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8 Decluttering Secrets from the Pros

We asked decluttering experts to share their secrets for starting fresh in the New Year.


The holidays were wonderful … but now you’re left with decorations, lights, special-occasion dishes and new gifts scattered around the house. Eventually, once the family has gone home, you’ll have to restore a sense of order.

But instead of seeing it as a chore, use the New Year as a chance to start afresh and transform your home (and your mind) into an oasis of calm. We asked some professional decluttering experts for their top tips to help get you started.

1. Begin in the Bathroom

“Start with your bathroom – avoiding the sentimental stuff will help you clear away the clutter faster. Throw away any products that didn’t work for you. Most beauty products only last six to 12 months after opening – see the open-lid symbol on the container. Just keep what you use daily or will use in the next month, and get rid of the rest.” —Sarah Bickers, Free Your Space

2. Be Realistic About Your Post-holiday Kitchen

“During the holidays we’re more likely to use some of our more obscure kitchen gadgets. But during the aftermath, take a little time to take a realistic assessment of which items get regular use. Do you really need three cheese boards, and how often do you use your pasta machine? Completely empty the kitchen cabinets and give everything a good clean. Then group items into categories: dry goods, electrical items, plastic storage containers and so on. Discard duplicates and out-of-date items as you go. If you haven’t used any gadgets within the past two years, it’s unlikely you’ll use them again, so donate them to charity and earn yourself some valuable cupboard space.” —Nicki Munns, All Organised

Tip: When decluttering your kitchen, remember that Dawn Ultra Dish Soap mixed with warm water is great for wiping down cabinets inside and out! Get the complete guide here.

3. Clean as You Clear

Whether we’re decluttering bookshelves, kitchen cabinets or closets, clearing out tends to disturb a lot of dust. When you’re finished with a room and have put everything away, give the floor a good clean with the aid of a Swiffer WetJet to make light work of dirty floors, and then stand back and admire your hard work. Seeing the transformation will help motivate you to tackle other parts of the house, too.

4. Use it NOW

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“Integrate the presents you’ve received this holiday. If you love the gift, use it right away. Put that extravagant soap in your bathroom, and enjoy it every day. Things that are saved for a special occasion often gather dust or slip past their expiration date. If the gift simply isn’t ‘you,’ honor the generosity behind the gesture, and then find a new home for the item by regifting or donating to a charity shop so it can find its way to someone who will love it. We often hold on to things we don’t want out of guilt or obligation, but would the giver of the gift want you to feel that way? I’m guessing not.” —Claire de Boursac, The Art of Clearing

5. Make a Date of It

“Grab your planner and book a decluttering date with yourself. If you have a lot of stuff, make it a whole weekend – or even a decluttering week. Once you’ve set the time aside, don’t let anything else take that slot. Treat it the same way you would a detox or retreat. Turn off your phone and ignore social media. Then get into action. Once you get into the flow of cleaning, you’ll achieve the best results if you don’t have to keep stopping to do other things. I recommend doing an intensive declutter and then moving on with your life. One of the biggest challenges to decluttering is procrastination, so making yourself accountable to your commitment is the key to success.” Helen Sanderson, decluttering consultant

6. Out with the Old

“Apply the one in, one out rule. This can be used anywhere in your home, but an easy way to start the process is by picking objects that don’t have much sentimental value. Have you received a new scarf, socks or gloves over the holidays? Then collect all your odd or threadbare socks or winter accessories and jettison them to allow room for the new ones. Simply get rid of old things to make way for the new.” —Sally Walford, Declutter Me

7. Control the Clutter

“Before you hit the post-holiday sales, take time to write a list – otherwise it’s all too easy to grab lots of bargains that will just create more clutter in your home. Instead, look for items that you really need and that will make a huge difference to you. Some of the most useful things are replacement holiday decorations, wrapping paper and cards, so you can be ready for next year – often at less than half price. Gift sets that haven’t been sold over the holidays also make great birthday presents throghout the year, so buying now can save you money.” —Chrissy Halton, Organise My House

8. Shift Your Focus

“Don’t think of decluttering as ‘getting rid of stuff’; focus instead on creating order, space and clarity. Start somewhere that will make a difference but not challenge you too much emotionally. Hallways are a great place to begin because they make a first impression. Or try starting in your bedroom, because clutter affects the quality of your sleep and addressing that will help boost your energy, mood and motivation.”Juliet Landau-Pope, decluttering expert

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Tip: As you finish decluttering each room, remember to spray Febreze FABRIC on couches, comforters and curtains to freshen them up and clean away odours. Then maintain that fresh smell throughout your home by spraying Febreze AIR in each room at least once a week.

What’s your best decluttering tip for the New Year? Share your advice below to help clear the mess.

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