15 Rules to Help You Declutter

Do you have a hard time decluttering?

These 15 decluttering rules can help you decide what stays and what goes.

Are you dealing with a lot of clutter? These 15 rules can help you make decisions about what to keep and what to declutter. Clutter makes me crazy and my family (and I - gulp) create a whole lot of it. These rules help me rein things in and regain peace again.

When Marie Kondo’s best advice isn’t quite enough to achieve your desired clutter-free home, these simple rules will assist your decluttering process. Don’t let your tough decluttering decisions derail your progress!

Rule #1: You Decide

You get to decide what goes and what stays. If you love it, that may be reason enough to keep something. But in case you need it, here is some extra advice for decluttering sentimental items.

Rule #2: No Duplicate Items

Duplicates are (usually) unnecessary.

Rule #3: Keep What You Use Regularly

If you haven’t used it in 6 months, it can probably go (but see rule #1). Make exceptions for seasonal items.

Rule #4: Evaluate the Value

If it costs more to store than the value it brings to you, you should let it go.

Rule #5: To Each Their Own

Don’t allow other people’s ideas of what is important to dictate what you keep or declutter (but keep your loved one’s opinions in mind).

Rule #6: Give Items to People Who Appreciate Them More

If someone else thinks something is particularly special, maybe they should store it instead of you.

decluttering rules help with piles of school supplies
I am currently decluttering piles of homeschool materials.

Rule #7: Giving Away Items Is OK

You can choose to sell something but it’s also OK to give it away if that’s easier. Not everything should be sold. A trip to a donation center is encouraged!

(For those who want to sell things, check out our guide, Cash In, to learn how to sell your clutter and do it quickly.)

Rule #8: Most Things Can Be Replaced

If you declutter something and discover you need it later, chances are it can be replaced. Struggling with this concept? Try the 20/20 decluttering rule.

Rule #9: Don’t Declutter Someone Else’s Stuff

Don’t declutter things belonging to others without permission (exceptions for kids who refuse to take care of their possessions).

Rule #10: Learn to Appreciate Less

Mementos and toys are even more treasured when there are fewer of them.

Rule #11: You Are Not Your Stuff

You are not defined by the things you keep. (For example, owning a lot of books doesn’t make you smarter, although reading them might.)

Rule #12: Kids Produce a Lot of Clutter

Toys. Papers from school. You name it! That’s OK and to be expected. Help them learn how to manage their clutter instead of ignoring it.

decluttering rules help with toys
Decluttering toys can be particularly painful.

Rule #13: Stop Holding Out for Someday

Keeping something “for someday” may be holding you back from living your life right now.

Rule #14: Not Everyone Has the Same Clutter Tolerance

It’s OK if you desire more or less of it than someone else. Rules for decluttering will vary by person. Clutter can even be quite stressful and overwhelming for some people.

Rule #15: Organized Clutter Is Still Clutter

Read that again. Organized clutter is still clutter.

What decluttering rules do you follow?


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9 thoughts on “15 Rules to Help You Declutter”

  1. Organized clutter is my nemesis! I’m a “piler” and it hasn’t gotten me into any trouble, per say, but I do tend to keep like-with-like all about the house, until it gets to be there are piles of things in too many places!

  2. Thank you for these simple and easy ideas. Along with the 3 dangerous words I’m ready to declutter even more than I have! Guilt is the hardest one for me. Thank you again!

  3. What a great list of rules! I have to admit, I had seen this on Pinterest and figured it would be a pathetic list because I was like, “How many good, helpful rules can there really be about organizing?” Boy, was I wrong! I saw Sarah Titus recommended it and decided to check it out since I trust her opinion a lot. And wow, such a great post!

    My husband has taught me a lot about decluttering and simplifying. But I still have a lot to learn! Right now #8 is what I’m attempting to believe. It’s so hard for me to get rid of something that I “might” use again sometime. I’m slowly realizing though that it is truly freeing to live with less and so if it occasionally means spending a bit more to replace something I got rid of, well then, so be it!

    • Thank you, Lydia! Sarah Titus is awesome, isn’t she? I adore her. #8 is definitely a challenge, especially for us frugal types. I try to remind myself that a little more free space or free time is more valuable than a few bucks if something actually does need to be replaced. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I wish my husband and I were on the same page about stuff but it’s challenging when you have different definitions of what constitutes clutter. Our basement is definitely better, but still quite cluttered. I need to remember my motto of “progress not perfection”!


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Welcome. I’m Sarah!


I’m the creator of Decluttering School (formerly known as Early Bird Mom), lover of organized spaces, encourager to women and mom to four boys. Click here to read more!

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