Gradual Decluttering – The Easy Way to Declutter Your Entire Home

If you are looking for an easier way to clean out the clutter and mess from your home, then today is your day. I am going to share with you my tips on Gradual Decluttering. This is the method I used to transform my messy home into one that is organized, put away, and easy to keep neat.

My very best tip on how to declutter that might just change your world.

gradual decluttering

When I first started decluttering my home, I looked at it as if it was this mountain of a project. I remember I would alert my family that the kitchen would be off-limits for the next 3 days because I was going to clean it out once and for all.

I emptied cabinets dumped out drawers made piles upon piles all over the floor. This haphazard way of cleaning out all the stuff in this one room was my feeble attempt to declutter and organize my home. The problem was that 3 days soon turned into 7 and I found myself giving up before I was even close to being done. 

piles of random stuff on a kitchen counter

I soon learned that decluttering this way only made things ten times worse than they were before. I also learned that decluttering all at once just doesn’t work for me and if I’m being honest I have yet to meet a person that it does work for.

When you clean out a room this way you are usually pulling it all out and piling it up. And sure, your cabinets may be empty but your kitchen is a hot mess. And now you are faced with this huge decision-making chore.

  • What should I get rid of?
  • What should I throw away?
  • What should I give away?
  • What should I keep?
  • Where should I put it?
hands holding up a sign that say s help

I would much rather declutter without all the fuss and fanfare. I would much rather remove the excess without breaking a sweat. I would much rather sort through all the random stuff that is taking over my entire home without even realizing I was doing it.

I know it sounds like a pipe dream but actually, it’s not.

Gradual decluttering is my favorite way to clean out the extra stuff.

And good news, it’s super easy to do. Not only that, but it’s not the least bit overwhelming, and doesn’t require cobwebs in your hair or sweat anywhere on your person.

Gradual decluttering is a simple way to clean out the excess no matter how busy or frustrated or stressed out you are.

taping shut donation boxes

What is gradual Decluttering?

Gradual decluttering is just what it sounds, it’s removing the excess in your room or your entire home gradually, a little at a time.

Rather than ripping it off the Band-Aid and forcing yourself to make a change, you may not quite be ready for, you will instead do a little at a time every single day.

Sure, it does take longer to declutter this way but I have found when you do things slowly something magical happens. You change who you are and you change how you see your things and when you do that, your home begins to take shape

When you do things slowly you change how you do things until you create new clutter-free habits to replace your clutter-bug old ones.

Those new habits will help you to keep your home clean and free of mess going forward. That makes gradual decluttering more than just a project, it’s a life and home-changing experience that will help you to turn your home into a place you love. Instead of a storage building for all your stuff.

a messy cluttered garage

Make it a habit every day of always removing the stuff from a room that is not clutter.

This could be:

  • Trash
  • Recyclables
  • Things that need to be put away.

This one step alone will make your home look much better than it is now.

basket of random things with a put away sign on the front copy

Gradual decluttering

To make things easier, let’s break it all down into smaller steps so you can work your way through them (and the clutter) without stressing out.

#1. Do the 3 Core Steps

Before you can begin gradual decluttering, you first need to find the stuff that you want to sort through.

Gather up the Trash

Take a small bag and gather up any trash in your home; just walk the rooms one by one, picking up any trash that you see as you go along. Take it up a notch and bring a second bag with you for any recyclables. Pop cans, newspaper, and empty water bottles that you find as you were walking from room to room.

Get it Gone

Take the trash out, and put the recyclables in the recycling center of your home. Do not be tempted to set it off to the side to take care of later. When you do this, you are only relocating the clutter. Make a habit of finishing up a decluttering task from now on. 

man in red plaid shirt putting black trash bag in a can

Put it Away

Next up is my favorite organizing tool, the laundry basket.

Make sure you have a nice sturdy one for this next project. Armed with your laundry basket, walk from room to room, gathering anything that needs to be put away. This could be dirty dishes, clothing, toys, office supplies, books, magazines, Etc.  

Once you are finished, take the laundry basket and go from room to room putting items away where they belong.

These are what I like to call the three core steps of decluttering. Removing what isn’t clutter so you can better see what is.


2. Set Up Donation Drop Boxes Throughout Your Home

Pick a few of the cluttered areas in your home, and in each of those areas, place a bag and/or a box. This will be your “in sight in mind” reminder that you are de-cluttering this space. Every time you see that box or bag, your goal is to put at least one item inside. This is the key to gradual decluttering. 

a donation basket in a kitchen to collect clutter

Some great places to put a donation box.

Let’s talk about some areas where a donation box will help you significantly impact your decluttering.

