We asked 30 people: Do you clean or declutter first?

Some of our biggest household projects are made even more difficult because we don’t know where to start.

Our most cluttered rooms in our house will tend to be the ones that need the best cleaning, so which would you do first? Would you clean or would you declutter before moving on to the next step?

We asked our community this very question, and here is what they had to say!

Do you clean or declutter first? Or can you do them at the same time? We asked 30 people and this is what they said!

We’ve separated the responses from 30 different people into 4 different teams: Team Declutter First, Team Clean First, Team Do-It-Together, and Team It Depends.

Is there a right or wrong here? Definitely not!

However, we will note that one team seemed to get the most responses. So, if you’re stuck on the fence and need a little nudge to get going, this is a great place to start!

>> Check out this post on when you declutter or organize first.

Team Declutter First

1 – You declutter first, get rid of stuff you don’t need or want. Then organize. Then you clean because if you clean while your house is cluttered all you’re doing is moving around the clutter.

-Maria Alexi

2 – Decluttering first certainly makes cleaning easier.

-Allyson Carter

3 – Declutter! Then cleaning the dust bunnies!

-Susan Louise

4 – Decluttering always. Except for the basic dailies/ weeklies of sanitizing bathrooms, kitchens, towels, bedding, etc.

-Joanne West Petruzella

5 – For me, the declutter. The cleaning afterward is like the polish on a diamond.

-Tracy Lightfoot

6 – Decluttering….it is hard to clean when there is clutter.

-Lorrie Hamilton Mercer

7 – Declutter has truly allowed me to clean easier and more completely

-Denise Crews Odum

8 – Decluttering makes a mess. Then clean.

-Laura Benedict Densock

9 – I can’t clean until after I declutter!

-Theresa Roberts

10 – Decluttering. I am to that point where I can actually clean now and declutter as I go. But if it’s so bad you are tripping over stuff or need to spend half the day picking up before you can sweep or mop, definitely need to declutter first. No judgment here. How do you think I know?! 😂

-Sarah Eastman

11 – Decluttering. My mom used to say you can clean all you want, but if you have clutter, you won’t be able to see the clean.

-Claudia Duarte-Fernandez

12 – How in the world can you really clean without decluttering?

-Dianne Blain Williamson

13 – I clean as I declutter. You have to be able to see the counter or floor before you can clean it.

-Arnetta Thompson

14 – I need to declutter to make cleaning easier. what I have already decluttered is easy to clean.

-Deborah Walker

Team Clean First

15 – I always feel I have to have my house clean before I can start a “project”. That’s why I haven’t got anything done yet!😬

-Diana Hite

16 – Depends on where I am cleaning. I try to declutter one drawer or cupboard every time I clean a room.

-Lynn Brown-Speer

17 – I clean as I go, then declutter. Then the next day I do it all over till again.

-Rose Cyr Kabase

18 – As I start cleaning the decluttering comes naturally.

-Katie Majors

19 – My decluttering always starts with cleaning.

-Andrea Ljungquist

20 – I start cleaning, then I end up de-cluttering.

-Gayelene Hammond

Team Do-It-Together

21 – 🤔 for me it goes hand in hand 👌 👏!
I declutter a little, clean a little.

-Tina Dunstan Vaughan

22 – Decluttering happens while cleaning.

-Deanna Langus

23 – I tend to do both simultaneously.

-Vanessa Penner

24 – It works hand-in-hand with me.

-Peggy Herrmann Novak

25 – I do both at the same time. If I don’t then I shut down and either don’t do anything or just clean the areas that I can.

-Audra Minter

Team It Depends

26 – I’ve been on both sides of the coin. Before I took on so many hours at work I was constantly decluttering but my house was chaotic for it and often cleaning got missed due to having enough time when finished a project to clean. Now I’m more at work than home I barely have enough time to clean let alone declutter. So before I would of said declutter comes first but now I say cleaning!

-Jessica Mackenzie

27 – Yes! Whatever you have the inclination to do – do it!

-Jacqui Jones

28 – That’s like chicken or egg.

– Ruth Adams

29 – Depends on the room/area. I can clean my combo living/dining room but I have to declutter my dining room table as my family insists on using it as a dumping center. Then there are rooms that definitely have to be decluttered before any cleaning can happen

-Denise Abdale

30 – Depends upon how much dust is involved!

-Yvonne LeBlanc Cameron

Which team are you on? Do you declutter or clean first?

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3 thoughts on “We asked 30 people: Do you clean or declutter first?”

  1. I find decluttering really needs to come first. Otherwise it is impossible to clean thoroughly. Unless unexpected company calls and says “we’ll be there tomorrow!” Then it’s clean the guest room first and take away the white gloves.

  2. My family is privileged to have cleaners come in weekly or monthly, so before the cleaners arrive, all clutter is picked up and put away (clothing, shoes, games, toys, CDs, dvds, dishes, etc.,) or pitched – old newspapers, mail, wrappers, stuff in waste baskets), empty containers, spent flowers, short candles, etc. The the cleaners do a thorough job and the houses are left sparkling!

  3. Is this before “declutter school/Sarah” or after? LOL Because at this point all I can think about is what it will feel like to get all the years of declutter out of our home!! Now that, thanks to Sarah I finally know what and how to declutter! Over the years I have done a ton of searching, (on how to organize) just had to find the right fit!


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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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