Where to Start Decluttering (When You’re Too Overwhelmed to Start)

how to start decluttering

Inside: Are you wondering where to start decluttering? Learn why this room is the BEST place to start decluttering, and exactly how to declutter it with super simple steps.

You finally turn the last page of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. You slam that cover shut and jump up off the couch. Look out, House: you are about to get a complete and total makeover!

…but then you get up off the couch.

You look around at your real, live, so NOT-Marie-Kondo house – the one with a husband and kids and SO MUCH STUFF, so much clutter! You immediately shut down.

Marie made it sound so simple, but she didn’t have to declutter this house, with these people. She was single when she wrote the book for heaven’s sake!

You’re so overwhelmed that all that information you just read goes straight out of your head.

You want to give up before you even start decluttering a single thing. Just forget it.

If that’s you, stop. Breathe. Block out the rest of your crazy house, and make a beeline to the bathroom.

Why? Because the bathroom is hands-down the best place to start decluttering, especially when you’re too overwhelmed to start.

Getting the motivation to start decluttering is one thing. But where do you actually start decluttering? I decluttered my home three years ago, and with four little kids to boot! If I could go back, I would start decluttering THIS room FIRST. So that's what I'm encouraging you to do, along with step by step instructions the get the job DONE. Because when you're overwhelmed with clutter, you need a quick win to give you the inspiration and motivation to keep decluttering your entire house until the job is DONE. #declutteringtips #declutteringideas #minimalist #minimalismwithkids

Where to Start Decluttering (and why)

The best room to start decluttering is the bathroom. It’s the smallest room in the house, and you need a quick win!

Need more convincing? Here are three more good reasons to declutter the bathroom first.

Related: Freed From Clutter: Declutter Course

3 Good Reasons to Declutter the Bathroom First

  • You usually don’t store sentimental items in the bathroom.

When was the last time you stored anything sentimental in your bathroom?

Unless you’re the type to shed tears over the lipstick you wore on your wedding day, you probably aren’t going to have trouble sorting through the contents of your bathroom.

There won’t be very many agonizing debates and decisions. And that’s what makes the bathroom the best place to start decluttering.

  • You’ll get to throw away a LOT of stuff.

Being able to throw things away guilt-free is rewarding and motivating. Between expired medications and old makeup that’s a health hazard, you will end up tossing a ton – no trips to Goodwill after decluttering the bathroom.

  • Decluttering small spaces has a big impact.

You can declutter your bathroom in less than an hour – two tops. When you see the amazing results of decluttering the smallest room in your house, you’ll get the motivation you need to tackle the rest of it.

Where to Start Decluttering: The Bathroom

Declutter Your Bathroom with These Simple Steps

Pick it all up and dump it out on a towel or old sheet in a different room.

I picked up this trick from The Joy of Less. When you dump everything out in a different location than it’s normal home, you look at what you own with new eyes.

Related Post: 22 Books to Help You Slow Down & Simplify in 2018

Seeing everything together makes objective decisions so much easier. What do you actually use? What do you have too much of?

You can finally see that you have ten nail polishes when you only paint your nails once a year.

You realize that you have four bags of cough drops, half of which are expired.

You look at your arsenal of hair products that you’ve been keeping because you might use them one day, when in reality, you only use the same two every day. (Good-bye unused hair products, hello clear shelf in the closet!)

Throw away any expired makeup and medications.

Go through all of your medications and makeup. Start with everything that’s expired.

I’m a pretty frugal person, and I struggle with throwing away things I consider still perfectly good. But expired medication and makeup are not something you want to mess with. Makeup can grow bacteria after a certain amount of time. You do NOT want that anywhere near your face.

Toss it.

From now on, write the date on make-up as soon as you buy it and/or right after you open it.

Ask yourself the following questions about what remains.

Decluttering Questions:

  • Do I use this regularly?
  • Occasionally?
  • Seasonally?
  • Annually?
  • Will I ever use this again?

“Yes” Answers

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, keep it.

Where you store it is a different (and important) question.

(I store pretty much everything in these bins for smaller items and these bins for clothes and large items.)

The biggest mistake I see people make when decluttering is they give away something they legitimately need on a seasonal basis. Then, when that time of year comes around, they lament having decluttered at all and give up on minimalism altogether.

Don’t be that person! Keeping things is more than o.k., but don’t give away precious storage space in the rooms you use every day to items you only need once or twice a year.

Those items need a home in deep storage.

“No” Answers

If the answer is no to the first question, this post from Zero Waste can help you decide what to do with all those half-used toiletries.

Non-toiletries (blow dryers, canisters, cotton balls, etc.) can be easily donated to thrift stores, sold online or in yard sales, or given away to friends and family who truly need them.

I have only one caveat to giving things away.

Until clutter actually leaves our possession, it has an uncanny way of finding its way back into our homes (especially if you have young children!!).  Kids find it and readopt it, or you go back on your decision to get rid of it in the first place.

