When you’ve finished decluttering, unfortunately you really haven’t finished! It’s really important to learn how to stop clutter returning, otherwise you’ll be back to the start before you know it. Hope these ideas help.
So, you’ve decluttered your entire home and are now ready to live a more simple life with not a care in the world – sounds good, right?
I’m afraid I’ve got bad news for you… although you’ve done an amazing job to get this far, the hard work isn’t over just yet.
Now it’s time to turn you attention to maintaining your newly clutter free home and work out how to stop clutter from returning.
The question of how to stop clutter returning is something I get asked a lot, and I want to show you today what my top methods are to help you keep your home clutter free and simplified for the long term.
#1 Create new habits
The fact is that your home probably ended up cluttered due to the way you and others lived in it over the time you have lived there.
You’ve created a set of habits that you do without even knowing about them each and every day, and what you do in those habits is what makes your home look like it does, whether that be neat and tidy or disorganised and cluttered.
If you don’t tend to pick things up, put things back, tidy up after yourself, clean things etc… then your home over time will start to become more and more cluttered – if, however you do do these things, then your home will naturally stay more ordered and clutter free.
Now is the time to take a look at how you live in your home, and answer honestly whether your habits are helping or hindering your new clutter free lifestyle.
It’s tackling the little habits that over time have created the clutter and changing them to prevent the clutter.
#2 Get the whole family on board
Just as you have to create new habits to stop clutter returning, so too do the rest of your family (or anyone living in your home).
The quickest way to get everyone involved is to set up a quick 10 minute tidy up at the end of each day for the family.
Set a timer and make it a race to go around the house picking things up that don’t belong in a space and returning them to where they go.
If they are reluctant to help, explain that spending 10 mins a day can prevent a huge clear up at the weekend and therefore you will have more time to spend with them on the fun stuff if they help each day.
You could even do something at the weekend that they want to do and say that it’s because of the tidying up each day that you have time to do it with them – this should be reward enough!
As the family get used to the clutter free home that you have, then you should start to see that they begin to put things away as soon as they have used them, as this in itself means less tidying at the end of the day so they are helping themselves as well as you! – and on that note let’s move to number 3…
#3 Make it easy to put things away
If you store something in an awkward place, or have to pull things out to get to them, then you are much less likely to put them back after use – and that’s where clutter can start.
If its hard to do something, you are much less likely to do it – and that goes for putting things away as well.
Instead, make it as easy as possible to put things away:-
- Kids toys can be contained in an open top box that they can simply be thrown back into each night
- Use a small basket for shoes that contains them in a small space but is easy to put them into
- Store books and DVDs etc… vertically along shelves rather than stacked in piles
- Ensure that no drawer or cupboard is stuffed so full that its hard to open without something falling out, let alone put something back in it
#4 Don’t let things into the house
Stopping things before they come into the house is key to preventing clutter returning.
Why not introduce bins in most rooms so that rubbish can be put in them straight away rather than hanging around, for example – have a bin by the front door for junk mail and envelopes etc….
Also, be careful about what you buy. Ask yourself when in the store where you will put the item when you get it home, and if you can’t think where it goes, or know that there is no room for it where you store other similar items, then that should be a sign that you shouldn’t buy it – as it will add clutter as soon as it comes into the front door.
#5 – Use a one in one out policy
If you do have to get new items, or you receive presents on your birthday/Christmas, then simply use the one in one out policy to ensure nothing gets too out of control.
For example – you have fallen for a gorgeous pair of jeans in the shop. You buy them and take them home, where you go to the place you store your jeans.
Take out one pair that you don’t want any longer and remove it from your home. (Take to charity if in good condition, if not take to a clothes recycling point).
If you stick to this policy then you should always have space for what you need, and your “stuff” shouldn’t take over anymore.
#6 Protect your surfaces!
Once one piece of paper lands on your work surface, it’s all too quickly followed by another, and before you know it, there is a pile of paper clutter leaning precariously over you every time you try and make a meal. Who wants that?
Basically – any flat surface can become a magnet for clutter unless you don’t allow it to.
Having clear surfaces in the kitchen, bathroom, living spaces and bedrooms can make polishing and cleaning so much easier and quicker, and as such it would be a great idea to check all surfaces each day (the evening is usually a good time) and take away anything that’s currently landed there during the day.
Staying on top of things by regularly checking them means that you aren’t allowing the clutter to build up and you can keep it under control.
Hope these ideas will help you when you’re next asking how to stop clutter returning into your own home.
Use any (or all!) of these tricks and you’ll soon be clutter free forever! – however I must mention maintenance here as well.
Although you don’t want clutter to return at all and you do everything to stop it, life happens and things slip through the net all too easily.
The key is to acknowledge this and deal with it – and I suggest a simple declutter session each month.
This is usually as simple as walking around the house with a couple of bags – one for rubbish, one for charity – and getting rid of anything that needs to be gone from your home. I do this and usually it takes no more than 15 minutes so it’s a quick fix but can make all the difference.
If you regularly maintain your home in this way then you won’t get back to the cluttered home you once had.