Sarah has been an online writer for over seven years. Her articles often focus on DIY home projects.
Organize Your House in One Week
So you want to have a clean, sparkling house but can't get through all the junk in the way. You can't find that special shirt because your closet is overstuffed. You can't even see the countertops that need to be cleaned. Toys, books, and magazines are pouring out the windows.
Before you can even think about a deep house cleaning or a weekly cleaning schedule, you need to declutter your house. It is possible to tackle this feat in one long spring cleaning weekend, or you can spread it out little by little. If you do not have the time or energy to commit an entire weekend to this project, follow my seven-day plan to declutter your home. You will be glad you did!
Day 1: Organize Your Closets
The general rule for clothes is that if you have not worn something in the last year, pitch it. There are exceptions, though, like the suit you wear to weddings or that special pair of shoes. I will add another rule: if it doesn't fit, throw it out. And if you have never worn it because it doesn't really look good...goodbye. Go through every article of clothing in your closet and drawers and sort them into groups. These are the categories:
- Keep the clothes that fit, look good, and you will wear within the next year.
- Consign quality clothes that you no longer need.
- Donate all other clothes that are in good shape.
- Throw out the rest or use the material in another way.
Each family member will need to go through this process, so younger children may need help.
Day 2: Organize Your Kitchen
Some kitchen clutter is hiding in the cabinets, but you can also see it right in front of you on the countertops. Tackle the cabinets first. Here are some tips:
- Pots and Pans: Separate pots from pans. Stack pots and store tops separately.
- Tupperware: Match all tops to bottoms and throw out any extras. Get rid of any stained containers. Kids love this sorting job.
- Utensils: Keep everyday utensils in a plastic or wooden divider. Store sharp knives separately. Go through the rest of your kitchen tools to see if anything needs to be tossed.
Now that you have made some room, you can store small appliances in cabinets instead of on the countertops. The only things that should be on your counters are items you use every day, like the coffee maker. If you do not use the toaster, toaster oven, or blender every day, then they should be stored out of sight. Try to keep all food in the pantry or in cabinets. I even keep the flour, rice, and sugar canisters in my pantry. The less that is on your counters, the easier it is to keep clean.
Day 3: Organize Your Bathrooms
Just like the kitchen, your bathroom probably has clutter in the cabinets and on the sink counter. Pull up a stool and start with the cabinets, drawers, and closet. Here are some tips on cleaning out these areas:
- Go through all of your medicine and check expiration dates. Sunscreen and other items may have expiration dates as well. Throw out all expired products.
- Go through all your makeup, hair care products, and personal care items. Throw out all items that have gone bad or you won't end up using.
- Keep similar items together, for example, extra shampoo, conditioner, and hair spray.
- If you do have a linen closet, go through those and pull out anything too dingy to use.
- Store extra toilet paper and tissue out of the way, for example, on the top shelf of the linen closet.
Once you have weeded out the bathroom cabinets, look at what is on your sink counter. The only things on your counters should be items you use every day such as toothpaste and deodorant. Consider keeping makeup and hair products in a drawer or in small bins that you can store under the sink. If you take a lot of medication, store the bottles in a box under the sink or in the closet, or invest in a weekly pill dispenser.
Day 4: Organize Your Books, Magazines, and Toys
This is the day you go through all of your miscellaneous STUFF. Do you have piles of magazines and boxes of old books that no one reads? Is the toy box overflowing with toys your kids outgrew three years ago? One of the best Berenstain Bear Books I read my children was the one about the bear family sorting through all their excess and giving to the needy. Here are some tips on organizing these items:
- Toys: Sit down with your children and go through all the toys. Create three piles—to keep, to donate, and to throw out. (read the Berenstain Bear book aloud before you get started.)
- Magazines: If you have a huge pile, the first thing is to take note that you do not need to renew all the subscriptions. Next, make a small stack of ones you will actually read soon and another stack for ones that need to be recycled. Check with a retirement home to see if the residents would like the extra magazines.
- Books: You should not have any boxes of books laying around. Go through the books and shelve the ones you want to keep. Consider donating the rest to a school or library.
- Miscellaneous Items: Take a good look at all your knickknacks, collections, and other "dust-collectors" to see what you should keep, what you should store, and what needs to be tossed.
