Ten Tips to Cutting Down Clutter

Ten Tips to Cutting Down Clutter

I found these helpful tips in the article “Clutter: Living Without It” by Yael M. Farzan that appears in this week’s issue of Binah. I’m looking forward to trying out these tips in my own clutter-stuffed home, and wanted to share. Happy decluttering, JewishMOMs!

1. Before you leave your bedroom or kitchen, make sure your bed is made, the closets are shut, and the kitchen cabinets are closed. This works wonders. (Esther Simon)

2. Dedicate 20 minutes a day to decluttering a drawer, closet, desk, etc. But when twenty minutes is up, even if you haven’t finished, stop cleaning! If you stop when you’re still having fun, you’ll be motivated to clean more the next day (ES)

3. Try to throw away 5 items in your home every day, even if it’s just an old magazine or a child’s drawing. (ES)

4. If something is broken and you’re not going to get it fixed, or it’s damaged or useless, throw it out or give it away. (ES)

5. Give away any clothing that has not been worn for more than two years (Mazal Abady)

6. Keep a bag/box in a closet where you will set aside objects every week to give away/donate. (ES)

7. When decluttering, come prepared with bags or boxes marked “Trash,” “Storage,” and “Donate” (MA)

8. Never leave a room empty-handed. As you walk from room to room in your home, pick up at least one object to return to its proper home. (ES)

9. If you don’t have time to put things away properly in your bedroom, place them in a pile on your bed, so that you have no choice but to put them away where they belong before you go to sleep. (Chana Tzirel Zaks)

10. When you come across memorabilia from your children’s childhoods (paintings, dolls, class photos, etc.) ask yourself, “Would it make my child or me happy if we could hold this in our hands ten years from now?” If in doubt, throw it out. (ES)


  1. I’ve tried putting things on my bed, but all that happens when I go to bed is that I tip them back onto the floor!

    • Rachael Leah

      Yep, same here. Doesn’t work for me. If I don’t have time to do it when I see it, forget about when I’m faced with it at the end of a long busy day. I find the “do it now” principle works best for me. it takes 5 seconds to put one thing away, so much better to do it as you see it then to look at it when you’re about to crash into bed.

  2. THanks for sharing these great tips. It’s hard to keep ourselves organized and then children are added to the mix and things can get hairy in a hurry. These tips remind me of something I tried over ten years ago called Flylady.net That might be something really helpful for people who need lots of support in this area as well. I’m an out0of-the box kind of person so I never did the schedule, but I did learn some valuable tips.

    I seem to always have little “piles” all over the place…things I can’t find a place for and it really bugs me. I was over a friend’s house once and she asked one of her children to get something out of the “junk drawer”. Well, I made sure to look and see it’s contiion because this friend of mine is super organized. I kid you not, that drawer may have had ten items in it, tops LOL I still don’t know how she does it.

  3. I know some people like the Flylady, but when she says you have to be fully dressed including wearing laced-up shoes before you start the day, it turns me off completely. I can see her rationale, but I can’t do any kind of housework/cooking if I’m wearing restrictive clothing and that includes shoes. One of the first things I do when I come home is take off my shoes (and generally put them in the cupboard – I’m not a complete slob!) I like tip no 4 best – it’s very “releasing” to realise you’re never going to fix something and get rid of it.

    • It takes us about two years to come to the conclusion that we aren’t ever going to get it fixed. So during those two years, we’re storing it, and feeling bad that it’s still hanging around the house.

  4. i think my natural inclination is to become sentimentally attached to things, but over the years i have fought that urge out of necessity. when you move every few years, you find that you are moving boxes of stuff that were not opened since the last move. that realization made it easier for me to just throw it out instead of paying to move and store it again… in addition, one apartment we lived in was so small, there was not enough room for us, let alone our stuff. i became a minimalist overnight. if my children complained that i was throwing away too much stuff, i merely offered them a choice: we only have room for you or your stuff. you choose; you can sleep on the fire escape if you want to keep the stuff… they all understood the message: people are more important to keep than stuff.
    i have been training them to cull their papers, projects, and stuff every year and to pick out only the things they really really treasure. it is a good habit to acquire young.

  5. I always try to put stuff away right away after I have used even it means walking
    Into another room to do so .
    Like nail clippers and scissors or my kids kipahs
    A little annoying but it has been helpful over the

  6. I have been influenced by Flylady in the most positive way. I only really implement bits and pieces of her suggestions. It’s more the mindset that I have been influenced by. Instead of looking at the overwhelming amount of stuff/cleaning etc I can focus on only one small aspect at a time and have the confidence that it is doable to keep the house at some liveable level of order. I call myself a recovering perfectionist! Decluttering, like laundry, is never a job that can be ‘finished’. It’s a habit.

  7. I’m another flylady fan. I don’t follow all instructions either.

    One tip I’d like to add is to take a digital photograph of something that you have a sentimental attachment to but no real use for (i.e. it’s not display-worthy or practical). MUCH easier to then throw it out.

    • that is a really good idea for me, thanks!

    • I had a parent who showed me this tip. As a preschool teacher we send home stuff each week. You can display one item for a week and then replace it with the next. Really helpful to keep digital memories of all the things since they don’t take up room.

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