How to Organize and Declutter your Home
Let’s face it – “clutter happens” and clutter is one of the biggest time-wasters of your house keeping duties.
Usually clutter is a result of not taking care of the task at the point of origin – i.e., tossing junk mail, trashing the daily newspaper after you’re done reading it, or filing important documents such as bank and billing statements, personal correspondence, and things you want to review at a later time.
Clutter also accumulates in the kitchen by not replacing items you use on a regular basis, not putting items where they belong (cups in the cupboard, bowls on the shelf), wrappers left on the counter, etc. No room of your house is immune to clutter – especially if you have a family.
- Pick up all used dishes, glasses, cups, snack bowls, etc., and take them into the kitchen.
- Grab a plastic trash bag, pick up all pieces of paper that are not important and put them in the bag. While you’re at it, include empty pop cans, candy wrappers and the like. Put important papers in your office, briefcase, or wherever you customarily keep such things.
- Pick up all magazines, books, newspapers, catalogs, etc.; decide which are worth keeping and set to the side; throw out the rest. Sort the “keepers” into orderly stacks and put them where they belong – in a magazine rack or bookshelf.
- Gather all articles of clothing, towels, shoes, slippers, etc., that may be lying around. If they need laundered, take them into your laundry area. If they are just out of place, either notify the “owner” to put them away, or return them to where they belong yourself.
- When you have de-cluttered the rooms and they look organized, give a quick dusting, polish the furniture, and run the vacuum around. The result will be a clean, fresh-smelling and inviting environment.
- Gather all dirty dishes and either put them in the sink where you will wash and dry them, then put them away, or put them in your dishwasher and turn it on.
- Look at your kitchen counters. Pick up every item that doesn’t belong there and organize by putting it in its proper place. Kitchen counters are an attractive place to put stuff – the daily mail might be next to a ketchup bottle and the salt and pepper shakers. Put everything where it needs to be.
- When you are using your kitchen cabinet, take a moment and do a little shuffling around to make the appearance neater. If you keep canned and/or dry goods in a cabinet, sort the products according to category and according to size – taller items in the back, smaller packages in the front.
- Dish cupboards need to have drinking glasses and cups in separate areas, plates arranged and organized according to size; same with bowls, odds and ends serving dishes
- Kitchen drawers may just need to have some quick organizing by placing like utensils together – forks, spoons, knives, etc. and wiping the trays.
- Periodically empty the cabinets and drawers and give them a good cleaning.
- Gather everything that normally belongs on the kitchen counter, such as small appliances, coffee maker, canisters, decorative plant, etc., and remove them. Then beginning at one end of the counter, thoroughly wash the surfaces, spray with a sanitizing spray, dry with a soft clean towel, and replace the items on your sparkling clean kitchen counter.
- Don’t forget cleaning the kitchen stove. Since you’ve already picked up all the dirty dishes, you probably removed the skillets or pots and pans from the stove, washed them and put them away.
- Now you’re ready to shine the stove surface which you will first wipe down thoroughly with a soapy dishcloth to loosen dried on spills and cut grease splatters. Then wipe with a clean wet sponge or cloth. If this doesn’t leave the surface sparkling, use a window spray cleaner for a fine shine. Cinch by Spic & Span does a great job of cutting through grease and leaving a clean shine – it smells good, too.
- Lastly, sweep the floor, then use a damp mop to remove spots.
- Pick up any “reading materials” that make their way into the bathroom and either throw them away or return them to their rightful location.
- Pick up and throw away any pieces of litter – tissues, band-aid wrappers, product packaging – that might be on the floor or counter top.
- Gather loose articles of clothing and soiled towels; take them to the laundry area.
- Remove everything from the surface of the bathroom counters, and then give the counters a good cleaning. Finish with a sanitizing spray, then wipe.
- Replace everything that belongs on the counter. Put other items where they belong.
- Open the drawers to see if they are in order. If not, throw away things you don’t need, and put like items together. Organizing trays, available at most home department stores, are very valuable in keeping your drawers neat and tidy as they have compartments for small items that otherwise get “lost” when drawers are opened and closed.
- Give light fixtures a quick dusting, use furniture polish on wooden surfaces, and then spray the mirrors with window cleaner. Dry the mirrors with a clean, soft, lint-free cloth.
- Finally, damp mop the washable floors, give scatter rugs a shake, and/or vacuum the carpet.
- To organize your bedroom, pick up all articles of clothing; sort according to action needed. If they are soiled, take them to the laundry room.
- Organize your closet; put shoes and slippers where they belong.
- Pick up all reading materials; save those worth saving, throw the rest away.
- Clean dresser tops by removing items that don’t belong there. Dust and spray with furniture polish, and buff to a soft shine. Then you can put the items back where they are convenient – your clock or clock radio, small lamp, drinking glass and carafe, etc.
- Keep your bed made. Immediately upon arising in the morning, shake covers, and pull sheet up to the head. Smooth any blankets or quilts as you pull them up over the sheet. “Punch” feather pillows to freshen and fluff, then put them at the head of the bed. Make sure there are no wrinkles in your bed.
- Then you’re ready to vacuum your way out of the bedroom. Begin at the furthest corner, and vacuum back to the door.
- Stand back and look inside the room. A freshly vacuumed floor, a tidy bed with fluffy pillows, a nightstand reflecting the glow of a softly shining lamp is an inviting scene, indeed.
De-cluttering and organizing your home does not have to be an all day chore. As you have the time, pick an area and concentrate your efforts. Do that one area but do it well. Then, in a few days, pick another area to De-clutter, and so on.
The trick to keeping your home organized and decluttered is to practice regular maintenance. Get in the habit of throwing away things you don’t need, keeping dirty clothes out of sight (in the laundry room or in a dirty clothes hamper), keeping dirty dishes corralled in the kitchen, not allowing empty pop cans to be left sitting on end tables, etc.
Keep after the family to help in this process. The earlier children are taught to pick up after themselves, the better – better for you, better for them, and better for their future partner.