Get Your Home Into Shape With One-Day Decluttering Challenges

Updated on April 19, 2019
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Sadie Holloway enjoys discovering simple ways to stay organized and manage her time better at home, at work, and out in the community.

When every surface in your home, including the floor, is covered in stuff, it's not surprising you're stressed out.
When every surface in your home, including the floor, is covered in stuff, it's not surprising you're stressed out.

Is your home cluttered with stuff you don't need or use? Are you overwhelmed by how much you have to do to get on top of the mess? Here's how to tackle home organization, one day at a time.

  1. Pick any project below and tackle one job per day.
  2. When you've completed one task, you're done for the day (unless you feel motivated to keep going).
  3. Depending on how fast you work (and how big the clutter), some projects might require an hour while others may take a whole day. But no matter how much time you have to devote to cleaning, you can find one little project on this list to work on.

Clean Out Your Pet Supplies

Don’t just declutter for your own peace of mind, declutter for the health of your pet.

  1. Wash your pet's bed or sleeping area thoroughly.
  2. Throw out any toys that are falling apart. Anything with loose parts can be hazardous to your pet’s health. For example, a dried out, cracked rubber chew toy can break apart and injure your dog’s mouth or cause choking.
  3. Leashes and collars should be checked to make sure they can still keep your pet safe and secure. Anything that is frayed or torn should be tossed.
  4. Dirty toys and accessories can become moldy or harbor bacteria.

Is your emergency kit in tip-top shape? Get it organized so that it's there when you need it.
Is your emergency kit in tip-top shape? Get it organized so that it's there when you need it.

Go Through Your Household Emergency Supply Kit

  1. Check the dates on food and bottled water and replace any expired items. The last thing you want in a disaster is to get sick eating food past its prime.
  2. Check the expiry dates on batteries and make sure flashlights, wind-up radios, and solar chargers are working properly.
  3. Inspect the first aid kit and replace any items that have been torn or damaged. Check the expiry dates on medications, ointments, saline solutions, and alcohol wipes. Believe it or not, a sealed, unopened wet wipe can still dry out, so make sure these vital supplies will be ready when you need them most.

Sort Your Shopping Bags

At what point does your collection of re-useable shopping bags become counter-intuitive to saving the environment? These days, stores that don't want to be accused of adding to the growing plastic bag problem are giving away free reusable bags all over the place. It's probably time to pare your stash of bags down to only the most efficient and durable ones, or your bags may end up all over the place!

If plastic grocery bags are taking over the cupboard under your sink, check out the video below in how to turn them into yarn that you can knit into a sturdy tote bag.

Clean Out Your Jewelry Box

Broken gold and silver jewelry can be traded in for cash at one of the many gold buying outfits that have cropped up over the last few years. There might even be a gold buying kiosk at your local mall. Give unwanted costume jewelry to the kids in your life. Playing dress-up is always more fun with a little faux bling!

Clean and Declutter One Drawer in Your House per Day for a Month

It shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes tops to sort through a drawer in your bathroom vanity, and you'll feel so satisfied when you open the drawer the next day while you‘re styling your hair and you find everything in neat and tidy order.

Once you've finished with the bathroom, move onto the kitchen, then the office, and so on. Clean out the stationary drawer under the phone in the kitchen while you're on hold with the cable company.

Organizing your home office is good for business.
Organizing your home office is good for business.

Getting Rid of Piles of Paper

Not only are piles of newspaper, books, office paper and magazines unsightly, they're also dust magnets! And as they gather dust, they're also creating more dust as the paper breaks down and disintergrates over time. Plus, did you know paper is a food source for bugs like silverfish, cockroaches, termites, and book lice? Eww! That's a pretty good reason to get a handle on your excess office mess.

Organize Your Stationery

How many pens in the jar sitting on your desk still work? What about those stubby pencils with worn down eraser heads, are they really serving you any more? Go through your stationary and toss out dried up pens and markers. Get rid of excess supplies that have slowly accumulated over time. (Where did those 20 yellow highlighters come from?) Dried up glue and correcting fluid should be tossed. Dull scissors should be either sharpened or safely disposed of.

