Declutter your home checklist: our step-by-step guide with tips from experts
Tidy house, tidy mind! Tackle home organisation head-on with our downloadable decluttering checklist and tips and advice from home organisation experts.
We all have that overflowing cupboard or cluttered coffee table loaded with bits and bobs that we never use, never need, but never get rid of. And we all have those days when we struggle to find things, wasting time and causing a lot of unnecessary stress and frustration.
Over time it’s easy to accumulate different items that become redundant in our lives and homes, but dedicating the time to sift through it all can require a lot of time and effort. However, decluttering your home once in a while will do you a power of good, from creating a more organised, tidy space to bringing a sense of calm to your living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms.
At The Recommended, we’ve created the ultimate checklist for decluttering your space, going through your home room by room. We’ve also included some top tips from where to start and how to approach the mighty task to finally letting go of those needless items, with handy advice from two brilliant home organisation experts. We've also included a round-up of some of our favourite home storage solutions at the bottom of the page.
Our step-by-step decluttering checklist
Follow our step-by-step checklist to help you achieve your decluttering goals, room-by-room. You can also download it here as a printable PDF.
- Organise your food cupboards by categories, e.g. cereals, baking ingredients, condiments and spreads etc.
- Throw away any out-of-date/expired products, including cupboard and fresh foods (remember to recycle packaging)
- Organise your glassware, plates, mugs, cutlery, etc., into categorised drawers and cupboards
- Get rid of any excess/unused crockery and tableware
- Clear all your countertops for extra surface space
- Clear out your fridge and organise shelf by shelf
- Clear away anything on surfaces and organise items into drawers/baskets etc.
- Straighten up furniture, rugs, etc
- Neaten up shelves and coffee tables
- Fold blankets neatly into piles
- Get rid of old magazines, newspapers, and items no longer used or needed
- Organise toiletries and shower/bath products into drawers/cabinets
- Throw away any expired products, e.g. makeup and medical supplies
- Reduce clutter around the sink
- Straighten up towels, bath mats etc
- Remove any dirty towels/laundry
- Sort clothes into categories in drawers and cupboards
- Remove any items off the floor and re-sort them into designated areas
- Sort through under-the-bed and utilise under-the-bed storage efficiently
- Declutter bedside table
- Turn over your mattress and make your bed with fresh sheets
- Take any dirty laundry to the washing machine
- Clear desk space
- Neaten up bookshelves
- Organise loose papers into files and filing cabinets
- Clear away any loose wires and cables
- Shred any unwanted papers
- Organise shoes into shoe racks
- Clear away any items on surfaces
- Organise coats, hats and scarves into cupboards/onto designated hooks
Decluttering tips, with advice from organisational experts
Ready to tackle your decluttering mission? Now you’re sorted with our handy checklist, read up on some of our useful tips to help you along the way - with super useful comments from two home organisation experts.
Meet our home organisation experts
To help us put together our checklist and tips, we spoke to two experts in home organisation and decluttering, who have years of experience in helping even the most unorganised of clients declutter their homes and organise their space.
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Jessica Linighan is a professional organiser at Homefulness, a company that offers luxury and design-centric home organisation, styling and decoration. They provide professional services ‘tailored to meet each client's needs, whether that's saving space in a small room or creating a stylishly functional home office.’ They aim to ‘transform cluttered offices and homes into spaces that feel calm, beautiful and organised.’
Laura Price is the founder of The Home Organisation, a service to help people streamline their homes and experience the benefits of living an organised life. Her highly skilled team works to create a clear and calm space for clients, tailoring each project to individual needs.
1. Give yourself time: don’t try to declutter your whole home in one go!
Decluttering and organising your home can be an overwhelming task. It’s important to have a plan of action to avoid this daunting feeling and instead approach it in a practical, time-efficient manner. Both our experts stress the importance of dedicating enough time to your decluttering project and taking it step by step - Rome was not built in a day.
Jessica from Homefulness recommends breaking out larger spaces into ‘smaller, more manageable sections and complete one at a time.’ This will be more realistic and less overwhelming to tackle. Laura at The Home Organisation gives the heads up that you’ll need more time than you think, suggesting ‘however much time you think you’ll need, double it, so you can be sure you’ll finish the job!’
2. Start small
If you’re new to decluttering or tight on time, start small. Ripping everything out of every cupboard and drawer in your house isn’t the best starting point. This will only cause you more stress and mess!
Spend just five minutes at a time focusing on different areas, even just a small drawer to begin, and put a limit on feeling overwhelmed.
3. Have sorting bags at the ready
With all this sorting, ensure you have allocated bags/boxes to sort your no longer needed/wanted items. Dedicate a bag for charity and one for recycling, popping the different bits and bobs into each one as you go.
It’s also helpful to have an ‘unsure bag’ if not 100% on your decision and go through this for a final verdict. It’s also helpful to have an extra bag for rubbish - some things just cannot be salvaged, such as broken items or out-of-date food/medical/cosmetic products.
4. Be brutal and ask yourself questions
Be your own Marie Kondo (the infamous organising guru), and when sorting through your stuff, ask yourself, ‘does it bring you joy?’ Her tidying technique - the KonMari method - is simple but super effective - ‘you are not choosing what to discard but rather choosing to keep only the items that speak to your heart.’
