Do you feel like you have too much stuff? You’re not alone:
- 11.3 million tons of textile waste ends up in U.S. landfills every single year. That’s the equivalent of every single American throwing away 81.5 pounds of clothing annually.
- 12.1 million tons of furniture entered the waste stream in the U.S. in 2018, and sales of furniture in the U.S. increased by over $4 billion between 2019 and 2021.
- Experts now expect a massive influx of furniture sent to landfills after more Americans bought cheap furniture during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s undeniable: Americans are drowning in stuff. The rise of fast fashion, “fast furniture,” and wasteful habits have all contributed to this problem.
And yet, there are many families in need that cannot afford basic necessities like clothing.
If you want to free yourself from clutter, there’s no time like the present to assess your belongings and break the cycle of overconsumption. You’ll be less stressed, less anxious and can even feel more self-confident. You’ll also be giving back to your community if you donate any items.
If you don’t know where to begin, we’ve got you covered: Start with our room-by-room checklist.
Top Decluttering Tips For Your Home: Room-by-Room Checklist
The first rule of decluttering is: Don’t try to tackle everything all at once. Organizing and decluttering gives you a huge sense of accomplishment, but if you try to take on too much, you’ll just get overwhelmed.
Instead, break up your decluttering mission by room. Then break it down even further. Go one cabinet, drawer or shelf at a time. This is especially true if you have a lot of stuff in your house that needs to be donated, thrown out or reorganized. If you focus on one small section of your home at a time, you’ll have a clear organization plan and ultimately accomplish more.
Follow our basic room-by-room checklist to get started. (Check off the boxes below or download our printable PDF here.)
The bathroom is often overlooked when it comes to organizing, but this room can easily start overflowing with expired, old products. If your bathroom is full of forgotten skincare serums, unused Bath & Body Works gift sets or foundations that aren’t quite your shade, it may be time to reevaluate.
Additional tips for decluttering the bathroom:
- Some makeup and toiletry products expire after a few months, so throw out anything that is past its expiration date. In the future, you can label the date you open makeup products so that you know when they’ve gotten old.
- Reassess your bathroom routines and the products you use every few months to avoid overbuying.
- To maximize the functionality of your bathroom, keep only the products you use the most out on the counter, and put the rest away in drawers or bins.
Your bedroom should be your “zen” space. But all too often, it becomes a dumping ground for piles of laundry, empty water cups and artwork you’ve been meaning to hang up for months (or even years). You don’t need to be overwhelmed by the mess — start one step at a time:
Additional tips for decluttering the bedroom:
- Tackle a bedroom decluttering project in stages. Organizing your nightstand, dresser and closet separately can prevent an organization project from becoming unruly.
- Being selective about which items you want sitting out can make your space feel less cluttered and makes surfaces easier to clean.
- Utilizing floating shelves, wall hooks and under-the-bed storage appropriately can help maximize your storage and display space.
The Closet and Clothing
For many people, clothing is the largest source of clutter in the home. An overabundance of clothing can not only overfill your closet and drawers, but spill into other aspects of your life as well. It makes doing laundry, keeping your space organized and just choosing outfits each morning more stressful than necessary.
Additional tips for decluttering the closet:
- When going through your closet, have a close friend or family member help you decide what to keep or get rid of. Having someone else there can encourage you to get rid of more items.
- When organizing your clothing, take account of what you have. Make a list of any items you actually need. When you’re out shopping for clothes, don’t buy anything new that is not on the list. This makes it easier to stop yourself from buying unnecessary clothing.
- If there are items that you haven’t worn much but would like to, hang them up in a prominent place in your closet. You’re more likely to wear something when it’s in your line of sight.
Although it’s important for every room in your home to work for you, the functionality of your kitchen may be the most important. Who wants to cook in a disorganized, overflowing mess of a kitchen? Once you declutter your kitchen, you’ll be excited to make delicious, home-cooked meals again.
Additional kitchen organization tips:
- Store holiday items or other items you use rarely in higher cabinets or away in storage containers.
- If you need additional storage space in your kitchen, try using a rolling cart. You can move it out of the way when it’s not in use, and it can make kitchen tools more accessible.
- Storing pans, baking sheets and other kitchen tools vertically rather than horizontally can prevent you from pulling everything out when you need to find one item.
The Living Room
The living room is the focal point of your home. When you have guests over, it’s almost guaranteed that they will spend time in the living room. But you want to enjoy the space, too.
That’s why you should use your living room to highlight the items you love the most, and store away items you don’t want to look at. You’ll enjoy relaxing in your living room more, and the items you display can serve as awesome conversation starters.
Additional living room organization tips:
- If extra throw pillows and blankets are taking up space in your living room, try putting them in an ottoman with built-in storage.
- If your living room tends to be a “catchall” space for random household items, try adding a collection basket for your family to use instead. Rather than immediately throwing items on the floor or tables, they can put things in the basket to be put away in the correct place later.
