Clutter-Free in 30 Days


By: , – Kimberly Fusaro, Family Circle
  :  33 comments   :  16,680 Views

Forget about big organizing overhauls. (Who has the energy?) The slow-and-steady approach is much more effective for time-pressed moms. Tackle just a couple of our 30 super-simple projects: that pile of jumbled cords in the family room today, the overflowing drawer of cooking utensils tomorrow. You'll be inspired by the day-to-day results, and within a month you'll see major home improvement.
1.     Clean up the utensil drawer by moving the four or five things you reach for most often to a countertop canister or crock. Take stock of what's left and toss anything superfluous. You'll be pleased when you can slide the drawer open and closed without it jamming.
2.     Sort craft supplies into piles of like items—glue and tape together, ribbons and bows—then stash it all in clear plastic bins, says Stephanie Vozza, author of Five Minute Mom's Club (Franklin Green). Stack bins, whether on the top shelf of a linen closet or on an office bookcase. The next time you need a pair of scissors, you'll be able to locate them in seconds. If your boxes aren't clear, label them.
3.     Pull cleaning supplies from under the kitchen sink and create space for them in the room they're used in, suggests Vozza. Move shower and toilet cleaners to a bathroom cabinet, the stain stick to a shelf in the laundry room, and wood polish to a dining room cupboard. The benefits are twofold: You'll have more room in your kitchen cabinet, and cleaning products will be close at hand.  
4.     Clear out visual clutter in the family room: Pull your DVDs off the bookshelves and arrange them in sleek, stackable cases. Either put the boxes back on the shelves—they'll look infinitely neater—or stack them next to the DVD player for easy access.
5.     Put an end to cord chaos once and for all. The BlueLounge Cable Box ($30, holds even the biggest power strips—plus, it has room for adapters and extra-long cables. Simply drop everything into the container and close the lid.
6.     Keep a stash of 10 or so trash bags in the bottom of the kitchen garbage can. After taking out the trash, just grab a fresh bag.
7.     Hang a small shoe organizer on the back of your pantry or kitchen cabinet door, suggests Donna Smallin, author ofThe One-Minute Organizer (Storey). Use it to store measuring spoons and other items that go missing in the back of drawers.
8.     Outfit the wall next to the back door with a series of hooks hung at different heights for holding stuff your kids would otherwise dump on the floor—like jackets and scarves. 3M Command self-adhesive hooks ( come in a variety of finishes and can be pulled down without damaging paint, says Smallin.
9.     To keep a few extra towels tidy, fold in half lengthwise and arrange on a floating shelf above the bathroom door frame. Or, if you have the space, neatly arrange rolled-up towels in the vanity or in an oversize basket on the floor.
Get more great tips to make your home Clutter-Free.
Don’t miss these stories:
·         Clutter Control in 10 Steps
·         Organizing from A to Z
·         18 Things You Can Get Rid of Today
How do you manage the clutter in your home? What steps will you take to make your home clutter-free?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
See More: family circle,
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!
NEXT ENTRY >   School Milk Gets a Makeover


    Having only recently figured out how to cook at the same time as moving to a house without a dishwasher, Iíve found keeping the kitchen clean and clutter free a bigger challenge than I expected.

    - 1/17/2014   6:30:05 AM
  • 32
    Some good suggestions there. I am so ocd that we only have one drawer in the kitchen and one shelving unit in the dressing room allowed for clutter. My mother liked to have a lot of knick knacks, I believe, because of this, I can't stand unorganized shelves, countertops or drawers. - 4/17/2012   9:45:45 AM
  • 31
    Organizing the clutter is not really the solution (although it helps a little). You have to get rid of stuff to "de-clutter".
    Check out - great ideas - and you start where you are and slowly build a system to STAY decluttered and always 15-minutes from being company-ready.
    One of her mantras is that "you are not behind - jump in whereever you are" and also "you can do anything for 15 minutes" - I'm not completely successful at following her system, but I love the basic principles! - 3/7/2012   8:30:43 AM
  • 30
    The blog topic is interesting.... I got more from the comments than the actual blog post. Thanks to all who take the time to read, write, post and comment. Your efforts are appreciated. - 10/2/2011   8:36:51 AM
  • 29
    Thanks for the de-clutter tips ... I am currently reading a book by Peter Walsh ( Clean Sweep TV show), "Does Clutter Make My Butt look Fat?" in which he explains the correlation between the two.
    - 10/1/2011   1:29:00 AM
    My favorite for decluttering - . "I can do anything - 15 minutes at a time." She highlights a certain area of the house each week. You work on "hot spots" and general cleaning. It has been a real boon to me. Hope fly lady can help you too. - 9/30/2011   2:52:07 PM
  • 27
    When it gets too bad, I start throwing things out. We do get overwhelmed by paper work, so do go through it, now and again, and file, file, file!!! - 9/29/2011   7:46:55 PM
  • 26
    some of these suggestions would add more clutter... taking stuff out of drawers, bookcases,etc to put on kitchen counter or by the DVD player, etc. These are clutter-producing ideas! - 9/29/2011   1:33:02 AM
  • 25
    How do I manage my clutter? With about 90% of your suggestions!! I have a free standing clear plastic drawer setup in my craft room. Each of the drawers are containing similar items. I also have a chest of drawers that I organize all my working crafts in as well as the top drawer has all kinds of cards that are put together in the same catagories. like birthdays, weddings, sympathy etc. Office supplies are in one area with labels, stamps, envelopes etc. Yes, I am organized but I have too much of everything so I am trying to use up what I have without purchasing more. - 9/28/2011   9:01:39 PM
  • 24
    Paper will be the death of me! I'm trying to get rid of mail as soon as it comes in, but what a chore! My best friend is moving to a one bedroom apartment in a high rise, from a large old house stuffed with antiques. (She used to have an antique store). I HAVE to pare down and get rid of all the "stuff" we've managed to collect over the years! - 9/28/2011   7:22:56 PM
  • 23
    I just try to clean a little more each day. :) - 9/28/2011   4:31:49 PM
  • 22

