Get started on your journey to living in a home that feels comfortable and welcoming.
Here are the 5 steps to efficient cleaning:
Some people may hang onto excess items or animals that can compromise the health and
safety of the home. It’s important to keep up on cleaning and pay close attention to your common trouble spots so your home can remain safe and healthy. Common categories that stack up easily include:
Are you holding onto books you’ll never get to? Do you have stacks of books you will probably never open again?
Do you find yourself stocking up on certain foods, even if you can’t finish them before they expire? Are your cupboards filled with ingredients you don’t use?
Do you have stacks of old documents you don’t need anymore? Can you throw them away, or create a filing system for things you don’t have a digital record of?
Do you have items in your closet that still have the price tags attached? Do you find yourself buying and stowing things you don’t intend to use?
Do you have more animals in your home than you can care for? Sometimes people rescue animals out of compassion, but do not have the space or resources to care for all of them. If you struggle caring for your animals, you may want to evaluate your space and consider finding new homes for some of them.
Do you find yourself searching for free items left in others’ trash, or struggling to part with your garbage? Some people struggle to part with trash, whether their own or what they’ve found. However, trash can quickly create dangerous health situations by attracting pests.
Once you’ve identified what you want to change, it’s easy to get carried away with lofty plans. However, if you try to do too much at once, you can get overwhelmed and give up quickly.
Don’t expect to finish everything in one weekend. Remember, it’s a process!
Rather than saying you’ll finish the entire house by a certain date, give yourself smaller deadlines and plenty of space. If you’re not sure how long something will take, set a daily habit goal for yourself. You can set a timer for 5-15 minutes, returning to the same area each day until it’s finished.
Decluttering your home is a marathon, not a sprint! Don’t burn yourself out at the beginning. Keep it small, steady, and consistent.
Sometimes the hardest part of undertaking a big project is getting started! Get the momentum going by deciding what your first step will be.
Make it easier on yourself by picking a spot you can finish quickly. Accumulating some wins will help you feel good about your progress and strengthen your motivation and confidence.
Breaking your goals down into bite-size, achievable increments is a great strategy. Rather than saying “I’ll clean the bathroom first,” focus on decluttering the top drawer.
Once that is finished, pat yourself on the back and move on to the next drawer.
There are numerous decluttering strategies out there. Below, we’ve compiled what we found to be the most effective strategies for your use. Some will work for your personal strengths and needs, and others won’t.
Keep testing the cleaning methods listed below until you find something that resonates with YOU and helps you achieve your goals.
Each day, choose a drawer or other small space in your home and set a time for 5-15 minutes. Work on that space until your timer goes off, and then move on with your day!
Once you’ve finished a space, you can move on to the next area on your list.
The one-drawer-a-day method works especially well for people with ADHD or others who may quickly get distracted.
Sometimes, we hang onto things for years, thinking we’ll need them eventually. With this method, we introduce ways to track if items have been used in the last year. If not, they’re thrown out or donated.
The next time you’re decluttering, ask yourself if you’ve used an item in the last year. If not, get rid of it.
If you’re sorting clothes, it can be helpful to turn all the hangers backward at the beginning of a season. Once you’ve worn something, you can hang it up the regular way.
Once that season is over, look through the closet and remove all the clothes still on backward-facing hangers—these are the pieces you wound up not using.
No matter how useful something is, having too much is unhelpful. If you have extras of something, donate them. Many organizations take extra items, and sometimes these donations are even tax-deductible.
These organizations are all good options to look into when donating extra items:
OHIO stands for Only Handle It Once. This method is particularly useful for mail and email. Don’t let things pile up. When you open your mail, you have three options:
Once you have a digital record of something, you can throw away the paper copy and know that you’ll never lose it.
Kondo’s method of decluttering involves asking yourself if different items “spark joy.” In her bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo offers a unique process.
She advises going through your homes, touching each item you own, and asking yourself if it sparks joy. Often, she says, we are attached to our emotions and memories surrounding an object, and we don’t need the object itself to enjoy those emotions and memories.
While going through each individual item can feel overwhelming, as you make your way through the different spaces in your home, take an extra minute with the items that feel hard to part with.
