How to declutter your house in one day: The 15-step system

by Anousheh

Sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures. Maybe you have to move quickly and want to downsize before that. Or you’re preparing for guests you currently don’t have any room for because of all the clutter.

Or maybe you’re just finally fed up with all the stuff taking over your house and want to change that NOW. Either way, decluttering your house in one day is a huge task that needs good planning if you want it to be successful.

We want to be as efficient as possible with as little time as possible. And since you’re probably short on time if you’re reading this, let’s get right to it. In this post, I will show you how to declutter your house in one day with 15 effective, yet manageable steps. And I also have a little goodie waiting for you, so stay tuned.

How to declutter your house in one day

How to declutter your house in one day

1. Set some ground rules in the beginning

Now, an effective declutter calls for preparation. So before you start actually decluttering, you need to set yourself some ground rules. Figure out what your end goal is. Do you want your house to look less cluttered? Do you need to get rid of as much stuff as possible before a move? Or do you just feel overwhelmed knowing about all those piles of stuff in cabinets and closets you never use?

Either way, you need to know why you’re doing this. Because your process will be based on your end goal. If you need to significantly downsize, you also need to be ruthless. Setting yourself some rules before you get started gets you in the right mindset. Some examples for those rules could be:

  • If I didn’t use it in the past 12 months, it goes.
  • If I forgot I have this, it can be tossed.
  • If I’m only keeping this for a “just in case” scenario, and I can easily replace it if I need it again, I can get rid of it.

Using these rules will help you stay on track while you are in the process of decluttering and will help you reach the actual end goal you are going for.

2. Come prepared

You’re trying to find out how to declutter your house in one day, so time is a rare good here. In order for you to get as much done as possible on that day, you need to come prepared. Even though you don’t need much to declutter, a few things make the process easier and way faster.

We are going to be working in categories (more on that later), and it’s best to have a basket, bag, or box for each category. You don’t necessarily need a box for the things you want to keep, but you should have a container for the rest.

I would always advise working with at least 3 boxes/bags: Sell, donate, trash. I personally also divide the trash into categories, depending on what I’m decluttering. For example, if it’s the office, I’ll have one for paper and one for plastic trash. This will make it so much easier for you to get rid of all the things you have decluttered and recycle the trash accordingly.

A plan for how you want to go about can also be useful during decluttering since you only have to follow the plan you already carved out. And again, since you’re probably short on time, I have already done the work for you!

You can grab this checklist with the most common areas and categories and you can add specific ones that might not be on there. Estimate how long you will take for that category and plan your day according to that.

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3. Plan out the day and set yourself time limits

Planner on desk

And along with that note, that’s exactly what you should do: Plan out the day. If you want to figure out how to declutter your house in one day, you need to make sure you stay on track.

The best way to do this is to break down your house into categories and estimate how long you will need for each category. According to that, you can structure your day and know when to start and how long it should take. You can use my printable checklist for that.

I also want you to (roughly) stick to those time limits. One of the most common obstacles when decluttering is getting distracted. I definitely have decluttered my CDs before and ended up looking for every single one on Spotify. I was basically listening to music for 5 hours in the end, with little decluttering that has been done.

But we only have a day here, so let’s not do that (even though it was pretty fun, not gonna lie). Set a timer and move on once the timer goes off. This will assure that you get to everything you planned, even if it’s not as thorough as it could have been.

4. Work with categories, not strictly with rooms

I know the natural way to go about decluttering is to work through each room. But actually, it’s not the most efficient. A better way is to work with categories. This could be “clothes”, “paperwork”, “electronics” and so on.

Why? Because often, we have things from the same category in different rooms. Thus, if you were to move from room to room, you wouldn’t really get a good overview of all the items you own.

Let’s take electronics, for example. I have electronics in possibly every room in my house. And this could easily lead to me owning the same type of chord 10 times because I simply forgot I already have one in that other box.

Going through all of the items of one family at once makes it easy for you to see what you own quickly, and therefore make quick decisions on what you need and what you don’t.

Think of your belongings as a whole, not just with what’s sitting in that room. Don’t move on to another category or another room until you’re done with the one you have been decluttering. We want to stay really focused here.

5. Figure out what you want to do with your stuff before you start

person going through a pile of clothes

I hope you got your baskets ready! The next step in the system on how to declutter your house in one day is deciding what to do with the things we get rid of. And yes, we are doing that now, and not after we decluttered.

Why? Can’t you just deal with the clutter later? To put it simply: No, because that would double your work. If you just start decluttering and make a huge pile of the stuff you want to get rid of, you’re going to have to go through all of that again, only to decide what to do with it.

That’s why you should plan ahead. Do you want to donate, or rather sell? Maybe you want to do both. Some things are still just going to be trash. Decide and sort your stuff accordingly while you are decluttering, not after (that’s where the baskets come in)!

If you need help with that, especially when it comes to clothes, check out my post on how to get rid of old clothes.

6. Create a distraction-free zone and stay focused

Decluttering can sometimes get a bit overwhelming or dull. That’s why the risk of getting side-tracked is pretty high. So a good way how to declutter your house in one day is to create an environment with as little distraction as possible.

