What are the Best Methods for Decluttering?

Discover the Most Widely Used Decluttering Techniques

Updated 11/2023

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the clutter in your home, you’re not alone. Many people struggle to keep their living spaces organized and tidy. Fortunately, there are decluttering principles and philosophies that can help you get your home in order and keep it that way.

One important aspect of decluttering is understanding what clutter is and how it affects your life. Clutter can be physical, emotional, or mental, and it can have a negative impact on your well-being. By recognizing the different types of clutter and how they manifest in your life, you can begin to take steps to eliminate them.

Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor, it’s anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living.

Peter Walsh

There are many different decluttering principles and philosophies to choose from, each with its own unique approach. Some people prefer the philosophy of minimalism, which emphasizes living with less and focusing on what’s truly important. Others may prefer the KonMari method, which involves decluttering by category and only keeping items that “spark joy.”

Some may resonate with the Swedish Death Cleaning philosophy, which involves decluttering as a way to prepare for the end of life. By exploring these different approaches and finding one that works for you, you can create a more organized and fulfilling life.

In this Article You Will Learn:

  • Understanding the different types of clutter is an important first step in decluttering your home and life.
  • There are many different decluttering principles and philosophies to choose from, including minimalism, the KonMari method, and Swedish Death Cleaning.
  • By finding an approach that resonates with you and committing to it, you can create a more organized and fulfilling life.
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Understanding Clutter

Cluttered desk

Clutter is a common problem that affects many people. It can be defined as a collection of items that are disorganized, unused, and taking up space in your home. Clutter can be a source of stress and can negatively impact your mental and physical health. Understanding clutter is an important step towards decluttering your home and improving your overall well-being.

How Clutter Affects You

Clutter can have a significant impact on your mental and physical health. It can cause feelings of anxiety, stress, and overwhelm. Clutter can also affect your ability to focus, making it difficult to complete tasks and achieve your goals. Additionally, clutter can negatively impact your physical health by contributing to allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems.

Signs of Hoarding

Hoarding is a severe form of clutter that can have a significant impact on your life. Hoarding is characterized by an excessive accumulation of items, difficulty discarding things, and a lack of organization. Hoarding can be a sign of a mental health condition and can lead to isolation, financial problems, and other negative consequences.

If you are struggling with clutter and are experiencing any of the signs of hoarding, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. They can provide you with the support and resources you need to overcome your clutter and improve your overall well-being.

In conclusion, clutter can have a significant impact on your mental and physical health. Understanding clutter and its effects is an important step towards decluttering your home and improving your overall well-being. If you are struggling with clutter, it is important to seek help and support from a mental health professional.

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Decluttering Principles

Decluttered living room

When it comes to decluttering, there are certain principles that can guide you in the process. These principles can help you stay focused, motivated, and make the most of your time and effort. Here are some decluttering principles to keep in mind:

Pareto Principle in Decluttering

The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In decluttering, this means that you can get rid of 80% of your clutter by focusing on the 20% of items that you use or need the most. This principle can help you prioritize your decluttering efforts and avoid getting bogged down by items that don’t matter as much.

One in, One out

The “one in, one out” principle is a simple rule that can help you maintain a clutter-free home over time. The idea is that for every new item that you bring into your home, you should get rid of one item that you no longer need or use. This can help you avoid accumulating more clutter and keep your possessions to a manageable level.

Everything Has a Home

“Everything has a home” is a decluttering principle that emphasizes the importance of organization. The idea is that every item in your home should have a designated place where it belongs. This can help you avoid clutter and make it easier to find what you need when you need it.

The Four-Box Method

The Four-Box Method is a popular decluttering technique that involves sorting items into four categories: keep, donate, sell, and trash. This can help you make decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of in a systematic way. You can use boxes, bags, or bins to sort your items and make the process more efficient.

Quality Over Quantity

Finally, the principle of “quality over quantity” can help you avoid accumulating too much clutter in the first place. Instead of buying lots of cheap, low-quality items, focus on investing in high-quality items that will last longer and serve you better over time. This can help you avoid clutter and save money in the long run.

By keeping these decluttering principles and philosophies in mind, you can make the process of decluttering more manageable and effective. Remember that decluttering is a process, and it may take time to see results. But by staying focused and following these principles, you can create a more organized and clutter-free home.