Ask yourself if that item truly sparks joy. If you’re keeping it for any other reason (anxiety, guilt, fear), let it go.
One of the main premises of Swedish death cleaning is consideration for your loved ones who will need to deal with your belongings after your passing.
While it may seem morbid, in reality, choosing to downsize can lighten the burden for others in the future. Swedish death cleaning emphasizes taking your time and mindfully evaluating what you still need.
For the 4-box technique, label four different boxes with:
If you’re keeping it, put it in the keep box.
If you don’t need it but it’s still in good shape, put it in the donation box.
If you don’t need it and it isn’t in good condition to donate, put it in the trash box.
If you need it in a certain season, but not this current season (think baby gear if you’re planning on having another child, seasonal decor, winter clothing, etc.), put it in the store box.
With your four boxes, move to the first space you want to declutter and put items in the appropriate box. Once you’re finished with a space, empty the boxes before you move to the next space. Put away the keep items, throw out the trash items, and so on.
For a motivating win to get your sense of accomplishment up, do a quick 21-item toss.
Grab a trash bag and walk through your house, picking up the first 21 things you see that you don’t need anymore and throwing them away. If you make this a habit, you can quickly clear out things you no longer need and make a big difference in your space.
It’s a great excuse to get up from your desk for a few minutes or fill the time during a commercial break. You can enlist your kids or partner to help too—or race to see who can toss 21 items first!
If you’re saving something for a rainy day, put it on a firm deadline. Box up the items you think you’ll need someday and write an expiration date on the outside of the box.
If you haven’t gone looking for the items by that date, simply donate or throw away the box. Put a reminder in your phone or calendar so you don’t leave the box gathering dust in your garage for years.
For a week-long challenge, choose 7 manageable areas you want to tackle. Each day for a week, clean one of your zones. Make sure these areas are small so you don’t get overwhelmed—you want to set yourself up to win by picking things that can be accomplished in a day!
Sometimes we need to make a few purchases in order to organize our homes. It makes it even harder to clean things up if you’re dealing with:
Finding a storage bin, new hangers, or another organizer to corral these items can make all the difference. But beware, don’t let shopping for organizational solutions become a new way to clutter up your home.
Recognize that if you are constantly buying new bookshelves or storage bins, it’s probably time to go through your items and get rid of some of them.
Getting rid of things can be a painful process, but understanding your reasons for decluttering increases your motivation. Ask yourself these 12 questions to decide if something deserves a spot in your home:
We want to live in clean spaces. After all, improving the cleanliness of our homes has major physical, mental, emotional, and social benefits.
Trends in organization and home decor ebb and flow, but a certain fascination with decluttering and cleaning stays consistent. The reality is that we all struggle to bridge the gap between our goals and reality—which is why cleaning and organization trends are so pervasive in pop culture.
Celebrities have a heavy influence on our design and cleaning trends. All of the most popular decor trends— Scandi, Japandi, and the Minimalist Movement—are popular because celebrities made them that way.
Even cleaning trends like:
Are considered trends because influencers rave about how effective they are.
At the root of those trends is a deep-seated human obsession with understanding how we can reach our cleaning goals despite all the factors that prevent us from getting there.
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, most of the United States was under strict shelter-in-place orders. Suddenly, we were asked to conduct work, education, and family life within four walls.
Even now, while many of us have ventured out of our homes for work, school, travel, and entertainment, once again, our lives have shifted.
Members of the workforce may still be working remotely or adopting a hybrid schedule. Many families have decided to continue homeschooling their children.
Spending more time than ever in our homes has given many of us an increased awareness of the spaces where we live. Being home all the time may have created more challenges in keeping things tidy, but it also increased our awareness and appreciation of our homes. You probably have a clearer view into what you’d like to improve about your living space.
If increased time at home has sparked your curiosity about ways to keep it more peaceful, clean, and uncluttered, keep reading to learn more about modern design and organizational movements.
Current decor trends point to a desire for clean, uncluttered spaces. Simple lines, natural colors, and a minimalistic appearance characterize the popular Scandi and Japandi-style interiors.