Let go of the things you no longer gain this ‘joy’ from, clearing space for the things that are most important and fulfilling to you. Our expert Laura recommends asking yourself three questions: ‘do you love it, do you use it, or do you need it?’ She explains, ‘you might not love a tin opener, but you use it. You may not love your passport, but you need it. You may not need a jumper, but you love it. If you can't give a good solid yes to at least one of those questions, you can maybe let that thing go.’
5. Ask for help
Decluttering your house, or just a room, can be a daunting task. Why not ask your family or friends to lend a hand and help? After all, ‘many hands make light work. A second opinion will also prove pretty helpful in deciding what to keep and what to get rid of.
Our expert Jessica suggests delegating tasks to your family or collaborating with professional organisers to ‘help you be more successful and efficient with your time, and producing results that you and your family can feel extra proud of.’
6. Donate/recycle items
There’s no need to throw anything away when decluttering (unless something is entirely unrepairable or a food item is out of date). Donate your gathered items to charity, or recycle old packaging/boxes.
Think in the mindset of reducing waste, recycling and reusing. And make sure to disperse your items as soon as possible so you don’t change your mind. Once they’re gone, there’s no turning back!
7. Think about selling
Rather than donating to charity or recycling items, you may consider selling some unwanted clothing/home accessories. While this can be a great way to earn a little cash on the side, sometimes it can be quite a lengthy process, and you still have to house the items in the meantime.
Our expert Laura often discourages her clients from selling, ‘as it takes a lot of time and commitment.’ She suggests that ‘unless they're really high-value items, if you're not absolutely sure you're going to sit down and sell them this weekend, it's often better all round to just donate them.’
8. Keep things clear and tidy
Decluttering is an excellent opportunity to reorganise your things, getting rid of what you no longer want/need and reshuffling what you are left with. The items that have made the cut to stay can now be sorted and placed neatly into their designated areas.
Different storage boxes and home organisation furniture will be useful for helping to organise your things and keep your space clear and tidy. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite storage solutions below.
9. Let go of guilt
It’s very common to feel guilty about letting go of things and end up hoarding items forever as a result, either because they were an expensive purchase or a special gift from someone.
Our expert Laura comments that ‘the money isn’t coming back, and a gift is no good if hidden in the back of a cupboard. Holding on to those things because you feel you should is only cluttering your home and adding stress to your life in other ways. Allow yourself to let go of the guilt.’
The benefits of decluttering your home
The practice of decluttering your home can have several positive impacts. The main benefit is creating a more organised, streamlined space. This makes it easier to find things instead of rifling through piles of unnecessary items, avoiding stress and creating a more calm environment.
The process of decluttering is also a great learning opportunity. Sorting through your items and making the decisions to let go of certain things, you will learn about your spending habits and perhaps realise you need to be more brutal at the point of purchase (so you’re not left with something you never use at the back of your wardrobe again!)
Storage solutions to help maintain a clutter-free home
Once you have taken on the challenge of decluttering your home, make sure to keep it that way - tidy, spacious and highly organised. There are several pieces of home equipment and storage solutions that will help keep your home clutter-free and in tip-top shape. We’ve picked out some of our favourites:
- Some versatile drawer organisers: DIMJ Drawer Organiser Storage Boxes: Sort your items carefully into these various drawer organisers and keep your drawers neat and tidy, with improved accessibility. We love the fun zig-zag design! Read our full round-up of the best drawer organisers.
- A space-saving shoe rack: SONGMICS 10-tier Shoe Rack: Save space and organise your shoes into this streamlined shoe rack, housing up to 20 pairs. Tall and slim, this tower-like design will squeeze into the smallest of spaces and give your shoes the perfect home. Read our full round-up of the best shoe racks for a clutter-free home.
- A large capacity shower caddy: Nieifi Shower Caddy: Sort your shower accessories and toiletries between these two wall-mounted shelves in your bathroom and create a more zen, clutter-free space. They each hold up to 15kg. Read our full round-up of the best shower caddies, plus tips on shower storage organisation.
- A super practical makeup organiser: Ameitech Rotating Makeup Organiser: Organise your favourite mascaras, lipsticks and foundations into this rotating organiser, with space for up to 30 makeup brushes and 20 beauty products and accessories. They’ll be easier to find and make your morning routines a breeze. Read our full round-up of the best makeup organisers to keep your products tidy.
- Sturdy clothes hangers: Utopia Home Premium Non-Slip Velvet Hangers: Hang your clothes neatly away in your wardrobes with these super strong and reliable hangers to keep them in tip-top condition. Available in packs of 50 and taking up to 4.5kg of weight each, there’s no need to have your favourite dresses on the floor. Read our full round-up of the best clothes hangers, recommended by professional organisers.
If you would like to read more expert-recommended round-ups, check out our Household page, where you’ll find more home recommendations, including the best shoe racks, the best shower caddies, and the best light alarm clocks.
Cordelia Aspinall is a Digital Writer for Immediate Media, working across brands including The Recommended, RadioTimes.com, MadeForMums and BBC Gardeners’ World. She has previously worked and written for digital publications including Condé Nast Traveller, The Evening Standard, Cosmopolitan, and several other lifestyle brands.