Where to Start When Organizing Your Home

organized junk drawer

The Spruce / Candace Madonna

There's no better time to organize your home than the beginning of a new year. Whether you've lived in your house for 20 years or you recently moved in, a good organizational system is key to simplifying and streamlining your home and consequently your life. From a thorough deep clean to decluttering storage closets that has become a dumping ground for rarely used items—we are here with eight helpful tips to help you get started. Organizing your entire home may feel like a daunting task you'd rather not even begin—we'll teach you how to break it down into steps to make it simple and manageable, as well as how to create an organizational system that fits your lifestyle and is easy to maintain throughout the year. Now, let's get started!

  • 01 of 08

    Start With a Walkthrough

    Person making a checklist in their pantry

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    Begin with a walkthrough of your home, starting in the entryway. Grab a pen and a notepad or open up your Notes app and walk through every room, carefully noting down all that needs to be done.

    Write down three primary organizing tasks that need to be done in each room—this could be anything from decluttering and donating items to deep cleaning and purchasing storage containers. Start a running shopping list to keep track of organizing and cleaning supplies you may need to purchase before getting started on your project.

  • 02 of 08

    Declutter Storage Spaces

    Organized closet

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    It's amazing how much stuff seems to accumulate and how quickly it can begin to take over every surface in your home. Decluttering is an essential step in the organizing process and one that you'll want to repeat every couple of months to maintain the systems you've put in place. The best place to start is your storage spaces—closets, a pantry, or any room that's used primarily for storage purposes. This way, they're ready to accommodate overflow items from other rooms in the home.

    To organize a bedroom closet, take out all the clothing and other items it holds, either all at once or in sections. Lay all the items out on your bed and go through them to see what you use, what you don't use and can donate, and what may be damaged and needs to be discarded. Make three piles for each of those categories. Next, thoroughly clean the closet. Vacuum or sweep the floor, dust and wipe down any shelves and drawer interiors, and clean light fixtures and hardware.

    Then, assess whether the way your closet was previously organized worked for you—if it did, place items you are keeping back in their original place. If not, figure out what you need to change and use storage containers and hanging racks to save space and prevent damage.

  • 03 of 08

    Deep Clean

    Person cleaning a wood countertop

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    Even if you clean your home weekly, a deep cleaning of areas you may not get to every week is an important part of getting your home organized. After all, if you're going to go through the big job of decluttering and reorganizing, you want to make sure you have a clean backdrop. Use the below checklist to deep clean your home:

    ·      Wash windows

    ·      Steam clean wall-to-wall carpets

    ·      Polish hardwood floors

    ·      Clean tops of ceiling fans

    ·      Dust shelves and surfaces

    ·      Wipe down window blinds, window sills, and frames

    ·      Wash window treatments and removable upholstery

    ·      Clean baseboards and tops of hanging frames

    ·      Disinfect hardware such as door knobs and cabinet pulls

    ·      Clean mirrors

    ·      Move furniture away from walls if needed to clean behind it

  • 04 of 08

    Refresh Bathrooms

    Bathroom with wood cabinets and white shiplap walls

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    Remove as much as you can from your bathroom so you can start with a good deep clean of the entire space. Use this cleaning checklist to get started:

    ·      Wash windows

    ·      Dust blinds, window sills, and frames

    ·      Wash fabric window treatments

    ·      Clean any vents and towel hooks, bars, and rings

    ·      Wash wall tile

    ·      Dry sweet and wet mop floor tile

    ·      Scrub grout

    ·      Deep clean the toilet, tub, sinks, shower, and door

    ·      Scrub and sanitize all bathroom hardware

    ·      Wash all bathroom linens

    ·      Clean mirrors, light fixtures, and vanity interiors

    Next, bring in freshly washed bathroom linens such as towels, bath mats, and a shower curtain—re-hang any window treatments that were washed. Reorganize any storage shelves or drawers by first discarding any old, never-used, or expired items. Clean items that need to be cleaned and then use drawer organizers or storage containers to put everything back in place neatly.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Tackle the Pantry

    Jars with pantry staples on a shelf

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    Chances are, one of the most time-consuming but necessary tasks in your home organizing project will be the kitchen and pantry. The best way to tackle this area is to divide it into sections and begin with your pantry. Take everything out and wipe clean all shelves, wash any storage containers, and mop the floor. If you're in desperate need of extra storage space but there's no extra square footage available, consider purchasing an over-the-door tiered rack with shelves that will instantly maximize your space.

