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Rules For Decluttering

I’ve been on a serious spring cleaning spree the past couple of weeks.  I recently did my kitchen in the 30 Minute Declutter Challenge, and it went so well that I’ve been working my way through the house.

Today I tackled my sons’ room.  It’s a small-ish room, and they had it packed to the gills with toys, drawings, and school memorbilia from years past.  They do get attached to their things, but eventually something’s got to give.  There’s just not enough space for all of the things they want to keep.

Here’s what one side of their room looked like before I started:


And here’s what it looked like when I was done!  (Sorry for the camera shift.)

20150502_171328Take a look at the time lapse video below:

Getting started with decluttering can be a real challenge for many people.  Here are my rules for making it as painless as possible.

1. Each item in your space can only have one of three labels: Keep, Trash, or Donate (to the Goodwill, the Salvation Army, a local shelter, etc). Start with two garbage bags of different colours.  One will be your “Trash” bag (ie. black bags), and the other will be your “Donate” bag (ie. orange bags).  I use bags instead of boxes because they hold so much more, and I can buy lots of them at one time.  That way there’s no opportunity for procrastination when there are no more boxes.

2. Don’t think too long about where each item should go.  When you take a book off a shelf, either put it in the Trash bag, the Donate bag, or put it back on the shelf.  You should be able to find a spot for the things you’re keeping very quickly.  If you can’t find a spot for it relatively quickly, you need to pass it on – donate it.

3. Don’t second guess.  If it’s in the Trash bag, don’t start to wonder if you’ll need it again next year.  When in doubt, consider this: Would the amount of space the item takes up justify keeping it “just in case” you need it again sometime in the future?  Imagine having to pay rent on that space (since really, you are paying for heat, air conditoning and electricity for that space in your home).  Is it worth it?

4. Remove the unwanted items from your home as quickly as possible.  Drive the Donate bag to the closest drop box, and get the Trash bags ready for your next collection or drive them to the dump asap.

I’d love to hear your decluttering story! 

How has your spring cleaning gone this year?


Article written by:

Megan is a WAHM to 3 (and then some) kids, who spends the majority of her time working as an Administrative Assistant, blogging and washing dishes. She loves to write about her adventures in parenting, running a home daycare, adoption and whatever else strikes her fancy!


  1. Robin Masshole mommy

    I went on a major decluttering spree yesterday as a matter of fact. There are 17 bags filled with trash waiting to be picked up on Thursday by the trash guys

    • Megan Elford

      Wow! Good for you! We’re limited by having to pay for and use garbage tags, but I’ve been able to get 4 or 5 out each week the past few weeks. You’re still way ahead 🙂

  2. BellaVidaLetty

    I love it. Nothing feels better than having an organized house.
    Go check out BellaVidaLetty’s latest post! Really Cool Travel Inspired Mother’s Day GiftsMy Profile

  3. Michele

    I am constantly trying to de clutter my apartment–I stopped during the winter since it was hard to get to the donation bins! I really have to start again soon.
    Go check out Michele’s latest post! $25 Amazon GC WW-Eighty and Out-Kim Cano-Ends 5/28My Profile

  4. Carmen Perez (listen2mama)

    I am the anti-hoarder so I am constantly de-cluttering. LOL! These are all great tips that I follow myself.
    Go check out Carmen Perez (listen2mama)’s latest post! Celebrating MomMy Profile

  5. swell conditions

    I’m with ya on that one!! I don’t second guess either so if I think it should go, out it goes! I’m all for donating too – hey if another family could use it then let them have it!
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  6. Liz Mays

    There are certain rooms in my house that attract tons of clutter. I need to follow these rules. I definitely second guess myself.
    Go check out Liz Mays’s latest post! Dreams, Handprints and Spooky Phenomena #HandontheMirrorMy Profile

  7. tweenselmom

    I am scheduling spring cleaning and having an online garage sale soon. Thanks for this reminder.
    Go check out tweenselmom’s latest post! Krispy Kreme Glamour Glaze Doughnuts – So Katy PerryMy Profile

  8. Jillian Fisher

    I am doing this next week. We are going to have a yard sale first and then donate everything. I can’t wait until it is our the house because it will make our smallish apartment look so much bigger!!
    Go check out Jillian Fisher’s latest post! IArrow for Samsung Galaxy S5 Tempered Glass Screen Protector ReviewMy Profile

  9. Vera Sweeney

    Decluttering kids rooms can be the worst!! You did a great a job on your son’s room!
    Go check out Vera Sweeney’s latest post! You Know You Are Pregnant When…Funny Quotes From Women Who Have Been There (giveaway) #youknowyouarepregnantwhenMy Profile

  10. bri

    That was a major transformation. I Love the rule of ‘Keep, Trash, or Donate’. It saves time and you know exactly where everything is going.

