Walking Guide

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.


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.


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!


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.


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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KHALIA2 10/2/2018
Great tips! Thanks! Report
LUKMARTEL 9/17/2018
Thank you so much for this article! I have a problem with being scattered. I start one place and notice something somewhere else, and I'm off and running in a circle. I never get finished, but now I have a plan

eter-viagra-sildenafil Report
Good suggestions. Now to put them into action. Report
Good suggestions. Now to put them into action. Report
I think this should be a SparkPeople challenge. That being said, some of the things I don't have any problem with with, but the basement would take me a week minimum!

And...most people I know would have that problem as well. Please remember if someone has a ranch style home in a geographic area that has basements, the basement is as large as the home. Report
KHALIA2 4/18/2018
I like the idea of yard sales. When it is nice outside, it also gives you an opportunity to make a little money. Report
Excellent will help ! Report
REEDSKI 2/11/2018
I love the list. Some things would take more than one day. Report
PAMMYLBEAR 1/19/2018
Just because you consider it junk doesn't mean everyone else will. Those holey clothes? A textile recycler can make good use of them. Report
IAMAUNTYEM 11/5/2017
Clutter seems to be self reproducing. 8-) Report
PLATINUM755 10/27/2017
Good suggestion...Thanx! Report
great tips Report
Marvelous! I need to do this! Thank you so much for this article! I have a problem with being scattered. I start one place and notice something somewhere else, and I'm off and running in a circle. I never get finished, but now I have a plan. :-) Report
This is a great idea, but I don't think I could do this in 30 days. Report
Thank you... Report
I am not good at doing things quickly and organization - I have gradually figured out - does not come easily to me. Articles with the speed suggested here don't work for me - what works for me and perhaps others is to take one idea and think about it as a goal for however long it would take me. That is more positive for me. Report
This is perfect! Thank you for this helpful organization article to clear out my house! Report
I'm doing spring cleaning right now, and it's not as easy as she says it is. I've had boxes oh stuff that was just sitting collecting dust having to go through all that stuff it's a bigger job than she says it is. I wish I had a magic one that we could just get rid of everything that I no longer use but it's not that simple I'm not Samantha and I can switch my nose and make it disappear I've been at it for probably 3 days fan already took two loads of trash to the dump and I'm sure there's going to be a lot more when I'm through hopefully I can get it all done in a week or so :-) Report
Hotel shampoos & conditioners: they can be donated to your local American Cancer Society Hope Lodge or Ronald McDonald House. Report
love these ideas, and am planning on a big clean followed by feng shui at some point. Report
If only it was that easy. The author must not have much stuff. Report
Printing this off Report
How can I find this article in printable form?? VERY GOOD information, but I need to keep the copy for reference. Report
I go through closets twice a year, when I change from winter to summer, or summer to winter clothes.

Clothes that are still wearable, but that don't fit or I'm tired of go into the donate pile, and go to a local charity thrift store.

I no longer buy hardcover books, unless it's a reference book I might need to refer to. Instead, I borrow books from the library or download onto my Kindle.

I got electronic subscriptions to my local newspapers - no more piles of newsprint to recycle. Report
While sometimes I think moving would be easier, I will give this a try. Report
I've been reading these kinds of articles for over 50 years, makes sense, but truly, the only way to really do it is to MOVE, then you will find it easier to toss and donate! But these bloggers just gotta have something to yap about, lol. Report
Funny...my last blog was on Needs vs Wants. I've always decluttered regularly and had blogged about how this can also be applied to our eating habits. Yes, declutter...a decluttered life leads to a decluttered eating pattern. Report
1.) Old towels, pillows, duvets and face flannels are often appreciated by animal rescue centres.
2.) one in, one out. We've reached saturation point with our books, so we try and apply this rule. Very hard at Christmas and birthdays though!
3.) be careful what you do with old medicine - take it to your local chemist, do NOT flush it! And always finish a course of antibiotics, even if you think you don't need to.
4.) a place for everything and everything in its place. Tidying isn't just moving stuff from one heap to another. Make sure everything has a home and keep it there.
5.) less visible clutter means less dust means less housework! Report
I fell off so I'm starting over Report
hotel sized bottles of shampoo can be donated to your local homeless shelter, as long as they are unopened. They are greatly appreciated. Report
I'm totally doing this. Let's go day 1! Report
My basement, garage or even kitchen cabinets are gonna take more than a day.
A mantle & medicine cabinet, about 5 minutes. :-) Report
I take unopened shampoos and other stuff the hotels give, and donate to a homeless shelter. I also add a knitted washcloth to the package. In our area, unused Rx medicines (not liquid) are taken to the police station which has a locked metal cabinet to drop them into. Report
Or wait until you go to assisted living Report
Always easier to break big tasks down into smaller segments. Certain things on this list would easily take more than 1 day to complete, so I'll adapt to my own personal need and break things down where necessary (or replace where things don't apply - I don't have a basement or mudroom.)

