11 Rules to Stay Clutter Free

11 rules to be clutter free

Today I am sharing 11 rules to stay clutter-free.  Decluttering? Just go through your stuff and get rid of what you don’t need.  Now staying clutter-free can be much harder.

Clutter creeps into our homes slowly and if you aren’t paying attention you may be swimming in clutter all over again.

I have found 11 ways to stay clutter-free.  These are very simple rules that I have made for our family to stay clutter-free.  After a year of decluttering the last thing I want is to declutter all over again.


11 Rules to Stay Clutter-Free

I personally use all of these rules to keep our home decluttered and organized.  Feel free to use the rules that work for you and make some of your own.  The worst thing would be to declutter and then a year later have your home filled with clutter again.

Have you been decluttering, but your home still feels cluttered?  Make sure you read 20 reasons your home still looks cluttered.


Unused Items

Any item I don’t use for more than 6 months to a year I declutter.  A really good way to see if you are wearing certain items is to switch your hangers around.  Pay close attention to everything you use and what you don’t use.

Every 6 months I look into my cupboards and dig to the very back to analyze what is truly being used and what is just being stored.  This sounds obvious, but I bet you have some unused items in your home right now.



Capsule Wardrobe

Everyone in our home lives with a seasonal capsule wardrobe.  This simply means we have a set amount of clothes that I go through seasonally.  When summer rolls around I pull out all the summer clothes from the drawers where they are stored and I put away all the winter clothes.

I do this for every season.  The trick is when putting away the clothes from the last season go through them.  This is the best time because it will be very clear what you wore the most and what you might want to donate.  I also look for clothes that are very worn out or ill-fitting.

A seasonal capsule wardrobe is especially important for kids because they are always growing.  Before I started living this way I would find clothes in their wardrobe that hadn’t fit in 6 months to a year!  Since we have been on a capsule wardrobe we save money because we know everything we have.

Have you ever bought a shirt because you couldn’t find the one you were looking for?  I have!  Now I know exactly what I own.


Everything has a Home

Make sure everything in your home has a home.  For instance, my kids have a bin in their closet for their shoes.  By having this bin I can see exactly how many shoes they have so I know they don’t need anymore. 

This helps with cleaning because I can say go put your shoes away and they know exactly where to put them.

If everything has a home it helps illustrate exactly how much of something you have.  I keep all of our cleaning supplies together, and since I have been doing this I have come to the realization that we have a lot of cleaning stuff! 

Before my cleaning supplies were scattered all over the house and I would constantly buy more because I didn’t realize I had more somewhere else!  How annoying is that?

Long story short, by giving everything a home you will see how much you already have.


Limited Toy Storage

This is a personal rule that may not apply to you, but I have put a limit on our toy storage.  Of course, we could fill the whole house with toys, but the point is I don’t want to. 

Our rule is if the toys can’t fit into my boy’s shared closet then we have to do some decluttering.

We have 4 bins full of toys and 2 additional bins under each boy’s bed with toys.  If they get something new and it can’t fit into one of these bins then they have to decide on something that can be donated. 

Limiting the space for toys naturally limits how many we can have.

Since implementing this rule my life as the mom and home manager has improved so much!  Our home went from looking like a daycare to looking like a normal home.

art room with peel and stick wallpaper


Seasonal Declutter

I have a whole post on how to do a seasonal declutter, but simply put, go through your home at every season’s change and see what can be decluttered. 

Even if you only find a few items each season this will help your home to stay clutter-free.  The reason why I suggest going through seasonally is normally we are changing our clothes and decor already.

It’s easy to look at what you used and what you didn’t from the season before.


Paper Clutter

Deal with paper immediately!  The second I bring the mail into my home I go through it.  Decide what can be recycled and deal with everything else now. 

Nothing is more annoying than having to deal with a huge pile of mail that has been piling up for weeks.

I have also unsubscribed from everything that I can and I pay all of my bills online, which really helps with paper clutter. 


One In One Out

The one item in one item out policy helps to keep our home at its current clutter level.  This rule is so simple!  If an item comes into our home for any reason I try to find a similar item that can be donated.

