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Five Ways to Cut Down on Clutter

You’ve heard the saying before: “A place for everything and everything in its place.

Now, as you can clearly see from my house, I’m not a perfect homemaker. I have three young children and I’m not always as self-disciplined as I’d like to be. However, I do make a concerted effort to keep my home clutter-free and organized.

Here are five things which help me:

1) Ongoing Garage Sale Boxes

I have a designated spot in our home for garage sale boxes. In our current home, this is under the stairs. As I find things we no longer need or use, I start filling up a box. When one box is full, I fill up another. And so on.

Instead of moving an item around from one room to the next when we aren’t using it anymore, I pitch it in the garage sale boxes and it’s out of our way. This method makes preparing for a garage sale quite simple since I already have a huge head start on collecting stuff to sell.

Thinking of having a garage sale? Check out my 10 tips for having a successful garage sale.

2) Annual Clutter Elimination

Once or twice a year, I go through my home from top to bottom and am ruthless about eliminating clutter. Every nook and cranny is cleaned out and every item is evaluated. By doing this on a regular basis, no area of our home ever becomes unmanageable. Rooms or closets might be messy or unkempt at times, but they never get so overwhelming that I can’t deal with them.

3) The No-Pile Rule

Except for my husband’s dresser and our laundry basket, we try to strictly adhere to a no-pile rule. I’ve found that a small pile quickly grows–without any effort. So if you don’t start a pile in the first place, you can avoid a lot of disorganization.

4) In the Door, In Its Place

Instead of piles of paper around from place to place until you have time to deal with them, take care of them immediately. When the mail or other papers come into our home, I go through it right then and there and throw out everything that we don’t have to keep.

Bills go on my husband’s dresser, magazines go in my top dresser drawer to await the next doctor’s appointment, freebies go in the household product stockpile closet, coupons go in my coupon box, and junk mail goes in the trash. Within just a few minutes, the mail is completely dealt with

5) Avoid Clutter-Collecting Furniture

I’m a minimalist, if there ever was one, and I’ve found my utilitarian nature helps avoid heaps of clutter. How? Because we don’t have furniture which tends to be clutter hot-spots for others. This might come as a shock, but even though I have a home business, I don’t have a computer desk. I have a top dresser drawer that I keep a few business-related items in and we have a small filing cabinet–and that’s it.

I’ve found that when there’s no place to collect piles, you are much less apt to make them.

What about you? What are some ways you cut down on clutter in your home?

photo credit: *Ann Gordon

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  • Hannah says:

    I’m excited! I haven’t had much success with yard sales in the past, probably because I priced things too high. Hearing you all talk about it, though, I think I’m going to give it a try this year. Right now I’m thinking if I can collect 50 items to sell at a dollar each, that wouldn’t be such a bad profit! So far I’ve collected 15. Thanks for the challenge.

  • Ashley Anderson says:


    In my home there is a solid rule when it comes to decluttering: since Mommy does the cleaning Mommy decides what gets thrown away. The only stipulation is that I only throw away things that are “trashy” such as broken toys, ripped clothes (my husband is determined to wear them anyways despite the 6 inch gash right across the stomach area). If it’s not trash then we have a declutter day and people have to justify keeping anything that has been on the floor for more than two days. If you liked it it wouldn’t be on the floor. It might sound strict but my house isn’t a democracy… it’s a heirarchy and Mama is queen 😀

  • Nicki S. says:

    I have an 820 square-foot apartment that my husband, three (yes, three) cats and I share. Space is at a premium! By nature, I tend to throw things in piles and don’t have a lot of doors to store shoe racks. I’m open to any ideas that the small-spacers have.

    I found that the winter/summer clothes sorting works well on keeping our closets in check (and the vacuum bags store the other season until needed), but I have nowhere to put items that I stockpile. I’m thinking of adding a shelf to our master bedroom closet for this purpose.

  • Kristin says:

    “I’ve found that when there’s no place to collect piles, you are much less apt to make them.”

    Sigh. Well, unless EVERY surface is eliminated, INCLUDING THE FLOOR, I will most likely continue to find, and make, piles.

    We live in an apartment (family of 5). We do not have an overabundance of furniture, or storage space. What I’d really like sometimes, is some more storage-type furniture (like bookshelves and dressers, a file cabinet might be nice) to stack things in, and the space to put them.

    On a slightly philosophical note. Piles is piles. For example, that stack of clothes in your dresser is a pile. You just can’t see it so it doesn’t bother you so much!

  • ashleyD says:

    i always price my items before i throw them into the ongoing yard sale boxes!! i keep sticker dots with our tape and scissors to make it super easy to do!!

  • Great advice.
    I do pretty much all of these methods. (not perfectly I might add)
    However, I love the final suggestion. I do have a very large desk. And I’ll admit a little secret… It’s always a mess. I’m always organizing it.
    I just may have to think about getting rid of it. Hmm…. Gives me something to think about.

  • Love these suggestions, Crystal, and I love your site! I have been making my way through the Make Over Your Mornings course. What a refreshment! Another thing I have recently done to avoid clutter is clothes consigning. Even small towns sometimes have these little shops, and it is a great way to earn extra cash!

  • Liz says:

    I have a large desk, too, but I clear off the excess papers weekly. I need the room for the electronics equipment.

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