How to declutter your home for good
Follow Marie Kondo's helpful advice, as well as other expert tips, to find out where to start to declutter your home
Do you feel like you're always tidying? It turns out you might not be the only one.
Studies have found that on average, Brits spend 5 hours or more on domestic cleaning activities each week, while some take up to a whopping to 15 hours to complete household chores and tidying.
We all recognise the saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ when it comes to our own health, but the same logic can apply when it comes to keeping our homes running efficiently. It may sound like common sense, but we’re all guilty of leaving things where they don’t belong, and before you know it, you have a mammoth clearing task ahead.
If this sounds like you, then it's a sign that it might be time to declutter your home for good.
Keep reading to discover the ultimate guide to decluttering your home, as told by experts, including the world-renowned organizer, Marie Kondo...
The benefits of decluttering
By now, most of us have heard the name Marie Kondo. Her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying, and her spin off Netflix programme saw her transform normal people’s lives from chaotic to calm with some simple organisation skills. We were lucky enough to catch up with her to find out what she believes are the benefits of decluttering:
'Decluttering and tidying are powerful tools, but they are not the destination. The true goal of tidying is to surround yourself with the things that you love the most so that you can live your ideal life. An underlying principle of the KonMari Method™ is to ask yourself what kind of life you want to live and tidy according to that. When you individually assess your belongings and organize your home through that guiding principle, you set the stage for a transformation. This is the magic of tidying! KonMari Method™ helps you decide the items you want to keep by knowing what sparks joy for you. When you declutter and tidy with that mindset, the ultimate benefit is to be able to live your ideal life.'
The true goal of tidying is to surround yourself with the things that you love the most so that you can live your ideal life.
Buy now: Get your copy of Marie Kondo's best-selling book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying on Amazon.
Top tip: Kate Ibbotson, Declutter Expert and Professional Organiser from A Tidy Mind says, 'it can sometimes feel daunting and stressful to get rid of large bulky items, however the British Heart Foundation has made it as easy as possible to donate to them with their free collections service. You're more likely to feel relaxed at home, have energy for creative activities and it can have a knock-on effect of improving relationships, as well as a warm feeling from donating to charity.’
How to declutter your home (for good)
Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Advisor at Furniture Choice, has given us four tips on what you can do to but Kondo's philosophy into action and spark some joy in what should be your most relaxing room - the bedroom. Here’s what she said:
Address clutter by category
The KonMari method focuses on breaking clutter into five different categories - clothing, books, documents, miscellaneous and sentimental. By breaking your possessions down into these categories, it allows you to find out exactly what you have – and it’s much easier than tackling a whole room at a time.
If your belongings don’t fall exactly into the KonMari decluttering categories, you can tackle one area at a time, but it makes it easier if you break that room down into object types. So, if you start with the living room, focus on books, then move onto DVDs and so on, ensuring each section is done before you skip to the next one. This way, you don’t end up turning your whole space upside down and running out of time to finish the sorting.
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‘Tackling clutter based on the KonMari method helps to maintain order and prevents having to purge again’ adds Rebecca. ‘This also helps on a psychological level, as it reminds us to think about what we need to buy instead of fixating on what we want.’
Only keep items that spark joy
An important part of Kondo's method is to practice gratitude. That's why her method involves picking every item up and seeing whether it sparks any joy. If it does, you should keep it, however, if it doesn't, you should chuck it out. This will prevent your home from being flooded with unwanted items, that may cause you more stress than good.
‘To know if something sparks joy, hold it in both hands and see how the body responds. You will feel a certain thrill if something sparks joy, and a sense of heaviness if it doesn’t. This is a chance to ‘thank’ an item for its service before moving on, and highlights how to tackle clutter in an organised and cheerful way.’
Fold and stand clothes
It may seem a tricky prospect to find a home for items that have made the cut - it therefore becomes important to keep everything in order, so it's easily identifiable. Kondo's method sees clothes folded in thirds, and then standing them up, as it requires less spaces. This means it works just as well in wardrobes as it does in smaller spaces, which include bedside tables and chest of drawers.
‘This method may take some getting used to, but it makes it simple to visually keep track of the clothes you have. On top of that, if you wanted to colour code your wardrobe, the uniform look and size of each item means that turning your wardrobe into an Instagram-friendly dream is easily achievable.
‘The ‘fold and stand’ method is also perfect for beds with built-in storage - a part of the room that can be easily overlooked. Ottoman beds have ample room for essentials like bedding and towels, and attached drawers that will benefit from this KonMari trick. This can help to create a sense of peace whenever a drawer or cabinet is opened to reveal a tidy and organised space.’
Utilise small boxes
The space under your bed and above your kitchen cupboards can become littered with bits and bobs, but if you clear out what you don’t need and pop the rest into boxes matching your décor, you’ll make useful space that complements the room and feels much calmer.
Small boxes are great for keeping lose items in order and organising things into categories, and due to their compact size, they can easily fit into hidden spaces like drawers and wardrobes, making them perfect for stray items that could otherwise go missing easily.
‘A good thing to use here might be old gift or shoe boxes - they’re often a great size, and upcycling them is a wonderful way to make use of something that might otherwise be discarded. It also allows people to get creative, giving them a chance to DIY the boxes to match the decor or complement their aesthetic. This can be another way to spark joy - bringing together elements of decorating and tidying. And bonus: it’s also easier to clean and move things around while still keeping everything tidy’ says Rebecca.
Allocate plenty of time to sort
Sometimes, you need to make more mess before you clear it, so allocate a realistic chunk of time to do your de-cluttering. Whether it’s an afternoon, a whole day or an entire weekend, set yourself enough time to get to the back of cupboards and focus on reorganising your belongings properly.
Work on a ‘one of each’ basis
When it comes to practical bits, such as tools, vases, cookbooks, cables and blankets, work on a basis that you only need one of each, or one for each person in the family if necessary. If you’ve got excess for no justifiable reason, then it can go.
If the problem is that you’ve just got too much stuff for the size of your space, try a four-box method. Label each one ‘keep, ‘donate’, ‘throw’ and ‘store’. That way you’ll know exactly what it is you really need, and you can keep anything sentimental in a loft or storage cupboard instead of on display.
Fix broken items first
Fix any broken items lying around the house before you start your clean. If you still haven’t fixed them, it’s a sign that they need to go, so don’t hesitate to part with them.
Be brutal. Unless something has sentimental value, you can usually replace it. If in doubt, throw it, and then if it’s really necessary later, you can buy another one that will take up less space or that doubles up to have another purpose.
Looking for more organisation inspiration?
Check out our DIY storage ideas for eight easy projects to increase your storage space and How to increase your home's storage. If you're in need of practical accessories, read about Smart drawer organisers to keep your home in order and Storage ideas for small homes. And if you have time for a spot of cleaning, find out about our Deep cleaning plan: four steps to get your home organised.
Thea Jeffreys is the Digital Writer on YourHomeStyle.uk, and is passionate about all things home décor. When she’s not scouring the internet for budget-friendly homeware finds, you’ll find her writing about the latest interior trends and handy upcycling tricks.