On the surface, decluttering seems simple enough: Just get rid of the stuff you don’t need or want! Choose things that spark joy! But just like diet, exercise and finding a low-maintenance haircut that doesn’t make you look like the Crypt Keeper, there are plenty of ways to go about it. And not all of them will work for you. Over the past ten years, PureWow has written roughly 1,700 (!) stories on the topic, spanning from a quick tip to clean out your freezer to massive room-by-room breakdowns for tackling every square inch of your home. In honor of our 10th anniversary, here are the tips we keep coming back to again and again when our lives get out of order.
PureWow’s 10 Best Decluttering and Cleaning Tricks from the Past 10 Years
1. Organize Your Closet By Occasion
As pretty as it is to fling open your closet doors and see things arranged by color, arranging things by how you wear them—work clothes, weekend outfits, yoga—makes it easier to get dressed in the morning. To take your organization game a step further, add a hook to the front of your closet where you can hang the next day’s outfit.
2. Go Konmari On Your Dresser
If the thought of folding your clothes into square little packets intimidates you, simply scroll through these Instagram posts of people who’ve committed to the cause. Not only is it strangely soothing to look at, but with a little practice, Marie Kondo’s KonMari technique doesn’t take any longer than traditional folding—and it lets you see everything in your drawers at a glance. That way you’re no longer wearing the same things plucked from the top of the drawer, every time you get dressed.
3. Double Your Under-Sink Storage
Fact: A ton of space is neglected under your bathroom and kitchen sinks. Install an over-the-door caddy and a tension rod inside each cabinet so bottles can be stored in some of the vertical space (use the rod to hang spray bottles by their nozzles like this). If you have deeper cabinets, add a lazy Susan so you can easily reach items in the back without accidentally playing dominoes every time you want to grab the Resolve.
4. Make Better Use Of Your Toe Kicks
What even is a toe kick, you ask? It’s that little four- to five-inch space under your cabinets that’s typically covered with a strip of wood—but it can be better used as storage. Many companies now offer (or can custom build) drawers that fit into that space. They’re a perfect spot to stow baking sheets, muffin tins or even dog bowls.
5. Schedule Spring and Fall Purges
Set a date on your calendar—maybe coinciding with the spring and fall equinox, or maybe based on when you’re most likely to be taking out or putting away all of your heavy sweaters—and commit to a twice-a-year declutter session. If you’re dreading the project, set a timer and focus on a single area, organizing expert Nonnahs Driskill told us. When the buzzer goes off, you can take a break—but you’re more likely to keep going, high off the energy of finally clearing things out. To really ensure that you stick to this biannual decluttering party, schedule a donation pickup with a charity of your choice. If you know they’re coming, you’ll be more likely to follow through.
6. Install A Second Hamper—for A Totally Different Purpose
Keep a donation bin in your closet year-round for further inspiration. As things no longer spark joy—or, to borrow another Kondo-ism, have “fulfilled their purpose” in your life—you can drop them into the bin, making your seasonal tidying that much easier.
7. Stick Magazine Holders in the Freezer
This Pinterest hack is so well loved that even the team behind Instagram’s biggest #pantryporn, The Home Edit, swears by it. Arrange a few clear plastic magazine racks vertically or horizontally—depending on your freezer’s height—and use them to corral bags and boxes of frozen food by category (appetizers, kids’ snacks, vegetables and so on). You can also use them in your pantry to stow canned food.
8. Tuck Sheet Sets Into A Pillowcase
Once you’ve mastered the right way to fold a fitted sheet (there’s an art to it, truly), take your skills to the next level by packing the entire sheet set into one of its pillowcases, then stacking them in your linen closet by which bed they go on. That way you can see all of your sheets at a glance, without fumbling around to find a missing flat sheet.
9. Commit to Cleaning Your Countertops Daily
We all know someone whose home is immaculate without the help of a cleaning service. Back in 2016, we picked their brains to learn exactly how they prevent clutter avalanches, and one key was committing to a basic cleaning technique: Wipe down your counters every single day. It takes less time than brushing your teeth, and it forces you to keep that mail moving so it doesn’t pile up.
10. Install wall-mount organizers in the garage
Roughly one in four people have a two-car garage but can fit only one car inside. That’s not because half of it is a makeshift gym or meditation room; it’s because their stuff is out of control. One of the easiest ways to clear out some space is by installing vertical storage for stowing sports gear, rakes, brooms and the like that’s either sitting loose or eating up valuable square footage in massive bins. Pegboards are also helpful for hanging up tools and cables.