    Thank-you for the blog & it's helpful suggestions. My biggest clutter problem deals w/ paper. I try to weed out the unwanted/junk mail each day but somehow the catalogues keep piling up. Bills to be paid have their own special spot & once they are paid they get filed. Then there are those mailings from assorted places/organizations requesting a donation. Some send return address labels &/or paper pads w/ your info on them while others include a coin from $0.01 - 0.10. Sometimes I think I get more of those than I do catalogues. You would like to help them out, however, there is a limit. Ignoring them is not going to make them go away. I could try Andy Rooney's suggestion & return the envelope w/ their information inside on those who have postage on their return envelope, however, many leave the stamp off. Between the unwanted catalogues & donation requests there are definitely to many trees being killed & that is what concerns me. I really used to be extremely organized & thus find all this clutter is all-the-more irritating. I can relate well w/ KITTYGAL2 & JIBBIE49. I had an elderly friend who has since passed. Several years prior to her dying she needed to go from a hospital to a nursing home. I was her health care proxy (very important to have a Living Will/Advance Directive) & her nephew was her POA. He & I had to dismantle & break-up my friend's "home" & it made me think about a lot, ie:we have things that are important to us yet mean nothing to others & here I am disposing of those type of things. When my mom died, we did the same as JIBBIE49. Now I have clutter from when we cleaned out my parents house. I've come to realize that clutter is like dust, in that no matter how many times you get rid of it, sooner of later it's back again.
    - 9/28/2011   2:12:36 PM
  • 21
    My aunt has a great daily ritual with my uncle and cousins called the "10 minute tidy" - each day, when there's a bit of a lull in the after-school and before-bedtime mania, she'll announce, circus-barker/Oprah style that it's "10 minute tidy tiiiiiime!" She then rhymes off a quick but necessary job for each family member to do (i.e. "put away your clean clothes" rather than "clean your whole room"), and puts some "tidy tunes" on the stereo in the kitchen, usually something upbeat that the kids will like (my uncle not so much, sometimes) and everyone has until the last song finishes to wrap up their job. There's usually a bonus chore, too, for anyone who finishes first, so there's incentive not to rush through your job, lol!

    By making it fun and time-limited, she gets the kids to "buy in" and builds good "clean as you go" habits, and makes sure that the little things don't get out of control, even on really busy days. She is basically my domestic hero. When I go over there for a visit, I'm always really excited to participate - what a nerd! - 9/28/2011   12:32:02 PM
    I am working my way through Marcia Ramsland's Get Organized and Stay that Way course. My family all notices that I am more organized--they even comment how much they like the changes! - 9/28/2011   11:17:43 AM
  • 19
    Thanks for sharing! Storing cleaning supplies under the sink in the bathroom is fine as long as it is locked. Unless of course you don't have kids or pets. :)

    **I need that cable box!!! - 9/28/2011   9:40:16 AM
    None of those steps will help my house - either they are things I've already done, or don't apply. What we need help with is piles of books and papers that accumulate on all flat surfaces!