Put your phone on airplane mode. Tell everyone else in your house what you have planned so they don’t get in your way. Turn the TV off if you think it could get you distracted.

Whatever distracts you easily, make sure you won’t let it get you side-tracked from your task.

7. Get some help

two people holding hands

If you’re trying to declutter your whole house in just one day, you might want to ask for some help to get the process done faster.

And this doesn’t have to be someone who will help you make decisions while decluttering (and actually it shouldn’t be in most cases). It’s your stuff, so you have to decide what to do with it. But there are many things you can delegate during the process.

Ask someone to help you sort your stuff into piles, take out the trash, take pictures of the stuff you want to sell, and so on. If you can focus on decluttering only and get someone to help you with all the rest, you will get a lot further with one day.

8. Take everything out

This is one of the “Marie Kondo amendments”, and I totally agree. If you’re trying to be quick when decluttering, you need to take all your stuff out and spread it out in front of you. If you’re looking for ways how to declutter your house in one day, you need to work fast-paced.

Taking everything out will give you a quick overview of everything you own. Now you can quickly decide what you need and what you don’t.

9. Start with the least messy room

minimal kitchen

Okay, decluttering a whole house in one day is quite the challenge. So we need a quick win for motivation.

That’s why you should start with the easiest part, which is the room that needs the least attention. Move quickly and get rid of all the access stuff. This should be pretty quick and will give you an immediate result.

This immediate feedback will give you loads of motivation to keep going. I share some more tips on this in my post about 16 life-changing minimalist tips.

10. Have fun with it!

Figuring out how to declutter your house is mostly about good planning and quick decisions. But nobody said you can’t have fun with it!

So blast some music, put on your favorite podcast, and enjoy the process as much as possible (quick dance sessions allowed!!). Having as much fun as possible will make you least likely to take too many breaks.

11. Check off what you’ve already done

And since we’re talking about immediate satisfaction, a great way to track your progress is with a checklist. If you followed the first few steps, you have planned out your process already.

So while you’re moving along, check off the categories you have already decluttered. You could also set little rewards for each step (that don’t take up much time).

I already prepared you a checklist you can follow along with, so grab it, print it and get started!

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12. Pace up your decisions by asking yourself questions

This post is about how to declutter your house in one day, so speed is of big importance here. You want to make quick decisions and don’t get held up by thinking about one item for too long.

An easy way to pace up your decision-making is by asking yourself the right questions. Instead of always asking yourself “Should I keep this?”, ask yourself some of these questions:

  • When was the last time I used this?
  • Do own something that serves the same purpose?
  • Do I enjoy using this?
  • If this would break right now, would I buy it again?

13. Leave the cleaning and organizing for later

cleaning products

If you want to move along quickly, you need to focus on the task at hand before moving on to the next step. That’s why I want you to declutter and declutter only before thinking about cleaning and organizing your stuff.

Decluttering and making all those decisions can wear you out, so you need to do this step while you’re the least tired. You can clean everything later and put away all the stuff you decided to keep. But the decluttering comes first.

14. Use a “maybe” pile

Now I have to say something first. I’m not a fan of the “maybe” pile. In my opinion, if it’s not a clear yes, it’s a no.

But when you’re trying to figure out how to declutter your house in one day, you need to be quick with your decisions, and that can be quite the pressure. Using a “maybe” pile takes off that pressure. So if you’re having trouble with all the decisions, get yourself an extra basket for everything you can’t decide on yet.

But try to limit yourself by only allowing yourself one basket or one bag. Once that’s full, there’s no room for any more maybes. Otherwise “no’s” will be turning into “maybe’s” really quickly.

There are different ways to deal with your maybe pile. Either go through it again in the end or revisit later (which is what I would recommend). Put the basket in your basement or somewhere you can’t see it. If you need something from the basket within the next couple of months, take it out.

However, set yourself a deadline for the maybe box. After that deadline, if you didn’t need anything from your maybe’s, they will go. No going through them again. If you didn’t need it or miss it within the last couple of months, you shouldn’t keep it.

15. Assign a home to everything you keep

open kitchen cupboard with cups

This will be your last step in how to declutter your house in one day. You don’t want to do this again, so make sure your efforts last. The best way to do assure that your house doesn’t clutter up again within the next few weeks is to assign a home to everything you own and keep.

If everything has a designated place to live, tidying becomes incredibly easy. You’re making a decision once, and from there on you don’t have to think about where to put that item ever again. And the bonus effect: Most of the time this will actually lead to putting things right back where they belong after using them.

Let’s recap!

Finding out how to declutter your house in one day can be quite challenging and overwhelming. The two most important things to remember are: plan ahead and make quick decisions. You can leave the deep purging and sentimental items for another time when you have more time.

Grab this checklist to make planning ahead super easy and get started now!

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Do you need some ideas for a really quick declutter? Check out this post on 37 things to get rid of within 30 minutes.

Ready to really get into decluttering your place? Join the 30-day decluttering challenge!

What are your best tips on how to declutter your house in one day? Share it in the comments below!

Want to save this post for the next time you need a quick decluttering system? Pin it to your Decluttering Board!

How to declutter your whole house in just one day

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