Let’s talk about some clutter problems and solutions to help fix them in your home.
Are you clutter blind?
Hmmm, not sure what that means? Let me explain.
There is a commercial from Febreze that shows two boys in a room that obviously smells of sweaty socks, (you know this from the picture of socks all over the room) yet the boys do not notice it. The commercial says they have become “nose blind” meaning they are so used to the smell that they no longer notice it.
I think this can be also true with our things.
We can become so used to the piles and the stuff that we become clutter blind. We simply stop noticing the things that are lying about.
And that might just be the worst part of it. The visual clutter. The pile of papers on the coffee table, the huge stack of vitamins on the kitchen counter, the dirty dishes in the sink, the clothes heaped in a laundry basket in the family room waiting to be folded. The toys that are everywhere, the water bottles, the shopping bags, the empty bags….I could on and on and on.
And if you were to walk into your home as a guest what would you think? Would you be comfortable or put off? would you be anxious or uncomfortable? Yes, maybe looking at our rooms through the eyes of a guest might be the most eye-opening exercise you can do. It removes the complacency and brings forth the realness of it all. The first time I did this, back when I was still in my clutter-bug heyday I was in complete denial. It actually took a few times doing this for me to see just how bad our house was. And that is when I realized by keeping my house in this chaotic state it was not only bad for me but also for my boys, my husband, and yes my nonexistent guests. Because seriously, who wants to invite people into a house that looks like a hurricane just came through it?
But listen, this is not why we are here. We are looking for solutions and that is what we are going to give you.
Annoying Clutter Problems and Simple Solutions You Can Do Today
Clutter Problem #1 Makeup
I never realized that makeup expired, did you? For some reason, I always felt if it is not food it would last for just as long as I needed it to. Funny thing, makeup actually does expire and, get this, whether it is opened or not.
I know, right?!
Makeup has a shelf life of 3 years and it is recommended that you replace any items older than that. To be sure this gets done routinely I like to clean out my makeup in March. That month is my cue that spring is coming and I actually enjoy tossing the old and getting ready to start using the new. You can, of course, do this at any time but a tip for you is to set a reminder on your calendar so you create a routine that will keep your makeup organized and fresh.
Clutter Problem #2. Collections that are Taking Over
I love books and tend to have a pretty large collection but if I don’t keep an eye on things that collection can quickly get out of control and spread out all over my home. To keep things in check I have a one in one out rule. If I am short of room for anything in my home and I see I am getting close to keeping more than what is healthy, I will make a one in one out rule.
The deal is this. I cannot bring anything new until I remove the same amount.
This rule of thumb works amazingly well, not only with collections but also with clothing. Let’s face it our closets usually hold much more than they were intended to. With the one in one out rule, you can be sure it will never get any worse than it is now. Use this as your temporary plan until you are able to get in and remove the things you no longer love.
Clutter Problem #3. Too Many Clothes in the Closet
Speaking of closets, maybe getting rid of clothes is easier said than done. If that sounds true, then this trick will help you immensely. The next time you are in your closet, take all of the hangers and turn them around so they are on the rod backward. Each time you wear an item and put it back, you can then correct the hanger to the right position.
At the end of a month, any hangers that are still on the rod backward can, in theory, be donated or at the very least packed away. This simple clutter solution will make you more aware of what you wear often and what you are not wearing at all.
Clutter Problem #4. Uncoroporative Family
When my boys were still living at home, they had this amazing talent for turning a room upside down in just minutes. And for the longest time, I would clean up after them. Putting things away soon became an all-day job and really, what busy mom has time for that? I set to work placing baskets in each room in the hopes they would at least toss their junk in there to help me out. When I would ask the kids (and hubby too) to pick up they would ignore every single one of those baskets. I soon realized, they were simply too small for their eyes to see. I decided to give a much bigger basket a try and just like magic it worked.
The big basket was easy to see, easy to use, and easy to toss in random things as they left the room.
D/S PRO TIP: Labels! Big and bright will not only help you but everyone in your home knows what goes where. Hopefully, this will help make it easier to keep up with new organizing setups until they become second nature.