    And the "take it slow" approach doesn't work well for me, either - like someone else said, by the time I get C under control, A and B have resorted to chaos! - 9/28/2011   9:15:45 AM
    I am starting with my kitchen table and then will move to the counters and keep going in each room. I want my house to be 15 minutes away to company. - 9/28/2011   7:01:53 AM
  • 16
    My MIL had a house full of antiques that she'd collected and when she died they had a two day auction to sell all of it as it wasn't "junk" at all, but I realized that she took nothing with her, so I know I am NOT going to have a lot of "stuff" now that I'm turning 62. I've never had much, since I'm frugal, but I know that I can go to the Mall and look at all the pretty things I want, or to a furniture store, so I don't need to own it. - 9/28/2011   2:06:15 AM
    I love the suggestions! Thanks - 9/27/2011   11:28:34 PM
    Sorting and donating is great; but once clean, (or moving to a new place starting with nothing as I did), I found it best just not to bring the clutter home!! I think twice before I purchase anything and buy only what I need immediately. No single use products (especially in the kitchen), no cute little knick-knacks that just collect dust, no extra supply that I will need "someday", few bulk purchases...It is amazing how much money I save by not buying. - 9/27/2011   10:52:11 PM
  • 13
    After the untimely and unexpected passing of a dear friend, I spent many hours trying to clean her home and make arrangements for dispersing her belongings. It put so much in perspective for me --- I came home and realized I did not want to have a close friend of mine deal with the accumulated possessions of my cluttered life!
    Since then, I have been systematically going from room to room evaluating the items within and making decisions regarding whether they are important to my life now. As you can imagine, it amazed me how much "stuff" (George Carlin fans can appreciate that reference!) I had accumulated over the years. "Stuff" actually expands to fill the room available! Paring down and "down-sizing" has been a revelation to me --- I have made so many trips to Goodwill that I think the staff thinks I work there! It has been so liberating to jettison so much that I absolutely "needed" and realize that the important parts of our lives don't necessarily include the "stuff", but the friends and family who are important to us. I would give anything to have my best friend back with me today ---- - 9/27/2011   5:16:27 PM
  • 12
    I donate monthly, if I buy something new I must get rid of something old. - 9/27/2011   3:01:20 PM
  • 11
    cool! - 9/27/2011   2:28:25 PM
  • 10
    If you have small children, be careful about having cleaning supplies in multiple locations--make sure they're all secure.

    My problem with one thing at a time is that by the time I get spot X cleaned up, A,B, and C are back to disaster areas...sigh. - 9/27/2011   11:27:29 AM
    I'm doing one room at a time. This just gave me a few ideas. Great blog. Thanks!! - 9/27/2011   10:06:49 AM
  • 8
    I donate a bag and box at least once a month, good to get rid of things too! - 9/27/2011   10:00:27 AM
  • 7
    We've been full-time RVers for two years, so have become much more familiar with "living small" :) Still, I'm amazed at the amount of stuff that we have stuffed into a 38 foot diesel pusher. Identifying a place for everything when it's not in use has been my major challenge; I have usually been blessed with LOTS of closets, cabinets, and storage space. Clear stackable drawers/ boxes have worked well for our RV basement storage; soft-sided containers -- even 2-gallon zip-lock storage bags -- that can be stashed in a cabinet or tucked agains forward wall when on the road work well also. - MBG - 9/27/2011   9:58:17 AM
  • 6
    What I am trying to do to clear up my "pretties" is make seasonal boxes and only display those items that pertain to the current season. That way my stuff seems like its new stuff when I put it out. Also I put some stuff on Freecycle in my area. I've given away quite a bit of stuff, and it didn't land in the dump. - 9/27/2011   9:35:44 AM
  • 5
    Baby steps by taking one drawer, one cabinet, one closet, one room at a time. Soon it will be all done. Ya! - 9/27/2011   9:06:59 AM
    When it comes to de-cluttering, I have a hard time. I love little trinkets and such, as does my boyfriend. We recently moved in together and were overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF. One thing I'm doing is only selecting a few things to display and packing the rest up. Later, when I decide I want to see something new, I can just switch them out! It saves money and gives me the feeling of new.

    So far as kitchen stuff goes, I try to get as many double-duty utensils and equipment as I can get my hands on. For instance, I have a double spatula (big end and small end, both usable spatulas) so that I have one utensil rather than two. Also, baskets from the dollar store are invaluable when it comes to corralling stuff in drawers. I keep all my measuring spoons, bottle openers, thermometers, and such in a little basket so that they don't float around and get lost. A magnetic strip for knives is also a good choice - gets them up out of the drawer, where they can get dull and cause cuts if you aren't careful.

    Just make sure that when you buy organizational tools, you actually have a use for them! Sometimes it is tempting to buy those baskets, but always try to visualize a use prior to getting them - that way you don't have to worry about organizing your extra organizational tools! :) - 9/27/2011   8:59:55 AM
    I've been taking one drawer, one cabinet, one closet, one room at a time. It doesn't take up a whole day off and I feel so much lighter. - 9/27/2011   8:58:19 AM
  • 2
    Sit next to a waste basket and deal with junk mail and toss what you do not need to keep. Only handle each paper once this way. I have just recently gone through every cubboard and taken out items I have not used or have duplicates and take to Goodwill or a local charity. People that have had a fire often need these things. I have been cleaning out things just like I clean out old clothing. I still have a long way to go. I will look at the idea of a calble box for chords. Thanks this is so helpful.
    - 9/27/2011   7:45:56 AM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›


x Lose 10 Pounds by August 5! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.