How to declutter a room quickly

Rapid Room Declutter: My 5-Steps to Declutter Any Room

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Ever feel like decluttering a room is beyond your skill set? I used to feel the same until I developed a quick method to declutter any room. It helps me avoid feeling overwhelmed by the process, too.

There are, of course, some very helpful methods already out there. Marie Kondo’s category-based decluttering is great, but it wasn’t practical in my large home. Margareta Magnusson’s Swedish Death Cleaning is insightful but feels a bit too existential for me. So, here’s what I do.

Step 1: Do a Surface Purge.

Start with a quick sweep around the room grabbing visible trash like old magazines and broken stuff. Don’t dive into cabinets or closets just yet. This is about getting junk out of the way.

See, when a room is full of stuff, it’s visually overwhelming. You can’t begin to know what to keep or where to put things until the trash is gone. When it is, you’re ready to start getting rid of clutter.

Step 2: Now a Sectional Deep Purge.

Now divide the room mentally into manageable sections: a corner, a shelf, a drawer. Tackle the least cluttered spot first and keep three boxes nearby: Return, Donate, and Trash. Then for each item you see, without touching it, decide:

  • Does it belong here?
  • Have I used it in a year?
  • Do I want to keep cleaning it?
  • Do I even like this anymore?

If it you can’t answer yes to three of those, put it in one of the boxes. Then keep going until you’ve finished all the sections of the room.

Pro Tip

If you’re having a hard time letting go of mementos, check out my other ideas about dealing with sentimental clutter.

Step 3: Deal with the Boxes.

Once you’re done, it’s time to do something with the boxes. Discard the trash, put the things in the return box where they belong, and put the donations in your car to drop off at your earliest convenience.

Step 4: Reorganize the Space.

With the clutter gone, look at what’s left and make sure where you’re storing it makes sense. Things you use often should be easy to get out and put away. Things you rarely use go in less convenient spots—unless they’re heavy then they go on low shelves for safety’s sake.

Step 5: Take a Picture.

Once you’ve got everything put away, take a picture of the room. Open the cabinets, drawers, and closets and take a picture of how you’ve got everything put away neatly. Now when it’s time to reset the space, you’ve got a visual reminder of how it should be. And a goal.

Did you get stuck trying to make up your mind about something? Check out my tips about how to identify clutter.

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  1. I had to smile at your mention of Marie Kondo’s book. That is actually how I found your site. I knew that the KonMari method wasn’t for me. I don’t live in a tiny apartment by myself and I have to somehow get this house into control. Working from home means long hours in front of the computer to get all my jobs done and somehow I also have to squeeze cleaning in.

    I started to look for another solution and arrived your site. I got your 30-day clean-up book and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your logical and to-the-point approach. Do this, do that, done. And it’s actually doable for me! The daily actions alone have already made a huge difference.

    So I just wanted to say thank you! For having an approach to cleaning that makes sense.

  2. We have begun taking photos of the children’s art work and school work (we scan some of the better stories). Having photos meant we could put together a photo book for Grandpa of the children’s art work.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      That’s a fantastic idea, Rose!

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