Creating a Life Free From Chaos

How to Keep Clutter Out of the House

How to Keep Clutter Out of the House

You’ve spent weeks, or even months, working hard to purge your belongings and break free from your messy ways. It’s hard work, no matter how motivated you are. Once you have a decluttered space, you’ll want to know how to keep it that way. Good habits are key.

Since clutter is often the result of a few bad habits, recognizing and correcting those habits are the best way to ensure that you don’t end up with a cluttered mess again. Spend some time thinking about how you ended up with so much stuff in the first place.

  • Do you live to shop?
  • Did you inherit a lot of hand-me-downs that you just can’t seem to part with?
  • Do you have some collections that have grown out of control?
  • Did you downsize to a smaller home without downsizing your stuff?
  • Do you have kids or other family members that have a lot of stuff growing out of control?

Here are a few decluttering habits that I’ve found work well for many families.

Everything has a place.

“There’s a place for everything, and everything in its place.” ~Samuel Smiles

There’s a reason that saying is so popular. Every item in your home needs its own spot where it belongs. Label containers, shelves, cabinets, and baskets as needed to help other family members remember where things go, and get everyone in the habit of putting their own items away where they belong. With the exception of holiday and seasonal items, try to store items nearest to where they will be used and make everything as accessible as possible.  This ups your chances of actually using the item and will also make it quicker and easier for everyone to put away.  The simpler the solution, the better.

The simpler the solution, the better. Click To Tweet

Try to keep free space in all your drawers and cabinets.

There’s only so much you can fit into a home, and a home packed to the gills will be stuffy and anxiety-inducing. If a space is filled to the maximum, it will be more difficult to keep it clean, organized, and accessible. If it’s crammed, putting things away become difficult, so you won’t do it. That’s when the piles start. Try to always keep some free space in every cabinet, drawer, or storage box to give yourself a little freedom of movement — I recommend 25 percent.

Avoid the mall.

And Target. If you are one of those people that can’t pass up a good deal (and I used to be one of them), think carefully before you buy! Every item you bring into your home has a price besides the monetary – a price of time to clean and maintain it, a price of space, and a price of energy.

This was a big deal for us on a recent trip to Alaska on a cruise. We were already carrying way more luggage than I was comfortable with, based on the simple fact that our trip was going to encompass temperatures in the high 90s all the way down to the 30s (F). Of course, every port and city on our trip had gift shops and stores full of enticing items begging to be brought home. But besides the cost of the items, we also had the extra premium price of precious little luggage space and Mom’s waning energy to carry it all.

No matter how good the deal, if you don’t need it or and will not use it, pass it by. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it! Click To Tweet

Don’t buy things for your future self.

I used to have a bad habit of buying things I thought I would need “later” — from exercise equipment that I thought I might use “when I have free time (hah) to kids’ clothes multiple sizes up. Have you ever bought something because you believed you would need it in the future? It is so much easier (and cheaper!) to buy items as you need them instead of predicting what you will “might” need or want in the future. A small stockpile of food and basic items like toilet paper is perfectly reasonable. Clothes two sizes too big or too small, crafts supplies you may use someday, and sports equipment your child might decide to play five years from now — not so much. Just wait until you actually need them.

Rein in the crazy on the organization products.

I admit one of my favorite stores ever is The Container Store. Yes, you do need some storage in your home, but don’t stock up on bins and baskets in anticipation of using them. Before you add additional storage, declutter as much as possible, live with the space for a week or two, and then decide what you need to make it a functional, organized space.

Have a regular donation box.

I keep one large donation box in the garage so I can put items in immediately when we determine we no longer need or want them. Getting that stuff out of the house is essential to keep yourself from second-guessing your purge. When the box is full, drop it off at your local donation center.

Maintain that balance.

Decluttering is not a “one and done” activity. You will still accumulate stuff, so you’ll still need to periodically cull items to maintain that delicate balance of “just enough” in your home. This is especially true for families with growing children.

You’ll find soon that this becomes a habit — from cutting back your shopping to intentional purchases to discarding items as they wear out or outlive their usefulness for your family.

Decluttering is not a “one and done” activity. Click To Tweet

You will still accumulate stuff, so you’ll still need to periodically cull items to maintain that delicate balance of “just enough” in your home.

How to Keep Clutter Out of the House