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Best Methods for Decluttering

If your living space is feeling cluttered and messy, it’s time to declutter your home! But how can you get started? Whether you’re decluttering your entire house or just tackling a specific room, try one of these 13 home decluttering methods!

  • 20-Minute Method
  • Reverse Hanger Trick
  • Drawer Rotation Method
  • One In, One Out Rule
  • Box & Banish Method
  • 90/90 Rule
  • Four Box Method
  • Five Item Rule
  • 12-12-12 Challenge
  • 20/20 “Just in Case” Rule
  • 30-Day Minimalist Game
  • KonMari Method
  • Packing Party

20-Minute Method

If you dedicate just 20 minutes every day, you can easily declutter a small space with the 20-Minute Method. Set a timer for 20 minutes and start decluttering a small area like kitchen cabinets or the ever-messy junk drawer. When the timer goes off, step back and assess the work you’ve done. If you feel like you’ve done enough decluttering for the day, you’re done. Want to keep going? Set the timer for an additional 20 minutes!

Pros

  • It’s ideal for smaller, more defined spaces like a cabinet, drawer, or closet.
  • By doing just a little bit of decluttering at a time, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • If you end each session feeling good, then you’re more likely to keep decluttering.

Cons

  • You won’t be able to tackle big spaces in this time frame.
  • This method doesn’t give you an appropriate amount of time to evaluate the importance or sentimental value of items.
  • Because this is a quick way to declutter, you might still have clutter in your home.

Reverse Hanger Trick

Running out of space in your closet? The Reverse Hanger Trick is a simple way to part with clothes you’re no longer wearing! The key to this decluttering method is to hang the clothes backward so the open end of the hanger faces toward you. Every time you wear the item, hang it as you normally would so the opening of the hanger faces away from you. After six months, you’ll know exactly which pieces you need to part with based on the position of your hangers!

Pros

  • This method is easy to implement and doesn’t require much time.
  • It’s a great way to visualize what clothing you’re wearing and which pieces are just taking up room.
  • It could motivate you to wear more of the clothing you have.

Cons

  • The Reverse Hanger Trick only works for clothes hanging in the closet.
  • This method will not completely declutter your closet.
  • It takes a long time for this method to work—you don’t get the satisfaction of a quick declutter.

Drawer Rotation Method

Tackle your dresser drawers with the Drawer Rotation Method! With this method, you put clean, folded clothes in the back of drawers rather than in front. Start by folding your clothes horizontally, so you can rotate them easily. This decluttering method encourages you to wear all of the pieces of clothing in your drawers instead of wearing the same thing over and over again. If items sit in drawers and you don’t wear them, those are the ones to part with. This method works great paired with the Reverse Hanger Trick!

Pros

  • It helps you assess the clothes in your drawers on a more frequent basis, rather than seasonally.
  • Because you’re evaluating items often, you’re more likely to keep drawers tidy and decluttered.
  • By folding horizontally, your clothes are less likely to wrinkle and will take up less space in your drawers.

Cons

  • The Drawer Rotation Method only works for clothes in a dresser.
  • This method doesn’t apply to seasonal clothing you may keep in storage.
  • It can be time-consuming to fold your clothes a certain way.

One In, One Out Rule

Love to go shopping but have no room in your closet or dresser for new items? Try the One In, One Out Rule! This minimalist decluttering method is simple—for every new item you buy, you get rid of one item. For example, if you purchase a pair of jeans, then you need to part with one pair of jeans from your closet. You can donate or sell the item—it doesn’t matter as long as it goes!

Pros

  • This method doesn’t just apply to clothes. It works great for kids toys, housewares, decor, and more!
  • You maintain the amount of items you started with and won’t have to make room for new items.
  • It helps you question purchases and whether you actually need the item, ultimately reducing your personal consumption.

