Ten Ways to Clear Out The Clutter


Clutter makes me crazy. And yet with three kids and a hubby who is prone to piles I live with clutter regularly. But I notice when it is at its worst I am at my craziest. I am snappy and short tempered. And physical clutter leads to mental clutter. I can’t find things and I am a forgetful mess.

So I am making concerted efforts to reduce clutter (if you come to my house you might not notice this effort, but it is there). Here are some things I have been attempting to reduce the clutter around these parts.

  1. Seriously Reduced Garage Sale-ing: I am a garage sale addict. I love them and they love me back. But I haven’t been going this season. Because inevitably I will find something I can’t live without and bring it home and it will just be more stuff.
  2. Seriously Reduced Shopping in General: Oddly enough when I go shopping I tend to buy stuff. Whether I need it or not there is always some sale I just can’t pass up. So I try and avoid the mall and shop the grocery store off lists. No “window shopping” for me.
  3. One in One Out: When I do go shopping or out to hit the garage sales I try and get rid of things in exchange.
  4. Keep a Running Donate pile: When I come across something that doesn’t fit anymore or something that we need to get rid of it goes in a bag. When the bag is full it goes to Goodwill. I used to make piles to sell or consign or whatever. But they just piled up. So now they go as soon as possible.
  5. Manage Birthday Lists: My kids accumulate a ridiculous amount of toys at holidays and birthdays. And to be frank a lot of it just is never played with past the day they get it. So I have started asking for “disposable” gifts. Crafts and experiences top that list.
  6. Enlist the kids: I make piles of their various things that have made their way into places they shouldn’t be and put them to work. They are responsible for putting things back where they go or it gets added to the donate pile. That usually motivates them.
  7. Process Mail Over the Recycle Bin: Let’s face it, half of what is in the mailbox is junk. And if that junk makes it in the door who knows where it will land. So when I walk in from the mailbox I head straight to the recycle bin. I throw out what needs to be thrown out and try to process the rest immediately.
  8. Clean Up Your Inbox: I know it isn’t clutter in my house, but it is clutter in my life. I spend a lot of time looking through email and I don’t want to spend more time than necessary. So unsubscribe from things that you don’t need coming to your email and spend less time dealing with it. Maybe those precious minutes you save can be spent de-cluttering somewhere else.
  9. Keep the First Places You See Clean: If my entry way to my house and the entry way to my bedroom are messy that drives me nuts. Even if the rest of my house is falling apart I want the first thing I see when I walk in my house and my room to be clutter free. So I try and concentrate on those areas first.
  10. Hiding: When all else fails our poor guest room takes a hit. Since we don’t get many guests it kind of becomes the place clutter goes to die. Or party cause it seems like stuff is multiplying in there. Someday I will tackle that room. Someday.

What are your best tips for reducing clutter?

OutGrowingIn is a great place to exchange their children’s outgrown clothes and toys and they are taking the month of July to celebrate "Summer Fun Money – Clear the Clutter". They will be offering free teleclasses with Lorie Marrero and Dr. Alisa Baer, daily tips from parenting bloggers about reducing clutter in their lives and by honoring military families by asking each participant to create a box on OutGrowingIn for a soldier’s family. They will also be giving away free listings on their marketplace for families who clear their clutter so they can earn some summer fun money.

Check out OutGrowingIn Facebook Fan Page and follow them on Twitter for all the info.

I am excited to tell you about OutGrowingIn but am not being compensated for my time. All opinions are mine all mine. This post is linked up to Top Ten Tuesday at Oh Amanda.


  1. Oh my. I’m the clutter queen. It’s really quite shameful. But I’m so glad to know that other people struggle with it, too. Here’s how I handle it…my in-laws come to visit between 2-3 times a year. That’s motivation enough to get me tossing everything out of the house. :)

  2. Facing the possibility of moving soon, I am on a mission to declutter {again} as well! My OCD is in hyperdrive these days! Thanks for sharing OutGrowingIn! I had no idea… so excited to see them supporting military families!!

  3. I love the “disposable gifts” idea. We have an 8 month old, and he’s our first. :-) My family doesn’t live far away, and I’m pretty sure when his birthday rolls around…Let’s just say, my family doesn’t take gift-giving very lightly. :-/ Hopefully, they’ll enjoy this idea when I hit ’em with it. (A love tap, of course.)

  4. Great list! I have an office/guestroom that I throw everything in too! lol Some day it will get organized. :)

  5. These are great tips. Disposable gifts have made such a difference with our big family/small house. Except we have to be very specific, or we end up with a bunch of plastic-y playdoh “tools” instead of truly disposable playdoh!

    I do much better managing clutter when I resolve to be decisive. I used to wait to decide about whether or not to keep an item, or where to store it, or who to give it to, until a time when I would be in a better frame of mind to make those decisions. As you can guess–that time never came!

    Now I know that, 90% of the time, waiting to make the decision doesn’t make it any easier, so I take action right then. The resolve to be decisive has been a huge help in managing the clutter!

  6. I love #4 and #9. I recently asked my sis, who lives out of town, to tell me her first impressions when she came for a visit. It was very helpful to have her opinion since she hadn’t been here in a while. It made me see the main areas of my home in a new way.

  7. Nikki says:

    These are great!

    I had read somewhere (no, I’m not brilliant enough to think of this myself) that if you keep your floors clean, your home will appear clean to un-announced visitors. Bonus: I’ve found it even works when my hubby comes home from work. He always calls when he’s on his way home, which is when the kids and I make it a game to pick up everything on the floors as fast as we can. (very small rewards are sometimes involved)
    And even for someone like me who can’t stand piles of “stuff” around, it’s amazing how well this works and eases my tension every day!

    Somewhere else I read the comment (again, I’m so not original) “When you find yourself thinking ‘I’ll do that later’, ask yourself how long that task will take. If it takes less than 2 minutes to complete, do it now. For it will always take more time later”. Well, I had made that my New Year’s Resolution of sorts and it’s amazed me how much this has taken care of most of the obnoxious clutter like mail piles, keeping the counters clean and entry way picked up. If you don’t do this already, try it for a week. you might be surprised.

    Thanks for letting me know about OutGrowingIn. I’ll be checking them out!

  8. Jill I love how you shared your own experiences here. I am loving 4 and 7. Funny thing is now that my son is grown, you can see what habits he either picked up or didn’t as he raises his own family. Kinda nice being on this side of the equation now.

    I have been thinking about starting a Grandmother blog, but frankly wasn’t sure it would be as popular as a parenting blog-what do you think?

    Yeah, where were companies like OutGrowingIn 25 years ago chuckle ( she says kicking a can)

    BTW what is this twitter plugin you are using below, looks cool.

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