Updated February 12, 2023
While most of us find the idea of cleaning our entire house top to bottom and getting rid of a bunch of our things about as unappealing as unappealing gets, a thorough house decluttering and deep cleaning can actually be remarkably rewarding and a huge weight lifted off your shoulders.
Picture getting home after a long, hard day’s work. You turn the key, swing back the door, and there it is…your home; only it’s cleaner, more open, and smells better, too.
Your stress immediately melts away as you realize that you can now relax in your clean, clutter-free castle instead of tiptoeing around and anxiously co-existing with your usual mess.
Any house cleaning expert will tell you that before you get started, you’ll need to make a plan of attack first.
We'll go over our top 8 favorite tips to help you plan your home declutter so you can take control of your space again.
- Make Note of Hotspots
- Plan for Disposal
- Sorting System
- Pace Yourself
- Cleaning Services
- Look at Your Progress
Tip #1: Make Note of Clutter Hotspots
Go through your house and make a list of all the different rooms and spaces that need to be cleaned.
While in each room, take a 'before' photo. Not only will this help you enjoy your accomplishments more when you're done, but it will serve as a reminder of what not to do in the future.
Rank each space/room from 1-3 based on how severe the clutter is (3 being the most cluttered).
For example, your bedroom might be ranked a 2, but your bedroom closet may be a hard 3.
Being able to see where your tough spots are will help you decide what to do first and how to break up the work.
Tip #2: Determine the Best Disposal Option Ahead of Time
Once you've given your house the once-over (don't forget to check your yard for rubbish, too) and you've seen the extent of what lies ahead of you, you'll want to decide how you're going to be addressing the mess.
All the junk you're trashing or donating is going to have to go somewhere, and sometimes that's more than just tying off a couple trash bags and calling it a day.
If you've been accumulating stuff for awhile, it's highly possible you'll wind up tossing enough trash to fill a dumpster.
If so, you need to determine that in advance so you can schedule the dumpster in a timely manner.
Option 1: Curbside Collection
If you don't have that much to dispose of and nothing that's overly large, then you should be fine just rolling it out to the curb with the rest of your weekly trash.
Option 2: Temporary Dumpster Rental
If you have too much waste for your local garbage man to realistically handle, or you have some bulky items, like furniture, to get rid of, then your regular trash service won't cut it.
Renting a temporary dumpster is a great option. Roll-off or trailer dumpsters can sit in your driveway and be loaded at your own pace.
Schedule the dumpster rental ahead of time and try to time up the delivery for the same day you'll be ready to start loading it.
Find locally-owned and operated dumpster rental companies by searching your zip code on Hometown.
We make it easy to request free quotes from providers near you so that you can compare pricing, customer service, and availability.
- How to Request Dumpster Rental Quotes with Hometown
- Why You Should Rent from a Locally-Owned Dumpster Company
Option 3: Junk Removal
Arguably the most convenient of all disposal methods, hiring a junk removal company involves having a crew of disposal experts come to your home, remove the items for you, and tidying up when they're done.
You pay a bit more for the crew's labor, but if you're unable or unwilling to load all of your stuff into a dumpster, a junk removal service can be a lifesaver.
Just like dumpster rental, Hometown makes finding junk removal services in your area fast and simple.
Our single quote request form makes it easy to get multiple quotes from qualified companies near you.
You can read more about each company in your area, read reviews from real customers, and get free quotes to ensure you get the best service for the best price.
- Why You Should Get Multiple Quotes Before Hiring a Junk Removal Provider
- Junk Removal Prices Near Me and How to Get a Good Deal
Tip #3: Come Up with a Sorting System
As you move from room to room, you’re going to come across stuff you definitely want to keep, stuff you definitely don’t, and stuff you’re not so sure about.
A common route taken by organization experts is the three-box method, which involves making three piles—keep, trash, and donate.
Play some music, get in the groove, and begin weeding through your sea of stuff.
Helpful Hint: Don’t spend too much time overthinking and deliberating whether or not you should or shouldn’t get rid of something. This particular job requires focus and a commitment to your initial gut feeling, so don’t second-guess yourself here. A good rule-of-thumb to follow is to consider whether or not you've used an item within the last 6 months. If the answer is no, you likely won't miss it if it's gone.
Tip #4: Prepare to Pace Yourself
The cardinal rule of doing a heavy duty decluttering and cleaning job is: Never bite off more than you can chew.
If you get it in your head that you’re going to clean your entire house, inside and out, in a single day, then you’re going to wind up very frustrated, very discouraged, and likely very sore.
You didn’t end up with all that junk overnight, so it’s going to take more than that to get rid of it.
Tip #5: When in Doubt, Purge
It happens all too often—you hold onto something, whether it be a blanket you had growing up or a clock that was once your grandmother’s, because it has sentimental value.
