6 Simple De-Cluttering Rules

6 Rules of Decluttering

Ok, friends, it is time to get down to business. We can talk about and theorize about decluttering all day long, but you all are here for ACTION. Today we will set some decluttering rules. Feel free to add or subtract rules as they fit your family and lifestyle. 

6 Simple Rules for Decluttering

Welcome! If you are new to this decluttering challenge, make sure to check out the resource page so that you don’t miss a thing!

If we set some decluttering rules, we will find it easier to keep our homes clutter free (or at least, less cluttered) in the future!

Declutter rule #1: Vow to Bring Less Home

The most important rule to set before you even begin to purge items is to make a sincere effort to bring less stuff in. There’s no point in putting forth the effort to declutter if you undo all your progress by buying more stuff. Setting a mindset to shop with intention is the first step to clearing out the clutter for good. For many–this will be the toughest rule of all.

I am a professional clearance shopper. I find it hard to resist the siren call of the 75% off racks and shelves at Target. However, about 2 years ago I realized that my closet was overflowing with clothing. I utilized the challenges from Get Your Pretty On to create workable, fashionable, affordable capsule wardrobes which left my tiny 1959 sized bedroom closet some breathing room. I often feared that a smaller wardrobe would be boring–but having workable, well-fitting pieces that work together is so freeing and I have begun to love getting dressed in the morning. 

This has been a mindset change–no need to buy new clothes if I have all that I need–that has spilled over into other areas of my home. I find myself embracing a more minimalist mindset day by day (and that is VERY hard to do with a family of eight!)

Declutter rule #2: Document Your Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion that can lead us to hold onto clutter.  An effective compromise is to digitize your prized possessions. You can scan the images of things like certificates or kids’ artwork into your computer and organize them into folders. For three-dimensional pieces like trophies or prom dresses, take a photo of the item to add to your digital keepsakes. 

You Don’t have to Over Do the Documentation

I don’t want all of our “special things” to only live digitally–I love to page through scrapbooks and look at old school journals.

The key is to not let the nostalgia take over your home.

We have a stairway hallway that is our designated “art gallery” and it has seasonally rotating collections. I TRY to make a photo book and a wall collage of photos from each year. (Keeping photos well organized on your computer makes this MUCH easier–also, I am seven years behind–side note, my twins are 7 years old–enough said).

The kids also each have an under bed storage tote for them to keep memorabilia in–it is up to them to curate these collections–as this sort of curation will help them in the future!


Declutter rule #3: Start Small and Simple

One way to gain momentum in the paring down process is to start with the easy things.  Begin boxing up items that don’t hold much emotional attachment. Doing so will lead to a sense of accomplishment and provide motivation for you to keep going when the decision-making becomes tougher.

I spend every Lenten season participating in the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge. Each day during the 40 days in Lent I sort through an area in the house and come up with a bag of items to either donate, sell, or throw away. I generally start in the kitchen–with my junk drawers (always an easy and satisfying place to start.)

DO NOT start with your most overwhelming spot. You will burn out for sure. We will hit that spot later. For now, start small–your purse, a drawer, the top of your dresser. The key is to start. Set a timer for 15 minutes and do what you can. Take a before and after photo–share on the Facebook Group

Declutter rule #4: Lose the Duplicates

Another relatively easy decluttering task involves getting rid of unnecessary duplicate items.  So take a moment to go through your home and gather up all your duplicate articles of clothing, dish sets, and books. Then sort through them, keeping only your favorite colored piece or the one that is in the best condition.

I have an embarrassing bowl collection. I LOVE bowls. Mixing bowls, soup bowls, serving bowls. Wooden, China, ceramic, plastic, woven. . . they all speak to me. And yet–I use my save 5 or 6 favorite bowls at any given time. Each year I weed through my collection and donate the bowls that spoke to me at the store, but clammed up once they got into my kitchen.

How many gray sweaters do you have in your quest for the perfect gray sweater? How many copies of “Toy Story 2”  do you own? (or am I the only one who forgets which Disney movies we already own?) 

Declutter rule #5: Nix the Guilt

An empowering decluttering strategy is to get rid of things you’ve been holding onto out of guilt. It doesn’t matter how much you paid for that stylish coat if it’s not being used, and unwanted gifts are something else you should part with immediately. These things are yours. The decision of whether to keep them is also yours. This seems cold and callous–but our homes should be a place of sanctuary–not a warehouse of guilt. 

Declutter rule #6: Put Things in Their Place

Another way to bring organization to your home is to make sure all of your possessions have a designated place and to always return them there. Knowing where stuff belongs makes it easier to keep everything tidy and lowers the chance of clutter becoming a recurring problem. My grandmother was a very orderly nurse. She would bustle around the house when I was younger, chanting, “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” And she was right. It seems so simple, yet it is a stumbling block for all of us.


These rules aren’t the definitive last word on clearing out the clutter, and they won’t remove all of the difficulties from the process. Hopefully, though, they will serve as guidelines to help you begin your own decluttering journey.

Day 3 Task: Choose one small spot to declutter. Take a before and after photo. Decide how the six rules will help you keep this small area clear in the future. Share your results on the Facebook Group. 

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Written by Dakotapam
I'm a Lutheran pastor's wife and mom to six kids, including young adult sons down to 8-year old twin daughters. My life is sometimes normal, and sometimes crazy; but through it all, I know that I am blessed! Some people say that I have my hands full, I prefer to call it living life with both hands full, and I love it!