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12 Minimalist Tips for Decluttering Your Home

With more time spent in our homes than usual lately, many of us are reflecting on what we can do to make it a place that truly feels like our sanctuary. We want a place we can escape to—not escape from. That’s part of the idea behind the minimalism movement that has grown in popularity over the last few years. Those in the minimalist community say it’s not about getting rid of all your worldly possessions and living in a small house devoid of all personality. It’s about being intentional with the items you do own, making sure each one has a purpose in your life—even if the purpose is simply that it makes you happy.

Minimalism looks different for everyone, but you don’t have to commit fully to the minimalist lifestyle to borrow some useful ideas for decluttering. The cleaning professionals at Merry Maids have put together 12 of our favorite minimalist-inspired tips for clearing the clutter, finding motivation, and making your home a place you truly want to be.

Getting Started with Decluttering

#1. Start small. Decluttering can be overwhelming at first, especially for those of us who aren’t in the habit. To begin, spend five minutes throwing out or setting aside things you no longer need. If even that seems like too much, just find one thing you don’t want and either toss it, donate it, or give it away. If you did this every day for a year, that would be 365 fewer items in your home.

#2. Pick a counter. Or a shelf. Choose one contained area—and only one—to train your focus. Concentrate on decluttering that single shelf or counter, removing items that don’t belong there, setting aside items that should be in other rooms to put away later, collecting items that can be given away or donated, and throwing out anything no longer of use to anyone. Once you’re satisfied with the results, use that area as your inspiration when tackling the next space.

#3. Expand from a clutter-free zone. Once you have a small area or zone that’s decluttered and organized to your liking, maintain it. Protect it from collecting clutter at all costs. Then, each day, see if you can create a slightly bigger area to protect. Maybe that means an adjoining counter, or another shelf nearby. Or maybe that means the floor underneath or in front of it. Some days you may not feel like tackling more clutter to extend the zone, and that’s okay—but remain vigilant about the space you’ve already cleared.

Finding Your Minimalist Motivation

#4. Take a picture. Some of us are blind to our own clutter. When something has lived in a spot for so long—whether it belongs there or not—we have a tendency to overlook it because we’re so used to it being there. Try snapping a picture of a room, a counter, or any specific area you’d like to declutter, then examining the photo to identify the items that don’t belong. Refer back to the image as needed while you rehome wayward items. Extra credit: Once you’ve decluttered the area in the picture, take another photo. Use your before-and-after photos for later reference, or simply as inspiration of a job well done!

#5. Defend items to a friend. Are you having trouble parting with certain items you know you should let go? Ask a friend or family member to take the position of getting rid of the item, then plead your case for keeping it. Defending the item out loud might strengthen your argument or allow you to see a different perspective, and your friend may bring up points you hadn’t considered. If no one is available, even imagining you have to justify keeping the item can help uncover your true feelings about it.

#6. Channel your inner Marie Kondo. As you decide whether or not to keep something, consider why you own it. Ask yourself if it serves a purpose, if it has a specific place to live, if you have similar items that serve the same purpose, and, yes, if it truly brings you joy. Kondo’s KonMari Method of decluttering emphasizes asking these questions because they can help you determine whether or not the item deserves space in your home.

Clearing Clutter with 20 Minutes or Less

#7. Empty a drawer. Rather than trying to decide what to take out of a drawer, start with a clean slate and decide what goes back in. Arrange items neatly, and in a way that makes sense for how you use them. Find a new home for anything that doesn’t go back in the drawer—whether that’s elsewhere in your home, in care of a friend, at the donation center, or in the trash.

#8. Toss expired medicine. When was the last time you went through your medicine cabinet? Unlike the refrigerator where spoilage is obvious, over-the-counter drugs and prescription medications often stick around well past their use-by dates. For the best and safest results, dispose of expired products and replace those you want to have on hand. Not sure of the proper disposal methods? Refer to the FDA guidelines.

#9. Fill a donation bag as fast as you can. Set a timer for a specific period or race a family member and fill a trash bag or empty box with items to be donated, then make a plan to get it out of the house. If donation centers near you are closed, at capacity, or not accepting donations, consider alternatives such as local shelters or donate-by-mail organizations.

#10. Create an inbox for paperwork. Paper clutter seemingly never ends. Designate one spot—and one spot only—for any incoming papers. Use an actual inbox tray, a decorative basket, or anything that works for you to indicate the paper zone. Place mail, receipts, flyers, instructions, and any other paperwork in this spot as soon as it enters the house, before it can spread out.

#11. Find homes for five things. Only have a few minutes? Identify five items that aren’t currently where they should be and put them away. If they don’t have an existing place to live, find them one. If they are no longer wanted or needed, give them away or toss them.

Keeping Up with Decluttering

#12. Keep going. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part, but sometimes continuing on is even harder. If you find that your initial enthusiasm starts to wane, don’t give up. Look back at “before” pictures, admire your clutter-free zones, remember how much more crowded your closet used to be. Mostly, congratulate yourself on how far you’ve come and give yourself a break. Your decluttering reflex will grow stronger the more you practice it, and soon you’ll have the decluttered minimalist space you envisioned—whatever that means for you.

You’ve cleared the clutter, now let us keep it clean! Request an estimate on reliable and convenient house cleaning services from Merry Maids® today.