    Corral like-items such as baking supplies or kids' snacks in clear plastic bins and use airtight storage containers to hold staples such as flour, sugar, and pasta. Go the extra step and add a cute label to each container—not only will you gain lots of room and know exactly what belongs where, but your pantry will look like a professional organizer stopped by to give it a new look! Before organizing everything, make sure you check the expiration dates and freshness of all items to ensure expired products aren't taking up valuable real estate in your pantry.

  • 06 of 08

    Reorganize the Kitchen

    Kitchen with taupe cabinets

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    A kitchen tends to be the hardest-working room in the home, and can therefore also be the space most in need of reorganizing and cleaning. Divide it into sections, perhaps by walls or by cabinet sections, emptying each of all its contents so you can first give the kitchen a good clean. Use this cleaning checklist to start:

    ·      Clean interiors and exteriors of appliances

    ·      Wipe clean wall tile

    ·      Polish or clean hardware

    ·      Clean light fixtures

    ·      Dust window blinds, window sills, and frames

    ·      Wash windows

    ·      Wash all kitchen linens (window treatments, floor mats, towels)

    ·      Clean and degrease countertops

    ·      Clean out the fridge

    ·      Sanitize the sink, garbage disposal, and dishwasher

    ·      Wipe down baseboards

    ·      Clean interiors and exteriors of cabinets and drawers

    ·      Sweep and mop flooring 

    ·      Wash, deodorize, and sanitize the trash can

    As with other spaces, declutter your kitchenware and only reorganize what you still use or want to keep. Place most frequently used items on easily accessible shelves and those that are only used on occasion on higher shelves or even in the dining room if necessary. Incorporate organizing tools such as drawer dividers to create a system that can be easily maintained and that gives each item a designated place to eliminate junk drawers and messy cabinets.

  • 07 of 08

    Organize Small Spaces

    Laundry room with cabinets and a washer and dryer under windows

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    While a laundry room, entryway or a mudroom may not be the largest rooms in your home, they may get some of the highest traffic, so don't overlook these spaces as you organize your house.

    An entryway and a mudroom are both transition spaces between the indoors and the outdoors, which means a seasonal refresh is a good way to keep them organized throughout the year. Switch outdoor mats if necessary depending on the season, bring in a boot tray to keep floors from getting damaged, and add a freestanding coat rack if you lack built-in storage and the cold winter months that mean additional coats to hang. Use wicker baskets to hold shoes and seasonal accessories, or an over-the-door hanger to stash away hats and gloves. If you have an entryway surface such as a console table, use a decorative tray that doesn't just add a nice accent, but is also a good way to corral keys, sunglasses, and other essentials.

    As for the laundry room, one of the most important things you can do is clean excess lint out of your dryer. Not only will this make it work faster and better, but it's also an essential routine step you should take to prevent a fire. Sanitize both the washer and dryer, dust and clean windows, baseboards, and shelves, as well as any countertop space. Go through your laundry supplies and throughout any empty containers and restock and refill any as needed.

  • 08 of 08

    Finish With Occasionally Used Areas

    Guest room with metal bed and two nightstands

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    As the last step, tackle the less frequently used rooms and spaces in your home such as a guest room and guest bathroom. While they may not be used every day, getting them clean and organized means they'll be ready for the next time guests come to stay. Follow the same cleaning checklist as you did for other bedrooms and bathrooms, then make sure all the bed linens are clean and the bed is made. Add clean towels in the bathroom and restock any guest toiletries or welcome gifts you like to have to welcome your guests.