If you’re wrestling with mess at home, this plan broken into bite-sized chunks will help you stick to your New Year’s resolutionsHow to declutter your home and keep it permanently tidy in 2022
Most of us will be using the beginning of 2022 to make a fresh start. New Year’s resolutions often include eating less meat, being more eco-friendly or even exercising more – but perhaps you might instead consider some reorganisation.
‘Decluttering is my therapy,’ says Vicky Silverthorn, a professional organiser who has worked with celebrities including Lily Allen. ‘There’s an enormous connection between having an orderly home and letting go of stress.’
There is science to back it up, too: a study published in the journal Current Psychology in 2019 found that clutter increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, while a separate study by Harvard University found that those with tidy workspaces were more productive.
But Silverthorn says ‘people still need a little nudge’. With that in mind, here is a two-week guide to decluttering your house, in easy, bite-sized chunks, which fit around work and childcare commitments.
How to declutter your home
Morning: start with your sock drawer
Yes, you want everything to be spick and span, but, Silverthorn says, don’t be too ambitious at the beginning. ‘You’ll only lose heart halfway through,’ she explains. ‘Instead, I always recommend starting with your sock drawer because it’s a small, achievable goal. Begin by removing everything, then categorise, discard what isn’t needed and put the things you use most at the front and the less-used at the back. This is really how you’ll go on to approach everything else in your house, in micro form.’
Day 2, 3, 4
Afternoons: go shopping in your wardrobe
While you’re on a high from your sock-drawer success, it’s time to tackle your wardrobe. Take everything out and find somewhere you can dump it (the spare room is good for this, if you have one), then spend the next few afternoons sorting through.Advertisementhttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.494.0_en.html#goog_1011868417Advertisement : 13 sec
Charlie Collins, founder of Creative Wardrobe, suggests creating 10 action cards by writing: Love, Think, Restyle, Sell, Donate, Chuck, Fix, Store, Swap and Rent on separate pieces of A4 paper. Next, she says, ‘Find a sorting spot where you have space to create piles. Work through your wardrobe, starting with “Love”, then move through the rest of your action cards until you have 10 piles. Review the items in “Think”, have a go at styling them in different ways and see if you can fall in love with them all over again. If not, add them to the “Sell”, “Donate” or “Chuck” piles.’
Bag up clothes destined for the charity shop (keep them in the spare room or stash them in the car boot), set time aside to fix those that need mending (or bag them up to take them to a tailor in the near future), and as for things you want to sell, Collins suggests posting them on Instagram.
Afternoon: group bathroom products
We’re all guilty of having too many products in our cabinets. Beauty expert Alison Young suggests starting by throwing away anything out of date or that you don’t use, then grouping the rest into categories, such as face creams, body lotions, etc. She also suggests rewarding yourself at the end of the task by using your ‘fancy products’ for an at-home treatment. ‘You could even invite friends and have a pamper party.’
Day 6 & 7
Evening: organise photos
We’ve all got too many photos on our phones, which we want arranged in neat albums. Now is the time to do it. First, go through your camera roll and delete duplicates. Then create folders, such as ‘Holidays’ or ‘Birthdays’, and file them. From there you can plan photo books using an app (try Cewe Photoworld). Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy the trip down memory lane.
Morning: declutter the utensil drawer
Start week two by tackling the kitchen. Just like in the bedroom, you can start small, beginning with the utensil drawer. ‘Tip all your kitchen utensils into a box for the rest of the month, and only put the ones you use back into the drawer,’ suggests interior designer Vanessa Arbuthnott.
Afternoon: itemise the store cupboard
‘Check sell-by dates and organise your food cupboards with things going out of date soonest at the front,’ Silverthorn says. Food writer Rosie Birkett invested in plastic storage tubs for dried goods such as pasta, rice and flour: ‘It means that I don’t have half-packets hanging around and I know what I need to buy at a glance.’
Morning: tackle the fridge
Take the same approach as you used for your store cupboard. Take everything out and give the fridge a good clean, chuck anything inedible and rearrange what’s left in categories.
Afternoon: food and drink containers
‘I did a kitchen declutter with a couple whose cupboards were overflowing,’ says organiser Sue Spencer. ‘When we emptied everything out of the cupboards, we found 15 branded water or thermos bottles. They had no idea they had so many and only actually used one each, so we recycled the rest.’ The same goes for Tupperware or other plastic tubs – match up containers with lids, and if you can’t find the lid, get rid of it.
Top tip: Get the kids to help. The best way to get children involved is to explain what you’re doing – especially if they are quite young. ‘Talk through how tidying up (like they do at school) is part of the playtime routine,’ Spencer says. If you’re throwing away their stuff, it’s only fair to let them help, adds Silverthorn. But she suggests starting in advance, so that you can present them with a box of 10 to 12 things in it that the child can sort through. Personalised baskets from homeware store Edit58 might help inspire them to keep their things in order.
Try to tackle the paperwork. ‘Separate all your mail and papers into three categories: “Recycle”, “To do” and “File”,’ say organisers Joanna Teplin and Clea Shearer of The Home Edit (whose book The Home Edit is full of useful tips). ‘Items such as paper files, kids’ artwork and home manuals can be scanned and stored digitally, which cuts down on clutter and makes them a lot easier to access.
Coffee break: streamline the hallway
‘Collect all the coats in the house and decide which you love and which don’t fit or you don’t want, then repeat for the shoes and bags,’ Spencer says. Take the ones you rarely wear upstairs, store others and bag up the unwanted ones. ‘The aim is to limit what you keep in the hallway to the things you use regularly.
Afternoon: edit your library
Yes, we all love books. ‘But you shouldn’t think of them as a whole category,’ Silverthorn advises. ‘A trashy airport novel doesn’t have the importance of a classic, so weed those out.’ Box up what you really won’t read again to donate, and spend a bit of time arranging what’s left on the shelf (search ‘shelfie’ on Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration).
This article is kept updated with latest advice.