Clutter Problem #5. Paper Paper Everywhere
There is nothing more frustrating than paper clutter. Let’s face it, it’s the unwanted gift that keeps on giving. With mail coming in every single day like clockwork not to mention school papers and work papers and don’t even get me started on shopping inserts and the newspaper. It can quickly add up and make a mess of things. To solve this clutter problem you can simply put a paper-sized basket right where you and your family usually toss these items. A paper basket, as I like to call it, will keep the mess all contained in one spot so you can then go through it after dinner and deal with everything inside without stressing out.
Clutter Problem #6. Food
One of the biggest negative side effects of clutter is the money that is lost. And this can happen in the kitchen more than any other room in our homes. How many times have you come home from the grocery store and as you unpacking the food, you soon discovered you bought things you actually did not need. How many times have you found expired food in your pantry or refrigerator? How many times were you forced to toss freezer-burned food in the trash from your freezer?
Yes, I am sure this has happened to all of us at one point or another, but if it is happening routinely then you may want to do a bit of organizing in your main food areas.
I like to use sturdy food bins to sort things out in our pantry and solid bins to sort things out in our refrigerator. You can sort things either by food themes such as Italian or Asian or you can sort by food types such as soup, baking, or snacks.
D/M PRO TIP: Set aside a shelf in your refrigerator for leftovers only. Date each leftover container with a “use by” date. This will not only remind you what needs to be used up before it goes to waste but it will also let your family know what may be a bit too old to eat. Like a hungry teenager that will eat anything that is not breathing.
Clutter Problem #7. Toys
Now, I am not just talking toys from kids here, although that is a major clutter problem in some homes, I am also talking pet toys, husband toys, and our toys. Toys, in general, can quickly take over a room, and if we want to keep that from happening we will need a bit of help. Let’s break these problems down one at a time and give a quick solution for each.
Kid’s Toys – Have a sturdy bin that is size appropriate in each room. Use this to toss in any stray toys and encourage your children and grandchildren to do the same. Once a week you can unload things (declutter and toss anything that is broken when you do) and start fresh the following week.
Pet Toys – Have a low pet basket to hold all your pet’s toys. Keep it low so your pet can grab things to play with or chew on whenever they want. Sorry, I have no tips for how to teach Rover to put away his things when he is done playing with them but the basket will make it easier for you to delegate this chore to a younger family member.
Our Toys – If you like to read, you can create a reading bag to hold books, magazines, and journals. This makes it so easy to take things with you when you go. If you like to sew a large tote can be used to hold a current project and any supplies you may need when working on it.
Our Husband’s toys – I have tried many times to “encourage” my husband to keep his things picked up. I finally gave him his own area in each room to keep as he likes. A spot in the family with his own end table holds an organizer for all his things. An organizer on his nightstand helps to keep his pocket clutter contained more easily. And a garage to put all the other stuff that he likes to use for working and tinkering. When our spouse has his own spot he tends to keep things more clutter-free.
Clutter Problem #8. Clothes
Clothes can be one of those things that clutter up a room when they are dirty and also when they are clean. First, let’s tackle the dirty.
I don’t know what it is about kids and their socks but I used to find them everywhere in our home. On the floor, in the couch cushions, even on the kitchen table of all places, and after a while, I got pretty tired of picking things up all the time. I decided to put laundry baskets in as many places as I had room for. I put one in the bathroom, one in the linen closet, one in each of my boy’s bedrooms, and yes, one in the family room. Small laundry baskets that took up very little space but solved a pretty large problem.
Clean clothes can also be a clutter issue but this has more to do with timing and not so much clutter. If you have laundry that tends to sit in a basket waiting to be folded for much longer than it took to clean it, then you may need to do a bit of delegating.
Wash kid’s clothes by the basket, using the previous tip, all in one load. Once cleaned put them back into the basket and return it to their appropriate room. Let each child know they are now in charge of folding and putting away their own clothing from now on. This will at least take away some of this chore making it a bit easier for you to keep up with.
Over the years as I have learned how to deal with our family’s clutter it has become easier to stop a clutter problem before it gets out of hand. Knowing your clutter problems and solutions on how to fix them will help you get one step closer to creating a home you love.