Small steps lead to big changes — especially when it comes to decluttering your home. This 30-day declutter challenge breaks down a huge home clear-out into small, manageable steps
Many of us have started decluttering our homes as a way to clear our minds during lockdown. However, despite our better attempts, it's very difficult, and often counter-productive, to do it all at once.
Try to clear out your entire home in one day and you're going to give up an hour in to watch Netflix. Instead, take a piecemeal approach and go day-by-day with our 30-day declutter challenge. It includes a small task to do every day, and at the end of the month, you and your home will emerge with a totally clean slate.
Ready to get started? We promise we start off small.
IMAGE'S 30 Day Declutter Challenge
Day 1: Clear out one drawer. It's best to start a big challenge with a small task. It makes it easier to get started and you'll probably clear out a second one once you get going.
Day 2: Store your winter clothes. Spring has sprung and it's unlikely that you'll be wearing your winter woolies over the next few months. Find a designated space for them — perhaps an old suitcase — and delight in the newfound space in your wardrobe.
Day 3: Tackle that pile of old magazines and papers. And commit to a new rule which is to get rid of one old magazine every time you bring a new one into your home.
Day 4: Clear out the fridge. Check expiration dates and throw away everything that's out of date. Consider investing in a lazy susan (rotating tray) for easy access to all food items.
Day 5: Start to eat through whatever's in your freezer. Whether it's frozen pizza, leftover lasagna or potato waffles, eat what you have before stocking up on anything else.
Day 6: Organise your laundry room using laundry baskets and storage bins, and deep clean your washing machine using vinegar, baking soda or a branded washing machine cleaner.
Day 7: Are your electrical items scattered all around the house? Try putting all of your cords and cables in a designated storage bin and get rid of what you no longer need. As for the tangle of wires behind the TV? Shorten them by wrapping them in neat circles and use masking tape to keep in place.
Day 8: Speaking of electrical items – do you still have the charger to your long-lost Nokia 3210? How about a broken iPod Nano, or a burnt-out travel dryer? It's time to get rid. Remember to dispose of electrical items safely and post-lockdown (see here for more information).
Day 9: Next, tackle your beauty bag. Did you know that make-up expires too? Check the back of your products for a small 'pot and lid' symbol. Next to this, you'll see a number-letter combination, such as 9M or 18M. This represents how many months your product will last from the time of opening. If it says '3M' but you opened it a year ago, it's time to chuck it in the bin.
Day 10: This is a big one: your wardrobe. Got a nice jumper you haven't worn in months? Perhaps there's a dress you swore you'd wear again but never got around to it. Gather these (and any other good-quality items) and bring them to your local charity shop when lockdown lifts.
Day 11: Unless you have space for a designated bookshelf, consider donating already-read (or unwanted) books to a retirement home, hospital or charity shop.
Day 12: It's time to tackle the documents drawer. If you have a filing cabinet that's bursting with important documents, bank statements, receipts and more, now's the time to clear it out. Go through everything carefully, and come up with a system to file each important piece of paper so you can know where it is (dividers and colour-coding is a good place to start). Get rid of those receipts for the kitchen appliances you got rid of years ago, and shred everything that has any personal details on it (especially old bank statements).
Day 13: Your handbag. It sounds simple, but how many old lipsticks, earring backs, receipts and crumbs of Nature Valley bars have accumulated in your handbag over the past few months? Dump everything out, clean the bag, and start fresh.
Day 14: Clear out the medicine cabinet. Storing those old antibiotics you never finished from 2010 is doing nobody's health any good. Get rid of everything that's past its use-by date, and all the old, sticky cough bottles and lozenges. Make a list of what you need for a stocked first aid kit and any prescriptions that need filling and get them the next time you're in the pharmacy.
Day 15: Clear out your phone. Digital clutter is just as head wrecking as it is in real life, and clearing out your phone can be a great help to clearing the mind. Go through your apps and delete any of them that you don't use, and then start to clear out your camera roll — screenshots, duplicate photos and all those holiday snaps of the architecture that you're never going to look at again can go.
Day 16: Sort out your hotpress. Does anyone else use their hotpress as a portal to throw everything into and hope it goes away? Me too, but it's time to stop. Pull all your creased sheets and bundled old clothes out of the hotpress and get folding. Throw out those threadbare sheets and prepare to donate old blankets, duvets and clothing (that's still wearable) to homeless shelters and charities who need them more when lockdown lifts.
Day 17: Your jewellery and accessories drawer. How many earrings and necklaces have been wasted because you chucked them all in on top of each other in the press? Take on the mammoth task of detangling and donate any unused pieces to the charity shop. Invest in some drawer dividers or pretty boxes to store the remaining jewellery in.
Day 18: It's time to clean the car. You don't have to go the whole hog with the wax and polish, but you do need to clear out the old water bottles and parking tickets that are lying around. Give it a good hoover, get a new air freshener and fill up your washing water while you're at it.
Day 19: Clear your mind. While a good clean can do wonders for your mental health, there is nothing better than taking a moment to gather all of your thoughts and letting them go. Whether you do this through meditation or by going for a walk, it's up to you. You will be better equipped to declutter afterwards.
Day 20: The attic. Attic spaces are the perfect spots to hoard. From children's toys to broken furniture, it's time to clear out and make space for things you actually need to store.
Day 21: Clear out your cooking utensils. Over the years, pots and pans and cutlery can multiply and you really don't need them all. Only keep the basics which you need for everyday use.
Day 22: Sort the storage boxes. While these are good in theory, many of us tend to throw items into these boxes to make space. Take a look in each and see what you need to keep and what you really don't need. Trust us, you will be very surprised.
Day 23: Dig out the shed. Old deck chairs, a manual lawnmower that's on its last legs and rusty parasols have no place in an Irish shed. Put that extra space to good use, and clear out the rest.
Day 24: Dive into the underwear drawer. Throw out everything with holes in it, and pair all the odd socks. Your body will thank you for it.
Day 25: Clean out the drinks cabinet. If, like most of us, your drinks cabinet is full of almost-empty bottles with a sliver of liquid left, it's time to make space. Make the task more fun by searching online for cocktails that can be made with the leftovers (girls' night in on Zoom, anyone?).
Day 26: Make a sewing kit once and for all. A new sewing kit will finally provide a home for all those spare buttons and measures of thread you have lying randomly around the house. Tidy them away and learn to sew a button if you haven't already — make sure to take care of the clothes you kept from earlier this month.
Day 27: Purge your email inbox. If the thousands+ number is still glaring at you from the corner of the screen since you started back in work, it's time to battle it. Mass delete is your friend here: newsletters, promo codes and spam can all get the boot without even having to check them. Go through the remaining load and make sure there's nothing important (i.e anything from work, the bank or that has your personal details within), and cut/respond to the rest.
Day 28: Under the sink. Old sponges, J-clothes and steel wool can be thrown out, while the shelves and surrounds can do with a good clean themselves. If you've got small kids around the house, this one is especially important — take the time to secure any bleach or cleaning fluids so that they can't be reached by curious little hands (and mouths).
Day 29: Go through your post. Ignoring bills and official notifications won't cut it in this new clutter-free lifestyle. Go through each letter one by one, and take the time to either pay the bill, or cancel your subscription if you no longer use that service. Your bank account will thank you.
Day 30: Get rid of five things. By now, your home is pretty devoid of clutter and mess, and it's time to keep it that way. Do a final sweep of the house and find five last items to chuck out — anything that's unused or unnecessary can be gotten rid of.
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