How To Declutter Your House 15 Minutes at a Time

tidy bathroom

The Spruce / Olivia Inman

If you think that you need to spend all day decluttering your home, think again. Using strategic 15-minute cutter sweeps for every room in your home will get it in organized shape in no time. Follow these instructions for each room (or space) in your home with specific points on how to declutter that space in 15 minutes or less.

Bathroom Declutter in 15 Minutes

If your bathroom is so cluttered that you feel like you can’t find anything, this clutter sweep will fix that. This process should take between 15 and 20 minutes depending on the size of your bathroom and how long it's been since you've taken the time to declutter it.

What you need: A timer, a trash bin, a hamper, a recycling bin, and a catch-all bin

  1. Place your hamper in the doorway and step inside the bathroom.
  2. Toss any dirty hand towels, face cloths, and bath towels into your hamper.
  3. Replace dirty towels with fresh ones from the linen closet.
  4. Move any laundry from the floor into the hamper.
  5. Trash or recycle items like used tissues, empty toiletry bottles, and empty paper towel rolls.
  6. Fill your catch-all bin or bag with anything that belongs in another room. Look especially for things that don't belong in the bathroom, like clothing, shoes, and jewelry.
  7. Go over the sink and countertop, replacing items that are out of place.
  8. Next, do the same in your drawers and under the sink.
  9. Re-store any items that found their way into the wrong spot.
  10. Take the hamper to the laundry room.

Tips

  • If your jewelry keeps finding its way into the bathroom, consider storing your everyday jewelry in there.
  • If an item keeps popping up in the wrong spot, consider moving it to a new home. Example: A makeup brush that keeps making its way out of the drawer it's supposed to "live" in might be better off in a jar by your sink.

Quick Bedroom Declutter

The fastest way to declutter your bedroom is to ignore your clothes closet. You will tackle the closet in a separate 15-minute installment. For now, focus on tidying up your sleeping space and surrounding areas. You will dress, sleep, and wake up more peacefully when you're not surrounded by clutter.

What you need: A timer, a trash bin, a recycling bin, a hamper, and a catch-all bin

  1. Place your trash and recycling bins in the doorway.
  2. Start at your night tables and toss anything that needs to be trashed or recycled into their proper bins.
  3. Grab your catch-all bin and walk around your room tossing in any items that are out of place. Start by your bed and move outward from there. Common culprits here are work papers, mail, books, and coats.
  4. Return extra linens to the linen closet or if dirty, put them in the hamper.
  5. Rearrange items on your night tables and tidy the surfaces.
  6. Go through the nightstand drawers doing a quick clutter sweep: toss, recycle, or catch-all.
  7. Next, head over to your bureaus and dressers and do the same.
  8. Sweep the top of each dresser or bureau for clutter.
  9. Restore jewelry.

How to Declutter the Kitchen

Cooking, meal planning, and eating will be much less stressful when your kitchen is clutter-free. You can combine kitchen decluttering with meal planning by taking inventory of your foodstuffs while you straighten and rearrange.

What you need: A timer and a catch-all bin

  1. Walk around with a small bin and put everything that belongs outside of your kitchen into the bin. Most of the items that wandered out of their storage spaces probably ended up on your countertop so focus on that area first.
  2. Do a sweep of your countertops, the kitchen table, and the island and put everything back in its place.
  3. Put any appliances back in their proper storage spaces and neatly wrap their cords.
  4. Straighten each shelf in your refrigerator, purging old food and moving vegetables and fruits back into their proper bins. Make sure items are on the shelves by height to maximize storage space.
  5. Next, straighten the shelves in your kitchen cabinets and pantry by ensuring all of your jars and bottles are facing front and stacked neatly.
  6. Finally, grab that bin and return everything that belongs outside the kitchen back to its home.

Tips

  • Is there an item that keeps ending up in the wrong spot? Try finding a more convenient storage space for it. For example, corral cooking utensils in jars, and cookbooks on a lone shelf next to the oven.
  • If an appliance keeps ending up on your countertop, consider moving it permanently to an easier-to-reach spot in your kitchen cabinets or on the countertop itself.

15 Minutes to Declutter the Living Room

This may be the easiest room in the house to declutter because the organization is already built-in: books go with books, electronics go with electronics, remotes go with remotes, and so on.

