How To Start Organizing A Messy House: 15 Most Popular Decluttering Methods

How to start organizing a messy house? If that’s the question on your mind, you’re in the right place! We’ve all been there – your home is overflowing with stuff and just thinking about tackling the clutter feels overwhelming. But don’t stress, my friend. Getting organized is totally doable when you break it down into simple steps.


In this guide, I’ll share 15 super easy and even kind of fun decluttering tricks to help you whip your messy house into shape. I’m talking zero-stress methods that anyone can master. No more walking on piles of clothes or digging through junk to find your keys. By the end, you’ll have a clutter-free oasis that brings you nothing but good vibes.

Whether you’re a busy parent, a young professional, or just someone who struggles with organization, this guide has got you covered. Are you ready to learn how to start organizing a messy house, Are you with me? Let’s get started!

A recent survey by Huffington Post found that a whopping 84% of Americans worry that they have too much clutter and not enough organization at home. Clearly, getting control of the mess is something many people struggle with.

Table of Contents

Understand the Benefits of an Organized Home


Look, we all know living in a cluttered, messy house is no fun. It’s stressful coming home to piles of stuff everywhere. And let’s be honest, how many times have you been late because you couldn’t find your keys or phone in all that chaos?

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But did you know that getting your act together and organizing your home can actually improve your life in some pretty amazing ways? It’s true! A poll by Merry Maids found that 94% of people feel overwhelmed by their clutter and mess. However, the same study showed that those living in decluttered spaces are 76% more relaxed at home.

For starters, you’ll be able to find what you need way faster. No more wasting time frantically searching through mess. With everything in its place, you can grab and go. Talk about a productive power move!

Having an organized space also does wonders for reducing stress and anxiety. All that visual clutter actually puts strain on your brain. But an organized home? It’s like a calming oasis. You’ll feel more relaxed and in control.

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Plus, when your belongings are organized, you’re naturally more on top of your schedule and better at managing your time. Less clutter = less overwhelm.

Bottom line – bringing order to your living space creates a sense of peace, focus, and straight-up happiness. Who wouldn’t want all those good vibes?

I don’t know about you, but I’m sold on these benefits of an organized home! Let’s keep pushing forward on our how to start organizing a messy house decluttering journey.

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Prepare for the Decluttering Process

Best methods to declutter a home
Sara Tramp

Listen up! Before we dive into those awesome how to start organizing a messy house decluttering methods, there’s a little prep work involved. But don’t worry, it’s easy.”

“Decluttering isn’t just about getting rid of things; it’s about choosing to live with things that spark joy. When you surround yourself with objects that you truly love and appreciate, it can transform your life in amazing ways.

Says Marie Kondo, decluttering queen and author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”

First thing’s first, you’ll want to set some realistic goals for yourself. Trying to overhaul your whole house in a single weekend is a recipe for burnout. Start small and manageable.

Maybe your goal is to declutter one room per week. Or you commit to spending just 30 minutes a day working your way through a closet. Having a plan helps prevent feeling overwhelmed.

Next up, gather your decluttering supplies! You’ll need some boxes and bins for sorting stuff into “keep,” “trash,” “donate” piles. Oh, and grab a sharpie for labeling. Getting organized is all about creating easy systems.

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Last key step? Get pumped by planning some rewards! Treating yourself to a fancy coffee or purchasing some cute new storage bins after each mini milestone is great motivation.

Once you’ve set your goals, prepped your supplies, and lined up those rewards, you’ll be mentally and physically ready to start kicking clutter’s butt.

The decluttering process is a journey, but taking these simple preparatory steps helps set you up for success. Are you prepared and ready to make some progress? Let’s get started!

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10 Most Popular Decluttering Methods

Christopher Lee Foto

Enough talk, it’s time to get down to business! Here are 15 super popular decluttering methods that you can try. I’ll break them down step-by-step with examples so you know exactly how to use each one to finally whip your messy house into shape.

“Decluttering isn’t a one-time event; it’s a practice of living deliberately. By regularly checking in with your belongings and letting go of things that no longer serve you, you create space for new opportunities and growth.”

