Declutter Strategies

Where do you start when you have a whole house full of clutter? Tackle your clutter problems one step at a time.
A Woman Declutters

A Woman Declutters

Photo by: DK - House Works © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - House Works , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Just as clutter builds up gradually, reversing the flow takes sustained effort and there are limits to what you can achieve in a single STOP clutter session. You may make short work of the mess on a shelf, in a drawer, or on a countertop. But where do you start to tackle a whole house full of clutter? Answer: one step at a time. Use the following strategies to take your battle against disorder to a global level.

Where the Shoe Pinches

The process of cutting clutter can be psychologically uncomfortable, so bolster motivation by putting your first STOP clutter efforts where they'll bear the most fruit. Look for the places where the shoe pinches, and focus clutter-busting efforts where they'll count the most. If it's a challenge to get out of the house to work each day, for example, tackle the jumbled cosmetics on the bathroom counter, attack the clothes closet and clear clutter away from the key rack.

Front Door Forward

The most straightforward path through whole-house clutter? Use the Front Door Forward method. Start at the front door and move to the right around the house, decluttering as you go. Start each session next to the last area you cleared.

The advantages of Front Door Forward are that you always know which location is next in line for a clear-out. Better still, the house's public areas are decluttered first-no more wincing at the sound of a neighbor's knock at the door!

A Clean Sweep

Overwhelmed by a house full of clutter? Try doing a Clean Sweep. Once a day, grab a garbage can liner and circle the house, looking for trash which can be tossed without the need for decision-making. Grocery bags, unmated socks, broken kitchen tools, foods past their "use-by" dates, and makeup more than a year old are among the suitable candidates. When the garbage bag is full, toss it!

The Penicillin Method

One day, you declutter the small table in the hallway. By the following week, a whole new species of clutter has infected the same area. One online declutterer, Ellen, likens it to a dish of mold, to which a lab researcher daily adds a single drop of penicillin. Next day, only the area around the drop is mold-free but, as the steady drop-drop-drop of the penicillin continues, the clean areas begin to grow together until the entire dish is cleared of mold.

To apply the Penicillin strategy, use the STOP clutter method to clear clutter from a small area each day. The following day, check to see that the first area is still clear, then move on to liberate another cache of clutter.

A Drawer-a-Day

Practitioners of Feng Shui believe that clutter and accumulated trash are traps for stale "chi," the energy that flows throughout home and life. Liberate the trapped chi step-by-step with the Drawer-a-Day method: fighting clutter by attacking it in small, daily nibbles.

Simply put, take 15 minutes to use the STOP clutter method on a single drawer, shelf, countertop, or corner each day. Visualize restoring a free flow of life-giving energy as you declutter and clear each choked storage area or counter.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Easy Ideas to Declutter Your House

We’re not talking about sorting stuffed animals by size, or shoes by color. The HGTV Magazine experts are talking about real-life solutions: the boxes, baskets, and pockets you need to store all your stuff!

Tips to Declutter and Organize Before a Kitchen Remodel

An organization expert provides tips for getting your kitchen in order before your remodel begins.

Clutter-Busting Tips

Take back your space with these simple tips to pull the plug on paper clutter.

Reclaim the Dining Table: 10 Ways to Declutter

Has your kitchen or dining table become a catchall for flotsam? Here’s how to retake these valuable surfaces.

Keep or Toss: 4 Questions to Help You Declutter Your Living Space

Before you shop for your living room remodel, determine what stays and what's headed to the curb.

Declutter the Freezer

Keep your frozen assets in order by following these cleaning and storage tips.

Get Organized and Control the Clutter

Professional organizer Liz Witts offers tips on how to control clutter.

Yours, Mine, Ours

Pro organizer Monica Ricci gives six simple tips for blending two households.

The Paperless Home

Cutting down on paper will help keep your space greener and clutter-free.

5 Strategies to Declutter Your Bathroom Countertop

Hair dryers, flat irons, sprays and other products can easily create an unsightly mess on your bathroom countertops. These quick fixes will clear your counters and organize your toiletries.


Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.