26 January 2012

My Tips to Keep Your Home Clutter-Free

Jordan and I recently did one of our semi-annual cleaning out of closets and putting together boxes and bags for donation. I thought now would be good time to share my tips when it comes to de-cluttering the home. 

We all have our own quirks when it comes to our homes. I've told you before that only use clear hand and dish soaps. I like my towels folded a certain way. I keep my yogurts and water bottles with the labels facing front in the fridge. I save old gift bags and tissue paper (that isn't damanged) to reuse for future birthdays/holidays. Those are just a few of my many idiosyncrasies.

I'm not one who is into the super hyper organization in the home. I've seen tons of ideas on Pinterest, but a lot of them just don't appeal to me. I'm personally not a fan of labeling or color coding everything. I wouldn't use an over the door shoe rack for cleaning supplies or Macguyver some old carboard box into an elaborate jewelry storage system. I'll never have binders for recipes and big charts for cleaning schedules. It's just not my personal taste. I like things to look a little more natural in my home. (Now for those of you who do like these things, more power to you! To each their own. Your house is probably more organized than mine will ever be and for that I am jealous.)

That being said, I do hate clutter. Living in a small house like ours, it is very easy for clutter to build up. Now that we have LJ it's much harder to contain the clutter than it used to be, but I think we are doing pretty well. Jordan and I make it a point to straighten things up before we go to bed at night, no matter how late it us or how tired we are. We rarely let dishes sit in the sink for more than a few hours. We try to put laundry away as soon as it is cleaned (although I slack a little on this one).

My point is that if you stay on top of things even 75% of the time, you'd be amazed how clutter-free your home can be. (ugh, sorry for the rhyme)

Here is my breakdown of the biggest clutter culprits (at least in our home) and how I deal with them.

Biggest Clutter Culprits

  • Paper clutter - I find paper clutter to be one of the easiest to accumulate - bills, receipts, coupons, lists, magazines, etc. We have a basket on our kitchen counter where we keep these loose papers.
  • Clothes - I think everyone is guilty of keeping more clothes than they wear in the hopes that someday they will find the perfect occasion, or for fear that they will want to wear it the minute they give it a toss.
  • Bath products. This may be more of a girl thing, but I know it's super easy for me to suddenly accumulate a plethora of lotions, body soaps, chapsticks, nail polishes, and any other miscellaneous grooming items.
  • Keeping things for sentimental value. Whether it's a hand-me-down, a gift from a relative or something you received for a special occasion, these are items that you personally don't want to part with. I totally get these. I have my own sentimental pieces, like the milk glass given to me by my grandparents that I could never part with.
  • Keeping things out of obligation. These are those items that you were given possibly as a gift and you really have no emotional attachment to or need for, but feel like you need to display out of repsect to the person who gave it to you. (Now don't judge me, but I will admit I have gotten rid of such items. I do what I can not to throw things away that can be reused, but I'm a big donater.)
  • Shower Gifts (Wedding/Baby). I learned this one the hard way. No matter how many items you put on your registry, half of the gifts you receive will be items you didn't ask for. When we had Lucy we received probably 50 bibs and 30 blankets, more newborn clothes than she could wear before she grew out of them, and many other things that we simply didn't need or received way more than we could use.
Ways to Deal with Clutter
  • My first initial reaction with clutter is just to throw it away! Yup, I'm not afraid to trash. Sorry guys!
  • Donation Trucks. Jordan and I are big on donating to the Purple Heart, Veteran, or whatever truck is coming around. We generally donate around every four months, but sometimes more often if we have an excessive amount of items. They take clothes, sheets, curtain, and 'small' house hold items. No furniture.
  • Goodwill and other second hand stores. I generally only use Goodwill for large furniture items that the donation trucks won't take, but they will accept all the above items that the trucks take, too.
  • Resale Shops. I'm a huge fan of these, particularly for baby items. Once both my showers were done and I had cleaned and put away what we needed, I had a pile of items that were duplicate, or that we had way too many of, or that I knew we simply could not and would not use. I packed these items up and brought them to a local children's resale shop and sold them. I used the money I made to purchase things we really did need that we weren't given. For example, I bought two Baby Gap brand winter coats for Lucy for $10 a piece each (probably originally $50 a piece).
  • Seasonally Filter Out Clothes. I think it's best to go through your clothes after those times of year when you "revamp" your wardrobe. Holidays, birthdays, new seasons, and any time when you receive clothes or gift cards and treat yourself to a shopping spree, are the best times to weed out your closet. Sometimes I will do this and stick them in a box or bag in a spare room or basement until the next time one of the donation trucks comes through the neighborhood. The standard rule has always been, if you haven't worn it in a year, get rid of it.
  • Toss old, unused or expired products. I hold the same rule for these items as I do with clothes. If you've had a bottle of lotion it for 6 months or more and don't regularly use it, toss!
  • Paper Clutter -
    • I make it a point to clean out the basket on our counter every few weeks and toss out old junk mail, expired coupons, catalogues, etc. I also file away any paystubs or paid bills or other important papers in a filing cabinet we keep in our basement for important papers. 
    • I only keep receipts until my checkbook is balanced and I know I won't be returning anything.
    • I make sure I only have 1 copy of any takeout menu that we order from (because they mail a new one almost weekly).
    • Magazines are tossed after they have been read (unless there is a recipe or article I want to keep).
  • Just Keep the Basics. While I try to donate or get rid of old home decor items that I never or rarely use, there are certain things I like to keep around. Here are just a few:
    • Decorative pillows can always be recovered for cheap or swapped out seasonally. When decorating Lucy's room, I purchased some new pillow covers from Etsy pretty inexpensively and recovered old Ikea and other pillows I had stashed in a closet.
    • Candlesticks -You never know when you will want to jazz up a table setting for a dinner party with a ton of candles or surprised you loved one with a little romantic mood. I always keep avareity of candlesticks and a stash of plain white candles for such times. 
    • Curtains. Mostly sheers. In the summer I sometimes like to swap out a big, thick curtains for an airy sheer. I love natural light and wish I had more windows in our house.
    • Sentimental Items. I'm all about keeping things for sentimental purposes. I have a number of things from the hospital when Lucy was born that if I ever become the scrapbooking type, I'll put together somehow. I do, however, try to control the amount that I keep. For example, I had tons of leftover wedding favors, programs, etc. Keep one of them (or two if you had multiple versions/colors/etc.) No need to keep a case full of old green apple flavored sparkling wine that I'll never drink.
These are just my personal tips for clutter control. There are tons of ideas out there. Of course there are also lots of tips and blogs dedicated to organizing the home, but that's a compeltely different animal that I'm no expert on.

Do you guys have any great clutter control tips to share?


  1. Awesome ideas! I am home more now than I have ever been, so I seem to do a decluttering like once a week! There is a salvation army not far that I am pretty regular at to drop things off at! And- Habitat ReStore is not far and they pick up furniture that won't fit in our cars! I will admit- I tend to be one of those color coordinated and binder organization people- and sometimes wish I could not be- everyone wants to be someone else!

    1. I have nothing against people who are super organized like that! I just can't do it myself. :)