10 Creative Ways to Declutter Your Home

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” —Dale Carnegie

The idea of living a simplified, uncluttered life with less stuff sounds attractive to many. They have considered the benefits of owning fewer possessions: less to clean, less debt, less to organize, less stress, more money and energy for their greatest passions. They are ready to declutter but some get quickly tripped up by the very next question… where in the world do I begin?

Many begin to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and defeated around the idea of decluttering their homes. That’s too bad. The decluttering journey doesn’t need to be as painful as some make it out to be. In fact, there are a variety of people who have come up with some pretty fun, creative ways to get started.

Consider this list of 10 creative ways to declutter your home:

1. Give yourself 5 solid minutes. Leo Babauta at Zen Habits recommends 18 different 5-minute decluttering tips. Pick one today that sounds appealing. Or better yet, pick a random number 1-18, read the specific tip, and commit 5 minutes to completing it.

2. Give away one item each day. Colleen Madsen at 365 Less Things gives away one item each day. Over the past several years, she has experienced quite a transformation simply reducing her stuff one day at a time.

3. Fill one trash bag. Early in our journey towards simplicity, one of my favorite decluttering techniques was to grab a simple large trash bag and see how quickly I could fill it. While much of what I collected was trash, this could also be used to fill a bag for Goodwill.

4. Try the Oprah Winfrey Closet Hanger Experiment. While this idea didn’t originate with Oprah, she was the one to help give it notoriety. To identify wardrobe pieces to clear out, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction. After six months, you’ll have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard. This experiment could also be applied to a number of clutter areas in your home (cleaners, toys, linens, tools, hobbies and craft items).

5. Make a list. Dana Byers recommends creating a list of places/areas in your home to declutter beginning with the easiest… which doesn’t sound all that creative until she adds this note, “When you’re done with one area, STOP.” This list could be made as easy or difficult as you desire based upon what areas of your home make up the list (drawers/closets/rooms). And could easily fit into any schedule.

6. Take the 12-12-12 Challenge. A simple task of locating 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home can be a really fun and exciting way to quickly organize 36 things in your house. On more than one occasion, this challenge actually became a quick competition between my wife and me… and your kids don’t have to be too old to participate as well.

7. Change your perspective. Unclutterer offers a powerful approach to decluttering when they offer a number of strategies to help you change your perspective and begin to notice some clutter you may have missed. Among their ideas: take photos of your house, invite over a toddler, or ask the boss to meet in your office. With all of the examples, the hope is to cause you to see your home in a new light.

8. Experiment with numbers. For example, Courtney Carver invented Project 333 to challenge people to wear only 33 articles of clothing for 3 months. If 33 articles of clothing seems too little, adjust the rules as you need by picking a new number. The important thing is to challenge yourself to live with less and see what you learn from the experiment.

9. Use your imagination. Psychology Today recommends using your imagination to help declutter objects that may seem difficult to remove. Try asking yourself unique questions like, “If I was just buying this now, how much would I pay?” These creative techniques may prove to be very helpful for some with difficulties removing unneeded clutter.

10.The Four-Box Method. As we first set out on our journey to minimalism, this was the technique most often used in our home. As I set out to declutter an area, I brought four boxes: trash, give away, keep, or relocate. Each item in every room was placed into one of the four categories. No item was passed over. Each was considered individually. Some projects took an hour… others took days or weeks. But the technique and principles remained the same.

No matter what you choose to help you get started – whether it be one of these ten or one of countless others – the goal is to take your first step with excitement behind it. There is a beautiful world of freedom and fresh breath hiding behind that clutter. How you remove it is up to you.


Special thanks to each of you who purchased a copy of Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life. We are excited to announce it recently debuted as the #1 Self-Help book on Amazon. 

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    Glad I’m not the only one in an incessant, endless-seeming battle to declutter (and then of course, remodel). Here’s one thing I do:
    -set a goal of “items cleaned” (100 is good). note: it does not “count” as cleaned if you just moved it to another spot.

    Cleanliness is next to godliness, and will help us think more clearly, i think?

  2. says

    It’s always tough to get rid of the good old stuff laying around the house, I think the one item a day rule is great! Hopefully it’s not a one bedroom apartment they are coming from though or their might not be anything left. lol

  3. says

    Thanks for the great advice! I live in a tiny apartment in the city and need to save as much space as I can. Just decluttering the things I don’t need didn’t seem to do the trick yet, so I designed a service that helps me get rid of the things I do use, but only once in a while. We just launched and I’m happy to hear your thought. Check it out at http://unbouncepages.com/declutter-box/

  4. Gina says

    Okay… So now that I’ve gone through everything, what do I do with the pile of belongings on my floor? If I try to put something where it belongs I have to take out the crap that’s already there. But then I don’t have a home for said crap. That’s the part that trips me up, and completely unmotivates me. The throw everything in a pile in the middle of the room method only works if you have like 50 hours in a row and people to help. I’m on my own with this one and I get discouraged very easily. Please help!!

    • sarah says

      Hey there, that’s exactly my problem too. So now what I do is… Section by section, one cabinet for example, or one closet it will take a little longer this way, but everytime I get started to “Declutter” I end up so discouraged that I have these “piles” to declutter that lay around for weeks! Until I get so fed up and put everything back where I got it from! A vicious, tiring cycle of discouragement. Soo section by section, easy does it :-) Goodluck

  5. says

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    I’m hoping to view the same high-grade content from you later on as well.
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  6. says

    i get real frustrated when i look at what all i have to do – and i lament that im not doing the area i just finished – because that area that seemed so impossible now seems easy – but you put a phrase that really put that “seems so impossible” into clarity – you added everything probably needed to stay anyway – i think that’s part of my problem – thinking that everything is going to have to stay – and i have no where to put it – and anticipating the emotional stuff – but i think that’s my irrational fear – that everything is going to have to stay – thinking you for putting it into words – the only other phrase i’ve ever heard that was as close to being helpful – i found it on youtube and haven’t been able to re-find it – but clutter is evil – and it wants to stay in your house – it helps me feel like a warrior princess fighting to defend my home – which really we all are

  7. says

    What you want to do is clear one area. This is your no-clutter zone. It can be a counter, or your kitchen table, or the three-foot perimeter around your couch. Wherever you start, make a rule: nothing can be placed there that’s not actually in use. Everything must be put away. Once you have that clutter-free zone, keep it that way! Now, each day, slowly expand your no-clutter zone until it envelopes the whole house! Unfortunately, the neighbors don’t seem to like it when you try to expand the no-clutter zone to their house, and start hauling away their unused exercise equipment and torn underwear when they’re not at home. Some people don’t appreciate simplicity, I guess.

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