How to Declutter Your House When You Don’t Know Where to Start – The Complete Guide

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Ready to declutter your home but don’t know where to start? Take heart, friend, let’s walk through it!

The most challenging part of minimizing and organizing your home is starting. That’s because the big picture (your entire house!) is a really large project, so it’s okay to feel a little overwhelmed here!

But hear this: Decluttering your house is TOTALLY do-able, and you aren’t doing this alone!

Learn the 6 simple steps for how to declutter your house when you don't know where to start! || decluttering | home organization | minimalism | #declutter #organizationtips #minimalist

Your key to success is taking consistent, simple steps. One day at a time, your home will become less cluttered and you’ll enjoy the freedom that open space and slower family life have to offer! Here’s how to start decluttering your house in bite-size chunks.

Step 1: Just Start Decluttering

My minimalism journey started when I was an exhausted, overwhelmed new mom. I didn’t have a clue where to start, so I chose to simply grab 5 items a day and either toss or donate them. Starting small is better than not starting at all. 

Starting small is a great way to trick your brain. First, you’re taking action which stops your emotional brain from overthinking. Secondly, you’re gaining momentum and increasing confidence by creating your own success. The more items you declutter, the more satisfied you’ll feel.

Take Action: Identify 5 quick win areas & declutter 5 items from each space

Quick win areas are typically small spaces that don’t hold a lot of emotional or sentimental items. Often they can be easily decluttered in 5 to 10 minutes without a lot of stress. These could be places like your car’s glove compartment, a desk drawer, or your bathroom counter.

Learn how clearing clutter with quick wins can jumpstart decluttering success. Plus, a free printable of the top 10 quick win areas to start with! | home organization | decluttering | minimalism | #organizingtips #declutter

Learn more about clearing clutter with quick wins here and also find my top 10 quick win areas in my simple living resource library.

When you’ve decluttered your 5 quick win areas, move on to step two!

Step 2: Clear Surface Areas

Quick wins are less about strategy and more about getting the momentum going. Now, turn your attention to problem surfaces in your home. Keep your eyes on small, manageable areas and avoid looking at entire rooms.

When the surfaces areas in your home are cluttered, productivity and happiness plummet. Visual clutter increases stress hormones, creating an endless cycle of procrastination and dissatisfaction. Let’s clear the spaces and kick that to the curb!

Take Action: One at a time, tackle 5 surfaces in your home (keep it to 10 minutes or less)

I suggest starting with these surfaces:

  • bathroom counter
  • kitchen utensils on your countertop (and utensil drawer if you’re brave)
  • dining room table
  • bedroom dresser or vanity
  • desktop

Follow the step by step instructions for sorting and decluttering these five surfaces here.

Step 3: Deep Dive into Your Bedroom

You should be feeling a lot lighter from reducing the visual clutter in your quick win and surface spaces. But you probably are very aware that there’s still a lot of stuff in your house. No worries! We’re taking this one step at a time!

I recommend taking a good look at your bedroom next. Many people feel the bedroom is a difficult place to organize, and the clutter and distraction in your room could be disturbing your sleep, and thus your quality of life. Time for that to change!

Take Action: Work through the 3 parts to decluttering your bedroom – stumbling blocks, creating boundaries & decluttering clothing

First, take a good look around the room. What kind of clutter do you see? Are there specific areas that seem to attract more than others?

Do you see any of these 5 elements?

  • chair(s)
  • multiple or overflowing dressers, bookshelves, cubes or wardrobes
  • cluttered nightstands
  • overflowing closets or clothing on the floor
  • lack of boundaries or places for things to belong

If you do, please check out 5 Stumbling Blocks to an Organized Bedroom for detailed tips for fixing those particular problem areas.

After addressing those problem areas, it’s time to think about the purpose of the bedroom and what your vision for the room is.

In this step, you’ll need to be very specific and establish what you will allow, and what you won’t allow in the room. Write it down and make sure to communicate the guidelines to family members.

Here’s where creating physical boundaries for items will help. Using bins, baskets and shelves (within reason) can help everyone to stay organized. When I started to make a habit of picking up items throughout the day that didn’t belong and actually removed them instead of letting them pile up, everything started to change.

Follow the steps in 3 Simple Steps to Creating a Minimalist Bedroom & Maintaining it! to set up your plan for success. 

The final part of the bedroom is…clothing. This is the area I held out on the longest, but I wish I hadn’t. Last year I dug in and crafted my minimalist capsule wardrobe and it’s been truly amazing.

You don’t have to tie yourself to a bunch of rules to have a fantastic minimalist wardrobe. Sort, evaluate, try on and select using these simple tips.

Step 4: Jump In & Declutter the Kitchen

Decluttering the bedroom will bring you peace, but decluttering the kitchen will streamline and simplify your daily life. After attacking your counters, cabinets, and drawers you will no longer waste time rummaging around trying to find the tool you’re looking for. That’s minutes and hours of your life back!

