Clutter can be a real problem in your home, your closet, and your life. Not only is it unsightly, but clutter makes it harder to find the things you truly want when you need them. You spend precious time moving around obsolete items and old pieces of junk mail just to find your key or your favorite pair of sunglasses.

For some people decluttering is a very hard thing to do. It takes a certain discipline to let go of things that might not have any true long term value.

Tips To Help Declutter Your Home

Take Out The Trash

This is one of those times when you need to be cut-throat about getting rid of things. It’s best to do it when you’re frustrated with the clutter so you’ll be fully motivated to throw things out. Then prowl from room to room with a trash bag in hand. You need to be completely ruthless here.

Anything that doesn’t serve a purpose needs to go. That last little bit of your favorite lipstick, the pile of old birthday cards you read once and stored in a drawer, the expired coupons, even old nick-knacks. If there’s something that you legitimately think can be recycled or donated can be put in a separate pile out in the garage or curbside. Simply earmarking it in your mind to be donated later won’t do, as there’s just too much temptation to hold onto it again later.

Use Tote Bins To Store Seasonal Items

The temptation to leave seasonal items and appliances on hand can be strong for some people. Still, if you press yourself to be honest, you probably don’t need to keep that pizzella maker for Christmas treats in the kitchen until the Fourth of July.

Things like decorations and heavy blankets can be put away in the summer. When the temperatures dip again you can simply swap the tote bins around, so what once held heavy warm sweaters now hold swimsuits and pool noodles.

If possible try to invest in heavy-duty tote bins that have a securely locking lid. That way you can stack them one on top of the other for a minimal footprint in the garage or basement, and not have to worry about them for months.

Dispose Of Anything And Everything That Is Expired

Sure it’s easy to notice when the milk has gone past the expiration date, but that’s not the only thing in the refrigerator, pantry, or medicine cabinet with an expiration date. Old canned goods in the back of the pantry are a particularly popular waste of space.

That can of pickled beets from the Clinton Administration needs to be dusted off and thrown out. As does any medications that are past their expiration date. Even expired cosmetics have a place in the waste bin next to that freezer-burned chicken breast you chiseled out of the back of the freezer.

Reorganize The Pantry Monthly

You know the drill, you come through the door holding more grocery bags at one time than the laws of physics allow. You plop them on the counter and rush to get everything put away. The cold stuff gets into the freezer and refrigerator and the cans and boxes go into the pantry. If you’re lucky maybe the kids pitch in, hoping to get their hands on the premium snacks early.

What ends up happening in the pantry is that you get a lot of square things next to round things losing precious square inches along the way. Cans of soup and vegetables end up scattered through various shelves like dandelion seeds on the wind. You end up buying double of things, only to find out that you had a can of it already on a different shelf.

Every month you should pick a day to go through your pantry. Put everything in order. If possible, try to put the cans with the cans, the boxes with boxes, and the bags with bags. Putting labels on the shelves might help make it easier to keep things organized in the future.

Organize And Declutter Your Closets

With closets, the biggest organizational challenge is usually seasonality. As winter slips into spring and spring into summer it’s easy to let cold weather clothes live on the hanging rod, just in case there’s a cold day. Then suddenly you find yourself sweating through a hot June day, while you’ve still got January’s sweaters hanging in your closet.

Pick a day in late spring to go through each closet in the house and pull out all the winter items. If you are concerned about a stray cold day in the future, you can keep one or perhaps two cold-weather outfits on the rack. Otherwise, everything else needs to go.

You can put them away in short-term storage. Low, long tote bins that slide under the bed might be handy for this. They allow you to fold things flat before slipping them out of sight and out of mind.

You can then repeat this same process in the fall swapping out the cold weather items under the bed to let them live again on the rack, while the summer items go under the bed for the winter months.

If there happens to be something in your summer or whether the wardrobe that is outdated, or you simply never wear it, think about donating it. There are a lot of places that will take donated items for free, where they can be repurposed or resold.

Decluttering The Garage

The garage is another place where clutter can build up over time. The detritus of old projects that leave behind stray pieces like owner’s manuals and packing material, need to be thrown out and recycled. Put all tools and accessories back in their place.

You might want to also think about updating your storage to keep the garage in order going forward. A simple pegboard system lets a lot of tools live on the walls, rather than on workbenches and countertops.

Overhead storage is increasingly popular in garages. They let you tuck seasonal items away up high until you need them. Spring-loaded systems can even help you move items up and down easily. This in itself will give you back a lot more square footage in the garage.