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40 Decluttering Tips For Your Apartment

By: Susan Finch
August 27, 2020

We all deal with it at some point in our lives. Endless clutter can feel overwhelming, especially in small apartments. Instead of envying your clutter-free friends who seem to have it mastered, use these tips to whip your apartment into shape.

The Benefits of Decluttering

Decluttering may feel like a chore reminiscent of our childhood. However, it comes with its benefits.

Not only is it easier to clean your apartment when you’re clutter-free, but you’re also less stressed. Suddenly, you can find everything you need and your place feels amazing. Read on for our best tips to get you started!

1. Declutter in Set Periods of Time

Tackling your entire apartment in one day can feel overwhelming. Instead, declutter in set periods. Set yourself a timer and work on one area for 10 or 15 minutes and take a break or call it quits until tomorrow.

2. Regularly Donate Items

Donating items is a great way to pass on things to those in need. Designate each week with a donation theme, from furniture to bedroom or kitchen. Drop items off or arrange a pickup from Goodwill or your favorite charity.

3. Create a Decluttering Checklist

Instead of spinning your wheels and jumping from task to task, use a decluttering checklist. Design it around a specific room or area of your apartment and check off your list as you go.

4. Set Goals for Yourself

Goal-setting can help you to tackle big decluttering projects and feel accomplished at the same time. Set goals based on volume. For example, tell yourself, "Today, I'll fill an entire trash bag of things to donate."

5. Manage Your Paperwork

Paperwork escalates clutter and keeps piling up. Designate a day of the week to shredding and sorting mail and other items.

Tackling paperwork is also a good time to unsubscribe from catalogs, mailing lists, and switch to paperless billing.

6. Stop Treating Your Home like a Storage Unit

Just because your apartment can store something, doesn't mean it should. Clear out the things you don't use anymore. Sell it, donate it, and treat your apartment more like home.

7. Take Before and After Photos

Decluttering can be a long process, and the results aren't always visible. Take before and after photos to see your progress and stay motivated by the results of your hard work.

8. Utilize the "4 Box Method"

The four-box method can help narrow down your clutter and create a system for what to do next. Grab four boxes and label them accordingly:

  • Trash
  • Give away
  • Keep
  • Relocate

But remember to follow a simple rule of thumb: If you haven't used it in a year, donate it or get rid of it!

9. Ask for Help from Family and Friends

We can all use some support in our decluttering and organizational goals. Ask a family member or friend for help and turn it into a party. Listen to music, order pizza, and catch up before trading apartments and tackling someone else's clutter.

You can also solicit advice from your network over Zoom or FaceTime to ask how to tackle your decluttering goals.

10. Try the "One In, One Out" Rule

Studio apartments and small spaces need ground rules when it comes to bringing in more stuff. Every time you buy something new, commit to donating or getting rid of something else. Now there won’t be an excess of things in your apartment, and you stay in control.

11. Try the 90-Day Rule

Tuck away your seasonal items, and then look at what's left behind. If you haven't used or worn the item in 90 days, consider donating it or tossing it altogether. Chances are high you'll never miss it.

12. View Your Home as a Visitor

View your home with fresh eyes and think about what a visitor would see first. Go through each room and make a list of what clutter is standing out and how you can resolve it.

13. Get Innovative with Storage Solutions

Even cozy apartments can benefit from small storage solutions. Hanging baskets for towels and socks can help declutter a closet or dresser.

A plate display rack showcases your dishes and helps declutter your cabinets. And a pegboard helps you to hang gadgets, utensils, and other items.

14. Rely on Technology

There are plenty of ways technology helps reduce your clutter and maximizes your apartment space. Scan old photos and give away or toss photo albums.

Sell off your DVD or CD collection and rely on digital solutions instead. The more you can store on your devices and in the cloud, the less cluttered your physical space will be.

15. Get Multi-Functional

Cozy apartments need all the room they can get. So, keep your furniture multi-functional.

Reduce clutter with a coffee table or ottoman with hidden storage. Then, tuck away magazines, paperwork, and cords to keep them out of sight.

16. Embrace Minimalism

Decluttering is often about a mindset shift more than getting rid of your stuff. Embrace the idea of minimalism where everything serves a purpose, and you're free from cleaning and caring for so much stuff. Reduce the number of things in your apartment and enjoy the freedom it gives your life.

17. Think Small

Oversized furniture isn't doing your apartment any favors when it comes to clutter. Reduce your volume of stuff by focusing on smaller pieces. Opt for love seats, smaller chairs, or padded folding chairs to make your living room feel more spacious.

18. Use Your Wall Space

Put your wall space to work to help you cut the clutter. Hang file folders and file away paperwork and other items. You can also ditch the television altogether and use a digital projector to watch television right on your wall.

19. Reduce Duplicates

How many coffee cups, guest towels, and extra blankets do you need in your apartment? Reduce the number of duplicates and ditch the excess.

Keep enough for you, your roommate, and a few visitors. Give away the rest.

20. Identify Hidden Storage Areas for Clutter

Your apartment is likely full of hidden storage areas where you can stash your clutter. The tops of your cabinets can store baskets and bins for mail and seasonal items.

The space above your bedroom door is also an ideal spot for an extra shelf for linens and towels to free up closet space.