This rule does 2 things, it helps to stop the clutter from growing and it stops me from shopping. 

I really like everything we have in our home and if I have to get rid of something for the new item that makes me think twice before shopping.


Replace Things

Instead of going shopping for the sake of shopping, now I normally shop because we need something.  I have found it creates less clutter replaces items as needed.  For instance, if one of my shirts becomes too worn out I will go out just to replace that one shirt.

In the kitchen, I make a list as we run out of food.  I shop just to replace those food items, not to “stock up”.  Before I heard about decluttering, I would fill my pantry and fridge to the brim. 

Which can cause a lot of wasted food.  Now I only buy what we need for the current week. 

This makes it much easier to see exactly what we have and what we need to use before the food goes bad.


Shop Your Home

Before you go out shopping try shopping your own home.  Any time I feel like decorating or changing my home decor I shop my own home first.  I look around to see if there are any plants I can move around or any pillows that can be switched. 

Sometimes I can make a whole room look new by moving the stuff I already own around.

This is a great idea for seasonal decor. 

Last Christmas I added a vase from my kitchen to our living room and added some pine branches.  By getting creative I was able to decorate for free.


decluttering quote



See what can be borrowed.  Before you head out and buy something new for a one-time event ask your friends and family if they have the item to borrow. 

For instance, I had a party a few weeks ago and I borrowed a tablecloth from my mom.  It would have been crazy to go buy a tablecloth for one party and then store it for a whole year or longer.

I know I am always happy to lend out things to my friends, so don’t feel uncomfortable to ask a close friend or family member to borrow something.  A really simple way is to make a post on FaceBook asking if anyone could lend the item you need, this way no one is being put on the spot.


Shop Secondhand

If you can’t find the item to borrow I like to shop secondhand.  Shopping secondhand doesn’t mean you are cheap or poor.  It means you are trying not to be wasteful.

By shopping secondhand it is easier to use a one-time item and then donate it back when you are done.  Last Halloween we were invited to a party and we needed costumes.

I couldn’t bring myself to buy a $40 costume for just one night so instead, we headed to the Goodwill.  My husband and I both found costumes for a total of $23.  The great thing is we could use the costume for the night and donate it back the next day guilt-free.  


Bonus Rule = No Guilt

Don’t Feel Guilty when decluttering!  The final way I stay clutter-free is by not feeling guilty when I decide I don’t want something.  When I first started decluttering, family members would always tell me, “are you sure you can’t use that?  Just hold onto it you might need it one day.”

By holding onto something you don’t need two things happen.  One, you will constantly see the item and wish you never bought it.  Two, you will be adding to the clutter in your home.

I have found holding onto any item I don’t use just adds irritation to my life.  The money is already gone and it won’t be coming back by holding onto the items.

Luckily I have learned from the unneeded items I get rid of!  I shop less and I make sure I really need something when I make a purchase.

These are the 12 rules we follow to stay clutter-free.  I hope some of them might help you on your decluttering journey.


Looking to simplify your life? Let me HELP you Declutter!  SOMETIMES ORGANIZING JUST ISN’T ENOUGH.  I WANT TO HELP YOU GAIN SOME TIME TOO!

If you are spending a ton of time continually organizing the same area, check out The Declutter Your Home Minicourse.  I created this course for anyone who is sick of all the time wasted tidying their home.  This course is easy to follow and helps you figure out a decluttering schedule so you can declutter your entire home.

This is the perfect course for you if:

  • You worry about your home before having people over (aka shoving things in closets).
  • Things are always “missing” in your home.
  • You wonder why your home doesn’t ever look clean or tidy, no matter how much cleaning you do.

If you need direction on how and where to start on your decluttering journey check out The Declutter Your Home Minicourse!



Read Simple Living:

20 Reasons your House still looks Cluttered

How Often Should You Declutter?

How to declutter without feeling Guilty

Decluttering Help – Helping a Friend Declutter

Decluttering your Home With Kids

What Changed After I Decluttered the Kid Stuff


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