What you need: Garbage bin, catch-all, bin, recycling bin, and a timer

  1. Grab a bin large enough to hold things like magazines and books and then walk around the room putting anything out of place in the bin. Keep an eye out for any items that don't belong in the living room.
  2. Next, go through each area returning everything to its proper storage place.
  3. Toss any toys back into the bins, cubbies, or chests you keep them in.
  4. In the entertainment center area, unwind and restore any cords that have twisted out of place and restack blu-rays, video games, and other small items. Corral all of your remotes and return them to the tray or box you store them in. Having a designated area for remotes will make them less likely to go missing.
  5. Straighten and re-stack any books that need rearranging.
  6. Recycle any catalogs or magazines that you have not touched in a month. Straighten piles. Consider using a tray to house these major sources of clutter.
  7. Fold any blankets lying around and return them to their home base, whether that is draped over the back of a couch or in a basket.
  8. Finally, hit the coffee table, returning everything on top to its proper storage space.
  9. To finish, take that bin and return everything in it to the room it's supposed to be in.

Declutter Mail and Paper

The easiest thing to do here is to open all of your mail at once, standing in between a recycling bin and a shredder. If that can’t happen, here’s what to do:

  1. Divide mail into three piles: shred, recycle, and action.
  2. Next, shred the shred pile.
  3. Dump the recyclables. If you don’t have a recycling bin, consider establishing one. Bins are one of your best weapons of defense against clutter.
  4. Take the mail you need to take action on to your desk or designated mail center.

Declutter the Entryway in 15 Minutes a Week

What you need: Once again, grab the bin, box, or bag you use to declutter and bring it into the entryway, foyer, or hall closet area.

  1. Begin by hanging up any coats or jackets that belong in the hall closet or on a coatrack that made their way onto the backs of chairs, on the entryway bench, or into another room (check the kitchen—typically the second stop when entering the home).
  2. Check the pockets of any regularly worn outerwear and declutter them by trashing old gum wrappers, recycling receipts, returning loose change to your wallet or change holder, and returning your keys to their storage space.
  3. Repeat the process with book bags, handbags, and gym bags, placing anything that doesn't belong in them either in the trash, recycling bin, or in your clutter bin to be brought to another room. Example: Any dirty gym clothes go in the bin to be transported to the laundry room.
  4. Go through your accessories and return them to their rightful storage spaces.
  5. Pick up any shoes or boots that were discarded in this space to be put back in their designated areas.
  6. Sweep and/or vacuum the area.
  7. Return bags, cell phones, and keys to their holders, and consider this a good time to also sort the mail.

Declutter Kitchen Cabinets

Declutter those packed kitchen cabinets by purging the old, unused, and forgotten. 

What you need: Empty bin—something that is easy to move around with you, a trash bin or bag, a slightly damp rag, a dry rag, or a handful of paper towels.

Open each cabinet individually starting from the top and do the following:

  1. Remove trash and throw it in the trash bin.
  2. Remove any out-of-place object from the cabinet and place it in the empty bin.
  3. Straighten remaining items.
  4. Wipe up any spills, then dry the area with your dry rag.
  5. Repeat this process, working on each cabinet individually until each cabinet has been tidied and decluttered.
  6. Carry your bin and replace each item in it back to its proper storage space.

Tip

Use a plastic bin to collect items instead of simply putting them on the countertop. You're much more likely to return items to their proper storage space—whether that be the pantry, another cabinet, or even another room—than if you place things on your countertop while cleaning.

Declutter Your Clothes Closet

What you need: A timer, a trash bin, a recycling bin, and a catch-all bin or basket.

  1. Head to the closet and grab any empty hangers and put them aside where they will be easy to reach once you get going. 
  2. Hang up or fold any clothing that is strewn across the bedroom. Move any dirty clothes into the hamper. Start with your hanging clothes and ensure that similar items are hung together, such as pants with pants and shirts with shirts.
  3. Rearrange hanging pieces until everything is hung together the way you like it. For instance, if you want to have everything color-coded keep going until all of your navy blues are lined up.
  4. Then, start on the folded clothes in your closet, like sweaters and long-sleeve shirts. There's no need to refold everything (unless it's a total disaster), just straighten the stacks. If you continually notice your neatly folded stacks of sweaters moving out of place, consider adding shelf dividers. Shelf dividers make stacks so much more organized and cut down on wrinkles because your sweaters aren't toppling over anymore. 
  5. Move to the floor. Line up shoes, storage boxes, luggage—whatever you have on the bottom of your closet. Make sure nothing has fallen that should be hanging or folded on a shelf. 
  6. Next, spend two to three minutes picking out your clothes for the next three days. This will make your mornings easier. Hang the next day's outfit up on a valet hook. This process will save you about 30 minutes over the next three mornings while only taking you a few minutes right now since you're already in your closet in front of your wardrobe.
  7. Finally, take that bin and return everything in it that belongs outside the bedroom and return them to their proper storage space.

Decluttering an entire youse seems daunting—because it is. But, breaking it down into 15-minute chunks makes it easy to rid your home of the clutter once and for all. Once you've decluttered, it's time to move on to organizing your home.