This post may contain affiliate links and we will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link. Read the Disclosure Policy.
Decluttering is hard. Aside from the fact that it’s a rigorous process that leaves you physically exhausted, it’s also emotional, stressful, and overwhelming. It does offer wonderful benefits once it’s done, though. When you’ve gotten rid of useless clutter, you can think clearly and keep your life in order. Just imagine how easy it’ll be to clean once you’ve learned how to declutter your home for good!
When you’re decluttering, ask these questions each time you find yourself struggling between the keep, donate, and toss piles.
1. “When was the last time I used or wore this?”
If it’s been over a year, you need to get rid of it. You need to rid your life and closets of items that you don’t truly use, including kayaks, skis, and other outdoor gear that you enjoy, but never have the opportunity to take out. It’ll probably hurt a little bit. You’ll definitely try to justify keeping these items by saying you’ll need them one day. But that day might not come for 10 years, and at that point, you’re better off selling it now and renting later.
I know that donating the college jeans that no longer fit will be a blow to your ego. However, seeing them hanging in your closet just collecting dust every day will hurt you more. Let them go so you can make room for the new clothes you can buy and wear now.
2. “Is this still in good condition?”
If the answer is yes, then it can (maybe) stay. If the answer is no, then it has to go. (Yes, I rhymed on purpose.) Items covered in stains, rips, holes, or any other type of damage need to be thrown away—even if you love them. You can’t wear or use these items when they’re in poor condition. Keeping them just clutters your house and mind.
Throwing away your damaged possessions means that your home is only full of the things you can still use and frees up space for you to buy new items to replace the damaged ones. It might sting a little bit at first, but it’s truly a win in the end. What good does a closet full of wine-stained white shirts do, anyway?
3. “Are there any missing or broken pieces?”
Here’s the deal: The chances are slim to none that you’ll ever order that missing piece of your juicer. If the damage or loss just happened and you actually will order the piece, then by all means, keep the juicer. However, you won’t order it if it’s been years or months. You’re better off tossing the juicer.
Those busted items will never fix themselves. If you’ve let these broken possessions just lie in a closet graveyard for a year or more, then you clearly didn’t really need them anyway. Lay them all to rest in the dumpster. You’ll be happy for the extra shelf space.
4. “Do I have a legitimate emotional attachment to this?”
If you haven’t used or worn an item within the last year, but still find it too difficult to clean out, then ask this question. It’s okay to keep the items that you have a true attachment to, like a family heirloom or your late mother’s favorite scarf. These are the items that make a house a home and remind us that we’re a part of something. Keep and treasure these possessions.
However, you have to be careful when answering this question. Sometimes we mistake nostalgia for true sentimental value. This is easy to do with high school t-shirts that remind you of your teenage years. These aren’t something you’ll want to keep your whole life or hand down to your children someday, so it’s best to donate them. Sometimes it’s best to let go of things even when you don’t want to.
5. “Do I actually need this?”
When wondering how to declutter your home, including your kitchen, closet, laundry room, and garage, this is an important question. You probably want most of the stuff taking over your home, but you don’t always need it. If you answer no to this question, donate or throw the item away. You might have needed that waffle maker when you held Waffle Sunday for all of your friends in college. But now that Waffle Sunday is nothing more than a fond memory, you should clear some space in your kitchen cabinets for cookware you’ll use regularly.
This question isn’t meant to rag on the things you want; it’s simply meant to open your eyes to whether or not your home is full of stuff that’s actually useful and necessary, or just junk that doesn’t serve any kind of purpose. It’s always a good idea to fill your closets and shelves with possessions you actually need.
Now that you’ve answered these five questions on how to declutter your home, you can go bravely into battle. Just make sure you remember to take a deep breath when it starts to feel overwhelming and to have the necessary tools and plan to keep yourself organized. May the gods of organization and battle be on your side.