Cons

  • This could be a difficult method if you shop often, as you’ll constantly clear items out.
  • It’s not a method you can do in quick bursts, but rather one you need to stick to and complete every time you buy something.
  • With this rule, you may be tempted to purchase “fast fashion” and other less sustainable items.
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Box & Banish Method

Medium box open beside a stack of jeans. Photo by Instagram user @setapartstyle.

Photo via @setapartstyle

The Box & Banish Method is a simple way to declutter your home! Place a box in an accessible yet hidden spot like under a desk or in a closet and put items you’re not sure you want to keep inside. After a decided amount of time (e.g., two weeks), if you haven’t used any of the items in the box, then get rid of them. If, however, you found yourself needing an item within that two weeks, keep it.

Pros

  • This method helps you visualize a clean, clutter-free living space.
  • It’s a simple solution for determining if you actually need an item or if you’re keeping it “just in case.”
  • You don’t have to commit to getting rid of items right away, which gives you a test-run without those items.

Cons

  • This is not an instant declutter method—it takes time to see results.
  • If you struggle parting with sentimental items, then this method will not work for you.
  • If you’re looking for something you need that’s in the box, you could stumble upon another item and justifying keeping it, too.

90/90 Rule

Another minimalist decluttering method is the 90/90 rule. Ask yourself two questions: Have I used it in the past 90 days? and Will I use it in the next 90 days? If you answer no to both questions, it’s safe to say that you can part with the item. This decluttering method is great for organizing any spot in your house from your kitchen to your garage.

Pros

  • This number rule is flexible. You can change 90 days to six months, as long as you’re honest with yourself if you’ll use the item or not.
  • It’s an easy method for getting rid of items you don’t need anymore.
  • It helps you identify items you use on a regular basis and the items that you keep “just in case.”

Cons

  • This decluttering method doesn’t apply to seasonal decor.
  • It may not work for special occasion and sentimental items.
  • You could be hesitant to get rid of an item because you might need it in the future.

Four Box Method

Baskets with decluttered objects in them; the middle basket says "donate." Photo by Instagram user @neatlittlenest.

Photo via @neatlittlenest

Use the Four Box Method to get your space looking clean and organized in no time! For this home decluttering method, you’ll need four boxes labeled with the following categories: Trash, Give Away/Sell, Storage, and Put Away. Starting one room at a time, sort items into the appropriate boxes before moving onto the next area. When you come to a good stopping point or the boxes are full, dispose of the trash right away, box up the Storage box, and place the Give Away/Sell box near the door or in the trunk of your car. Once you complete one room with this method, it’s time to move on to the next!

Pros

  • This method makes it easy to part with clothes you don’t wear anymore or that don’t fit properly.
  • By having a sell box, it’s easy to part with items and make a little extra money!
  • The key to this method is to declutter one room at a time, which keeps you from feeling overwhelmed.

Cons

  • You may find yourself feeling indecisive about items you placed in the boxes.
  • When one of the boxes is full, it’s easy to stop the decluttering process.
  • You might be tempted to move boxes to a garage, basement, attic, or storage room where you’ll forget about them and keep the clutter.

Five Item Rule

With the Five Item Rule, you focus on more than one room at a time, picking five items to get rid of. Of course, you can get rid of more than five items in a room—this is just a number to start with. This decluttering method works great for any room in your house like a home office or mudroom.

Pros

  • This method helps you keep the clutter in each room to a minimum.
  • This is a low stress way to declutter since you’re only focusing on five items at a time.
  • You can easily identify five items to get rid of.

Cons

  • Going from room to room without finishing the room may feel like you’ve made little progress.
  • Once you get rid of five items, you may decide you’re done decluttering.
  • This decluttering process may seem redundant after a while.

12-12-12 Challenge

Tired of finding items all over your house or not in their appropriate spot? Try the 12-12-12 Challenge! Essentially, you need to locate 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper place. Make decluttering fun by turning this decluttering challenge into a competition with your family. The 12-12-12 challenge is also ideal for organizing a storage room or kids toy room!

Pros

  • This method focuses on putting items back in their proper place, which can improve organization.
  • It takes no time to set up.
  • When you put an item in its proper place, you can look at the surrounding area for your next item to throw away, donate, or put in its proper place if it isn’t already there.

