Let’s get the clutter out of our homes, starting with decluttering the kitchen and garage!
Welcome to the very first week of the Simple Declutter Challenge! This week we will be decluttering the kitchen and garage. My hope is you find this 28 day challenge super helpful in ridding your home of excess clutter. Here’s working towards a peaceful and relaxing home for our families!
Now since this is the first week, there’s a ton of information packed into this first post. Hopefully you find it all helpful and not overwhelming. Remember, we are doing this just one day at a time.
Let’s Get This Simple Declutter Challenge Started!
First, things first. If you happened to miss the introduction to the Simple Declutter Challenge, you will find it here. And if you haven’t downloaded and printed the Simple Declutter Challenge calendar, I suggest you do so now.
If you can mark tasks completed on the calendar as we go through the challenge, you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment and hopefully stay more motivated to complete the entire 28 days of tasks.
Start By Gathering A Few Tools
Before you actually start decluttering, you will need a few items to help you. Grab a cardboard box (or two), a couple of large trash bags, a large basket and a timer. The boxes are for items you want to donate. The trash bags are for anything you want to throw out. And the basket is for items that don’t belong in this room and need to be moved to a new location. Your goal is to stay in the one location you are decluttering and stay focused on this space, uninterrupted, for as long as you can.
Once you’re ready to start decluttering, set the timer and work in a systematic pattern moving quickly to see what clutter you can remove from the space. Now, you may be thinking: a timer? And I have to move quickly? Yes to both and here’s why. Putting a timer on, creates a little bit of urgency and will help you make a gut decision rather than debating with yourself whether or not you really need the item. If you don’t immediately say “I use this” or “I love this”, it can go. Spending time thinking about that “just in case” situation when you may or may not need it, is not helping you!
Next, Ask Yourself A Few Questions
As you’re quickly sorting through items in your home, you may come across something and not know what to do with it. So here are a few questions to keep in mind and ask yourself. This will help you make a decision faster and keep you on task with decluttering!
Do I use it? If yes, move on to next question. If no, there’s your answer. (And no, the question is not ‘WILL I USE THIS ONE DAY’.) 😉
Do I have more than one? If no, move on to next question. If yes, extra items are just that – extra. Donate for others!
Would I buy this today? If yes, move on to next question. If no, there’s your answer. Maybe your style has changed. So if you don’t love it, you don’t need it. Donate or trash.
Does this help to make my life easier? If yes, keep it. If no, then most likely this item is adding to the clutter in your life. Donate or trash.
So now the details of what you need and how to declutter are out of the way. Let’s start actually removing the clutter from our homes, starting in my favorite room – the kitchen.
Let’s Start Decluttering the Kitchen
The kitchen is usually used more than any other room in the house, and if you cook on an even semi-regular basis, there’s a lot of stuff stored in it. Dishes, cookware, utensils, small appliances, food, spices and more are competing for space in your kitchen. So there are many places where clutter can build up, like kitchen drawers, cabinets, and countertops. Let us take back the space in a few days of work and make cooking less stressful!
DAY 1: Today we will declutter kitchen drawers and appliances.
Drawers can hide the best clutter. You know, that dark area way in the back. So today we are going to dive into those kitchen drawers and get them decluttered in no time!
Tips to Keep in Mind:
For the drawers, start by removing the clutter first. So grab your supplies and quickly remove any items that can be donated, trashed or moved to correct location. Then start to divide your kitchen into zones. Like the cooking zone, spices zone, baking zone, etc. After you have your zones, group ‘like with like’ and then assign those items to a drawer.
For the appliances, if you only use the food dehydrator or deep fryer once a year, you should donate. (I have a bread machine that is getting donated because I’ve used it twice in 15 years!) When sorting through all your small appliances, only keep what you really use. If you’re not sure what to keep, pick appliances that have multiple functions.
Organizing Tip for Kitchen Drawers:
How many minutes are lost every week looking for essentials in your kitchen drawers? Drawer dividers and trays can neatly store the things you use most often like cutlery and cooking utensils. So when everything is in its own area, you can reach for it instantly. And since you can see everything at a glance, you’ll always know when you’re running out of an item too!
Drawer dividers and organizers to consider: (click on image to shop)
DAY 2: Today we will declutter the kitchen cabinets.
