Clean Out Clutter




Introduction: Clean Out Clutter

About: I'm a creative content creator here at instructables, which means that I have the most awesome job making just about anything and everything! My passions are interior decor, fun and innovative children's pla...

How do you know if you have too much clutter in your life? How fast can you find your keys? Your cayenne pepper?A matching pair of socks? If it takes you more than 1 minute to place, it takes too long!

Ever heard of the Pareto Principle? It states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. If we apply this principle to clutter, it reads as: we use only 20% of our "stuff" 80% of the time. WOW! Now that you're thinking about the validity of this argument in your life, you know you can get rid of a lot of your "stuff"

Clutter can be a physical manifestation of mental health issues, but can also be indicative of physical well being. A life of over-consumption can wreak havoc on multiple platforms, and complacency can throw things into a dangerous vortex.

Here's a quick yet effective tutorial on how to clean out clutter that can be easily adaptable to ANY space in your home.

Let's get started!

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Step 1: Where to Start?

This is the question that stumps most people and in trying to answer it, they never even get started! The task of clearing out clutter seems far too daunting indeed. But just imagine your life, so much lighter and better coordinated afterwards! Also picture the time you will save to do the things you love once you do not have to spend it on trying to find a particular thing! Sounds like you may have enough time to watch a feature flick!

So where do we start? Simple: ANYWHERE! If you pull any stray yarn from a sweater, you will eventually unfurl the entire thing. The same idea applies to clutter. Pick any space, closet, room or area and with the help of your four containers, start getting the room back to a functional, efficient territory.

However, a funny things begins to happen here: we will usually start cleaning the spaces we consider easier to handle and leave the emotionally harder-to-deal-with stuff for later. Which is fine. No one likes to ponder over keeping a sweater they wore when they were 15 lbs lighter, and wonder if they will ever fit into it again. OK. Save it for last, but know that a decision will be made at the end of the cleaning session.

The images above are of my living room. Scratch that, they're pictures what my kids' stuff: a jumble of toys, books, spewed contents of my wallet etc. I typically approach this by gathering containers that house said objects and go to work trying to match toy with appropriate container. Trying too fast to make sense of all this could get frustrating, so I only deal with it when I know I have 10 minutes or so. Once all toys are in their containers, I can breathe easy(-ier)

Step 2: Materials

You will need 4 containers. Label them:


Organize (stuff in here will need to be organized and placed into another room )


Maybe* (so called because this bin will stay around for 4-6 months. All items placed in this bin must be used within a 6 month period, otherwise they must be housed in any of the above containers, but NOT back into this one!)

I would just like to mention here that this isn't going to be a get-rid-of-everything-except-the-kitchen-sink fiasco. The point of this is not to throw everything out just so you can buy it all back later. The point of clearing out clutter is to be more efficient, better organized, and to have a greater understanding of the things you actually utilize. More is far (far away) from better.

With these 4 containers, you should be able to rid any space, be it closet, kitchen, bathroom or garage of clutter and open up all that lost expanse and make space for efficiency! Go ahead and try it, you'll be surprised how quickly you can clear stuff out!

Step 3: Surfaces

With that said, I personally like to start off by throwing everything off of surfaces (like tabletops, night stands, dressers, countertops etc) and then I get to decide what I want to occupy that space rather than having to choose what comes off of it. Some people may think this is working backwards, but for me, it is intuitive. This way I have to create a good argument for why something should live on a particular service, and hopefully I'll tire of this internal arguing and really just choose necessities.

Surfaces are usually the first place we throw things onto, but if you decide that surfaces are only for working on and not for storing stuff, you'll see a major difference in space utility. For my household, as I'm sure many other homes can attest to as well, our dining table gets the brunt of the day's chaos. By controlling the amount of clutter introduced to this space, I feel like I have a much better grasp on the entire house's organization.

Step 4: Housing

I'm not talking about the actual place you inhabit, but rather where the stuff you own should be placed. Everything should have a "house"- a place it is kept, where it can always go back to after use. This way, you can quickly think of exactly where something is and use it because it has a designated area where it always is and where it should always be returned to.

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    5 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Good ible. The explanation about the "Maybe" was really useful for me. I would add a 5th bin though - recycle.

    Going to follow this ible today! my room needs serious cleaning and organization session! It always scares me when it comes to cleaning and organizing because I never know from where to start.

    Thanks for sharing this ible :)


    5 years ago on Step 4

    Thanks for posting. It's a helpful reminder for me.


    5 years ago

    Thank you thank you thank you this is wonderful I've been trying to get my mom to do just this