Declutter Your Home in 30 Days

By , Erin Whitehead, Health & Fitness Writer
Clutter can get out of control in a hurry. Odds and ends get stashed in a junk drawer to remain for eternity. Mud rooms become places where muddy shoes land and never leave. Nightstands breed glasses of water and hand lotion and books. And bookshelves, well, they become catchalls for way more than novels.

So you want to declutter and maybe donate a few things to charity or gear up for a garage sale, but where on earth do you start? The thought of decluttering the entire house is understandably overwhelming. But we've got a process to help you break this massive task into manageable pieces: a 30-day plan to less clutter.

Depending on the severity of your personal clutter, some tasks may be best suited for longer weekend projects or divided into smaller tasks (such as a garage clean-up). But some are smaller and easy to fit into any day. No matter how long it takes you, each item on the list will have you one step closer to a cleaner house and a lighter outlook on life.

Bathroom

Day 1: Medicine Cabinet
Toss expired medications, hotel shampoos that you'll never use, and throw out lotions you've had since 1990. While you're at it, give the mirror a quick wipe, too.

Day 2: Shower 
Get rid of the extras and empties in your shower. Invest in a shower caddy to keep everything organized and in one spot.

Day 3: Makeup Drawer/Bag 
Go through your makeup bag or drawer and reassess some of the items. Hot pink eye shadow you haven't touched since 1980? Toss! Lipstick that doesn't smell quite right anymore? You know what to do. If you haven't used it in a year, it's time to trash it.

Day 4: Linen Closet
Over time those neatly stacked towels start to shift and folded sheets somehow end up on the floor. And why is your kiddo's baseball bat in there, anyway? Take stock of what's in the linen closet, straighten what you want and consider donating items you haven't used in more than a year to charity.


Bedroom

Day 5: Nightstand
Nightstands collect books, water bottles and electronics along with gobs of dust. Clear it off, wipe it down and leave only the bare minimum.

Day 6: Dresser 
Dressers can hide a lot in their drawers. Open every drawer, refold messy clothes and match every sock. Start a donate pile of any clothes you no longer need and a toss pile of holey shirts and socks you can part with.

Day 7: Master Closet
Add to those donate and toss piles by going through your closet. Follow your gut: You know what you're regularly wearing and what haven't worn in ages. Try not to let sentimentality get in the way of decluttering!


Hallway

Day 8:  Entryway/Mudroom 
Check the entrances to your house for out-of-place clutter. Kids kick off shoes and drop bags; adults leave keys and mail. Come up with a system for stuff that should be there (like hanging hooks or a coat rack or shoe cubbies) and instill habits to keep the space clear otherwise.

Day 9: Coat Closet
Coat closets often become hiding places for more than just winter jackets. See what's been hiding in its depths that belongs somewhere else and what you can pull out to toss.

Kitchen

Day 10: Kitchen Drawers 
Why so many crumbs, kitchen drawers? And why is this burned spatula still hanging around? And why are there still baby spoons in the silverware drawer when your youngest child is in kindergarten? Toss or donate! Then organize so the things you use the most are the most easily accessible.

Day 11: Kitchen Cabinets 
When you're quickly cleaning up after dinner it can be easy to throw pots and pans and bowls into cabinets willy-nilly, so take time to straighten cabinets and organize items if their placement isn't working for you. Infrequently used items can go in a pantry or other storage spot to free up more space for items you do use all the time. Those storage containers without lids and those lids without matching containers? Now's the time to toss the lids. Use the containers themselves as storage caddies for small items in drawers or cabinets throughout the house.

Day 12: Pantry 
Give your pantry an organizational once-over. Organize canned goods by type, check expiration dates and get rid of foods you'll never eat (like that trendy food you tried and hated). Unexpired and shelf stable foods can be donated to your local food pantry.  

Day 13: Spice Rack 
I recently went through my spice rack and was appalled that some of my spices were purchased more than four years ago. If you've got spices that could be in kindergarten, you're probably not using them very frequently in your favorite recipes, so it's likely safe to toss them. Plus, fresh spices will taste better anyway!

Day 14: Refrigerator and Freezer 
Many people try to give their fridge a look once a week or so to toss any leftovers that are moldy, but you likely don't think about condiments and other fridge staples. Check all the bottles and jars and toss any that are expired or that you just never use (like that hot sauce you tried and decided you hated).

Day 15: Junk Drawer
Junk drawers by their very nature are designed to hold junk and odds and ends that don't really belong anywhere else. But give it a look to see if there's any obvious trash, and see if there's anything you could move to another spot. You just might find that set of keys you thought you'd lost forever.

