How to Clean When You’re Overwhelmed by Clutter

If you’ve been putting off cleaning for a while, and your house is a bit cluttered, it can be impossible to know where to start. After all, if everything is cluttered, what’s the highest priority?

Luckily, there are some useful tips for managing the clutter, and the feelings of stress that come with it. Read on to find out more.

How to Clean When You’re Overwhelmed by Clutter

1. Decide Where to Start

Granted, this is easier said than done. Your starting point could be a room or an area of the house. For example, you might want to start by tidying the floor, or by washing up. Figure out what job will have the most impact without requiring too much effort, and start with that. 

2. Group Things into 5 Categories 

Everything in your home will fit into 1 of the following 5 categories: 

  1. Rubbish. Fairly self-explanatory, this is stuff that goes in the bin.
  2. Dirty dishes and food.
  3. Laundry. Whether it’s clean or dirty, this includes clothes, towels, bedding, etc.
  4. Everything that has a place.
  5. Everything that doesn’t have a place.

Work down the list in this order and it shouldn’t take long to make your home look almost instantly tidier.

3. Decide on Your Priorities

Your priorities don’t need to be specific cleaning jobs, but could be something a bit more general like “have a tidy bedroom”. These don’t have to be the jobs that have the most impact on the appearance of your home, but rather are the ones that’ll make you feel less stressed.

 For many of us, this’ll translate into having a space in which to relax, such as the bedroom or living room. Focus on getting this space clean so you’ve got somewhere you can chill out after tackling some of the clutter.

4. Grab Something and Put it Away 

If you’re really struggling with where to start, just grab the first thing your eyes land on and put it away. It could literally be anything you see. Once that’s been put away, grab the next thing, and the next. 

Doing it this way can be helpful because you don’t have to make many decisions about the overall cleaning process. Instead, you’re working on one item at a time to at least make a dent in the larger mess.

5. Do Bursts of Cleaning

 Another useful tip is to decide on an amount of time – say, 20 minutes – and spend that time cleaning non-stop in a specific room. Even 20 minutes can be enough to achieve a lot in terms of decluttering, and focusing on one room helps maximise your productivity.

After cleaning for this time, go do something else for a bit. Then tackle another room for 20 minutes, and repeat this a few times if you feel able. You’ll have quickly done an hour of cleaning and you should notice some good results.

6. Don’t Get Burnt Out Decluttering

It’s important to note that decluttering isn’t the same as cleaning. You can’t clean clutter – you tidy it away. Often, you’ll need to declutter before you can actually clean (i.e., hoovering, mopping, dusting, etc.).

 So, decluttering needs to happen first, but can be an emotionally and mentally draining process. Rather than get burnt out, try doing a little bit at a time. This might be in 20-minute bursts, or it might be tidying away 2 or 3 things a day. Either way, little and often will usually give better results than trying to do it all at once.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Ruthless

 Proper decluttering often requires you to be ruthless, so make sure you’re in a good mindset. The easiest way to tidy up clutter is to get rid of anything you don’t need, but this can mean making difficult decisions. Have a donation box ready and be prepared to part with stuff that’s just taking up space.

8. Make the Process Fun

One of the best ways to make decluttering fun is to put on some upbeat music and have a reward at the end. Alternatively, you could throw on an audiobook or your favourite podcast. The point is to take your mind off the potential stress and make it as fun as possible. 

Final Thoughts

 Put simply, the trick to not getting overwhelmed by clutter is to break down jobs and do them little and often. Work smart, not hard, and you should be able to tackle those mountains of clutter in no time. If you feel like you do not have the time, then you should consider hiring a house cleaning service to help your home stay clean.


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