Ready to start the New Year with a cleaner, more organized home? Join me for a 31 Day January Decluttering Detox.
First off, I want to say that I have always struggled with clutter in our house. I find it hard to part with things that might be useful or have meaning and I can freeze up when faced with making decisions about what to keep. However, over the last couple years I’ve been working on it. I used to be all about organizing until I realized that it just meant I was shuffling stuff around rather than dealing with it.
Inspired by the popular book and series by Marie Kondo, the last two Januarys I’ve done a decluttering detox. Every day of the month I take anywhere from 15-60 minutes and try to tackle a new area in our home. Even though I’ve done this the last two years, the sneaky thing about clutter is that it creeps back in all the time. Everyone needs a tune up.
Here in Canada, January can be a cold, dark month. It’s easy to get into a winter slump, which is all the more reason to put this lull to good use. There is a slower pace and quieter weekends after all the excitement of the holiday season. Use that to your advantage to set the tone for your home year-round.
Wouldn’t it be great to start 2020 off with a less cluttered, more organized, cleaner home?
How the Decluttering Detox Works
- Every day in January, there is a new space in your home to go through and declutter. You can follow along with the checklist by the days listed or pick whichever thing on the list you’d like to do each day.
- The Goal is to Declutter Not Just Organize. So often when we organize, we move things around and it feels like we’ve done something but there is still that same amount. And all that stuff needs to be managed, which takes away from time you’d otherwise be able to spend with family and friends. I try to keep that in mind when I’m making decisions.
- Share your Checklist as you go. There is something about putting this out there that makes you feel more accountable. I’ll be sharing my January Decluttering Detox on Instagram and I’d love for you to join me. Save the image above as a checklist you can use on your social media. And don’t forget to tag me so I can cheer on your progress!: @lifeatcloverhill
Tips for Decluttering Throughout Your Home
Give as little or as much time to this project as you can – If you only have 15 minutes you can devote to this every day, then that’s great. If you can focus on the task as hand, even for that little bit of time, you can make a serious improvement in your home. If you have more time on the weekends, then maybe take on more or double up on a day’s task. And if you can’t finish it all in the month, take longer. There is no right or wrong way to do this. The goal is to improve the clutter in your house not trying to reach perfection, so just keep that in mind.
Set up Area for Donations, Recycling and Garbage – As you go through each space, you’ll need to figure out what to do with the things you no longer need. Drop off donations regularly throughout the month to keep them out of your new clean space, and take care of garbage and recycling too.
Keep Cleaning Supplies On Hand – Whenever I’m decluttering a space, I keep clean rags, spray cleaner and a handheld vacuum with me. If I’m clearing out a drawer or cabinet, I give it a vacuum and wipe down while I’m at it.
It Gets Easier As You Go – I’ll admit that the first few days are tough. It can be hard to get motivated, but once you have that momentum, each day gets easier. You’ll start to see the improvement in your home and feel the weight being lifted off you.
How to Tackle Decluttering Each Space
1. Christmas Boxes – Right off the bat, let’s look at those things that you’re putting away from the holidays. Get rid of any decorations that you haven’t used in the last few years. Discard broken or damaged decorations. Save the best bags, ribbons and boxes to reuse next year, but recycle or toss anything that is ripped.
2. Makeup – Dump your make up bag and pull everything out from your vanity. Discard anything that has expired. There is a small number on the bottom that says how many months a product is good for. ex. “6m” is 6 months. Toss any half used bottles of products you don’t like. No point in keeping things that you won’t use. Give everything a quick wipe down before returning it.
3. Bedroom Closet – Ok, so this is a big one. If you can’t tackle it in a day, do it over a weekend or spread it out across a few days. I like to pull everything out for one specific item at a time, such as “sweaters” and go through them, rather than dragging every single clothing item out of the closet. That way if I get torn away from it (which happens a lot with two little kids!), I don’t have this massive mess to go through later.
4. Bedroom Dresser – Same as with the closet. Pull everything out for one category of clothing, such as “t-shirts” and go through them. This is a good time to look through any jewellery and accessories too.
5. Nightstands – Only keep those things that you need for bedtime in and on top of your nightstand. Everything else is just adding clutter to your bedtime routine.
6. Pantry – Toss expired food and donate anything you won’t use that still has a long expiration date. Sort through what you’re keeping, and more those things that expire sooner closer to the front. I have a blog post on how we created a pantry in the stairwell of our farmhouse.
7. Fridge & Freezer – Take everything out of the fridge and set it out on the counter. Fill your sink with hot soapy water and wipe down all the shelves and drawers. Toss anything expired. Wipe down any bottles before returning them to the fridge. Repeat with the freezer. Take note of things to use up before they’re expired.
8. Kitchen Cupboards – Go through each cupboard and drawer, pulling everything out. Vacuum up crumbs and given them a wipe down with a clean damp rag. Discard broken or unused utensils and gadgets.
9. Dining Room – Anyone else’s dining room become a dumping ground, especially during the holidays? This is a great time to clear it out, and go through the hutch and any cabinets too.