This also works in other areas - my yard is requiring a lot of prep for the warmer months. I just finished my third Sunday of cleaning all the dead leaves and ivy out of the flower beds that run along the entire front of my house. Breaking it down into segments made it easier to commit a couple of hours each Sunday vs spending an entire day (and 2 days to recover). Report
Always a great tip too is: Anything new comes into the house, something old must go out. Helps keep your hard work paying off. Report
This is a good article for those with "a little clutter", but I'm a recovering hoarder...Each task could easily take several days. Some (like book shelves) may take weeks. It's so hard to find good articles for true hoarders. Report
this looks like a really good idea

is this a challenge out there? just figured if it were it would be easier to follow Report
Great article and always good to get any new ideas. When I downsized 4 years ago to a smaller house, I got rid of so much. I called goodwill and they picked up 30 boxes of items, etc. Then after moving I still had another 60 boxes of things to have picked up. Most of it was in closets, so I forgot about it and my house did not look cluttered.....Moving to a smaller space made me realized I did not need all the things I had. I got rid of great books, records, household items for shelves,etc. Now I have one book case with two shelves and that is all I need. Clothes I give to my church or two other places that need clothes.
It is now a weekly project for me to spend about two hours on a Monday and go through paperwork, for filing, and tossing,etc.
Thanks for all the info. Flylady is good too and it does help to be more organized . Thanks for sharing. I also enjoyed many of the comments here.
Spark is wonderful with all kinds of suggestions. Little by little my home is looking like a really CLEAN place to live. I have baby spoons too. I keep them for my grandkids. Now they are bigger, so I am trying to decide if my kids would like for their own grandkids, sometime, when they get this old..LOL.......
I did print this long article and want to highlight areas I may have missed.....GREAT reminder on how to stay on top of things. Paper was a big problem for me, all kinds of old receipts,etc. Good luck everyone and keep at it. Report
So where is the printable version of this plan? :) Report
This is the best anti-clutter plan I've ever seen, and I have a shelf full of books on the subject. I'm definitely going to follow it starting tomorrow. I'' put each task on my calendar with a reminder to nag me! Report
This is the best anti-clutter plan I've ever seen, and I have a shelf full of books on the subject. I'm definitely going to follow it starting tomorrow. I'' put each task on my calendar with a reminder to nag me! Report
You should change this to a challenge, it would work well . Report
When disposing of medications, it's helpful to refer to the US Food and Drug administration, that is, the FDA.gov page, "How to Dispose of Unused Medicines". Apparently some medications are safe to flush away, while others, are not. I can't include the url here, but you can google it and find the page.
This has been said in the comments but can't be said enough times. Expired medications of all types need to be taken to an organization that will dispose of them properly, NOT in the trash and NOT in the toilet or down the drain. Fish and soil now contain harmful drugs from this practice. Report
I think it is a great idea to do one piece of furniture, or one drawer, at a time. Report
All of this sounds nice. For me, it's not that I need to be taught what to do. I already know very well how to get rid of clutter and organize what's left. My problem is that I have severe ADD/ADHD and I can't do it. I know how, but I simply can NOT do it. My nervous system and brain do not function in that way. Report
I've been decluttering ... slowly ... for the last 2 months or so. I'm nowhere near done, but it's remarkable how much stuff I've managed to either throw out or donate, and having organised drawers, cupboards, even rooms (!) really is a wonderful feeling. I keep opening my kitchen cupboards just to have a look :-) This is my new motto: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful" ... William Morris. Report
Our STOP Team did this in 2014 as a challenge. I loved it. I am still decluttering. We are going to do it again in the Spring this year. I find quite a few things I put in a safe place, then forget where I put them. I only have one junk drawer now. My pantry is more organized. Good feeling. Report
Great ideas. Report
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