Day 16: Under-Sink Storage
If you've got pedestal sinks throughout the house, you get off easily on this chore. But if you've got under-sink storage, like under the kitchen sink, look under there to see what's been hiding and what needs to go.


Living Room

Day 17: Mantel
A fireplace is lovely--except when it's covered in clutter and junk. It takes away from the beauty of a roaring fire! So if your mantel is a storage place for DVDs or books or mail and other items that don't belong, try to find a spot for the unnecessary items to clear it off.

Day 18: Bookshelves
Bookshelves are great for storing and displaying books, art, accent décor, family pictures and more. But they can be a problem when they start to be holding places for extra clutter that makes them look less attractive. Give your bookshelves a glance to see if there's anything that doesn't belong. Then rearrange the items so it looks deliberate, not haphazard.

Day 19: Storage Furniture 
Go through that console table in the living room, the armoire in the guest bedroom and the trunk sitting in the corner of the basement. See if you really need its contents—and if you even need the actual furniture itself!


Home Office

Day 20: Office Desk
Workspaces can be hard to keep clutter-free. When you're at your desk, you're working or paying bills rather than focusing on keeping it clean. So do a sweep of the surfaces in the office and assess what you can keep and what you can toss.

Day 21: Filing Cabinets
Filing cabinets can get filled in a hurry, so go through yours to see what you can shred or recycle. You probably don't need that phone bill from 2005.

Day 22: Mail
Junk mail, bills and magazines pile up faster than dust bunnies. Clear your mail storage area and come up with a system for discarding junk immediately and storing bills that need your attention where they won't get overlooked. For instance, keep a small recycling bin just inside the front door so junk can go straight from the mailbox into the bin.


Kids' Rooms

Day 23: Kids' Closets 
Kids outgrow clothes at the speed of light and stain and tear the rest. Go through the closets to figure out what's wearable, what fits and what can be donated or discarded.

Day 24: Kids' Toy Bins
It's all too easy to accumulate a lot of toys, but kids also lose interest and outgrow toys fairly quickly, too. Have your kids help you go through toys and sports equipment to figure out what they're still using and what can be discarded, donated or handed down to a friend's little ones.

Other Spaces

Day 25: Laundry Room
The most likely clutter offender in my laundry room? A shirt that's "dry clean only" that has been laying there unlaundered for eons. If that's the situation in your house, label and hang a reusable bag for dry cleaning and get the clutter off the floor. Other laundry offenders include coins and receipts that fall out of pockets and end up on the dryer. Clear it out!

Day 26: Porch
Porches can get cluttered quickly with gardening equipment that never got put in the shed and shoes that got left outside because they were muddy. Take stock of the porch and put items in their proper spots.

Day 27: Hobby Room
Have a space or work room for hobbies or home improvement items? See what you can pitch or donate and what you can better organize.

Day 28: Basement
Now that you've gone through your house and properly stored things in their rightful places or gotten rid of them, check out your actual storage spots. If you've had boxes of books packed away for years, chances are that you don't need them (and won't miss them). Can you rearrange anything to make more space? Can you sell or donate anything you don't need? Is it time to rent a dumpster and really clear things out?

Day 29: Garage
The garage can be quite a chore, so leave it for the weekend and a day when it's beautiful outside. Get rid of what you don't need, pump up flat bicycle tires and get that lawnmower ready for spring!

Day 30: Car
When you're finished with the garage, don't forget about your car. Get rid of the obvious trash (empty water bottles, wrappers, etc.) but also check the glove box for expired insurance cards you can toss and snacks that melted last summer.

Your Bonus Project

You know that area in your house or life that needs to be organized. If it didn't make this list, your final project is to organize that space, whether it's the attic, a loft space, an offsite storage unit or bin full of your childhood stuff.

Breaking down a massive job into smaller more manageable steps can make a task like decluttering your entire life seem slightly more manageable. In just 30 days, you'll have a noticeably less cluttered house, and maybe you'll even find a few things you thought had disappeared forever! Plus, you might make a few bucks at a garage sale or feel really good about donating some quality items that you no longer need.

About the Author
Erin Whitehead is a health and fitness enthusiast who co-founded the popular website FitBottomedGirls.com and co-wrote The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (available May 2014). Now busier than ever with two kids, she writes about healthy pregnancy and parenting at FitBottomedMamas.com.



