How to Declutter and Streamline Home Storage

You don’t need to wait until spring cleaning season to tidy your space: whether you’re looking to cut back on belongings or optimize a new space, explore the decluttering tips and organization ideas in our practical guide to home storage.

How to Declutter Your Home

The first step in any home organization project is to eliminate excess so you’re only organizing what you plan to keep. From the bedroom closet to your kitchen cabinets, follow our simple tips for decluttering your home.

  • Start small. Bite-sized tasks make decluttering more manageable. Begin with a single room—or even a cabinet or drawer—and finish it before moving on.
  • Toss the trash. As you go room by room, throw away or recycle old receipts, clothes tags, loose paper, expired ingredients, and any other unnecessary items. Removing this waste makes it easier to focus on sorting the items you’ll keep.
  • Decide what stays and what goes. As you work through each space, sort your stuff into piles: keep, relocate, donate, or throw away.
  • Make room for “maybes.” Whether it’s a kids’ toy or a favorite top you haven’t worn in a while, put items you’re uncertain about in a box marked “maybe” and store it out of sight. Revisit the box every few months—if you haven’t missed what’s inside, donate it.

Decluttering Strategies for Cloths, Books, and Toys

Wondering how to sort through something specific? Here are our favorite decluttering tips for pesky items that are prone to piling up.

Hang your clothes with the hangers facing backwards; once you’ve worn an item, hang it the correct way. Check your closet every few months (or at the end of each season), and donate what hasn’t been worn.

To choose which books you donate, only keep books you want to reread, you’re likely to recommend to others, or that have special sentimental value. Donate anything else to the library or used book shop.

A music player, digital movie account, or eReader holds dozens upon dozens of files, freeing up physical space. Some companies convert your movie collection to digital for a minimal fee.

Inventory your toy collection before every birthday and major gift-giving holiday: donate items your kids have outgrown and dispose of anything broken.

Review mail, forms, and letters when they’re received. File important papers such as birth and marriage certificates or tax documentation—then shred and recycle the rest.

By subscribing to a digital version instead—you’ll reduce paper waste and keep the stacks of old issues under control.

For papers you’ll need to refer back to but don’t need to keep, snap a quick photo and store them in a folder on your phone or computer.

How to Organize Your Home

Once you’ve cleared the clutter, use our home organization ideas to store extra bedding, apparel, serveware, seasonal decor, and any remaining items. Whether you’re tackling the laundry room, linen closet, or pantry, our quick tips make home organization easier.

Storage baskets and bins are beloved by organizers everywhere, thanks to their knack for keeping nearly anything contained. Explore these ideas for organizing with baskets and bins:

  • Opt for wicker baskets or fabric bins to create a clean, cohesive look for bathroom towels, bed linens, or storage closet organization. Group similar items together: sort bed sheets by room, towels by size, home hardware and tools by type, and decorative accents by season.
  • Use bins to create divided organization within dresser drawers: separate festive flannel pajamas from year-round options, jeans from loungewear, or socks from intimates.
  • Keep blankets in a basket in the corner of any room—stack or roll throw blankets for a polished look, or simply toss them in for a cozy aesthetic.
  • Add slim baskets to the bookshelf or beneath a side table for a convenient space to stash tech cables, spare remotes, or other messy items.
Image of folded towels in a basket

Don’t let space restraints stymie your efforts at organization. Whether your home is small in size or simply lacks closet space, find (or create) storage space for everything with these organization tips:

  • Use oft-overlooked space: store seasonal bedding in breathable storage bags beneath the bed, shopping bags on the back of the mudroom door, and special occasion serveware in the space above your kitchen cabinets.
  • Choose bedding or decor items that take up less space—think duvet covers or quilts instead of bulky comforters, or decorative printed pillow covers instead of multiple throw pillows.
  • A shelf hung above a door frame transforms this forgotten space into a practical home for artfully arranged books or kitchen items like tableware, pitchers, and decorative serving bowls.
  • Opt for double-duty furniture. Tuck blankets within a storage bench or choose a coffee table with drawers for extra storage space.
  • Take advantage of the vertical spaces in your home: store gift wrap in an over-the-door rack, hang mops and brooms on the wall for practical utility closet organization, or install shelves above your washer and dryer for laundry detergent and cleaning supplies.
Image of pillows and comforters stored neatly in a closet

Bonus Organization Idea: when organizing a closet or a cabinet, put frequently used items front and center to save time and avoid making a mess as you look.

How to Keep Your Home Clutter-Free

The best storage system for your home is the one you can maintain. Consider these simple principles for a house that stays clean and tidy.

  • Don’t put it down, put it away. Set a rule—for yourself, as well as the rest of the family—that when you’re finished with an item, you put it where it belongs right away rather than setting it aside for later. It’ll shave time off your regular cleaning routine.
  • Designate drop zones. A basket on an entry table or a tray on your kitchen counter keeps clutter consolidated and contained. Weekly, clear out what you don’t need and put away the rest.
  • Follow the “one in, one out” rule. Every time you buy something new, give something else away.
  • Make it a habit. Dedicate five minutes at the end of each day to tidying the house. You’ll feel better—and more motivated—when you start the next morning mess-free.
  • Create a kid-approved system for toy storage. Label bins with pictures of types of toys—stuffed animals, blocks, cars—to encourage even the smallest kids to pitch in when it’s time to clean up.

From small house tidying tips to linen closet storage ideas, find principles you can apply to any space in our guide to decluttering and organizing. Explore our other Guides for more tricks for a comfortable home.