Says Joanna Gaines, co-founder of Magnolia Market and TV host

1: The KonMari Method:

The KonMari Method, made famous by Marie Kondo, this method is all about only keeping items that “spark joy” for you. Here’s how it works:

  1. Tidy by category, not location. So gather all your clothes first, books next, etc.
  2. Hold each item and ask “Does this spark joy for me?” If not, thank it and discard.
  3. For joy-sparking items, find a designated spot for them.

For example, go through every sweater and decide if each one truly brings you happiness when you hold it. Those ratty college hoodies? Probably safe to discard!

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2: The One-In, One-Out Rule:

The one-in, One-out rule, is an easy way to avoid letting clutter build up again. Whenever you bring something new into your home, you must discard one item you already own.


  • Bought new running shoes? An old pair gets donated.
  • Got a new lamp? Get rid of that hideous vase you never liked.
  • Splurged on new cookware? Time to ditch that chipped baking dish.

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3: The 12-12-12 Challenge:

If overhauling your whole home feels too daunting, try the 12-12-12- challenge, a manageable game:

  1. First, discard 12 items
  2. The next day, discard 12 more
  3. Following day, 12 more after that
  4. Continue until you’ve decluttered 365+ items!

It’s perfect for kids’ bedrooms. Have them discard 12 toys, then 12 more clothes, then 12 more books, and so on. Little by little, the space gets cleaner.

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4: The Four-Box Method:

The four-box method, consist of grabbing four boxes, bins, or bags and label them:

  1. Trash
  2. Donate
  3. Keep
  4. Relocate

As you’re decluttering a space, quickly sort every item into one of the four boxes right away. No more difficulty deciding what to do with stuff!

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5: The Minimalist Game:

The minimalist game, is perfect for families or roommates wanting to declutter together. Here are the rules:

  1. On Day 1, each person gets rid of 1 item
  2. On Day 2, discard 2 items each
  3. Day 3 is 3 items per person
  4. Keep going until someone can’t keep up!

It makes decluttering fun as you race to ditch possessions you don’t need. Kids especially love this one.

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6: The Reverse Hanger Trick:

This clever closet hack is an incredibly easy way to determine what clothes you actually wear and use on a regular basis. No difficult decisions required! Here are the simple steps:

  1. Start by gathering all your hanging clothing items like dresses, shirts, jackets, etc. Leave them hung up in the closet.
  2. Next, turn around all the hangers so they are reversed and facing the opposite way from how you’d normally hang clothes.
  3. As you go about your normal routine over the next 6 months, whenever you wear an item of clothing, put it back in the closet after wearing with the hanger facing the right way.
  4. After 6 months, do a closet sweep. Any clothing items still hanging on a reversed hanger are pieces you DIDN’T wear at all during that timeframe.
  5. Those forgotten, unworn items get removed from your closet and donated/discarded! Only the regularly worn pieces remain.

The reverse hanger method takes all the guesswork and tough choices out of decluttering your closet. You’re letting your real-life habitsdict what clothing you truly use versus what’s just taking up space.

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7: The Pareto Principle:

The pareto principle, is based on the 80/20 rule – most people only use 20% of their possessions regularly. To apply it:

  1. Box up anything you haven’t used in 6+ months
  2. If you don’t need anything from the boxes after another 6 months, donate!
  3. Only keep the 20% of items you truly use and enjoy

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8: The Swedish Death Cleaning:

Don’t let the morbid name scare you off this practical decluttering approach! The Swedish call it “döstädning” and it’s all about gradually getting rid of excess possessions now, so you don’t leave a burden of stuff for loved ones after you’re gone.

Here’s how it works:

  1. As you’re decluttering, pick up each item and consider “Would anyone in my family actually want or use this after I’m gone?”
  2. If the answer is no, it’s safe to get rid of that possession now
  3. For hard-to-discard sentimental items, take an honest look at who would appreciate it more – keeping it or passing it on to someone who truly wants it
  4. The goal is to eliminate anything unnecessary so your family isn’t overwhelmed later

It’s a bit of a sobering method, but pushes you to ask if your reasons for keeping things are truly valid. Out of guilt, laziness, or nostalgia often aren’t good enough excuses.