- The perfect time to complete home renovations is after a declutter. New built-in storage, energy-efficient windows, hardwood flooring or simply a new coat of paint can transform your home and make it even more impressive to guests.
What Items Should You Keep, Throw Out or Donate to Charity?
Making decisions about what to keep, give or throw away can be difficult. When going through your stuff, focus first on the purpose each item serves and how it makes you feel. You should predominantly keep things you genuinely enjoy, care about or use.
10 Questions to Ask Yourself When Decluttering and Organizing
When deciding what to keep, throw away or donate, the two most important questions to ask yourself are: Do I love it? Do I use it?
However, the reality is that the sorting process is not always that simple. If you’re having trouble deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, dig a little deeper with these questions:
- Do I love this item?
- How frequently do I use this item?
- Will I use this item in the near future?
- Is this item broken?
- If so, will I really repair it?
- Do I already have an item that serves the same purpose as this?
- Will not having this item impact my daily life?
- Is this item worth the clutter it’s creating?
- Does this item serve who I am today?
- Would I buy this item again?
If you’re grappling with the idea of permanently getting rid of items, try setting them aside. Put items you may want to get rid of in a box that you can put away for a couple of months. If you don’t reach for any of those items during that time, take those items to your nearest donation center.
What Items Can You Donate to Charity?
Some items can’t be dropped off at your local Salvation Army, Goodwill Community Foundation or other large charitable organization. These restrictions are often in place due to safety or size guidelines.
That being said, you may still be able to donate certain items elsewhere. For instance, items like eyeglasses, large appliances and medical devices are not accepted by larger organizations. However, there are smaller charities that accept these items specifically.
Things you can donate:
- Household items and small appliances
- Jewelry and accessories
To learn more about what items Goodwill accepts, click here.
Things you should only donate at designated charities or locations:
- Large appliances
- Exercise equipment
- Old TVs and other large electronics
- Stuffed animals and pillows
- Hearing aids
- Walkers and wheelchairs
- Other medical or mobility devices
Things you can’t donate:
- Old mattresses
- Used toiletries, cosmetics or haircare products
- Damaged or stained furniture or clothing
- Hazardous materials, including medical supplies, weapons or cleaning supplies
4 Charities That Help With Free Donation Pick Up
There are many charities that will pick up your large donation items, free of charge. Here are just a few:
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that aims to make housing more affordable for families all around the world. They help build and improve homes at little or no cost to families in need.
- Items that Habitat for Humanity accepts: Appliances, furniture, building materials and household goods
- How your donation helps: Donations help with the building and furnishing of affordable housing. Donated furniture and household items are sold at a steep discount in Habitat ReStore locations
- How to schedule a donation pick up: Enter your zip code here to find your local Habitat ReStore location. You can contact your store to schedule a pickup of larger items like furniture
Learn more about Habitat for Humanity or get involved at habitat.org.
Goodwill is a nationwide charitable organization that uses donations to fund workforce programs and training. Its mission is to increase opportunities and economic advancement of community members through education and skillset development.
- Items that Goodwill accepts: Household items, shoes, furniture, books, small appliances and more
- How your donation helps: Donated items are sold in its stores at a steep discount to people in need, and profits fund workforce programs
- How to schedule a donation pick up: Find your closest Goodwill store here and call to schedule a pickup for larger items
Learn more about Goodwill or get involved at goodwill.org.
Furniture Bank Network
Furniture Bank is a network of nonprofits, charities and social enterprises that share the mission of providing gently used furniture to families in need at little or no cost.
- Items that the Furniture Bank Network accepts: Furniture and vehicles
- How your donation helps: Furniture Bank is a community of like-minded organizations that want to help create a better living situation for low-income households
- How to schedule a donation pick up: Locate your nearest furniture bank and call to organize a pickup
Learn more about the Furniture Bank Network or get involved at furniturebanks.org.
Out of the Closet
Out of the Closet was founded in the 1990s with the mission of making HIV and AIDS prevention and care more accessible. Today, 96 cents of every dollar its customers spend are donated to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
- Items that Out of the Closet accepts: Furniture, home goods, kitchenware, appliances, electronics, tools, musical instruments, clothing, shoes, books, estate items, artwork and more
- How your donation helps: Out of the Closet funds AIDS Health Foundation’s affordable HIV prevention and healthcare services
- How to schedule a donation pickup: Fill out the large item pick-up form on its website to schedule a pickup at your nearest location
Learn more about Out of the Closet or get involved at outofthecloset.org.
Places to Sell Items
There’s nothing wrong with an old-fashioned yard sale. But in the age of technology, you can maximize your earning potential (without sacrificing your Saturday morning) by selling old items online. There are plenty of local thrift and consignment shops that will pay you for clothing and home items, so there’s really nothing stopping you from earning some extra cash.
