Simple Tips to Help Declutter Your Home

Imagine walking into a luxury bathroom. A sea of flickering tea lights cast a soft, warm glow. The standalone bath in the centre of the room is filled with hot, fragrant water, and from hidden speakers, you can hear relaxing classical music. You undress, step into the tub, and lie down in the water. Almost immediately, your muscles relax and the stresses of the day float away. A sip of chilled white wine seals the deal. Doesn’t that sound amazing?

I bet your home doesn’t make you feel like that when you walk in at the end of a tough day. You probably trip over bags, shoes, not to mention the dog when you open the door. A quick glance around reveals all kinds of clutter, none of which is good for your stress levels.

One in seven Australians suffers from severe stress and anxiety. It may not be the main cause of stress, but clutter is partly to blame. A UCLA study found that clutter in the home caused low mood and anxiety. Women were particularly affected by clutter-related stress (probably because we usually feel responsible for clearing it up). An Australian Institute study backed up the UCLA findings: their survey reported that 40% of Australians were depressed by the clutter in their home.

Psychology Today reports that clutter is more than stressful. Being surrounded by clutter inhibits our creativity and problem-solving skills. It causes immense frustration when we can’t find the things we need and draws focus away from what we need to do. When you walk through the door and see a home full of clutter, it’s impossible to relax because your brain is continually reminded that you have work to do.

You may also feel a touch embarrassed, especially if friends or family call round unexpectedly and you haven’t had a chance to throw everything in a cupboard, out of sight.

The good news is that you don’t need to live in a show home to feel less stressed. By tackling each room at a time, you can deal with the clutter and reduce your anxiety levels.

The Bedroom

We are going to start with the bedroom because clutter in the bedroom is directly linked to a bad night’s sleep.

A study by Eureka found that hoarders with cluttered bedrooms suffer from disrupted sleep, which causes depression and stress. The more they panic about the clutter, the more paralysed they become.

It’s very difficult to sleep when you are surrounded by piles of ironing and laundry, every surface is covered in clutter, and the bed is untidy. The worse it gets, the more disrupted your sleep will become. An accumulation of clutter is also bad for your physical health. If you suffer from pet allergies, pet dander and dust in the bedroom could cause impaired breathing, leading to snoring and sleep problems. It’s a vicious circle.

Begin de-cluttering the area next to your bed. Is there a stack of books and magazines next to the bed? Remove them all, apart from the book you are currently reading. All you need is a reading lamp, your book, and your alarm clock. Everything else can be stowed away in drawers or on the bookshelf.

Next, tackle your clothes. Is your wardrobe out of control? Go through it and painstakingly sort out all your clothing into three piles: keep, sell, and donate to charity. You probably have three times what you wear. Once you have rationalised your wardrobe, put everything back and shut the door. If you need extra storage, invest in a larger wardrobe or an extra chest of drawers.

Remove everything from the bedroom that isn’t bedroom related. There shouldn’t be anything left on view apart from a couple of ornaments. Once you have decluttered the bedroom, give it a clean and buy some fresh new bedding.

The Kitchen

My kitchen is a clutter magnet. I bet yours is the same. The kitchen is a general dumping ground for unpaid bills, school books, tins of food you will never eat, and a host of miscellaneous items. And if your other half plays with ute’s in his spare time, you might even have some engine parts lying around.

Start with the food cupboards, or pantry if you have one. Contrary to what you might think, tinned goods, herbs and spices don’t last forever. Remove anything out of date or past its use-by date. It could still be edible, but it’s unlikely to taste all that great. If you have tinned goods in date, but you know you won’t eat them, donate them to a food bank. Make a list of what you have and strive to organise it better. That way you won’t end up buying goods in triplicate.

Next, go through your plastic food storage containers. Mismatched storage tubs are no use to anybody, so throw them out or recycle them if appropriate.

You should end up with spare capacity in your kitchen cupboards. Remove anything from the worktops you don’t use every day, such as kitchen gadgets, and store them out of sight in cupboards or drawers. Be ruthless and if you don’t need it, get rid.

The Living Room

The living room is where you entertain guests, so it needs to be clutter free. Magazines, books, toys and electrical gadgets have a nasty habit of breeding in the living room. If your kids routinely leave their toys on the floor, give them a storage bin and ask them to use it. Recycle magazines when you have read them and return books to shelves.

Try to avoid the temptation to collect cute little ornaments. The more ornaments you have, the longer it will take to dust the room. Embrace minimalism and learn to love less. It may take some getting used to, especially if you have a passion for ceramics, but nobody needs really needs 101 pottery dogs in their life.

The Bathroom

The bathroom is a haven for clutter, mostly because storage is usually in short supply. Look around – are your countertops covered in makeup, toiletries, and beauty products? If so, now is the time to throw out or give away anything you don’t use.

You shouldn’t keep makeup for years. Mascara lasts three to six months. Foundation, lipstick, eyeshadow and concealer is good for around two years. Any longer and you risk eye infections and other nasties, so go through your collection and throw out anything that has been around since Noah was in short trousers.

The same applies to toiletries. Sure, that bottle of seaweed hair conditioner may have been super expensive, but if it smells like rotting vegetation, you’re not going to use it. Give it away or throw it in the bin.

Once you have removed everything you don’t need or ever intend on using, look at your storage capacity. If storage is lacking, think about how best to solve the problem. A new vanity unity with built-in storage won’t cost the earth, but it could add value to your bathroom. Alternatively, consider adding a shelving unit with some baskets for bottles and makeup.

The Home Office

Whether you work from home or maintain a home office to pay the household bills, it’s probably full of clutter. Paperwork is the number one cause of clutter in a home office. Take a good look around. When was the last time you did any filing? 2008? If you’re guilty of putting off the filing in the hope that it biodegrades while you’re not looking, get cracking.

Invest in a filing cabinet or start using the one you currently own. Bank statements and financial documents only need to be kept for five to seven years (check with an accountant). Anything past this date can be shredded. Where possible, switch to paperless billing and e-statements.

Resolve to file weekly and buy a filing tray to declutter your desk. Stay on top of the admin and you won’t have to deal with a ton of paper in one go.

The Kids’ Room

To a certain extent, you should avoid taking too much responsibility for clearing up your kids’ bedrooms. After all, if your kids want to live in squalor, it’s their prerogative. But, younger children may need a little help, so declutter their room, provide them with ample storage, and offer a few incentives to keep their bedrooms tidy. Extra pocket money should do the trick.

Old toys can be sold on eBay or Gumtree or donated to charity. Any money you make, put it towards a new rug or storage units.

The Patio

Is your patio a dumping ground for anything that doesn’t have a home indoors? If so, it is unlikely to feel much like a place where you can relax during the summer. Remove the clutter, sweep away the dirt, and buy a new table and chairs. Patios are great for entertaining, so declutter yours and start using it!

Make decluttering a family affair. This is a project you can tackle in a weekend. It’s hard to start, but once you get stuck in, you will feel so much better – honestly!

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