Let It Go! – 10 Steps to Clutter Free (and How to Maintain It)

I am a failure! I went on a mad purge of my basement a couple of years ago but, like my gray roots, the clutter has crept back! I am determined to make 2022 the year I conquer my basement once and for all. If you, like me, are drowning in clutter, here are my tips to finally getting rid of the clutter, get organized and maintain it! My decluttering tips will help you to know what to get rid of and how to make money doing it.

How to Declutter Your Home and Get Organized Once and for All! Great decluttering tips kellyelko.com #organization #organized #organizationtips #clutter #organizing #declutter #kellyelko

Let it Go!

I have piles of clutter that threaten to topple upon me causing serious bodily injury – maybe even death – so I have vowed that it’s time to live with only the things that I truly love and get rid of the rest.

Excess stuff causes us stress (living with piles of stuff surrounding us is exhausting), money (we buy things we already own but either can’t find or forget we have) and time (the constant search for that thing we can never find).

It’s time to free ourselves of the excess and focus only on what brings us happiness with these decluttering tips.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Following this famous golden rule of William Morris is a good way to avoid accumulating too much stuff.

Tour My Hoarders Basement (with video tour) Here

Let it Go – 10 Steps to Clutter Free

1) Be a Robot (emotionless!)

Let’s face it, we would have tossed most of this stuff long ago if we didn’t have some weirdly dependent thing going on.  Time to focus and look at each and every item we own and if we haven’t used or worn it within a year it’s time to donate it (or toss it) to someone who will love it (remember, it’s just stuff).


2) Make Piles

Donate, Trash, Keep (this one should be the smallest!). Torn on what to do?  Put those few things you just aren’t sure about in a box, put the box in an out of the way spot like the basement and revisit it in six months. Chances are, you’ll have an easier time letting go once you realize you haven’t missed anything.

3) Baby Steps

Start what you finish instead of hopping from room to room. Dump the contents of a drawer out then sort through it and you’ll be amazed at how much ends up in the trash. With each organized area, it will get easier.

4) Get Creative

Can’t stand to part with little Billy’s three foot pile of drawings from Pre-K? Take pictures of your little Picasso’s artwork and print out a little booklet that you can keep on your coffee table and actually admire (and toss the originals that have probably been gathering dust in the basement anyway).

5) Get the Family Involved

I gave my girls garbage bags and told them to fill them up with anything they didn’t use or need anymore. I’m still a little distraught over the fact that they tossed my original Tickle Me Elmo doll but seeing their rooms with some semblance of order more then makes up for it (tip – check their bags before you donate if you don’t want them tossing something of value).

6) A Place for Everything

Make storage a priority for the things you keep because if you can’t see it, you’ll forget about it and you’ll probably buy more of it and then the clutter will begin again. Only purchase baskets, bins and storage containers after you declutter so you’ll know exactly what you need.

You’ve Done It – Now What?

7) Weekly Purge

The hard part is over – now keep up the good work with a weekly purge. Do a clean sweep of tabletops, closets, drawers and paperwork then sit down to your spotless table and enjoy a glass of wine.

8) Buy Only What You Love

Now that you have the world’s most organized home, be picky about what you bring into it. Buy it only if you love it and can’t live without it and have a place for it (you can always sell something that you don’t love on Craigslist).

In other words, does it spark joy as Marie Kondo would ask.

9) One In, One Out

Can’t resist that cute new pair of peep toe sandals? Go ahead and buy them but donate a pair of shoes in the process. For everything you buy, donate (or toss) one thing (this will make you extra picky at the check out counter).

Keep a box designated for outgoing donations.

And last but not least …

10) When in Doubt, Throw it Out (or donate it or sell it)

Your sanity is more important than buying that 15th coffee mug. Keep only your absolute favorites of duplicate items and donate the rest. And remember, just because someone gifted it to you, you are not obligated to keep it for all eternity.

It’s important to remember that what you keep costs you a lot!

So when you are tempted to hang on to things because you might need them again some day, you need to think about where to store it, give up the actual storage space, or take up precious empty space. Not to mention losing your sanity in the process.

Sell Your Stuff on Facebook Tips Here

How to Throw a Killer Yard Sale

Who’s with me?  Let’s make this the year we live mindfully and with less stuff and less stress.

And remember to let it go!

Please leave your tips for getting and staying organized in the comments – because we’re all in this together.

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  1. Thanks for reinforcing something I was working on yesterday! I am trying to purge the stuff in my creative space. Hard to do when I think everything is a future element of an art piece, lol! But I am making progress! It is hard to imagine your home having any junk / clutter in it at all Kelly, it always looks so nice!

  2. So apropos for my day… I am purging Little Jimmy and Little Jeff’s school drawings… (they are 44 and 46!)… I gave them each a big envelope of pictures and school things as part of Christmas, and I am already gathering more. Some are going straight to the trash, but I like the idea of taking a picture and keeping a booklet. After all, when I am gone, who will care?

    (My mother, who died 6 years ago at 94, kept the coat, hat, gloves, booties, dress and blanket I was brought home from the orphanage in 64 years ago!… so it’s in my blood!)

