Decluttering checklist: tips to make your home simpler


Decluttering is hard. You don’t know where to begin, you lose motivation, you lose money, and you feel like you might regret it later. Owning less stuff is great – it makes your life so much simpler, it makes your home more spacious, but getting there is difficult.

So in this article, we’ll share some of our best minimalist decluttering tips. At The Core Basics we’ll never ask you to just chuck a lot of stuff into garbage bags and throw it out. There are better things you can do with stuff you don’t need. And there are ways to make the decluttering process more organized and pain-free. Today, we’ll take a look at them.

And in the spirit of keeping things simple, we’ve included a decluttering checklist at the end for those of you who’d much rather get a condensed summary. So now, let’s begin:

Write down your goal

One of the biggest problems in any time-consuming process is that you tend to lose motivation. You forget what you’re working towards and the results aren’t visible as you get used to them, so the sense of accomplishment doesn’t act as a driving factor.

To beat this problem, start off by writing down your goal. You’re cleaning your home, but for what reason? How much do you want to clean? Can you think of a percentage figure? Are there any particular rooms or areas you want to target? Write it all down in a bulleted list.

Now, divide this goal into achievable bits. For example, if cleaning your old room is your goal, you can break it down into:

– Decluttering your wardrobe

– Clearing the storage area under your bed

– Decluttering your dressing table

– Going through the shelves

– Taking care of your work desk/bathroom/whatever

When figuring out how to declutter your home room by room, you really need small steps that you can tick off as you complete them. This way you’ll have a simple way to see how much you’ve done, and how much more needs doing. Remember once more to keep the goal realistic. If you can’t clean your bathroom and work desk in one hour or can’t spare three hours every day for decluttering, don’t plan things out that way. Leave some leeway.

Work on one section at a time

To keep things organized and so you can see results quicker, work on one section at a time. So for example, get one chest of drawers decluttered and then tackle the dressing table next to it. Try to finish one room before moving to the next. This way you’ll see increasingly large areas that are neater, and they’ll be both your reward and motivation.

Visible results are really important, so keep this in mind when you start the decluttering process. You don’t want to clear out one kitchen shelf and then one cupboard in the living room. The results will be spread thin over a large area, and you won’t find them half as satisfying.

Of course, as you clean one piece of furniture, another will get messy. You can’t, for example, clean your wardrobe or work desk without throwing some stuff onto the bed. It will happen. Just remember to complete one item from start to finish, so when you leave the room the bed isn’t a new mess. That will tire and frustrate you. The decluttering process needs lots of energy – both physical and mental – so come prepared.

Sell items if possible

 Our minimalist decluttering tips consider the financial aspect as well, because you want to be financially responsible when you declutter your home. Simple living isn’t about reckless, impulsive decisions – it’s about sustainably working towards a simpler life, and financial responsibility is a big part of that.

So, if you don’t need some items (say, four of seven handbags), if they’re in a serviceable condition and you don’t know any friends who’d want them, the best course of action would be to sell them. In fact, even if a friend wants one, consider selling it to your friend for a reduced price.

When selling something used, remember that the price can be maximum half your purchase price. If you bought it second-hand, you could try selling it for slightly less than your purchase price. Minimally used items like makeup, shoes etc. can sometimes fetch a higher price, but we wouldn’t wait around for that.

You need to decide in the end whether you value the extra money over a decluttered home, or vice-versa. You spent money on the item and if it’s still usable you need to recoup costs, but you also don’t want to get back to square one by stuffing a roomful of unnecessary items under the bed because they can be sold.

Reuse things

Decluttering means getting rid of unnecessary items, which doesn’t necessarily mean throwing them out. For the sake of the environment and to reduce your expenses, always repurpose or reuse things when possible. Reusing has a lot of benefits: 

– It reduces cost, since you have to buy fewer things

– You need to make fewer trips to the store

– It’s environmentally friendly

– It makes you feel better

However, don’t go Pinterest-y on it, either. Remember, you’re doing it to simplify your life, not for the sake of reusing or to take cute photos. Keep it simple. So for example, if you have enough food containers but need a new toothbrush holder, you can easily repurpose an appropriately-sized container as a toothbrush cup.

Pulling out the hot glue gun to repurpose plastic strips into slippers (or something equally mindless) isn’t a step towards simple living; it’s a step towards DIY addiction and wastefulness – because you will end up throwing out what you just made. Take it from someone who’s been there.

Donate things

Our minimalist decluttering tips make sure you make the best decisions when decluttering without hurting your finances, the environment, or creating unnecessary waste. Our landfills are overflowing and waste management is becoming a huge problem. There’s a mass of garbage the size of Texas floating around in the sea because people throw out perfectly usable goods, and continue to buy single-use plastics.

So, when you find something you don’t need and you can’t repurpose it into something you do need, consider donating it. Books, clothes, personal hygiene products, stationery…a lot of things can be donated to homeless shelters and such. If you have food items that you won’t be eating (but which aren’t expired), you can give those too.

Donating isn’t just about giving to shelters. You could give things to your friends, relatives, staff working at your office, your housemaid, etc. Don’t throw away something someone can use. Socks, for example, are the most in-demand item at homeless shelter.

One last point – remember not to take the goods in a plastic bag when donating. Take them in a cardboard box instead (stores give away used ones for free, or you can get them from friends who order frequently from Amazon). Plastic bags hurt the environment.

Decluttering your house: Checklist

Here’s the checklist with everything you need to do. You’ll want to check items as you finish them, but instead of printing it out, copy and paste this list into your notes app. That way you won’t lose the checklist and have to reprint it.

 Decluttering checklist – General

– If you haven’t used something in the past year, set it aside. If you don’t use it in the next 6 months, get rid of it.

– Gather old receipts, unnecessary files and paperwork, newspapers etc. Compost, sell, throw out.

– Get hold of 4 cardboard boxes and label them with DONATE, SELL, REUSE AND THROW. This’ll help keep things organized. Donate, sell or throw stuff as the boxes fill up.

– Entertainment items (CDs, games, books, magazines) can be donated, sold or passed on to friends

 Decluttering checklist – Bedroom

– Throw out anything that’s broken, torn or mismatched

– Check the nightstand for expired stuff, old receipts, and items you don’t need there

– Pull out everything from under the bed, dust well, and see what needs to be kept

– Discard expired makeup, list items you don’t need for sale, or set them aside for giving away

– Remove trinkets, décor items, children’s artwork (take a picture for the memories)

– Remove broken or damaged furniture

 Decluttering checklist – Clothes

– Look for papers and other odds and ends in your pockets

– Look through your handbags for unnecessary items

– Don’t keep more than five of anything (for a capsule wardrobe)

– Keep your accessories minimal. Keep two handbags, 2-3 pairs of shoes, and the rest down to 1-2 per piece.

– If you have two or more items that look similar, give away all but one

– Faded, torn, loose, tight clothing goes in the donate box

– Non-classic items or clothes that don’t suit you anymore (but might one day) go out

 Decluttering checklist – Bathroom

– Check the bathroom vanity and medicine cabinet for expiring or spoiled items

– Discard items with moisture damage

– Check under the sink for cleaners that need replacing

– Extra shampoos, dyes and other products go in the store room. If you no longer use them, give them away.

 Decluttering checklist – Kitchen

– Remove mismatched lids or containers without lids

– Throw out expired food

– Get rid of items you haven’t used in a while and don’t plan on using again

– Check for expired or unused cleaning products. Use within 2 weeks or discard.

– Disused utensils can be given away or sold

 We hope you found this article helpful! To live a simpler life and to become fully minimalistic, follow The Core Basics – we’ll be your friend and guide.

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