Cons

  • It may be difficult to choose which items to donate and which to throw away.
  • It’s easy to get sidetracked while moving and decluttering in different rooms.
  • This can be especially tricky for children who refuse to get rid of any toys.
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20/20 “Just in Case” Rule

Open drawer with different teabags, and loose-leaf tea in an organized order. Photo by Instagram user @laurendamarie.

Photo via @laurendamarie

Often, we have clutter in our homes because we hold onto items “just in case” we need them in the future. The 20/20 rule encourages you to part with objects you can replace for less than $20 within a 20-minute drive from your home. This decluttering method works great for parting with items like cables, towels, clothes, dishes, kitchen gadgets, baby items, books, and more.

Pros

  • It helps you get rid of items you no longer need and realize what items you use on a regular basis.
  • After decluttering, you won’t have any duplicate items.
  • This method is easy to implement.

Cons

  • Even though the item is less than $20 and can be replaced in under 20 minutes, there’s a chance you might regret parting with it.
  • If you end up needing or wanting the item again, it can be inconvenient to get a new one.
  • It may be hard to know which items toe the line of being $20 or if there’s a store with that item within 20 minutes of your home.

30-Day Minimalist Game

Make a game out of decluttering your home with the 30-Day Minimalist Game! This game corresponds to the days in a month, and each day tells you how many items to declutter. The first day is one item, second day is two items, third day is three items, and so on. By the end of a 31-day month, you’ll have removed 496 items. Whether you choose to donate, sell, or throw items away is up to you, but the possessions must be out of your house by midnight each day. With this method of decluttering, anything goes!

Pros

  • After playing this game for a month, you’ll have decluttered and parted with tons of items.
  • Playing this game is a great way to be introduced to the minimalist decluttering method.
  • Playing this game with friends and family can help keep you accountable.

Cons

  • It can be difficult and time-consuming to find the number of items to declutter.
  • If you fall behind in the minimalist challenge, it can be difficult to recover.
  • This is not an instant decluttering method.

KonMari Method

Created by professional organizer Marie Kondo, the KonMari Method emphasizes removing clutter from your home and surrounding yourself with items that bring joy. Unlike other methods of decluttering, the KonMari Method encourages you to focus on tidying up by category, not by room. When using this method, be sure to start with clothes, then move on to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and end with sentimental items. The whole idea behind this decluttering method is to part with items that no longer spark joy.

Pros

  • While sorting, you can compare similar items in each category, making it easier to get rid of any duplicates.
  • The discarding process allows you to have gratitude for the item because it contributed to your life.
  • By the end of the process, you know what items you have, so you could save money by purchasing less.

Cons

  • Sorting by category may not be effective if you have a large family or space. It could take a long time to go through everyone’s belongings.
  • The “spark joy” mantra may not work for everyone.
  • Putting the items you’re keeping back in their proper place after pulling everything out can be time-consuming.

Packing Party

An extreme method for decluttering your home is to have a packing party. Choose a room to declutter then pack everything in that room into boxes like you’re moving. Throughout the next several months, only take out the items you use regularly. Any items left in the boxes after three months can be sold or donated. This decluttering approach takes a lot of preparation and planning, but it’s very effective if done correctly.

Pros

  • This is an effective way to part with items you don’t use.
  • If you’re planning on moving, this is a great way to start packing and get rid of items you no longer need.
  • The items are out of sight, so you won’t even realize you miss or need certain things, making it easier to part with them once the cycle ends.

Cons

  • Your home will look pretty bare at first.
  • Items you place in boxes may become unorganized.
  • As you take items out of boxes, you’ll probably have to wash certain items before use.

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Need more living space? Extra Space Storage has storage facilities throughout the U.S. that can help you declutter your home and make room for what matters most. Find self storage near you!

Pinterest Image: Decluttering: 13 Methods for Decluttering Your Home: Extra Space Storage

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