackling the vanity drawers. I think that can be the hardest place…so if you did that, you can do anything! Have fun, j

  5. says

    What a great post! Since Adelaide’s birth, I tackle one chore a day: dusting/laundry Mondays (and Thursdays for laundry again), vacuuming on Tuesday, Wednesday bathroom, ect. Then I tackle one project on Saturday that I absolutely hate–like going through Adelaide’s toy chest and boxing up what she doesn’t play with anymore or cleaning the oven. I certainly don’t keep everything organized, but it’s nice to tackle everything a little at a time. :)

    • Julie Cantrell says

      Jolina, with another baby on its way…you might want to hold tight to all those outgrown toys/clothes. It’s hard for me to let go of anything that belongs to my children..but I’m learning how to make those choices a little better. Still, when they give me those sweet puppy eyes and tell me why THIS particularly rock/stick/feather/10-sizes-too-small t-shirt/ticket stub, etc. can’t be thrown out… I cave every single time. So, good luck with that (smile). j

  6. Rachel Hauck says

    Julie, wow, girl what a great, practical post! Love it. I recently tossed a bunch of towels and linens. I need to go through my clothes again. Thanks for the reminder!


  7. Julie Cantrell says

    Rachel, here’s another tip that really helps me. Once I go through my closet (drawer, cabinet, etc.)… I do it one more time. It never fails, I always find another few items I can remove. Consider it the first draft and edit of your Organizing Project. Cheers! j

  8. says

    I’m a throw it away girl married to a perhaps we’ll need it again in the next century fellow. It’s provided a number of laughs over the years. If I haven’t used it in a year and it crosses my field of vision it is out of here! My man likes to say if he didn’t keep moving I would box him up– but that would never happen. He’s the exception to my rule!

  9. says

    Love this post! I am tackling the clutter around our house right now. It is a lengthy and ongoing process around here!! Like you, I have such a hard time letting go of my children’s things. I have totes and totes of mementos. Clothes, toys, artwork, school work… you name it and I have it! I must tackle those too or we are going to run out of room! :)

  10. says

    Julie thank you! Appreciate this, though there are some of those clothes I wish I had back from 20 years ago, because I swear they just came back in style! One thing I do is make a day for decluttering. Mine is Saturday’s. I let the closet and desk go get all crazy and then Saturday is my day to go through it all. (Maybe this is what drive’s Mr. Jones so crazy…hmmmm) Wonder what would happen if it cleaned as I went. Nah….

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