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9: The SMART Decluttering Method:

This is a systematic, almost scientific approach to decluttering following the SMART acronym:

S – Scan your spaces regularly to see what needs attention M – Make a plan by setting realistic decluttering goals and schedules A – Allow sufficient time for the process rather than rushing R – Rough sort items into categories like trash, donate, keep T – Tidy essentials like kitchens and bathrooms first

Following these SMART steps:

  1. Prevents disorder from building up unchecked
  2. Gives you a strategy for tackling decluttering
  3. Doesn’t let it become an overwhelming chore
  4. Helps create sustainable organization habits

It’s perfect for those who prefer decluttering feel like a project with steps rather than a chaotic whirlwind.

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10: The Oprah Closet Hangers Trick:

The Oprah Closet Hangers Trick You may have seen this Marie Kondo-approved closet hack from Oprah! It’s similar to the reverse hanger trick but with a clever color-coding twist:

  1. Start by gathering all your hanging clothing items
  2. Get 3-4 sets of hangers in different colors (say red, green, blue, yellow)
  3. Re-hang each clothing category on a designated color hanger
  4. After wearing an item, transfer it to a separate “keeper” section
  5. After 6 months, any items still on the original color hangers get donated!

For example, re-hang all your dresses on red hangers, pants on green, sweaters on blue. It makes it so obvious what you actually wear and use.

Oprah swears by this trick for paring down closets quickly and easily. It’s visual, concrete proof of what no longer fits or flatters!

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11: The Ski Slope Method:

The ski slop method, is named for the way it creates sloping surfaces, this method involves clearing all flat surfaces:

  1. Remove everything from shelves, countertops, and tables
  2. Sort items into “keep” and “discard” piles
  3. Only put keepable items back, arranging them vertically like slopes
  4. It’s amazing how much cleaner flat surfaces look when decluttered!

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12: The Packing Party Method:

Don’t just declutter – make an event out of it! Invite some friends over for a “packing party” where you:

  1. Pack up all your non-essential belongings in boxes
  2. For 2-3 weeks, only unpack items as you need them
  3. After that timeframe, get rid of any boxed items you didn’t need!
  4. Have snacks and drinks to make the packing party fun

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13: The Becker Method:

The Becker method, is an approach from professional organizer Justin Becker involves decluttering in this order:

  1. Trash (get rid of all garbage first)
  2. Relocate (move items not meant for this room)
  3. Condense (store things efficiently)
  4. Refine (only keep what you love or use daily)

Systematically working through these steps room-by-room prevents feeling overwhelmed.

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14: The Peter Walsh Method:

the Peter Walsh method, created by the decluttering guru Peter Walsh, this thorough process is about evaluating every possession:

  1. Designate one “keep” box per room
  2. Remove items one-by-one and ask: “Do I want to keep this forever?”
  3. If not, discard or donate
  4. Only the essentials go in the “keep” box

It’s ruthless but effective for paring down.

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15: The FlyLady Method:

The FlyLady method, is an approach from Marla Cilley (aka FlyLady) uses routines and baby steps:

  1. Start by shining your sink each night before bed
  2. Each week, focus on decluttering one room or category
  3. Use a timer to declutter for short bursts
  4. The routines create lasting organization habits

Phew! With those 15 clever techniques under your belt, you’re well-equipped to finally tackle that messy house and kickstart how to start organizing a messy house. Try one or combine a few methods to find your decluttering groove!

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Easiest Decluttering Methods


Now that you’re familiar with all these popular decluttering strategies, you may be wondering which ones are best to start with, especially if you’re new to this.

From easiest to hardest, here’s how I’d rank them:

The easiest methods to try first to how to start organizing a messy house are the 12-12-12 Challenge, the Four Box Method, and the One In One Out Rule. These are super straightforward, no-fuss approaches that ease you into decluttering.

“Decluttering is like giving your home a breath of fresh air. It opens up space, both physical and mental, allowing you to focus on what truly matters. It’s a chance to create a home that reflects your current needs and aspirations, not one burdened by the past.”

Says Emily Henderson, founder of Emily Henderson Design

Methods like the Reverse Hanger Trick, the FlyLady Routines, and the Minimalist Game require a bit more effort and consistency, so they rank as moderately difficult.