4 Great Places to Sell Your Stuff Online
It’s never been easier to sell your things online. These sites make it easy to start making money:
- Facebook Marketplace: You can sell pretty much anything on Facebook Marketplace. The platform allows you to set the price of each item and decide whether to arrange a pickup with the buyer or opt for shipping. For step-by-step instructions on how to sell items on Facebook Marketplace, click here.
- Poshmark: Poshmark is a great app if you’re looking to sell clothes and accessories, especially brand-name pieces. It’s easy to make an account and start posting your unwanted items, and if an item sells, you don’t have to worry about shipping fees. You’ll print out a prepaid shipping label to pack up and ship your package. Poshmark takes a fee for each item that you sell, and there is no option to pick up items locally. Learn more about listing on Poshmark here.
- ThredUp: If you don’t want to go to the trouble of individually listing items on Poshmark or another selling app, you can use ThredUp. Once you make an account, you can order a free “Clean Out Kit.” Once you receive the kit in the mail, fill it with your unwanted clothing items and ship it back with the prepaid shipping label. The ThredUp team will sort and list your items, and you’ll make a commission when items sell. Learn more about ThredUp here.
- OfferUp: OfferUp is an app that lets you sell almost anything locally. Once you post your item, interested buyers will message you and you’ll agree to a price. Then, you can either ship the item or arrange a pickup in person. The good thing about OfferUp is that you can rate buyers, so untrustworthy buyers will be penalized. Learn how to post on OfferUp here.
Local Consignment Stores
Consignment shops will pay you for items that you don’t want anymore. Large consignment store chains like Plato’s Closet, Once Upon a Child and Uptown Cheapskate will pay you on the spot for trendy, lightly worn clothing.
There are many locally owned consignment shops throughout the U.S., so do your research to find a store that fits your needs.
How to Maintain Your Home After Decluttering
We’ve all been there: you’ve finally taken the time to declutter and organize your home, but just a few weeks later, it feels like you’re wading through piles of junk again. You keep ending up back at square one.
This time, you want to declutter for good. Thankfully, there are simple ways to finally make your space work for you and avoid recurring cleanouts:
- Create a functional space: It’s much easier to maintain the organization of a room that is functional for your needs. That means that the items you use the most should be easily accessible, while items you use less frequently can be stored up high or in the back of cabinets and closets. That way, you won’t be digging through items you rarely use just to get to an item you use daily, creating a chaotic mess.
- Be mindful of what you’re bringing in: After you declutter, you’ll feel like you have so much more space in your home. But don’t let this tempt you to begin filling the space with new objects and start the cycle all over again. Instead of using your recent declutter to justify buying more stuff, use it as an opportunity to enjoy what you already own. Of course, bringing in some new items is inevitable, so try practicing the “one in, one out” method: Whenever you get a new item, donate or give away an old one.
- Use labels: When you’re decluttering and organizing, labels are a great way to categorize your items. Not only will you always remember where things are, but labeling also makes it easier to maintain your newly organized space.
- Get your family on board: Chances are, if you live with other people in your home (especially kids), you understand the struggle of painstakingly cleaning and organizing a space just to see it torn up again in a matter of days (or hours, or minutes). Involving your family in the decluttering process and setting expectations can help get your family on board with maintaining a clean space.
- Make organizing fun: That being said, if you have kids in your home, they may be resistant to the decluttering and cleaning process. Try making the process as fun as possible: incorporate bright-colored sorting bins, turn on some music or make cleaning and sorting a game. You can also explain to older kids that the items they donate can be used by people in need, so everyone feels good about giving.
- Set aside organization time each week: We’d love organizing and decluttering to be a “one and done” deal, but the reality is that even the most organized space requires maintenance. To avoid spending a whole day (or days) decluttering again, set aside time each week for maintenance. It doesn’t have to take long — just 15 minutes goes a long way in preventing items from piling up.
Benefits of Decluttering and Why You Should Donate
It goes without saying that decluttering is good for your peace of mind and donating items helps people in need. Here are just some of the benefits of decluttering:
- Furthers the life-cycle of your gently used belongings, which reduces your carbon footprint: Donating items extends the life of your items, and prevents them from ending up in a landfill.
- Charitable donations are tax deductible: To learn if your donations are tax-deductible, keep reading here.
- Helps provide affordable furniture and clothing to families in need: As we mentioned above, charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Goodwill resell your donations at a very low cost so families in need can afford to furnish their homes.
- You get to enjoy your items more: The simple fact is that you cannot enjoy items that are hidden in the back of a closet, under piles of junk or hanging out on the floor. When the items in our house are actually items we actively chose to keep and appreciate, we get to enjoy them more.
- Reduces stress and anxiety: A study from the University of Connecticut concluded that removing clutter directly reduced stress and anxiety, and even increased self-confidence. It’s true — don’t you feel better when your surroundings are clean and organized?