Looking for some visual inspiration before tackling your kitchen? You can tour my minimalist kitchen here.

What does a minimalist kitchen actually look like? Peek at pictures of my simple, decluttered family kitchen! || kitchen organization | organizing tips | #minimalism #minimalist #decluttering #homeorganization

Take Action: Go through your drawers, cabinets, and counters, keeping only what you use and need

Areas you’re going to address include duplicate or unused cooking utensils, bakeware, cookware, specialty cooking/ baking accessories, cups, mugs, dishes, and expired food and spices. Most kitchens house items that were gifted or collected and are currently just collecting dust.

You’re going to be a little brutal with yourself (and your family if they also use the space). You may need some tips on ruthlessly purging stuff.

I promise the effort is worth the result! Follow these simple ways to declutter your kitchen.

Step 5: Work Through Living Spaces

Now that you’ve successfully decluttered your bedroom and kitchen, you are prepared to conquer other living spaces, including the living room, dining room, playroom or family room.

Take Action: Identify each room’s purpose and remove items that don’t support that purpose

Whether you are pursuing minimalism or just want to declutter some excess, you need to be very clear on what each room in your house is for. Knowing what the focus of each space is will help you to quickly evaluate what kind of items should be kept in that area and what should not be there.

I followed this concept and decluttered our living room, homeschool area, and playroom in one day. You can see that in action here:

Step 6: Declutter Emotional Items & Tackle “Someday”

After the living spaces are decluttered, you’ll move on to the harder areas–storage, hobby, office, and sentimental. This is the last step for a reason. You’ll need every ounce of courage and momentum that you gained from the previous steps to find success here.

The good news is that you can absolutely blast through the fear of “I might need it someday” with reasoning, asking good questions and creativity.

Learn pro decluttering tips for letting go of items that you think you might need someday. Ditch fear and meet your goals with these simple tips for decluttering your home. | decluttering | home organization | sentimental items | #declutter #organizing

When you’re working with storage and hobby areas, you’ll definitely want to dig into how to declutter like a pro when you think you might need stuff someday. You’ve got this!

If you’re struggling with buyer’s remorse or guilt about letting stuff go, I’ve got more pro tips here.

Sentimental items are among the hardest to work through, and just know that you shouldn’t feel pressure to get rid of everything right away. Sometimes you need to sit with emotions and ponder the meaning and worth of an item before deciding its fate. Totally okay!

Final Thoughts on How to Declutter Your House

When you’re learning how to declutter your house, remember that it’s not how quickly you can get through it–rather it’s the journey and process of letting go, discovering freedom and blessing others that makes it so worthwhile.

When you don’t know where to start, focus on quick wins to declutter 5 items in less than 10 minutes. Make progress and celebrate that you’re making changes!

Move forward one step at a time by addressing small areas like shelves and counters. Move through your living spaces: bedroom, kitchen, and living room. Finish up in the harder places like storage and hobbies. Focus on the person you are today, and not the person you wish you were.

Most importantly, believe in yourself. Believe that this process is important and the work you’re doing matters! Take breaks as needed, but keep the vision of an organized home in your mind. You can do this!

What’s your biggest decluttering challenge? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Related Articles on Decluttering Your Home

Book Review: The Minimalist Home 

My Minimalism Journey || our home before & after

Home Organization Lessons from Tidying Up with Marie Kondo


Learn the 6 simple steps for how to declutter your house when you don't know where to start! || decluttering | home organization | minimalism | #declutter #organizationtips #minimalist

Learn the 6 simple steps for how to declutter your house when you don't know where to start! || decluttering | home organization | minimalism | #declutter #organizationtips #minimalist

Learn the 6 simple steps for how to declutter your house when you don't know where to start! || decluttering | home organization | minimalism | #declutter #organizationtips #minimalist


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How to Declutter Your House When You Don’t Know Where to Start – The Complete Guide

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    1. It absolutely is more mentally and emotionally draining! But it’s also a process, and like all good things–it takes time (though we wish it didn’t!). =)

  1. I am working through our kitchen again to see what we need and don’t need. With my mom moving in with us, I seem to have an abundance of some items that I don’t we will actually use. Time to clear the cupboards again.

    1. That’s awesome! It’s amazing how things tend to just walk into our homes over the years. It’s always a process!

  2. Laura,
    I have been searching for the best planner for myself and stumbled on your website. I am not a Mom, but you make your suggestions just relatable to all busy people and non-judgmental of all. I love the look, the font, the words, and the message that is just calming and helpful and gets at the heart of why. It is decluttering of the mind to just read. It can be stressful even looking for the plan to declutter. Thank you and I look forward to exploring your website and reading more. Take care,

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