On the harder side, you have intense methods like the KonMari process of deciding what “sparks joy”, the Swedish Death Cleaning ritual of envisioning your belongings after you’re gone, and the Peter Walsh Method of ruthlessly evaluating every possession.

The most difficult is likely the SMART system which demands the most planning, strategizing, and self-discipline to follow all the steps.

Of course, difficulty is subjective! One person may find a decluttering “game” motivating while another prefers rigorous routines. But ranking them this way provides a general gauge.

I’d recommend starting with some of the easiest tricks to build momentum. Then level up to more intensive methods as you become a decluttering pro! The goal on how to start organizing a messy house is sustainable practices, and not burning yourself out.

Ranking-Beginner/Easiest Methods

  1. The 12-12-12 Challenge, get rid of 12 items, then 12 more, then 12 more in an easy, manageable game format.
  2. The Four Box Method,
    Simply sort everything into 4 boxes: Trash, Donate, Keep, Relocate. No overthinking!
  3. The One In, One Out Rule, for every new item brought in, discard one old item. Stops stuff accumulating.
  4. The Minimalist Game, compete to discard more and more items day by day, making it feel like a fun competition.
  5. The Reverse Hanger Trick, after 6 months, any clothing items you didn’t wear get donated. Passively declutters.

Intermediate Methods:

  1. The KonMari Method, go through categories, holding items and only keeping what “sparks joy.”
  2. The Packing Party Method, pack up all non-essentials, only unpack belongings you actually need/use.
  3. The FlyLady Routines, create recurring routines like nightly decluttering to build lasting habits.
  4. The Ski Slope Method, clear all flat surfaces, arranging kept items vertically for a sloping, decluttered look.
  5. The Becker Method, systematically declutter by first trashing, relocating, condensing, refining.

Advanced/Hardest Methods:

  1. The Pareto Principle, (80/20 Rule) Discard anything you haven’t used in 6+ months, keeping just the 20% essentials.
  2. The Swedish Death Cleaning, discard anything your family wouldn’t want/need after you’re gone. Emotionally harder.
  3. The SMART Method, rigorous system following the steps: Scan, Make Plan, Allow Time, Rough Sort, Tidy Essentials.
  4. The Peter Walsh Method, ruthlessly assess keeping each item forever or discarding. Very cutthroat.
  5. The Oprah Closet Hanger Trick,
    Color code sections, donating any items not re-hung in 6 months.

I’d recommend starting with the Beginner methods to build momentum, then level up as you get more comfortable with the decluttering process. The Advanced methods are incredibly effective but take more mental/emotional discipline.

Maintenance and Sustainability


Alright, we’ve covered all the amazing decluttering methods to help you finally conquer that messy house. But here’s the thing – the hard work doesn’t stop there!

Keeping your space clutter-free and organized is an ongoing process. Without some maintenance habits in place, all that decluttering can quickly get undone as stuff starts accumulating again. According to a study, the average American home has over 300,000 possessions! Without consistent decluttering, that number keeps growing unsustainably.

“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.”

Says Joshua Becker

But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with some super simple tips to make organization sustainable:

First up, decluttering can’t be a one-and-done event. You’ve got to make it a consistent habit. Maybe you commit to doing a 10-minute declutter session every night before bed. Or pick one day a week as your official “declutter day” to do a bigger purge.

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Consistency is key for stopping clutter from building up again. It’s way easier to spend a little time keeping things tidy rather than letting it all pile up into an overwhelming mess again.

Next pro tip? Invest in some quality storage and organizational supplies. Having designated spots for everything makes it 10 times easier to keep things neat and tidy long-term.

Things like drawer organizers, stackable bins, shelving units, and cute catchall trays give everything a place to live. No more random piles of stuff accumulating on surfaces!

Finally, try applying that brilliant “one in, one out” rule to avoid a constant influx of new clutter. For every new item you bring into your home, get rid of something else you’re no longer using.

You’ve got this! Just keep those decluttering habits going strong and your once messy house will transform into an oasis of organization. The ultimate glow-up!

You’ve got this! Just keep those decluttering habits going strong, and your once messy house will transform into an oasis of organization, marking the ultimate glow-up for how to start organizing a messy house!