10. Desk – Take all the unsorted paperwork and set it aside for tomorrow. Go through everything else and discard dry pens and markers, crumbly erasers and trash. Corral like-with-like in your desk and donate any duplicates you may have.
11. Paperwork – Pull together ALL the loose paper around your house. Sort everything into piles: “to file”, “to do” and “to recycle”. Be realistic about what you keep – most product manuals can be found online these days and consider changing over to online statements and bills if you haven’t already. Recycle anything you don’t need and shred any that has personal information. Make an action plan to take on your “to-do” pile.
12. Winter Gear – Pull everything out and sort by person. Donate or store any hats, mitts and scarfs that no longer fit anyone. Toss that one mitten that you’ve never been able to find the mate for.
13. Mudroom / Front Entry – It’s January and I bet you’ve got something in your front entry or mudroom that is still from the summer. I know I sure do, ha! Store things away that are for warmer months and go through anything related to winter. Our mudroom often becomes a dumping ground when we’re coming in the door, so often it’s about finding the proper home for everything that’s out there.
14. Living Room – Gather books and magazines and set them aside for tomorrow. Go through everything else, from knick-knacks and decor to DVDs and video games.
15. Books & Magazines – Either gather up everything you have throughout the house into one place OR tackle each area where you store these things. Cut yourself some slack and donate books that you tried to read, but couldn’t get through. Keep your most recent magazines and donate/recycle all the others. When keeping books, I try to think about whether I will actually revisit them later on. I dragged my old university text books around for years before I finally admitted I was never going back to them. I’ve not regretted it once, and I bet you’ll be the same.
16. Kid’s Toys – With so many new toys for Christmas, I bet your kids toys are as out of control as mine. We try to do a toy rotation, where we have some things downstairs, some in their bedrooms and some in storage. Every couple months we swap things around to keep it fresh. This is also a good time to donate or give away toys they’ve outgrown, and check any toys for broken, potentially dangerous, parts. You can see more on how we manage toy storage here.
17. Kid’s Closets – Go through their clothes and donate, give away or store anything they’ve outgrown. Discard clothes that are damaged, stained or destroyed beyond repair. Store things that are out of season.
18. Craft Supplies – We love crafts in our house, so I’ve turned one of the cupboards in our dining room into a craft cupboard. This is a good time to go through all the supplies and toss the dried up markers and glue sticks. Corral the stickers and construction paper together, and recycle anything that can’t be used again.
19. Junk Drawer – Oh the mysterious junk drawer…where ALL the random things end up. Empty that sucker out, and give it a good vacuum and wipe down. Anything that has a home elsewhere can be relocated and you can toss/donate whatever is broken or not needed.
20. Purse – Dump your purse on the counter and vacuum those lingering crumbs out of the bottom. Empty out your wallet and file receipts.
21. Bathroom Cabinets – Pull everything out and give all the surfaces a good cleaning. Bathroom cabinets and drawers tend to get lots of hair, dust bunnies and product build up in them. Toss old products and recycle empty containers. Cut up stained, torn or worn towels for cleaning rags.
22. Medicine Cabinet – Properly discard all expired and unused medications – you can often take them to a local pharmacist for safe disposal.
23. Cleaning Supplies – In recent years I’ve tried to really pare down my cleaning supplies. I keep the essentials such as white vinegar, baking soda and a good cleaner concentrate, along with any specialty cleaning products.
24. Linen Closet – Pull everything out and go through all linens. Keep in mind that you only need 2-3 sets of sheets per bed, so donate or give away your extras. Same goes for extra mattress pads, pillows and old comforters. Stained, ripped or worn towels can be cut up to make great cleaning rags and sheets are handy as drop cloths for projects. Anything in the linen closet that doesn’t belong there? Do you really need to keep it or is it something that has been shoved in there because you don’t know what to do? Return it to its’ proper home or get rid of it.
25. Basement – In a quick 30 minute hunt, what are things that you can part with in your basement? We all have things that have been tossed down there…”out of sight, out of mind”, right?
26. Car – Go through every seat pouch, cupholder, console and glove compartment. Pocket spare change, toss old wrappers and gather up things that have been brought out to the car and forgotten. Make sure to bring a garbage bag and handheld vacuum with you.
27. Garage – Just like basements, this is another space where things can be dumped to deal with later. Even if you just spend 30 minutes getting rid of things that are broken, unused or trash, you’ll see an improvement.
28. Outdoor Spaces – Take down any leftover Christmas decorations and tidy things up.
29. Under Beds – One of the worst places for things to get cluttered because you never see them. Pull everything out and chase the dust bunnies with a vacuum.
30. Pet Stuff – Discard expired medication and treats. Check leashes and collars for wear and keep the best ones. Check toys for damage that can lead to a choking hazard.
31. Smart Phone – The last frontier in this decluttering journey is a place where we often forget to declutter…our phones! I have a whole post on How to Declutter & Organize Your Phone.
I hope you find this January Decluttering Detox helpful. I’ll be back with an update later this month on my own progress and don’t forget to follow along on Instagram too!