If you’ve been to an Ikea, you’ve been exposed to Scandi design. Short for “Scandinavian,” this trend originated in the countries of Northern Europe and focuses on combining functionality with beauty. Scandi values:
Scandi evokes warmth and peace without being kitschy or cluttered.
Japandi design combines simple Scandi ideals with Japanese beauty. Japandi emphasizes our relationship with the natural world and sustainability while maintaining the aesthetics that made Scandi so popular. Japandi pieces tend to be sleeker than Scandi’s rustic touches and use deeper color tones.
Both styles are grounded in minimalism and characterized by a lack of clutter, evoking peace, calm, and contentment—something we all crave, especially after spending more time than ever at home.
In recent years, minimalism has become the subject of:
Devotees evangelize the peace they feel about letting go of extra possessions and living a simpler life. Aspiring minimalists can look to dozens of sources for guidance on how to cut down on their stuff and simplify. While minimalism is a popular buzzword right now, its roots go back centuries.
In the 1800s, transcendentalist philosophers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David
Thoreau wrote about the virtues of simplicity and living with less.
Throughout the 20th century, design movements focusing on simple materials and sleek lines have gone in and out of popularity. Real Simple, a magazine that is a staple in many homes, was started in 2000, and emphasizes “keeping life simple and stress free.”
The longstanding popularity of minimalist movements goes to show that we want to be in peaceful, clean homes—we just don’t always know how to get there.
Because cleaning is a fact of life that occupies our minds daily, it’s natural for trends to mirror this. Certain methods and philosophies are having their heyday right now. Shows, books, and social media factor in the rising popularity of these organizational trends.
Marie Kondo revolutionized decluttering with her “spark joy” method of getting rid of any items
that don’t make you feel happy. She recommends thanking items that have served their purpose before throwing them away or donating them.
Kondo acknowledged in a recent article that with three children, she still struggles to keep her home organized. While her home is no longer pristine and tidy, she still embraces minimalism not only in physical spaces but in how she spends her time.
Margareta Magnusson published her book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, in early 2018. Despite the initially shocking title, Swedish death cleaning, or döstädning, is a simple and considerate practice.
Swedish death cleaning is based on the idea that as you age, you should begin clearing your home of excess possessions. This helps you simplify your life and focus on what matters as you age. It also helps your loved ones by giving them fewer things to manage after your passing.
The Home Edit is a company founded by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin. They have created:
The Home Edit’s main philosophy is combining form, function, and fun for a home that stays neat and organized while keeping personality as a strong feature. They are very influential in the home organization space. Their marketing and personality-infused cleaning tips give them a broad appeal. They appeal to people who want a neater, more organized space but don’t resonate with the severity of more minimalistic approaches.
Organizing trends come and go, but spring cleaning has been a popular seasonal ritual for centuries. Humans have always needed to be intentional about taking time to clean and organize.
The practice has roots in many religious and cultural traditions like:
In Judaism, homes are traditionally cleaned before Passover to remove any yeast products.
A Buddhist festival in Thailand held in April involves purification rituals, including cleaning homes and temples.
Khaneh Tekani, or “shaking the house,” is a Persian tradition dating back over 3,000 years. In the spring, families cleaned and decluttered their homes to prevent bad luck in the coming year.
Yogis practice saucha, a purity practice, in the spring. Part of this practice is creating clean, non-distracting environments for home and work.
There may also be biological reasons for our drive to clean in the spring. As we experience more sunlight, our bodies produce less melatonin, driving us to be more alert. After a long, sleepy winter, the warm weather provides an opportunity to set things in order.
If the thought of gearing up for spring cleaning has your heart pounding, you’re not alone. The extra sunlight and societal pressures create intense feelings around spring cleaning.
Society tells us we should be ashamed when we struggle to keep our homes clean, but in reality, most of us fall somewhere on the hoarding scale. There’s a reason the human race has been doing spring cleaning for thousands of years!
We’re all a work in progress. There’s no need to feel shame no matter how out of hand your home feels to you.
It’s time to end the stigma around hoarding. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Whether you simply need some ideas to help you get started or are looking for some hands-on assistance, we’ve got you covered.