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Minimalism Decluttering Philosophy

Minimalism is a philosophy of living more with less. It is about simplifying your life and reducing the amount of clutter in your physical space, as well as your mental space. The core message of minimalism is to only accumulate material things that bring value to your life, getting rid of unnecessary physical clutter, and reducing mental distractions.

Minimalism is not just about owning fewer possessions, but rather it is about prioritizing the things that truly matter to you. When you focus on what is essential, you can make room for the things that bring you joy and fulfillment.

The principles of minimalism have been practiced for thousands of years. From the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, who believed that happiness was achieved through simplicity and the absence of fear, to the Zen Buddhist practice of mindfulness, which emphasizes being present in the moment and letting go of attachments.

The minimalist lifestyle has gained popularity in recent years as people seek to simplify their lives and reduce their environmental impact. Minimalism can help you save money, reduce stress, and increase your overall well-being. By focusing on what is truly important, you can live a more intentional and fulfilling life.

To embrace minimalism, you must be willing to let go of things that no longer serve you. This can be difficult, but it is essential to creating a clutter-free life. Start by decluttering your physical space, and then move on to decluttering your mental space. Let go of negative thoughts and emotions that are holding you back, and focus on the things that bring you joy and fulfillment.

In summary, the philosophy of minimalism is about living more intentionally and simplifying your life. By focusing on what truly matters to you and letting go of the rest, you can create a clutter-free life that is filled with joy and fulfillment.

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The KonMari Method of Decluttering

Woman organizing a shelf

If you’re looking for a decluttering method that focuses on keeping only the items that bring you joy, the KonMari Method by Marie Kondo might be the one for you. This minimalism-inspired approach to decluttering emphasizes the importance of surrounding yourself with things that spark joy and letting go of items that no longer serve a purpose.

The KonMari Method is organized around specific categories: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items (known as komono), and sentimental items. By addressing each category one at a time, you can take control of clutter without becoming overwhelmed by the process.

Here are the six basic rules to get started:

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up.
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
  3. Finish discarding first.
  4. Tidy by category, not by location.
  5. Follow the right order.
  6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

The method encourages you to get rid of items that no longer serve a purpose or no longer spark joy and keep items that are purposeful and meaningful. This approach can help you create a home that is filled with things you love and that supports the lifestyle you want to live.

One of the key principles is to thank the items you are discarding for the role they played in your life. This practice can help you let go of items with gratitude and move on from them with a sense of closure.

If you’re interested in trying this practice, Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” is a great place to start. The book provides detailed instructions on how to declutter your home using the KonMari Method and includes tips on how to maintain a clutter-free lifestyle. The KonMari Method is a the most popular and widely regarded of the many decluttering principles and philosophies.

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Swedish Death Cleaning Philosophy

Organized bathroom

If you’re looking for a decluttering principle and philosophy that is both practical and grounded, then Swedish Death Cleaning might be the answer. This approach to decluttering is all about preparing for the inevitable by getting rid of things you no longer need or want. While the name might sound morbid, the philosophy behind it is actually quite thoughtful and effective.

The basic idea behind Swedish Death Cleaning is that you should get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy or serve a purpose. This approach to decluttering is similar to the popular KonMari method, but with a slightly different focus. Instead of asking whether an item sparks joy, you should ask yourself whether it’s something you really need or want.

The philosophy behind Swedish Death Cleaning is rooted in the idea that we should take responsibility for our possessions and not burden our loved ones with the task of sorting through our belongings after we’re gone. By decluttering now, you can ensure that your loved ones won’t have to deal with the stress and emotional burden of sorting through your things.

One of the key principles of Swedish Death Cleaning is to start early. You don’t have to wait until you’re older to start decluttering. In fact, the earlier you start, the easier it will be to maintain a clutter-free home. Another important principle is to be mindful of what you keep. Instead of holding onto things just because they have sentimental value, ask yourself whether they’re truly important to you.

Overall, the Swedish Death Cleaning philosophy is a practical and thoughtful approach to decluttering. By focusing on what’s truly important and getting rid of the rest, you can create a more peaceful and clutter-free home.

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Decluttering for Guests

Organized office

Decluttering a vacation or short-term rental property is paramount for ensuring guests have a pleasant and stress-free stay. A clutter-free environment mirrors the simplicity and relaxation that vacations embody. 

