How to Get Your Husband to Declutter His Stuff {When You’re a Minimalist and He’s Not}

We decluttered a good bit of our garage this weekend. A bunch of garden tools have found a new home and we have freed up a nice section of garage wall. I am so grateful that my husband is on board with {most} of my wishes to declutter. We haven’t always been on the same page.

Now is the perfect time to declutter - so how do you get your husband on board? If you're a minimalist you may be tempted to get rid of his stuff, but this is exactly the wrong approach. The answer might surprise you.

In fact, early in my quest toward minimalism, I made a big mistake. I learned the hard way the first rule of getting others, especially husbands, to declutter.

That rule is this: don’t! Don’t even try. Don’t be a nag, don’t throw out his stuff, don’t make not-so-subtle hints about it. It will not endear you to him. You will lose trust. It’s just not worth it.

So if you can’t *make* your husband declutter, what can you do if you think there is a clutter problem?

  1. Start with your own stuff. If you are anything like me, you have plenty of decluttering to do on your own things before you are done. Be happy concentrating on your stuff. (Take the plank out of your eye before you try to take the speck out of someone else’s.) Once you are done with your things (does that ever happen?) you can move on to his.
  2. Be a good example.  Decluttering can earn you some extra cash! You just might inspire him to do some decluttering on his own!
  3. Share decluttering inspiration with him.
  4. Keep your common areas neat and organized. (Looking for motivation to organize?) This will help satisfy your own need for minimal clutter and may help him to appreciate the same.
  5. Realize that your own approach isn’t the only way. If you keep things you love (and you should), why shouldn’t he keep the things he loves, even if you don’t love those things?
  6. Show him you value and support his choices about what to keep.
  7. Offer to help him organize (and make sure he understands this isn’t a veiled attempt to get rid of his stuff.)

After you’ve made it clear through words and actions that you aren’t going to throw out any of his stuff and you’re sure he trusts you on that fact, you could offer to help him go through some things.

If you’ve gained his trust in this area, he may welcome your offer of help (or he might prefer to declutter on his own). Pick one small area to start.

I think my husband appreciates an uncluttered space as much as I do.

Our newly uncluttered garage is a great reward for a lot of hard work. The best part is that we did this project together: no nagging required.

Do you and your spouse agree on decluttering decisions?


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14 thoughts on “How to Get Your Husband to Declutter His Stuff {When You’re a Minimalist and He’s Not}”

  1. In my case it is normally the other way around. I’m cluttered and my boyfriend is really minimalist and neat. So I definitely should take these advice 🙂

  2. Lol. My husband needs everything he has. He even thinks I am nuts for getting rid of stuff I don’t use and have no attachment to.

    • Ha! Mine, too, at times 🙂 I just told my husband I was considering downsizing my already small wardrobe and he looked at me like I was crazy!

  3. i could have written this exact post. My husband and I spent Veterans Day cleaning out the garage. A few weeks ago I emptied his closet and helped him organize it all back in. He had an entire shelf of space just in the top of the closet.
    We have two closets in our bedroom, one is Twice as big as the other, I have the small one and actually have some of his things in my closet.

  4. This might be the MOST helpful article on organizing I’ve ever read, and I’ve read A LOT of them. You’ve made some excellent points and I’ll definitely rethink my current approach. Thank you.

  5. Oh man, I’m in the same boat! I’m learning to do areas that are mine and common areas. We collaborate on the basement area together in spurts but I frequently get too overwhelmed. 99% of it is his and so he needs to make those decisions about whether to keep it or not. There’s been progress though so I’m encouraged.

  6. My husband and I have lived in the same old farm house in the French countryside for 29 years Thanks very much for your helpful suggestions as my biggest problem is having a partner who fears decluttering. My husband is French (originally a farm boy hence one doesn’t discard anything!) and I’m an American who never lived in the same place for more than 3 years. We have been living for 29 years in old restored by us farmhouse. He has finally agreed to sell the farm but we have tons of furniture and so many “things” accumulated over the years. I am now faced with having to sort out what we keep and what goes (most must go). The chore is not going to be easy because the husband cannot stand the idea of parting with even a tiny screw (“you never know when you might need it”) but what has helped me greatly in this new solitary (for the moment) task is something I read in a book on Buddhism about meditating. It’s like cleaning up a room. You remove everything first and then put back only what you need to have a peaceful uncluttered mind. This is how I’ve been tackling my decluttering and preparing for a simpler life.

  7. My husband is a huge hoarder! I cannot get him to get rid of anything. I also decided to just shut up about it. He has been injured and is off work for a few weeks and he is bored so he is starting to go through things on his own. Yeah!!!

    Loved your article

  8. My boyfriend has s lot of junky memorabilia and it is in boxes and boxes that we don’t have space for. It’s in some of his friend’s basements. We are moving soon and I refuse to live in a cluttered home. I have decluttered mine and shared the thrill of space. He just procrastinates. What is wrong with him. His response is “I may need it one day” I love him but this is unbearable. What to do?

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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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