    1. Vintage items like that are rare especially if they are in good shape. You can have them framed in a shadow box or you can sell them. Just don’t throw them away. Their are collectors out there who would love to purchase them from you.

  3. Purge…not easy but necessary for us all. I started last week in my office/craft room. I have a friend that has a daughter that is a teacher and I am donating the craft supplies to her for student projects…feeling better about it going to a good home helps eliminate “stuff” that has not been used for a while. It is a process but you are correct, I feel better once it is done. Thanks for the reminders

  4. YES Kelly! You nailed it…clutter can be debilitating! I so believe in everything has it’s place. Not only does that thought process help with putting things away (and everyone hopefully knows where these places are), but it does help in double buying. I do struggle in some areas like shoes and clothing, but I do try and purge at least every season.
    Thanks for reminding us of the importance of letting GO~

  5. I’m a scrapbooker, and I have incorporated the kids artwork into my pages. Instead of purchasing a turkey diecut, I use the cute one they made in preschool. I’m still preserving some of the artwork…but it’s not in a box in the closet. And…. not every work of art makes the cut.

  6. I like and practice your ideas so it is nice to keep doing it with other’s ideas too!
    I strongly believe in donating anything that isn’t broken or in need of repair. I shred the papers I feel cannot go straight to the recycle bin. I donate magazines, books to our local library. I do not like to buy things that I cannot store so I really think about where a new item will live!
    The one item in and one item out is a must for me. This is my year to let go of the cute stuff and see more value in what I use-not what I store! Planning a big yard sale, too.

    1. Great way to think Debbie! I threw a huge yard sale last year and it was a lot of work! Then I ended up hauling everything that didn’t sell to the thrift store!

  7. Thanks for sharing! I like that you say that one must be a robot. Stuff should just be things that improve life, but sometimes easier said than done.

  8. I wish I would have seen the “start one room at a time” prior to my disaster. I got bogged down in a room so I went to another room, another closet, another cupboard, etc. I have the biggest clutter disaster ever!!!! And I don’t seem to be able to climb out from under it. It is truly paralyzing my life.

  9. Great ideas Kelly! I use the technique where if get something, one thing needs to go. I work in a daycare so luckily things can be repurposed there and the kids love new items! I wait to buy something, then if time passes and I still think about it I get it! Hope that helps! 😊

  10. These were all wonderful ideas Kelly! I have to say #9 has helped me the most! My biggest problem is I remember who gave things to me and then I feel guilty getting rid of something. So in 2022 my goal is to leave it out for a while, then pass it on to someone who might enjoy it more. I have to remember it’s my home and I am in charge of keeping it how I want it! Thank you for sharing these great tips! Good luck with your basement! 🙂

  11. Great ideas! I keep a trash bag in my closet. When I put something on that doesn’t fit right, or make me feel confident and attractive it goes in the bag. I also toss underwear that has been annoying or socks that my shoes eat, immediately!

  12. My suggestion is move to a smaller home with no storage! That has worked for me, I had no choice but to get rid of so much stuff because there was no place to put it. We live in an 1100 sq ft house with no garage and only 2 very small closets. Life is so much simpler without all the organizing of stuff all the time!! As long as you have places to put things, they will get filled up!

    1. So true Karen! My sister just moved from a big house into an apartment with no garage, basement or storage! I am like a drill sergeant with her – I won’t let her buy any crap to clutter up the place! I need someone to yell at me to do the same!

  13. Thanks Kelly, I find as I get older the easier it is, I don’t want to clean all my junk, so out it goes! Have a great day.

  14. I have been doing this for over 3 years….still not done! For New Year’s weekend I cleaned kitchen drawers!
    My husband and I left a large home; had an estate sale; donated; sold furniture to new buyer; gave to children and grandchildren. During the past 18 mos. since, my husband has been in assisted living with mild dementia, but with his own furniture. Lately though we find he’s headed for skilled care and I have no room for his funiture…it never seems to end! I have more boxes of art, memorabilia, his clothing. I can donate his dressers, a night table and bed linens, etc. Meanwhile, his furniture sits against a wall in my living room along with a walker, commode, etc. I think I need a peptalk!! 🙂

    1. I’m so sorry about your husband Marikey. Dementia is a horrible disease. It’s so hard to let go especially when we have soooo much stuff! Just remember that whoever gets your furniture will treasure it.

  15. Oh how I soo need to do this. But honestly I’m great at getting rid of things. My husband is a hoarder and I cannot get him on board to get rid of things. This year (hopefully) I can get him to pack it up and out. Heres to hoping anyway. My basement is also very scary. My 5 year old and 2 year old have recently found frozen. They go around all day singing “Let it Go.” Seriously we do need to just let it go. Lol Thanks for sharing. Happy purging.

    1. Hopefully you can convince your husband to part with some stuff for all of your sanity! They say too much stuff makes us depressed and I believe it. We need to know where our things are and use them and appreciate them, not let them sit in a pile, forgotten and unused. Hoping your husband can “Let it Go” soon Marsha!

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