Note: This article on a 30-Day Declutter Challenge is by contributing writer, Tammy Strobel. If you’d like to get the challenge tasks daily on Facebook, follow here.
Decluttering can feel like an endless project that takes forever. However, you can make real progress with a clear guide, consistent attention, and by taking small steps daily.
Try this 30-day Declutter Challenge: commit to decluttering 10 minutes a day. Each day, focus on a specific area in your home to declutter. Don’t forget to modify this challenge based on your needs and schedule. Please remember to donate, recycle, and properly dispose of stuff that you don’t need. This challenge is a great way to tidy up your home, and help those in need through donations.
Good luck and have fun!
30-Day Declutter Challenge
Day 1: Identify clutter problem spots and prepare a donation zone.
Walk through your home and identify clutter problem spots like your closet, kitchen cabinets, or desk. Keep those areas in mind as you start this challenge. Before you start sorting through your stuff, prepare a donation/trash zone. This could be in your guest room or hallway. Then, gather boxes and bags and put them in the zone. As you go through this challenge, it will be nice to have a contained spot for the stuff you’ll no longer keep.
Day 2: Clean out your wallet, purse, or bag.
It’s easy for a wallet, purse, or bag to get cluttered with stuff like notes, recipes, makeup, and other odds and ends. Tidy up your bag so that you can find the things you need. Often, the bigger the bag, the more we carry. Identify the essentials and see what it’s like to only carry what you use when you are out and about. This will vary depending on your lifestyle but it’s fun to experiment with this. Traveling lighter is always a win.
Day 3: Go through your kitchen cabinets.
Toss expired food and spices, and put storage containers in the dishwasher. If you find unopened items that aren’t expired and you don’t think you’ll use them, bring them to a local food bank. If you have time, you can clean and/or line your cabinets with contact paper.
Day 4: Tidy up your refrigerator.
Remove all the food and condiments from your refrigerator, and scrub it down. Before you put the food back, discard expired food and condiments. Take inventory of what you have and try to create a couple of meals using only what’s on hand instead of buying more.
Day 5: Clear out your bathroom cabinet.
Like your refrigerator, remove all the items in your bathroom cabinet(s). Throw out older cosmetics and skin care that you don’t use. If you have unopened travel size products like toothpaste, soap, or shampoo, bring it to a local homeless shelter. If you have medications that are expired, dispose of them properly.
Day 6: Do a closet clean out.
Sort through your clothes into keep, toss, and donate piles. Keep clothing that makes you feel good, and let go of the rest. As Courtney Carver said, “Cleaning out your closet can feel like a daunting task, but it doesn‘t have to be! With the right tools and a willingness to be honest about what you have and what you need, you can make your closet a happier space.”
Day 7: Declutter your bookshelf.
I love reading, so donating books was challenging for me. However, I was tired of lugging around such a big collection that got dusty fast. I let most of my books go because I realized that sharing is caring. Now I give books to friends or I donate them to the library. Giving away your books will make your living space cleaner, more organized, and less cluttered. P.S. You just completed a full week of the 30-day decluttering challenge!
Day 8: Clear off your bedroom nightstand or dresser.
Does your nightstand get cluttered with journals, notes, books, or tissues? If you answered yes to that question, I empathize and relate. Instead of letting stuff accumulate on your nightstand or dresser, clean it daily. This will keep clutter at bay. Go through your drawers too. Empty them of junk or things that are cluttering up not only your drawer but your mind so you can sleep well tonight.
Day 9: Declutter your living room.
Our living room is a high traffic area that can get cluttered with shoes, jackets, cat toys, and more. The key is having a home for all your belongings, and putting your things away. A 5-minute daily sweep of this area will help you avoid clutter creep and make the space feel more peaceful.
Day 10: Clean out your “junk” drawer(s).
Our junk drawer is a “catch all” filled with an assortment of cords, batteries, shoe laces, rubber bands, and other odds and ends. Take everything out of the drawer, sort through it, and find a home for each item. Using drawer dividers or small containers to house the items in your junk drawer is helpful, too. Notice the things that end up in the junk drawer. Usually things land here because you don’t know where it goes or what it is. You hold on just in case. If you aren’t sure of any of it, dump the whole drawer into a bag or box and hide it for 30 days. If you don’t miss it, say goodbye.
Day 11: Sort through your shoes.
Go through your shoe collection and donate shoes that you don’t wear regularly. Make sure they are still wearable. Discard worn-out shoes or recycle them. Some companies have shoe recycling programs. Trying a minimalist wardrobe challenge like Project 333 will help you better understand how many pairs of shoes you actually need. May people who try it discover they only need four or five pairs for three months.
Day 12: Declutter your coffee table and side tables.
Coffee tables and side tables can attract clutter. It’s great to use these tables. However, make sure you clean them up daily. Put away books, glasses, or other items that are likely to pile up quickly.
Day 13: Clean out your hallway closet.
Our hallway closet contains bike gear, weights, jackets, and other odds and ends. The closet would get cluttered up quickly, so we bought a set of wooden hangers and a coat rack that hangs on the inside of the closet door. Dedicated spots to hang up our stuff has kept us organized. If you use this space for hidden storage and don’t remember what’s in there, consider donating most of it.
Day 14: Collaborate with your kid(s) and tidy up their toy collection.
The kids in my family love going through their toy collections a few times a year. With their parents’ help, they donate items they no longer love or use to kids in need. This can be a joyful and fun project to do with the kids in your life. Just like us, kids have their favorite things and can feel some relief when they don’t have endless choices of what to play with next.
Day 15: Declutter your desk.
