I’m too busy, I don’t have time, it’s not Spring yet, holidays are around the corner… How many reasons have you come up with avoid cleaning the clutter over the years? It is amazing what we can get used to living in. You store this, you hide that, you forget about this, you ignore that… Although your house may not be a stereotypical pigsty, clutter can seriously affect how you feel about where you live. It’s time for a de-clutter challenge.
Truth is… there’s a mental cost to clutter. As psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter puts it: “Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling, anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.”
On the contrary, research shows that – in addition to stress – clutter can spur on anxiety and depression. Especially in women. A 2009 study in SAGE followed 60 dual-income spouses and analyzed what language they used while giving self-guided home tours. Using their words, researchers grouped them into two types describing either a stressful home or a restorative home. In comparison to women who used “restorative language,” those who used “stressful language” had an increased depressed mood as the day went on.[2,3]
“Cortisol data show a link between unhappy verbal characterizations of arrays of household possessions [chronically messy, cluttered rooms or unfinished remodeling projects] and higher stress levels as measured by the hormone cortisol in the MOTHERS in the study,” said UCLA anthropologist Jeanne Arnold.
Clearly, we are in the midst of a clutter culture! That’s why we’re here today with an invitation to take our de-clutter challenge!
30-Day DE-CLUTTER Challenge
Is this de-clutter challenge something you’ve been putting off for days, weeks, months, or maybe even years? If so, there is no better time than now to start (thanks to Love + Marriage). Say goodbye stress and anxiety and make a calm, clean home your new reality. Right below we give some guidance on how to tackle each daily de-clutter challenge – hope they help!
1) Empty out One Junk Drawer
It doesn’t matter how many you have… don’t even think about that! It will only overwhelm you. Choose one and tackle only that one. Whether it’s old flyers or bills, dried out elastic bands, golf balls, garbage wrappers (you’d be surprised) … get rid of it! A good rule of thumb is that if you haven’t used it on the last three months, you probably don’t need it (at least when it comes to little trinkets and things like that).
2) Purge Your Closet of the Things You No Longer Wear
Time to take a trip your local thrift shop! If you have to think twice about a piece of clothing, throw it in that plastic bag. This is the only time where, if you don’t use it, you want to lose it.
3) Go Through Your Movie Collection
Keep your favorites – no, they’re not all your favorites – and ditch the rest. Whether you donate your old VHS tapes or DVDs or leave them for the local landfill, be honest with yourself, you probably forgot they existed until now. Plus, does anyone really need those things when you have Netflix and other streaming programs?
4) Clean out Your Television Stand
You may even have some of those old VHS tapes or DVDs in there, not to mention cables you don’t use anymore. Some people spend a lot of time in front of a television, so why not make it as clutter-free as possible? No use setting down to relax with a movie while things like loose cables are poking out and bugging you.
5) Go Through Your Mail Pile
The flyers and newspapers start to stack up quickly… If you or someone you know has a fireplace indoors or outdoors, put it in a bag and use it that way. If not, just recycle all that excess stress-inducing paper. As for more important mail items such as bills, file them safely or pay them and throw them away. If you’re up for it, you can also opt for electronic billing at many places which will help keep your mailbox clear.
6) Clean off Your Kitchen Table
One day it’s clean and the next day, it’s as if it turned into an open concept storage unit. Move the laptops, dirty dishes, homework, and loose sheets of paper. Being able to eat at a clean table during meals will also help foster less stressful quality time together.
7) Purge Two Kitchen Cabinets
Let’s say the average family has four members… so why is it that people have sets upon sets of cups, dishware, and cutlery? Unless you’re hosting weekly friend or family functions, you can do away with at least some of those things. Donate a set of plates, re-gift those mugs you’ve never used. Less dishes means less washing, too!
8) Discard Old Books
Yard sale anyone? Old books can be tastefully used for décor, but there is a very distinct line between a beautifully placed coffee table book and an open book you have intention to return to. Of course, you’d keep your favorites, but ask around to see if anyone would be interested in reading any! If not, donate them or place them in a box on the street. You’d be surprised at how many people will stop and grab one (or ten)!
9) Clean out Your Wallet
This may be the easiest one to do because your wallet is likely within reach right now. So empty it completely… Get rid of the empty gift cards, faded receipts, creased business cards, and whatever else you’ve managed to slip in there!
10) Clean out Your Purse
Empty packs of gum, old lip balm, crinkled wrappers, soiled tissues… it’s definitely time for a purse purge. Empty everything out of your purse and once you’ve gotten rid of all the garbage or old items, only put back in the essentials: wallet, small makeup/hygiene bag, a pen or pencil, a planner, a little pack of tissues… it really depends on the person. The point is, you don’t want to carry around more than you have to.