21. Commit to a "Clean as You Go" Strategy

Drowning in clutter often accumulates from bad habits. Adopt a “clean as you go” strategy to wash up dishes, sort your mail, and throw out extra stuff the moment it appears in your apartment.

22. Rent Your Stuff

Why buy fancy clothes, shoes, and accessories that you'll only wear once or twice a year? Rent them instead. That’ll reduce the items taking up valuable space in your closet.

You can also take the same approach with kitchen gadgets, photography equipment, and children's toys.

23. Fold It Up

Many things in your apartment can fold up and be tucked away for clutter control. Donate your kitchen table and attach a folding wall table instead.

You can take the same approach with your office space. Add comfortable folding chairs that can store easily and get to work without cluttering up your space.

24. Use More Dividers

Sometimes we have more than enough drawers and cabinets but can't find our way through the clutter. Get organized with drawer organizers and dividers to separate the mess and make sense of what you need and what you don't.

25. Host a Digital Sale

Sometimes we need a nudge to start a decluttering frenzy, like a financial goal. Host a digital sale and list your furniture, knick-knacks, camera equipment, dishes, and anything else of value on digital platforms.

Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, and OfferUp are websites that can help you to get rid of your stuff and earn some cash at the same time.

26. Hire a Pro

Sometimes, we can't get on top of our clutter without a pro to help. Hire a professional organizer to help you create systems and processes for dealing with your stuff. You'll walk away with a cleaner apartment and the ability to do it on your own.

27. Designate a Clutter Spot

It can feel overwhelming to have no place to set down mail or paperwork you can't deal with yet. Designate a spot in your apartment, like a basket or bin by the door, to tuck away your mess.

Then, pick a day of the week to deal with it. Make it fun by preparing a cocktail or specialty coffee when you deal with the junk to turn it into an event.

28. Tackle the Smallest Projects First

Big, audacious goals are admirable but are likely to fall flat. Instead of overwhelming yourself by decluttering your entire closet in one day, focus on the smallest project first.

Gain confidence in momentum every time you clear off a laundry room shelf or cabinet. Then, work your way up to the big closet clutter.

29. Quit Shopping for a Month

Your clutter will dramatically start to disappear if you give up shopping once in a while. Quit shopping for any extras beyond groceries and essential items for a month. You can repeat the process a few times a year and watch as your stuff magically becomes organized.

30. Ditch "Just in Case" Stuff

Stop avoiding that box or drawer with all the "just in case" stuff. Random cords, hardware, washcloths, and gadgets should be tossed or donated. Your space will suddenly feel carefree again.

31. Organize by Function

Figuring out what to do with your clutter stops some people in their tracks. Start organizing each area by function.

Dedicate a shelf to toilet paper and paper towels, a drawer to toothpaste and extra toothbrushes, and a closet to linens. Organizing by function also helps you know where everything in your apartment is instead of wasting time searching.

32. Incorporate Organization Into Your Design

Small spaces like studio apartments need an organizational boost to tame the clutter. Incorporate clutter control ideas into your small space design. Start by lofting your bed and adding storage bins, bookshelves, or a makeshift closet underneath.

33. Focus on Productivity

Boredom and restlessness are some of the best times to declutter and get productive. Whether you're dealing with the pandemic or are homebound on a budget, devote the extra time to getting a handle on your stuff.

34. Document the Journey

Sometimes, we need inspiration, support, and accountability to make it through big decluttering goals. Document the journey on social media. Ask friends to share their best tips for keeping their apartments tidy and organized.

35. Clear Out the Pantry

We often overlook our pantries when it comes to clearing out the old. Invest in air-tight food containers and get rid of old bags, boxes, and expired items hiding in the back of your pantry. You might even start saving on food when you can see what you have.

36. Hang it Up

There's a play to hang nearly everything in your apartment. Shoe organizers can declutter bathroom bottles, hairdryers, and curling irons. You can clip boots onto pant hangers in your closet.

Fruit baskets can store food in your kitchen, mail in your hallway, or hand towels in your bathroom.

37. Double Up Your Stuff

Messy closets are challenging to tackle when there's simply nowhere else to hang up your stuff. To reclaim your space, double up and hang heavy coats over jackets. You can also clip two pairs of pants together on the same hanger to save on space.

38. Clear Out Your Corners

Squeeze out every inch of space you can by maximizing your corners. Clear them out and add shelving and storage designed to fit corners. Then, add bins and baskets to tuck away your unsightly clutter.

39. Reward Yourself

All of that decluttering is hard work and deserves a reward once in a while. Once you've cleared out your closet, replace it with a few high-quality wardrobe pieces or a new pair of boots to replace the dozens of items you tossed.

40. Regularly Block off Time to Declutter Your Apartment

Decluttering isn't a one-time event. Embrace it as a recurring event that's more like a marathon than a sprint.

Set yourself a calendar reminder for once a week to tackle the clutter for as little as 30 minutes while listening to music. Then, devote a few times a year to a massive overhaul, like spring cleaning or a holiday purge.

Final Thoughts

Decluttering is more than just getting rid of stuff and staying organized. It's an incredible feeling to have more control over your apartment and feel more at home in your space.

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Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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