Never mind the fact that you haven’t used that blanket since exiting teen-dom and your grandma’s clock hasn’t worked since you plucked it from the dust in her attic 10 years ago; you feel a strong emotional attachment to these things, and that’s normal.
However, when these things start piling up and become more work (physically or emotionally) for you in your day-to-day life than anything else, it might be time to let them go.
When going through your furniture, personal items, and other junk, keep these things in mind:
- You are not your stuff. You are more than your possessions.
- Our memories are within us, not within our things.
- An item that is sentimental for you can be useful for someone else.
- Holding on to stuff imprisons us. Letting go is freeing.
When it comes to your home, less is more. Remember this.
Clutter makes a space look smaller and can be a consistent drain on our energy, whether we sense it or not.
Stick to your sorting system (like the three-box method mentioned earlier) and get rid of everything you don’t absolutely need or really, really want.
Ask yourself some of the following questions when waffling between whether or not you should or shouldn't get rid of something:
- When was the last time I used this?
- If I do use it, how often, and why? What purpose does it serve?
- Do I own another item that can serve the same purpose as this one?
- Is this item something I can live without?
- Do I know someone else who would get more use out of this?
- Does this item match where I’m at in life now?
- Does this make my life easier? Does this make my life more difficult?
- Does this make me or my home look stunning?
If you find yourself thinking, "I spent hard-earned money on this, I don't want to get rid of it", you're not alone. It's a common way of thinking but is harmful in the long run. Read more about sunk cost fallacy and how it affects our decisions.
Tip #6: Take Full Advantage of Donation Options
After it's all said and done, you'll likely have a bunch of stuff to donate, and that's awesome!
When possible, you should always donate rather than trash.
It's super easy, after all, and is the cherry on top of your "clean house sundae".
Check out some of these fun, new ways to donate your used goods, from furniture to books, and more:
- The Freecycle Network — Freecycle is a nonprofit network that allows people to give and get things for free in their area, keeping a remarkable amount out of landfills.
- Habitat for Humanity's ReStore — ReStores sell donated furniture, appliances, home accessories, building materials, and more to the public at a fraction of retail price.
- Facebook Marketplace — Eliminate the need to haul anything by listing your items for free porch pickup on Facebook Marketplace.
Clothes & Shoes
- Soles 4 Souls — Drop off any pairs of gently used shoes at a drop-off location, or host a shoe drive if you're feeling especially generous.
- Dress for Success & Career Gear — These not-for-profits provide men and women with the professional attire they need to gain economic independence.
- One Warm Coat — If you have a closet full of winter coats, giving the ones you no longer use to One Warm Coat will help ensure everyone has a warm coat to endure the cold weather.
Books & DVDs
- Operation Paperback — Send your used books to American troops overseas, as well as veterans and military families here in the U.S.
- DVDs 4 Vets — Donate DVDs (and DVD players) to veterans who are undergoing rehabilitation and don't have easy access to basic entertainment.
- Kids Flicks — If you have children's or young adult movies, Kids Flicks creates movie libraries for children's hospitals and pediatric wards in America.
- HopeLine — Empty out your drawer of old, fall-back phones and donate them to domestic violence survivors.
- Gift My PC — If you have computers or office equipment lying around, donate them so they can be refurbished for charities, organizations, and schools.
- Furniture Bank Association of North America — Donate furniture and home decor so that families in need never have to sleep on the floor.
Toys & Games
- Stuffed Animals for Emergencies — If you have stuffed animals in good condition, SAFE sends them to children and families affected by war, poverty, or natural disasters.
- Local women's/family shelters — Find a shelter near you. A majority of them would be happy to accept gently used toys, games, children's clothes, and more.
Tip #7: Splurge on a Cleaning Service
Once you've completed your initial purge, it's time for a deep clean. This is no time to call it quits from exhaustion!
No doubt, your home has collected enough dust, dirt, and grime over the past year to give your muscles a serious workout, so get your tunes and cleaning supplies ready if you're up for it.
If you're not, hire it out! A one-time deep clean won't break the bank and you'll love the way your house looks when it's done.
Remember: The clean-up process doesn't necessarily stop at your home's doorway. You'll also breathe a big sigh of relief when your yard is picked up, your windows and gutters are clean, and any weeds on your property are uprooted.
- How Decluttering and Organizing Can Transform Your Home and Improve Mental Health
- The Health Benefits of Decluttering
Tip #8: Enjoy Your Clutter-Free Home
You did it! Now put your feet up, pour a glass of wine, and enjoy the feeling of having a clean, clutter-free home!
You just did a great thing for you and your family's overall health and you'll be reaping the benefits of a fresh start all year long.
Take after photos to compare side by side with your before photos to really put your hard work into perspective and help you stay motivated to maintain your newly decluttered living space.