By embracing decluttering principles and philosophies, property owners can create spaces that are both functional and inviting. A well-organized rental not only resonates with the principles of minimalism and purpose, but it also enhances guest satisfaction. It eliminates potential distractions, making it easier for guests to find what they need, and gives them room to make the space their own during their stay.

In essence, decluttering amplifies the comfort and appeal of any rental property. Here’s a to-do list for decluttering a vacation rental property:

  1. Inventory Assessment: Make a list of all items in the rental. Remove any non-essential items or personal belongings.
  2. Functional Decor: Choose minimal, versatile decor pieces that enhance the space without overwhelming it.
  3. Streamlined Kitchen: Pare down kitchen items to essential cookware and utensils, ensuring everything has its place.
  4. Limit Personal Touches: Keep personal photos or items to a minimum, allowing guests to envision the space as their own.
  5. Storage Solutions: Use clear storage bins and labels to organize items, making it easy for guests to find and return things.
  6. Regular Reviews: Periodically revisit and refresh the space, removing items that aren’t frequently used by guests.

By following this to-do list, property owners can maintain a harmonious balance between functionality and style. A decluttered rental property ensures guests experience a serene environment, setting the stage for positive reviews and repeat bookings. Remember, simplicity in design can lead to richness in guest experience.

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FAQs About Decluttering Principles and Philosophies

What are some unusual ways to declutter your home?

There are many unusual ways to declutter your home, such as the “reverse hanger” method, where you hang all your clothes with the hangers facing the opposite direction and only turn them around when you wear them. This way, you can easily see which clothes you haven’t worn in a while and consider donating them. Another way is to use the “one in, one out” rule, where you only keep one item for every new item you bring into your home.

What is the Core 4 method of decluttering?

The Core 4 method of decluttering is a system that focuses on four key areas: clothes, books, paper, and miscellaneous items. By decluttering these categories in a specific order, you can build momentum and make the process feel less overwhelming. The idea is to start with the easiest category (clothes) and work your way up to the most challenging (miscellaneous items).

What is the Rule of 5 decluttering?

The Rule of 5 decluttering is a method that involves getting rid of five items every day. This can be anything from clothes to kitchen utensils to old magazines. The goal is to create a consistent habit of decluttering and to make progress over time.

What is the psychology of decluttering?

The psychology of decluttering involves understanding why we accumulate clutter in the first place. Some people hold onto items for sentimental reasons, while others feel a sense of security from having a lot of possessions. By understanding our emotional attachment to our belongings, we can make more intentional decisions about what to keep and what to let go of.

What is the Japanese philosophy of declutter?

The Japanese philosophy of decluttering is called “danshari,” which translates to “refuse, dispose, and separate.” This philosophy emphasizes the importance of simplifying your life by getting rid of unnecessary possessions. The goal is to create a sense of clarity and calm in your living space.

How can I declutter my life quickly?

To declutter your life quickly, it’s important to focus on the areas that will make the biggest impact. This might include decluttering your closet, getting rid of excess kitchen gadgets, or organizing your paperwork. It can also be helpful to set a specific timeframe for your decluttering project, such as a weekend or a week. By setting a deadline, you can stay motivated and make progress more quickly.


Decluttering principles and philosophies is more than just a task on a to-do list; it’s also a transformative journey towards a simpler and more harmonious life. Often, the clutter we see around us mirrors the internal chaos we might feel. You might wonder, “Where do I even start?” or “How do I declutter my entire home?”. 

Well, you’ll find a plethora of methods out there, from the principle of the KonMari to owning less. Whether you’ve been holding onto an item in the past out of sentimentality or have many items you don’t actually use, it’s time to decide what truly serves you moving forward. Rules for decluttering can help guide you throughout the process, ensuring that you keep your space tidy and functional. 

Maybe you’ve got duplicates or things you can borrow instead of owning. If you’re feeling indecisive about getting rid of clutter or don’t know where to start, remember: choosing one method and sticking to it can make the decluttering process much smoother. The most important thing? Keep going. By being decisive and taking the time to minimize and organize, not only will you create a more organized environment, but you’ll also pave the way for a life where you can find and enjoy what you have without the excess.

For more information on how to make your home or vacation rental property mindful and sustainable, visit MindfulBnB.

— Chief Editor

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