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Conclusion: 15 Most Popular Decluttering Methods

Whew, we covered a ton of awesome decluttering methods to help you finally get that messy house situation under control! From the joy-sparking KonMari method to energy-boosting routines like the FlyLady system, you’ve now got an arsenal of techniques to know exactly how to start organizing a messy house!

The hardest part is really just taking that first step and committing to start. Once you use any of these 15 decluttering strategies, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your living space transforms. No more avoidance or overwhelm – just a calming oasis to call home.

But remember, decluttering isn’t a one-and-done thing! You’ll need to adopt some simple habits and create sustainable systems to maintain that clutter-free paradise. A few routines like nightly 10-minute tidy ups, clever storage solutions, and the “one in, one out” rule will lock in those organizational wins.

You’ve got this! Now you know how to start organizing a messy house, don’t be afraid to start small by just picking one room or closet. Slow and steady efforts add up to huge results over time. Pretty soon you’ll be wondering why you ever lived amongst all that mess and chaos.

I’m so excited for you to reclaim your space and experience the clarity and calm an organized home brings. Which decluttering technique are you most eager to try first? Share in the comments below!

How To Start Organizing A Messy House-FAQs

1. What are the steps to mindful decluttering and organizing?

  • Mindful decluttering and organizing involve a series of deliberate steps to create a more organized living space. It’s essential to start by centering yourself before commencing the organizing process. This can be achieved by taking a moment to focus and prepare mentally for the task at hand. By applying these seven simple steps, individuals can mindfully organize their home room by room 1.

2. How can I avoid common organizing mistakes that make my house look messy?

  • Professional organizers share insights into common organizing mistakes that can hinder efforts to maintain an orderly home. By being aware of these pitfalls and learning how to address them, individuals can effectively overcome organizational challenges and maintain a tidy living environment 2.

3. Is there a recommended timeline for decluttering a home?

  • Creating a decluttering timeline is a strategic approach to managing the process effectively. Whether decluttering in a single day, over a weekend, or within a longer timeframe such as 30 days, setting realistic and attainable goals is crucial. It’s important to break down the spaces that need decluttering and estimate the time required for each, ensuring a systematic and manageable approach.

4. What should I consider when starting the decluttering process?

  • Before embarking on the decluttering journey, it’s advisable to make a plan and establish specific goals. This proactive approach helps reduce frustration and roadblocks, providing clarity and direction for the decluttering process. Creating a map of all the rooms and clutter hot spots, grading each space based on clutter severity, and tackling one area at a time are essential considerations when initiating the decluttering process 3.

5. How can I maintain organization and avoid leaving a messy house?

  • To maintain organization, it’s important not to leave items lying around and to avoid going to bed with a messy house. Consistently tidying up and organizing can help uphold a clean and orderly living space. Additionally, involving family members in the decluttering and organization journey can provide support and accountability 4.

6. Where should I start when decluttering a very messy house?

  • When faced with an overwhelming mess, it can be challenging to know where to start decluttering. The key to getting rid of clutter, even in a messy house and with limited time or energy, lies in identifying manageable starting points and gradually addressing cluttered areas 5.

7. What are the impacts of a disorganized or messy home?

  • Research shows that clutter can have far-reaching effects, including negative impacts on mental health, cognitive abilities, procrastination tendencies, and even eating habits. Creating a clean and orderly space can contribute to improved well-being and quality time spent with family 6.

8. How can I deal with emotional clutter during the decluttering process?

  • Decluttering involves not just physical items but also emotional baggage and unfinished business. Keeping specific questions in mind while decluttering can help maintain focus on creating a space that supports one’s life. This approach ensures that only meaningful and functional items are retained 7.

9. What should I consider before starting the decluttering process?

  • Setting a specific goal for the room and envisioning the desired outcome can provide clarity and motivation during the decluttering process. Being specific about the intended goal and addressing logistical aspects are crucial steps in effectively tackling clutter 8.

10. Does decluttering ever end?

  • The process of decluttering can be ongoing, as it involves not just physical tidying but also a shift in mindset and lifestyle. While the need for decluttering may continue, the journey toward a more organized and intentional living space is a continual process of growth and improvement



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