In The Closet

Place a bag hanging on the door inside of your closet, and every time you are getting dressed, put at least one item inside of that bag. You can also put a second bag for any clothes too damaged to be donated. Be sure to label each container so you know which one is for donations and which is for trash.

In The Kitchen

Let’s face it; there is probably more clutter in your kitchen than in any other room in your home. And that means the kitchen is the room that will benefit the most from gradual decluttering. Remember, just because you have room for 20 spatulas doesn’t necessarily mean you need to keep all 20.

donation box set up on a kitchen counter copy

Why not donate ten and try and see how you fare with half of what you are used to. I bet you may not even notice the difference.

Each time you were cooking, as you see an item that you haven’t touched in years, go ahead and put it inside your donation box. If you are baking, for example, do a quick count of your measuring cups. If you find you have many more than you need, toss a few of them into your kitchen donation box.

Spatulas in a crock on a kitchen counter

Just by having that donation box in the kitchen, you will be more aware of what you have inside your cabinets and drawers

In The Linen Closet / Bathroom

Another clutter hotspot may be the linen closet or the bathroom. If you were like our family, you may have many more towels than people. And sure, if your family is younger, you may need that many towels, but if you are an empty nester as we are, then it may be time to rethink your supplies. Take a few of those less-than-optimal towels and put them in your donation bag. 

a basket on it's side with bath towels falling out

D/M PRO TIP: Need a place to donate towels or blankets? Check with your local pet center. They are always looking for items like these to put into the kennels making things more comfortable for the animals in their facility. This is one of my favorite places to donate sheets, blankets, and towels.

In The Garage

In our home, clutter tends to gather in our garage. I’m not sure if you have the same problem, but if you do, this might be a great place to put a sturdy box labeled donations. Remember, before you do this, to talk to your husband so he understands what this box is for.

Yes, it’s true when the family is involved de-cluttering is quite a bit easier to deal with. I advise setting a box out in the garage and seeing if your spouse starts to put things inside. You may be pleasantly surprised.

a set of shelves in a garage that are neat and organized

D/M Pro Tip: When setting up donation boxes in your home, place at least one item inside each bag or box. Seeing the item inside, along with the sign “DONATION,” may encourage your family to jump on board with this new way of de-cluttering. It is also motivating to see items inside of a box, knowing that they are leaving home for good.

3. Make it Easier to Put Things Away

If you live in a two-story home, this tip is for you. Let’s face it if we were to put things away that belong on a separate floor every time we came across them; we would all be in shape like a marathon runner. But if I’m being honest, no one has time for that. To help, place a basket at the top and the bottom of your stairs. 

basket on the stairs

Each time you come across an item that needs to go upstairs, place it in the basket at the bottom. When you are upstairs, each time you come across an item that needs to go down, do the same with the basket at the top.

Each time you are going up or down, make a habit of taking a few things out of the basket and putting them away on the floor where you are going. This will help you keep the clutter put away without running stairs all day to do it.

4. Fill it Up – Get it Gone

One of the biggest mistakes most new decluttering folks make is filling a box and setting it off to the side, promising they will remove it later. The problem is, later never comes. Not through any fault of their own but simply because they are not used to this being a weekly or monthly routine.

I suggest getting into the habit of taking the job to the next step. As soon as a bag or a box is full, seal it up and put it immediately into the back of your car. Set a reminder on your phone to drop off donations the next time you were out running errands. This one tip alone will help to transform your home into where you wanted to be.

loading a car with donations boxes from gradual declutteirng

5. Be Patient

It’s true when you declutter this way; it takes longer to see the big results that a heavy-duty de-cluttering project brings. And the fact that this takes longer may be why it is so effective for so many people.

When you do things slowly and intentionally, the change happens not only in your home but in yourself as well. You begin to see de-cluttering as something that is not only easy to do but fun as well. As your home begins to take shape, the perks of de-cluttering outweigh its overwhelm. And if you want to declutter without being overwhelmed, gradual decluttering is the way to go.

A little at a time, every single time, really well makes a difference and changes who you are as a person all at the same time.

D/M PRO TIP: If you want to see the change, take a few pictures before you begin, and then each additional week, take a new one. Watching the evolution of a room is quite amazing when you see it side-by-side.

Now that you know the benefits of gradual decluttering, you have the help you need to remove the stuff without any of the overwhelm that decluttering can bring. Start today and get ready for a clutter-free home you love!

Decluttering Lists:


  1. My mother would like to de-clutter her house this year, which is why she has decided to start looking for a self-storage where she can place most of her things. Thank you for sharing here as well the importance of recycling the other belongings. I also agree with you that the items must be labeled too.

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