  11. ourfamilyworld

    Those are excellent tips. I like the idea of removing items quickly when you don’T need them. I need to work on that
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  12. Audrey (Trhardmom)

    These are great tips for decluttering your home! We are military and move often, so each time we move we do this. We always throw away things we haven’t used in the past year and save only what we really need to keep. So nice to keep things neat and tidy and cleaned out.
    Go check out Audrey (Trhardmom)’s latest post! Race-day NutritionMy Profile

    • Megan Elford

      We live in a military area, and oh my, the military moms around here are so great at keeping things manageable! I need to learn from all of you!

  13. Maggie

    My hubby has been doing some spring cleaning too! We had to purge a bunch of baby toys since they were invading the living room lol
    Go check out Maggie’s latest post! I Made It Through Week One #21dayfixMy Profile

  14. Beth@FrugalFroggie

    Just worked on my kitchen a little today. Not completely done but it does look better.
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  15. Lois Jones

    We do 4 labels at our house. We do the 3 you mentioned and then add sell. We’ve paid our property taxes many years doing that!
    Go check out Lois Jones’s latest post! Making A Deposit On A PromiseMy Profile

    • Megan Elford

      Wow, what a great idea! Not just the selling part, but having a specific purpose for the money!

  16. XmasDolly

    I became a faithful donator to the VietNam Veterans and I find that I don’t have to make clutters day anymore because the clutter is always donated away. Woo Hoo I sure had a great idea.
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  17. Laura MyNewestAddiction

    I need the drive to declutter all the things in my house right now. it is so time consuming.
    Go check out Laura MyNewestAddiction’s latest post! 5 Beauty Tips Passed Down Over TimeMy Profile

  18. Franc Ramon

    Good idea. I’ll have a list on my to keep, to trash and to donate. I really need to de-clutter my room.
    Go check out Franc Ramon’s latest post! R. O. X. Showcase the Outdoors in #ROX OutdoorFestivalMy Profile

  19. Fi Ní Neachtáin

    I’ve just packed up a lot of my sons toys to declutter a bit and am now wondering if I should donate some to the charity shop. Thanks for the helpful tips.

  20. Shaney Vijendranath

    This post is inspiring me to declutter! I have a toddler so my house is always in a mess.
    Go check out Shaney Vijendranath’s latest post! Top 7 Healthy And Energy Providing Drinks During PregnancyMy Profile

  21. Joanne T Ferguson

    Great hints and tips! The problem I have is as one room declutters, another fills up and I sometimes wonder how that happens! lol
    Thanks for sharing this today! Great reminder for all!

  22. Miranda (Myrabev)

    These are all great ideas, I will be moving house soon so decluttering is on my schedule once I return from vacation.
    Go check out Miranda (Myrabev)’s latest post! {Lifestyle} Home Decor wishlist.My Profile

  23. Jennifer Pennington

    I love this post!! Seriously! De-cluttering is something I do very often because I cannot stand a build up of it! I actually love how it spiritually, emotionally and mentally connects to things within us too. Like, if there is clutter outside or a buildup of something on the outside, there may be a build up of other things going on within us too. Great post and great advice!!


  24. A. Elizabeth

    My mom loves decluttering a lot especially in my brother’s room. Well, boys are usually messy with their stuff. I’ll share this her! Thanks for sharing. 😀

  25. Leira Pagaspas

    This tip has really worked for me.Start with one small area. Pick a closet, a drawer or a corner of a room or desk, something small and start there. If you think about decluttering the entire house you’re going to feel overwhelmed. Do it a little bit at a time.

  26. sojourner

    Decluttering feels so very good. We’re getting ready to move and I’m loving the time right now to take inventory and get rid of the things we don’t need.
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  27. Stephanie

    Haha looks like my daughter’s room! Thanks for the great decluttering tips. I can’t wait to put them to good use!
    Go check out Stephanie’s latest post! 4 Easy Ways to Keep your Teens Tuned in at DinnertimeMy Profile

  28. Frugal Mom Eh

    I really should do this as the kids have so much stuff. I really like the idea of putting in 3 piles.

  29. Lisa Rios

    Love these ideas. I always love to organize home. I am planning for a spring cleaning and this post would be a great reminder to me. Thanks for sharing the video as well.

  30. Michelle H

    I did a bunch of decluttering a few months ago and it felt great! I was taking donation bags almost every day. Unfortunately it seems to have repopulated and I need to start again!

  31. Penny Struebig

    Boy — thanks for these tips. I could really use them at my house. Thanks for the motivation to start the decluttering.
    Go check out Penny Struebig’s latest post! Neiman Marcus DipMy Profile

  32. jared's mum

    de-cluttering the home is quite a challenge with a 5-year old boy who simply do not want to part ways with toys he has not even played for ages. i have stacks upon stacks of his stuff that i am really itching to either tidy up, keep in storage or give away.

    those are really interesting tips! i should keep those in mind.

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