Those kitchen cabinets can get messy fast. So today we are gonna get them in order. As you are systematically and quickly removing clutter from your cabinets, I want you to keep these five cabinet cluttering offenders in mind: promotional water bottles (so many!), extra mugs, mismatched food containers, chipped cups and dishes. Donate or trash these items and then be amazed on how much kitchen storage you just found in our cabinets!
Tips to Keep in Mind:
As you start to restock and reorganize your kitchen cabinets, remember your kitchen zones. Keep all your pots and pan in one cabinet, glassware baking dishes in another, etc. Ideally, you want heavier items stored in your bottom cabinets. (Like those super heavy casserole dishes!) And every day dinner dishes should be stored in cabinets closest to the dishwasher.
If you need to use cabinets for a pantry (like me!) use a double door cabinet (if at all possible). This way you can see most of your food items as once. And remember, oldest food is stored in the front of the cabinet and newest items in back. 🙂
Organizing Tip for Kitchen Cabinets:
Some kitchen cabinets can be trickier than others to organize and keep clutter-free. Especially if you have those corner cabinets with their deep, hard to reach shelves. So, inexpensive baskets and turntables can be your best friend in these tight spots.
Kitchen cabinet organizers that work wonders: (click on image to shop)
DAY 3: Today we will declutter the kitchen counter and fridge.
Kitchen counters seem to be clutter magnets! Am I right? Everyone drops everything on them as soon as they walk in the door. And then it just stays there and more eventually piles on until you look around and you’re like, ‘What the heck happened here?!’ So today we are gonna take our kitchen counters back!
The fridge is another area where things are often get over looked and pile up. And when we rediscover them – it’s nasty! So before you go weekend shopping for groceries, let’s get the fridge cleaned up!
Tips to Keep in Mind:
For the counters, start by clearing everything off except for 3-5 essential items, such as a coffee maker or knife block. You can put the clutter on the kitchen table or floor, but get it off the counter to start. Then put away or find a new home for everything you cleared off the counter. If you’re left with a lot of papers or junk mail, either trash them or move important items to your office. This should only take you a few minutes to complete but the reward will be great! 🙂
For the fridge, remove everything shelf by shelf and clean. This step will let you know immediately your inventory, what needs to be thrown away and anything you don’t absolutely need. As you put things back, refer to my best fridge organization tips post (click here) and learn where is the best place to store certain food items. I also suggest you have a food ‘throw away day’ once a week to keep the fridge free of leftover clutter. Either eat the leftovers (if still good 🙂 ) or toss ’em out!
Organizing Tip for Kitchen Counters:
For me, I like to keep my kitchen counters as bare as possible. Something about clean and spacious kitchen counters makes my heart happy. But having said that, I do like to keep daily items easily within reach. So I’ve found placing a kitchen counter tray with cooking essentials next to the stove is both functional and pretty!
Tray and counter essentials: (click on image to shop)
Next, Let’s Declutter The Garage
Obviously the garage was designed for keeping our vehicles out of the weather. But sometimes the garage ends up storing everything but the cars! We’ve been there! Just ask Chris who’s vehicle was often kicked out when the stuff took over. 😉
DAY 4: Today we will declutter the garage.*
From old sporting equipment and storage boxes to long-forgotten tools and rusty car parts, garages allow junk to hang around for much longer than it should. The garage is also the space where most of the items you think you might use or need one day end up. While this can be a challenging space to declutter, it’s not impossible!
*Now here in Colorado, it’s not really the ideal time to declutter. So if that’s the case with where you live as well, feel free to skip this part of the challenge and return to it in the spring. We actually did a huge declutter of our garage (like we rented a giant dumpster!) back in November before it got too cold. So I’m feeling pretty good about this area although it needs a TON of reorganizing. But that will be saved for the spring. 🙂 You’re welcome to work ahead to the office or spend a couple extra days in the kitchen.
Tips to Keep in Mind:
Decluttering expert Marie Kondo wrote: “Start by Discarding, All at Once, Intensively and Completely”. And this advice is absolute gold when it comes to the garage. If you start by removing all the obvious trash first, you will be amazed with the instant change. That’s basically all we did in November and the garage seems so much larger now!