Day 5: Organize Your Bedrooms
After Day 4, your bedrooms should not have much clutter to deal with. Take a little break on this day of light decluttering. Here are some tips:
- Ideally, there should not be anything under your bed to gather dust bunnies.
- Pay special attention to the tops of your dressers and bedside tables. Keep out only items that you need daily access to and special items, such as framed pictures and vases.
- Stow a large laundry basket in a hidden corner to keep dirty clothes tucked away until laundry day.
Day 6: Organize Your Attic and Basement
It is time to tackle the junk havens—the storage areas of many things you probably don't use or need. Tips:
- Broken Furniture: Schedule a time for it to be fixed or get rid of it.
- Clothing: If you store seasonal clothing, go through it all to weed out what does not fit or look good. Hang up coats and other clothes on a portable hanging rack to save space.
- Holiday Decorations: Store in large plastic bins and stack them together.
- Luggage: Keep only the suitcases and bags that you honestly will use. Donate the rest.
- Sports Gear: Make sure tents, sleeping bags, and other equipment are packed tightly and consolidated in one area.
Day 7: Organize Your Garage
Your house is almost completely decluttered, and the only area left is the garage. For some, this may be an all-day job. Here are some tips for getting your garage organized:
- Pegboards are good for hanging tools on the wall.
- Use large hooks to suspend bicycles or other large items.
- Hang garden or yard tools (shovel, rake, hoe) on the wall.
- Shelves are a great way to organize the garage. Consider installing shelves along the walls or purchasing plastic shelves from a supercenter or home improvement store. You also may find some sturdy wooden shelves at second-hand stores.
No More Clutter
Once you have cleared all the clutter from your home, you will find it much easier to find things you need. You also will want to give your house a good cleaning and then keep it sparkling with regular cleanings. Don't backtrack. Life is much easier without all the clutter!
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.
Tamara14 on June 25, 2015:
Very nice schedule Sarah and nothing too hard or complicated. Decluttering is in fact so liberating than most people would ever think but you are definitely right - it's the very first thing that needs to be done before any cleaning. Thanks for sharing, from one neat person to another :)
Tirzah Laughs from USA on May 15, 2013:
Since I have no garage or attic, my spare bedroom is the nightmare. I keep too much junk. I get frustrated trying to get through it all---and give up halfway through. Then even if I get it clean/decluttered...I can't seem to institute a good organizations system so a month later it's right back where I started.
Ry4n6 from Cheshire, England on February 27, 2013:
Got some decluttering to work through over this wknd and so these tips will be a great help to me. Many thanks.:)
healthy meals from Europe on February 26, 2013:
Decluttering the Attic is the most difficult task for me. I've managed to clear bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen, but the attic OMG that is a monumental task. Very good tips!!
Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on February 23, 2013:
Hi, Mark. Consignment shops have become a big thing here in the US. Consignment shops will sell your clothes for a percentage of the profit. It is quite popular here for nice children's clothing and women's suits and dresses. Thanks for pointing out that American/British English difference. Have you read my article on that topic? Had a lot of fun writing that one!
Mark Harrison on February 22, 2013:
This is a confusion between American and British English here.
When you say "consign quality clothes that you no longer need", what exactly do you mean?
Does it mean "sell" - I'd assumed it meant "donate", but then you talked about that in the next paragraph.
Nancy McClintock from Southeast USA on July 03, 2012:
I love these kind of ideas! I am bookmarking your hub. Thanks for taking the time to research and write this . Little did you know how much you would help others. Voting up.
Ivona Poyntz from UK on July 02, 2012:
Its true, we all hoard too much, I often wonder why. Your hub is a timely reminder to attack my clutter.
Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on July 01, 2012:
Hi, elfprincess. That is an excellent idea - to trade out the old toys for the new ones. Kids do not like to give toys away, so your plan should ease the pain!
diplorging from Serbia on July 01, 2012:
It's so great to live without clutter. I hope a lot of people would follow your advice. I didn't believed that such thing can be done in 7 days, but this sounds like a good plan
Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on July 01, 2012:
This is a very practical and " do-able" hub. I actually just did all of this and life is so much easier. All I have left is my tool shop. Peg boards will hold hand tools and shelving for power tools. Thanks for the ideas. Up and helpful.
Arwen Hann from New Zealand on June 30, 2012:
Some really good ideas here. My son is just getting into Lego so we are talking to him about selling or donating some of his more babyish toys to make room for the new Lego he wants.