In response to my raging fall fever (a common occurrence here looking down the barrel of 6 months of winter), I finished a whirlwind cleaning of our apartment. People say I clean when I’m stressed. I say I clean not to go crazy. Eight bags of garbage and a carload of Goodwill donations later, who cares if I’m crazy? The apartment is clean, right? Well, maybe I’m a little crazy…there’s a lot of clutter still left though.

Clutter Prevention

The best way to stop clutter from building up is to clean as you go. Put things away as soon as you’re done using them. Throw things away as soon you know you won’t use them. Create a (small) space for things to be donated and recycled and clear it out as soon as it gets full. Limit your storage space and “junk” drawers so you don’t have the opportunity to just toss clutter in a closet and forget about it.

Best Ways to Get Rid of Clutter

Start with a mass cleaning to get rid of your clutter.

Chances are, if you’ve reached the point of looking for help getting rid of your clutter online, you need to do some serious cleaning. Set aside a day, or a weekend, specifically for cleaning. If you don’t want to (or can’t) do it alone, enlist the help of those you live with, or friends — bribe them with pizza and beer (or brochettes and wine, whichever) if you have to. Use the following suggestions to get rid of your clutter, and maintain a clutter-free space.

Use organizing “tools” to make getting rid of clutter easier.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re trying to get rid of clutter, and creating a system of organization and cleaning can relieve some of that stress. See the suggestions below about sharing household tasks and creating a regular cleaning schedule to get rid of clutter. Make a list identifying the biggest sources or locations of clutter in your home ( i.e., junk mail and newspapers, or your desk and the kitchen counter) and target those areas with your cleaning. Invest in organization storage systems for clutter-prone areas–like a filing unit for your office, or a closet organizer for your bedroom. Organization is essential to getting rid of clutter…and then keeping to the habits that caused it.

Share household chores and cleaning to get rid of clutter.

Clutter builds up because it’s hard to do everything by yourself all the time, especially when the rest of your life is calling. Divvy up the tasks necessary to get rid of clutter between you and your family, or you and your roommates. Everybody can be responsible for one room (like the bathroom or kitchen), or one set of chores (like dishes or taking out the garbage). If you live alone, or can’t get your housemates to help (I’d suggest getting new housemates, if that’s the case), spread your chores throughout the week (see the suggestion below about schedules) so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

Use a cleaning schedule to get rid of clutter.

Regular cleaning is essential to avoiding clutter. If you’re sharing the chores with others, sit down together and create a weekly or monthly schedule that divides the chores evenly between everyone. If you’re cleaning alone, make a schedule for yourself that allows you to tackle cleaning a little bit at a time, like cleaning the bathroom on Saturday morning, or doing your laundry on Thursday night. Rotating tasks can make cleaning less monotonous, and make less desirable chores (like cleaning the cat’s litter) easier to handle. And once you’ve got a schedule made, cleaning can be accomplished in small, manageable steps: ten minutes here, thirty minutes there, instead of wasting your entire Sunday afternoon just fighting off clutter.

Commit to a system of keep/donate/recycle/throw away to eliminate clutter.

Don’t keep things that you don’t use, don’t keep clothes that don’t fit or you don’t wear, don’t keep broken things just because you might fix them “later”. Throw away or recycle things (like junk mail or old magazines) as soon as you know you’re not going to use them. Designate a place for donations or garage sale items, and as soon as that space is filled donate or sell the items. Check out the below for suggestions on how to cut down on waste and donate reusable items to a good cause and still get rid of your clutter. To help with this, you can find Rubbermaid bins at Amazon.

More Ways to Get Rid of Clutter

If you’ve tried and tried and still can’t seem to get rid of your clutter, if you’re just too busy or too tired to get rid of your clutter, if you just can’t wrap your head around the organizational skills needed to get rid of clutter, or if there’s something else preventing you from getting rid of clutter, it may be time to call in a professional. Because this option usually involves quite a bit of expense, it’s not for everyone, but if you do have the resources to hire someone, it’s shouldn’t be too hard to do a litte research and find a cleaning service that is reliable, efficient, trustworthy and relatively affordable. Depending on your position, and the state of your clutter, it may be to your advantage to have someone come into your home on a daily or semi-daily basis, but usually a little help once a week should be enough to help you get rid of clutter. If you need to, check out books to help you set up a system. One that is very useful is 31 Days to a Clutter-Free Life by Ruth Soukup.

Clutter Removal in an Earth-Friendly Way

Charitable organizations like Goodwill or the Salvation Army

These are good places to consider donating used but reusable items, including clothes, furniture, books, dishes, appliances and computers, and much more. Both of these organization resell donated items at affordable prices and put the proceeds towards helping others in need of food, shelter, education, jobs, and improved living.

Look for grassroots organizations to help

They are usually committed to reducing waste through donations and free exchange of unwanted and reusable goods, like the Twin Cities Free Market. If you can’t find a similar organization in your town or city, start one, and help your whole community get rid of clutter.

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