Organizing Tip for Garage:
Don’t get distracted by trying to organize the garage here. Your #1 goal in this declutter challenge will be to rid the garage of any excess trash. If you find that trash is not your problem area as much as donating unused or unneeded items, then focus there instead.
DAY 5: Today we will declutter our vehicles.
This school year my SUV has become my second home! I’m constantly driving my boys back and forth to school. And I’ve noticed spending all this time in my car that it needs some decluttering of it’s own. After our homes, our vehicles are the second most expensive thing we will own. So keeping clutter-free just makes sense and the whole ride more enjoyable right!
Tips to Keep in Mind:
Grab all the trash first, starting in the front and working your way to the back of the vehicle. While removing trash, use the ‘donate box’ for holding items that need to go back into the vehicle once clean. Wipe everything down, don’t forget the door pockets and cup holders. Remove and shake out those mats – bonus points if you vacuum too!
Organizing Tip for Vehicles:
Since we want to keep our vehicles as clutter free as possible, I suggest using only the most helpful organizers. We love our mini vacuum that can easily be stored out of the way. We also purchased a trunk netting to keep groceries organized and to prevent them from falling out of the car upon opening the door. Otherwise the car is clean and clutter-free!
Favorite vehicle declutter and organizing items: (click on image to shop)
Now, Let’s Start Decluttering The Office
Our office area is downstairs in the basement. This is the place where the boys have their school work desks (along with computer play time) and my husband’s work desk is located here as well. Now, I will confess: these desks currently look nothing like this picture above. It’s one of the most cluttered areas in the basement right now! Ugh. So I am super excited to get this office area clutter-free.
DAY 6: Today we will declutter the office desk.
Let’s start by grabbing all our tools mentioned above (box for donations, trash bags and a basket for items that belong in another location). Remove all the trash first. Then start by evaluating office supplies based upon use. If you discover items you don’t need, this is a great time to donate to local schools!
Next, focusing on organizing the paperwork. Here’s a simple system for decluttering paperwork: (1) file, (2)take action, (3)shred, and (4)trash. This means you categorize every paper into four piles. We will set up a filing storage system on DAY 8 – so for now – begin with the four piles.
Tips to Keep in Mind:
Often the biggest clutter on our desks is office supplies. So I suggest storing them in drawers, containers, bins, and other storage options to keep your desk as bare as possible. Now that’s doesn’t mean you can’t have necessities close by. Use a desk organizer to hold a few pens and pencils, a notepad, and other items you need to be easily within reach. Just be selective on what you store on your desk to keep it clutter-free as much as possible.
Organizing Tip for Office Desk:
No need to crazy with desk organizers. Keep to the minimum needed to stay organized and clutter-free. Once you get a system in place it will be easier to maintain naturally.
Great organizing tools for the office: (click on image to shop)
DAY 7: Today we will sort through all bills, junk mail, receipts, etc.
Paper clutter – it’s the worst. Or at least I think so! It’s so hard to stop it from coming into our homes. You don’t even know how hard I wish I could stop the mail. This is no exaggeration but over 95% off the mail we receive in our mailbox is JUNK. Seriously, 5% of it is actually important or necessary. It drives me so crazy, I often don’t even go to our mailbox more than once a month. Now that may be shocking to you, but all my bills, banking, anything like that is done online. And still, the paper clutter is everywhere! So the struggle is real and hopefully we can get the paper clutter gone!
Tips to Keep in Mind:
If at all possible try to reduce your paper clutter with paperless bank statements and bills. Next, sort your junk mail, bills and receipts into piles of recycle, file or shred. Tomorrow (DAY 8) we will set up a filing storage system for your mail.
Organizing Tip for Paper Items:
If you’re gonna have mail coming in the house, my suggestion is to make it as organized as possible. Setting up a designated area for mail is super helpful – just keep the area super small – so the mail can not become to overwhelming!
Keep your paper items organized with these: (click on image to shop)
Preparing For Next Week:
Here’s what you may need for next weeks decluttering tasks as we continue with the office, living room and start looking into those closets.
We will continue to focus on the office by setting up a creative storage filing system. So just keep your eyes out for any storage system you might like to use. And if you don’t have a shredder, you might want to grab one! 🙂
So if you found this weeks tips on decluttering the kitchen and garage helpful, be sure to PIN IT so others might find them as well!