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Comments

SUSANBEAMON 4/1/2021
I get started on something like this and life gets in the way. Like the closet. I'd get everything out and start the sort, keep, donate, toss and my daughter calls because she need big time help. Stuff stays on the floor or draped around the room the closet is attached to for at least a week. Then we have overtime at work for two weeks or so. While that's going on, everything gets tossed back into the closet so we can use the room. I sneak up on downsizing right now. Report
HANOVERLADY 3/24/2021
I wish! My husband is a compulsive shopper, refuses to get rid of anything. Our house looks like a warehouse. If it were up to me, I would jump on this plan. Report
NANANANA 3/22/2021
Surprising how many of these I have done. Report
TERMITEMOM 3/21/2021
Great list, but no way I can do it in 30 days! Report
SHOAPIE 3/20/2021
Good plan Report
ETHELMERZ 3/20/2021
You can talk and talk about this, but, even after you do some of those things, within a year, it will all be the same again....lol. Prepare for it. Report
JANTHEBLONDE 3/20/2021
Great article! Report
4CONNIESHEALTH 3/20/2021
I need to do this. Report
CELIAMINER 3/20/2021
I had to laugh at #13. I have spices old enough for middle school. :-D Report
JUNEAU2010 3/20/2021
That bin for junk mail is fine, but SHRED name and address info first Report
IRISHEI 3/20/2021
How can I print the article for my use.
elash1943@gmail.com
hope you get this message. there is no way to print this......from my printer.....
thank you.
Eileen Report
IRISHEI 3/20/2021
How can I print this page for my use without all the ads? Report
JUSTJ2014 3/20/2021
My daughter is moving soon so I sent her this article to help Report
SANTABERKS 3/20/2021
Great Ideas - even for 1 br Apt! Thanks!! Happy Spring! Report
SHAKERATTLEROLL 3/20/2021
Nice short but sweet article right to the point.
Report
LRCOTE 3/6/2021
Where do I get the extra days? Report
OLDSKOOL556 3/6/2021
Thanks for sharing article 👍 Report
SUSANYOUNGER 3/1/2021
Good plan Report
KAREN_EDMONDS 3/1/2021
Great ways to get started! Report
NEPTUNE1939 3/1/2021
ty Report
MAREE1953 3/1/2021
The Fly Lady has a great, methodically designed program for decluttering and is based upon the amount of time you can dedicate to each room. Works for me Report
NASFKAB 3/1/2021
useful Report
DIVAGLOW 1/2/2021
Thanks Report
FISHGUT3 12/25/2020
thanks Report
PIKA1319 12/17/2020
30 days could be overwhelming for those of us with a lot of clutter. Breaking it down into 15-minute (or maybe a little longer) tasks might help. This is a pretty good site for that: https:// www.home-storage-solutions-101.com . You can sign up to get a calendar with a whole year's worth of tasks! Report
PATTYMCGRAW 10/25/2020
love it Report
CECELW 10/13/2020
It takes some time to declutter, but when you're done...it's a huge relief Report
QUEENFROG 9/8/2020
Thanks! I need a plan and this is easy enough to adjust to your own specific needs. Report
GOLDENRODFARM 7/30/2020
Sure takes a lot longer then 30 days, been at it for 2 years! Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
This one I need Report
LISAMARIE2015
Good times Report
Great list that breaks things into manageble steps. Report
WOW! Even with the extra time on my hands.... this is going to be a challenge!!!! Glad our Good Will store STILL accepts donations, even though stores are closed! THX for the inspiration!!!! Report
Seems overwhelming and a constant battle, yet I have stopped buying and continue sorting giving and selling...Slow but sure. Report
Great article. Thanks. Report
CD10676776
Good need-to-know information! Report
KATHRYNGC
A closet with everything in it taken out then placed in donation box or new place in house or thrown out then closet cleaned/washed then everything that is to call cleaned closet "home" in one day. Give me a minute. I have to get up off the floor from laughing so hard. Seriously?//???? Not even the coat/ cleaning supplies closet can be done like that in one day. With my workload, maybe within a month for it. Report
Thank you
Report
If only it were this simple. Report
Love this! Good idea, to break it up into different days, rather than all at once and getting overwhelmed. Thank you! Report
Fantastic suggestions. Report
NENEBFIT
Just moved the end of July from a home we lived in for 31 years. The above calendar is brilliant so you don’t have to go thru all the stuff at one time! Goodness! T’was brutal! My area that still needs more discipline is mail. So easy for me to let that pile up. Still have some unpacked boxes in the basement too. Thanks for the wise advise! I donated cars full of things! Nice to have a clean start. Report
This is a great one while most of us are stuck at home during this time. We could have it done in a couple weeks. I plan to use this to see if I can get it done. Report
CD3802882
Good suggestions! Thank you! Report
Already working on many of those spaces Report
Great Ideas Report
Great Ideas Report
A good approach. Report
It does take a long time to decorated but I'm glad when I'm done Report