Give Your Computer a Tune-Up

Organize your email inbox and delete junk mail and spam. Look for hidden storage folders on your computer and delete unnecessary photos, downloads, and .pdf documents. Clear files off of your desktop and organize them into folders, you’ll speed up your computer’s processing time and memory when you purge it of unwanted files and images.

Pick the Junk off of Your Pin Board

Old expired coupons, store receipts for items you can no longer return, out of date calendars, appointment reminders that have come and gone, why are those things still hanging around? It's time to toss them!

Organize Your Charging Cables and Power Bars

Get rid of any frayed cords and cables that are worn out and kinked. Exposed wires could lead to a fire so don't take your chances. Make sure your cords are properly identified and labelled so that the right cable is used to charge up the right device. Roll up and bundle excess cord length to keep it from becoming a tripping hazard.

If a neighbor or family member stopped by for an unexpected visit, would you be proud to seat them in your living room? If not, try sorting through the following areas that seem to attract clutter and chaos.

Organize Your Home Entertainment Center

Do you have four remote controls sitting on the TV console but you one have one TV and a DVD player? Do you have four remote controls sitting on the TV console but you one have one TV and a DVD player? Sometimes when a TV or stereo system gets sent off to the electronics recycler, the remote control gets left behind, cluttering up your entertainment center. Match each remote up to a working device and then get rid of the rest.

Pare Down Your Family Photos and Display Only Your Most Beloved Pictures

Arrange the rest in a medium-sized, archival-quality photo album that can be brought out when you want to lovingly brag about your brood.

Donate Odds and Ends That You Don't Need Anymore

Once you start paring down your collections of books, DVDs, and so on, you may find that you have lots of room leftover on your bookshelves. Instead of creating a void that will start to attract more stuff, consolidate the remaining items onto one bookshelf and sell or donate the old bookcase. Not only will you be eliminating the temptation to clutter up the empty shelves again, you'll be creating a more spacious feel in your living room. The same goes for side tables, end tables, and curio cabinets. As you declutter and get rid of all the excess stuff that needs (i.e., picture frames) a surface to sit on, get rid of that excess furniture and notice how much more airy and breezy your place is.

Organize Your Car From Top to Bottom

Clean out the trunk of your car and vacuum it. Inspect your roadside tools and safety equipment so they’ll be ready to use in an emergency. Clean out your glove box and shred out-of-date insurance forms, maps and registration papers. Keep service records in a folio. Don’t forget to purge your sun visor of old drive-thru receipts or expired gas coupons. Clear your dashboard of old parking stubs. And finally, before you close the door on this decluttering project, inspect the side pockets for loose change and other ‘surprises.’

Household Items You Shouldn't Hang Onto

When it comes to decluttering and keeping your home healthy and safe, there are a few items you'll want to take note of and toss out of they've passed their prime. According to Canadian microbiologist Jason Tetro, here are some of the yuckiest items hiding in plain sight around your home:

  • Toothbrushes. Get a new one every month. Your mouth is worth it.
  • Old towels, bedding, and linens. Wash your mattress pad/cover every three months and replace it with a brand new one yearly. Pillows that are washable should be washed every three months.
  • Dish sponges and scrubbers.
  • Water filters.
  • Slippers and any footwear worn without socks.

Some items I'd add to the microbiologist list include:

  • Cracked and chipped dishes. The exposed surface revealed when the glaze has been chipped off porcelain or ceramic dishes is porous, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and microbes to settle in and live quite comfortably, thank you very much. If you can't stand to part with an item because it once belonged to someone special, find a new use for it that doesn't involve food. That pretty teacup your grandmother gave you would look lovely on your desk as a paper clip holder. Or you could plant small succulents in it or use it as a tea light holder.
  • Spoons and spatulas. Cookware, both plastic and wooden should also be checked for cracks, splintering, and mold. Check your plastic and rubber cooking utensils as well for signs of disintegration. You wouldn't want tiny bits of rubber or plastic from an old spatula ending up in your scrambled eggs. Gross!
  • Reusable coffee filters. Your mesh coffee filter isn't going to last forever (but good on you for avoiding disposable ones). Find out from your machine's manufacturer how often it should be replaced so that it remains clean and germ-free.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2017 Sadie Holloway


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