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Get Rid of the Clutter

Updated on May 31, 2015
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Is Clutter Your Real Problem?

If you're like me then clutter gets on your nerves. It's easy for someone else to say "just clean up", but there are times when you look around a room and just can't quite figure out where to start. You think your home is just always dirty no matter how much you clean it. But maybe clutter is your problem and not home hygiene.

Does this sound like you?

  1. There just seems to be a lot of 'stuff' laying around but you don't know what to do with it.
  2. For months or years you have been dusting and rearranging things that you no longer have use for. It makes you feel better for a few days but after awhile that crowded feeling creeps back in.
  3. When company comes over you worry that they will think your home is dirty, even if you just cleaned it.
  4. You can never find anything important when you need it.
  5. You clean your home on a regular basis but it still seems messy to you.
  6. You recently found a 5-year old piece of junk mail on your desk.

If that sounds like you, then you may just have an overabundance of clutter. The good news is it is something that you can fix easily with little or no extra time added to your cleaning routine. If you can't remember the last time you cleaned, now is the time to get a good, consistent routine going.

You can do this!

Recycle Your Plastic Grocery Bags

The first thing you will need is a nice supply of plastic store grocery bags. They do have a second use after all! Realize that it may take some time (days or weeks) to declutter your home to your satisfaction. This plan calls for a change in your daily habits and will help you maintain your clutter-free space.

THE PLAN: Fill up one plastic bag with trash per day, per room. The bathroom may or may not give you a full bag in a day, and that's okay.

Grab a plastic bag and pick a room. Challenge yourself to be able to find enough things you can part with to fill up that bag. Some things are not so obvious. Pull open that lingerie drawer and throw out that bra with the scary elastic strands hanging out of it. You know the one. Then throw out those cheap knick-knacks on your dresser, followed by the body spray that stopped smelling so good once you got it home from the store. Don't forget old shoes, faded and stained clothing items, and holey or unmatched socks. Give up hope. That sock will never turn up.

When you are done, simply tie the bag and toss it in the garbage. If the bag is not full after you have tossed everything you can think of, save it for the next day. The point it to not throw out any half-filled bags unless they contain something smelly or that your are just anxious to get rid of.

At first your goal should be one bag a day per room until the space is to your liking. You'll be surprised how many things you will suddenly see as useless once you are motivated to fill up your bag. After that you may only be able to fill a bag every week or even every other month. Some rooms, like the living room or den, will easily do a bag or two a day for a long, long time.

The more you do this, the better and faster you will get. You may even find yourself making it a habit to fill a bag each night before you go to bed or in the morning after you're nice and loaded full of coffee! Well, maybe the coffee part is just me :)

If you feel like working on more than one bag in a particular room, then go for it. But don't overdo it because if you exhaust yourself working on one room, you may not want to continue the plan in the next room, let alone the next day. The point is to take out the trash one small bag at a time. There is no rush and you make your own schedule according to your time, needs and resources.

Get the kids in on the action. Your idea of clean isn't even close to your kids' idea of clean. You say, "Go clean your room". What do they do? Hide everything- in the closet, under the bed and in their dresser drawers! Change up your game plan. Give them plastic bags, send them to their rooms and tell them you want the bags back full of trash. I did this with my boys and now they voluntarily begin their cleaning routine by filling up a bag. Throwing out trash and unusable items is the easiest thing to do and the fastest way to make a noticeable difference in any room.

Answer This

What Is Your Biggest Barrier to Cleaning?

See results

Decluttering in Action

  • When I need to clean a room, the bag is the FIRST thing I do. It clears the room quickly and allows me to see any newly freed space that can be put to better use- but not for new clutter!
  • My kids start the day by filling their bags. They have to leave them by the door for me to see and then they carry them outside to the garbage.
  • If my bag isn't filled the way I like it to be, I'll sweep the floor and empty the dustpan into it.

Once I get rid of my garbage I don't feel so overwhelmed by the idea of really cleaning house. My opinion of what a keepsake is has changed dramatically. I use this tactic with cleaning my vehicle and sorting through old clothes. It also works for making space in my closets and dresser drawers. With the trash out I am better able to see all the usable items that could be donated.

BONUS TIP: When the Salvation Army and Goodwill are too busy to pick up your donations, look up your local thrift stores or veterans and homeless organizations and ask if they pick up donations. I have found that most of them do because they are small, privately owned businesses. People usually forget about them when they have donations and they have to compete with the big guys.

**Happy Cleaning!**


Submit a Comment

  • Motherbynature profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

    I had a HUGE issue with paper, too! Maybe I should hub about how I conquered that demon. Thanks for stopping by :)

  • Lady Summerset profile image

    Lady Summerset 

    6 years ago from Willingboro, New Jersey

    That plastic bag method is a great way to start decluttering. I have a BIG issue with PAPER! So, I started scanning everything to put on a disk.

  • Motherbynature profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

    dulcegaede, thank you for reminding us that small organizations struggle with resources. People should deliver their donations if they can.

  • dulcegaede profile image


    6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

    I work at a homeless shelter and we welcome all donations to use in our free stores (women and children's and men's). However, we are not able to pick up donations because we don't have the staff or vehicles to do so. So it is really appreciated when people can drop off their donations to us. Thank you for the suggestions - great hub!

  • Motherbynature profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

    When I grow up I wanna be like Arlene. Baby steps, Mhatter. LOL.

  • Mhatter99 profile image

    Martin Kloess 

    6 years ago from San Francisco

    Arlene uses plastic lined storage boxes, all labeled and indexed.. It is like a library. :))


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