11) Purge Your Makeup Drawer/Bag
Using the logic from number 10, do the same thing with your makeup drawer and bag. Keep your lipsticks in one place, eyeliners in another, and only keep the ones you use most often in your makeup bag.
12) Clean out Empty/Almost Empty Containers in the Shower
It’s like the milk jug syndrome – no one ever wants to be the one to finish the shampoo, so it sits there sometimes for months on end just taking up space. The good thing about this is that you don’t need to open each and every bottle. Just pick it up and give it a quick shake… you’ll be able to tell whether it’s empty or close to it.
13) Purge Your Bathroom Cabinets
The amount of loose hair and other unwanted things you’ll find in your bathroom cabinets will blow your mind. Clean all that out along with hygiene products packaging, empty toothpaste tubes, old mouthwash, and anything else you find!
14) Go Through Your Family’s Shoes (Donate What Doesn’t Fit)
If the shoes are old and worn out, throw them away. If they’re relatively new but don’t fit, donate them to a thrift shop or friend. Simple as that!
15) Purge 2 More Kitchen Cabinets
See number 7.
16) Organize Your Linen Closet
It’s always nice to have extra linens in case people stay over, but maybe it’s time to revisit your linen closet. Take an inventory of everything you’re storing in there and get rid of the old, holey, tattered sheets and blankets. If you have a backyard, keep them stored out there for cooler nights, otherwise donate them.
17) Purge Your Medicine Cabinet
Old or expired medication is not something you want in your house. Check the expiry dates or if they’re old antibiotics, for example, return them to your pharmacist for safe disposal. If you’re trying to live life more holistically, you might want to try swapping those medications for natural supplements!
18) Go Through Your Freezer and Dump Old Items
You may have just hit the jackpot… Check the expiry dates. If the food in your freezer is too old, throw it out. But if the food is good, cancel your shopping trip and eat whatever you’ve already got! Dinner is served…
19) Clear off Your Kitchen Counters
Crusty plates, dirty glasses, food from the past week still sitting in serving bowls… it’s time to clean those counters! Set aside a block of time – however long you think you’ll need – and just do it. There’s nothing like walking into a kitchen knowing you don’t have a mountain of dishes staring you in the face.
20) Empty Another Junk Drawer
See number 1.
21) Go Through Your Fridge and Dump Old Items
See number 18. Follow the same idea for the cleanest and freshest fridge you’ve ever had.
22) Purge 2 More Kitchen Cabinets
See number 7.
23) Get Rid of Unused Accessories (Jewelry, Hats, Etc.)
No one knows your taste in fashion and accessories better than you do. So, if try something on and you know it doesn’t suit you anymore or you don’t like it, put it in the donation bag or see if your kids or grandkids are interested. Don’t get stuck in the trap of telling yourself maybe you’ll wear it again one day because you probably told yourself that last time and, well, here we are…
24) Clean out Your Car
Get out that vacuum and get to work. First, get rid of the empty bottles, old tissues, crumped receipts, and whatever else you find. Then bang out the matts, clean out the compartments, and scrub down the interior with non toxic car cleaner.
25) Discard Kids Unused Toys
This can be a tough step in your de-clutter challenge. Depending on how old your kids or grandkids are, this will either be a hard day or an easy one. If the toys are in box and you know they haven’t been used in forever, those are fair game to put up for donation or sale. If they’re laying around the house, ask the kids if they still want their toys. If not, add them to the donation bin. If they do, get them to help clean up with you.
26) Organize Toys That Are Left
Designate a play area or toy bin where all the toys will go from now on. If you already had something like this, enforce it again at the peril of losing their playtime privilege. The toys may belong to the children, but they’re still toys under your roof.
27) Go Through Board Games and Electronic Games (Donate What’s Unused)
The same goes for board games and game consoles. Keep them neat and tidy and in one place – especially when so many little moving pieces and wires are involved. If no one uses them, we’re sure someone somewhere will find immense joy in a board game or console you don’t use anymore. This should be one of the easier parts of the de-clutter challenge.
28) Organize and Discard Cleaning Supplies
If you want to take a leap, get rid of all your toxic cleaners and replace with them with natural alternatives. This will create a safer and cleaner home – oh, and most natural cleaning supplies are made with ingredients you already have in your kitchen or pantry!
29) Purge 2 More Kitchen Cabinets
See number 7. This is key to your de-clutter challenge!
30) Clean! Get Your Newly Organized Home All Sparkly
Now that everything is organized again, cleaning should be a breeze! Welcome to your newly de-cluttered home.
- “Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies.” Psychology Today. Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D. March 14, 2012.
- “No Place Like Home: Home Tours Correlate With Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol.” Sage Journals. Darby E. Saxbe, Rena Repetti. November 23, 2009 .
- “The Clutter Culture.” UCLA Magazine. Jack Feuer. July 1, 2012.