After I’m done working, I clean my desk. My pens, books, and journals go back to their dedicated “home.” This has been a game changer because I’m more organized. You could also use a bulletin board to hang up notes, calendars, and reminders. If you tend to work at your kitchen table or in another space of your home, try to contain and put everything away at the end of day to create some separation between work and rest.
Wow, you made it to the halfway mark of the 30-day decluttering challenge. This is the time to check in on your pace. Is 10 minutes a day working for you? Are you feeling energized or exhausted? Excited or discouraged? Check in and see if some small shifts will make a difference for the rest of the challenge. You are doing great!
Day 16: Declutter your digital world.
Make time to organize and declutter your digital life. Delete unnecessary or duplicate files, photos, and emails. For example, I recently deleted an email account that contained 20,000 emails. I don’t miss the email account or the old emails. This is a good time to unfollow people on social media who make you feel bad or you just don’t enjoy anymore.
Day 17: Sort through paperwork.
Toss, or shred, sensitive documents you no longer need. Also, scanning items into your computer is a great way to minimize paper piles. If you plan to organize a large quantity of paper, be honest about what you really need to save. You can save yourself a lot of time by not saving everything. Organizing less is a better investment of your time.
Day 18: Declutter your crafting area.
If you have an excess supply of crafts – or have given up a hobby – consider donating the items to a thrift store or friends. This will open up space for you to focus on other crafting activities that you love. For example, about ten years ago, knitting was my favorite crafting hobby. I stopped knitting, so I gave away my knitting needles and extra yarn. Make room for your favorite hobbies.
Day 19: Get your garage cleared up.
Garages can easily accumulate clutter like power tools, pool supplies, garden tools, along with bikes and cars. The less stuff you own, the less you’ll have to organize. However, you can use vertical storage space or shelves to keep your garage tidy and clean.
Day 20: Declutter cookware.
I love to cook, and I don’t need a lot of cookware to make yummy food. For instance, I recently donated pie pans, donut trays, and a few mixing bowls to the thrift store. We also installed drawer dividers to keep our utensils organized. Go through your pots and pans and small appliances. Keep the things you use and enjoy and let go of the rest.
Day 21: Sort through your linens, blankets, and towels.
A few years ago, a friend downsized from a big house into a tiny apartment. As she downsized, she decided to donate extra linens, blankets, and towels to a homeless shelter. She had more than she could use in a lifetime, and was happy to let them go. You can also donate these items to animal shelters. For older items that aren’t fit for donation, cut them up into rags for cleaning.
Day 22: Declutter your car.
Your car might feel like a second home; especially if you use it to commute to work. Remove unnecessary items like coffee cups, water bottles, paper, or clothing from your car. Then clean high impact surfaces. Keep a tote bag in your car so you can easily bring things in and right back out when you aren’t using them. If you don’t have a car, repeat one of the first 21 days in the challenge.
Day 23: Declutter your patio, balcony, or yard.
Outside spaces like a patio, balcony, or yard are wonderful places to enjoy a cup of coffee, read a book, or watch the world go by. It can be like a secondary living room. Make sure you keep your space tidy by putting things away whether it’s BBQ accessories or lawn care equipment.
Day 24: Go through your holiday decorations.
Recently, a friend decluttered her holiday decorations. She had a Christmas village, five boxes of Christmas tree decorations, a plethora of lights, and more. She donated the majority of her decorations to the thrift store, and only kept the items she loved like twinkle lights, a shoebox filled with Christmas tree decorations, and a tiny fake tree to decorate. If you are reluctant to let go of holiday items because of their sentimental value, try one holiday season displaying less and see how it feels.
Day 25: Declutter your pet(s) toys and food.
My kitten isn’t a minimalist, so it’s my job to keep her stuff tidy. I have specific homes for her toys, food, and other items like her cat litter. If she stops playing with toys – or refuses to eat a specific food – we donate those items to the local shelter. Having a home for your pet(s) stuff is a great way to keep your space clutter free.
Day 26: Streamline shower supplies.
In the past, I had a plethora of plastic bottles in my shower. We ditched the bottles, and now we use shampoo and body wash bars. As a bonus, we aren’t using as much plastic and our shower is clutter-free.
Day 27: Tidy up your cables.
Recently, my husband organized all the cords behind our office desk. It was a mess behind the desk, so streamlining our cables and cords was a must-do. It’s easier for us to find the plugs, and our cat can’t chew on them anymore. First remove any cables and cords you don’t use. Next, see if there is an easy storage solution like a decorative box or basket where they can live if there isn’t a cabinet where your cords are.
Day 28: Did you miss anything?
Walk through your home again. Did you miss any clutter hot spots? If yes, make a list of those areas. It’s okay if some parts of your home need a second round of tidying (or a third or fourth). Each layer of decluttering will remind you about how your feelings about your stuff is changing. Don’t rush it or pressure yourself to let go of too much at once.
Day 29: Keep sentimental items.
During the decluttering process, you’ve probably encountered sentimental items. Family heirlooms might not be something you use daily, and that’s okay. If you have a strong emotional attachment to some stuff, keep it. I’d encourage you to display the items like a painting or even a set of dishes, so that you can be reminded of the person who gifted them to you. If you are ready to declutter sentimental items, consider this.
Day 30: Celebrate! You completed the 30-Day Decluttering Challenge!
Decluttering takes time and effort, so it’s important to celebrate your accomplishments. Take yourself out for a treat or do something fun! Fun experiences like treating yourself to simple pleasures can create wonderful memories that don’t clutter your space. Invite friends to join you if you try the challenge again.
Repeat the challenge any time you want or create a shorter challenge with the tasks that are most needed in your life. Pairing the challenge with music, friends, and/or snacks will help you have more fun in the process.