Other minimalists may shudder at this statement, but if it’s between throwing something away and clutter making its way back into your house, just throw it away already.

When you’ve finished this step, make a fresh commitment to using things up or wearing them out before buying something new.

Declutter Your Bathroom Cleaning Products

Under my bathroom sink used to look like the cleaning aisle at CVS. I had literally every bathroom cleaner known to man.

There were cleaning products to clean the shower (but only after showers, not a deep clean), to deep clean the shower, to clean the toilet bowl, to clean the outside of the toilet, the sink, the floors. I could go on and on.

Oh. My. Goodness. So unnecessary!

Now, I have three basic products I use. Just three. Besides saving space, fewer products also makes cleaning fast and efficient. Even more motivation to get rid of half of them!

Our Bathroom Cleaning Products:

Clear the Bathroom Counters

Clear the counters.

It’s amazing what a clean surface does for tiny spaces!

Our sink used to house toothbrushes and other random bathroom paraphernalia. We have a very small main bathroom (for a family of six), so I needed to think creatively to come up with an alternative storage solution.

The creative solution? Use your walls to the max.

Walls are underused real estate, in bathrooms especially. Once we moved the toothbrushes (this mason jar organizer is perfect for holding toothbrushes!) and flowers to the wall, the entire face of the bathroom changed.

The sink is much easier to clean now, which allows me to spend less than a minute a day wiping it down.

We can all use some extra motivation to clean the bathroom, right?!

Related: 4 Ways Clearing the Kitchen Counters Can Change Your Life
Related: 10 Cheap Decorating Ideas to Make Your Home Beautiful (even when you’re broke) 

Declutter and Organize Bathroom Linens.

Marie Kondo recommends a ridiculously low number of towels per person.

Minimalism with kids is a whole different ballgame. One of my biggest regrets in minimalism is giving away/throwing away extra towels and blankets simply because we “had too many” or they were worn out.

Unless you have more than four towels a person, if you have little kids, keep what you have.

I seriously missed them when our entire family got hit with the stomach bug. Yuck.

If the extras really bother you, move them to deep storage to clear up space wherever you store your towels.

If your towels are musty and you just can’t seem to get the smell out, I used this solution to totally remove the smell from ours.

Declutter the Bath Toys

We used to have so many bath toys. It was overwhelming and made the tub so difficult to clean.

Also, unbeknownst to me, the toys with holes were filled with mold. I couldn’t believe I let my kids play with moldy bath toys!

I got rid of every single one and purchased just one set of bath toys. We have had the same set ever since, and it’s all the kids need. They store easily under our bathroom sink.

We occasionally run the bath toys through the dishwasher to clean and desanitize them.

Evaluate and organize your storage space.

Do NOT run to the Container Store before you figure out exactly what you need.

Group like items. Figure out a way to fit them in your space that enables you to see and access everything without shuffling tens of items out of the way.

Once you know how you want to organize your bathroom and/or linen closet, shop your house first. Think creatively. Shoe boxes, old clementine boxes, empty diaper boxes: all of these can be used in closets with closed doors.

Consider storing extra items separately. For example, I have one first aid kit. All of the extra bandaids, ointments, and medications are stored in a separate, lidded container.

Decluttering: Next Steps

By this time, you should be done. Everything should have a place, and your bathroom should feel a whole lot better.

As moms, we spend so much time in the bathroom, don’t we?

Between potty training, baths, and hand-washing, you really should enjoy the room you spend so much time in. Hopefully, now you can!

Why am I so passionate about decluttering? I’m passionate about it because it gave me back my time. 

I use that extra time to homeschool and to earn extra money blogging, which is helping our family make ends meet and get out of debt. What could you do with your time if you didn’t need to spend it cleaning and organizing and searching for things you need that are buried by everything you don’t?

Photo Credit: Hilary at Pulling Curls (The Organized Home)

Do you need someone to teach you step by step how to declutter and organize the rest of your house?

Hilary at Pulling Curls created The Organized Home to do just that. She’s a pro at breaking down organizing and decluttering into bite-sized, baby steps to help even the most disorganized person get their house in order!

This course is for you if:

  • You’re not a naturally organized person. When an organized person share their tips, they sound like Greek to you.
  • You spend the majority of your free time cleaning up the house. You never get a break, and you’re just sick and tired of it.
  • You need someone to walk you through figuring out organizational systems that work FOR YOU (not your mom, or your sister: YOU).

The Organized Home will walk you through the entire decluttering and organization process, step-by-step.

If the list above sounds like you, you need this course.

  • Stop pulling your hair out because you can’t find what you need, when you need it.
  • Stop spending all your free time cleaning up (because that free time is yours, mama).
  • Be able to have people over without freaking out.

Decluttering changed my life. It could change yours, too.

Stop waiting. Declutter. Get organized. You won’t regret it!

The best place to start decluttering when you don't know where to start.

Declutter this room first and get the motivation you need to declutter the rest of the house!

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