11 Easy Rules for Decluttering

Gabe Bult
by Gabe Bult

When you get stuck while decluttering, what might help you is some clear guidelines. I have developed some rules for decluttering that help me make decisions and simplify the process.

Hopefully, my decluttering rules can help you, too. Here they are.

1. Do not fall for guilt

Guilt was a big problem for me in the beginning. When someone gives you a gift that does not fit, or when you spend money on something and it turns out not to be what you expected, you might feel obliged to hang on to it.

If you decide not to fall into this guilt trap, you can get rid of these kinds of things right away and not let them clutter your house.

Opening front door

2. What is the worst that could happen?

When I face the fear of “what if I need it in the future?” while decluttering, I like to ask myself what the worst thing that could happen is. Usually it is not that bad – perhaps you will need to buy it again. This really alleviates some of that fear of getting rid of stuff.

3. Look at the positive

Decluttering may be a bit of a roller coaster at first – you get a huge high and then get down. Something that helps me is looking at this process as a positive thing. You are not wasting money. You are not wasting this stuff.

If you are donating it, you are helping somebody with it. If you are selling it, you are making money. Looking at the positive side can really help you get a good head of steam going.

4. The six month rule

The six month rule is pretty simple, but you can also change it up a little bit. If you have not used something in the last six months and you are not going to use it in the next six months, you can go ahead and get rid of it.

That helps with seasonal stuff that may not be relevant today but will come in handy in a couple months. For some things I use the six month rule, for other things I use the 90 day rule or even 30 days, depending on what it is.

For example, I am unlikely to use the kitchen stuff I have not touched in 90 days.

5. If you would not buy it

This one has definitely helped me a lot as well, where if you would not actually go out and buy this again, then don't hang on to it in the first place. Like do you need it that bad that you would literally go out and pay full price to buy this thing? If not, then you probably do not need it.


6. Keep a simple wardrobe

Something that has really helped me is simplifying my wardrobe and only keeping a limited number of good quality items. For me, three to five pairs of pants that I wear continually on a cycle and 15-20 shirts have been working out great.

My main shirts are on the expensive side, but they fit really well, match all my other clothes, and can be worn every day. This way, I never have the temptation of going to a store and impulse buying a shirt.

Instead, I shop once and forget about buying clothes for a long time.

7. No duplicates

I have found this rule especially useful in the kitchen. I do not need six spatulas, so why keep them? I try to go through things, figure out which ones I have too many of, and let them go. Never having multiples unless it is necessary has really been a great declutter rule for me.

8. Make it a habit

If we do not make an effort and do not hold ourselves accountable, stuff just keeps accumulating, and you have to continually make a habit of decluttering, whether it is daily, weekly or monthly.

To get started, try doing a 30 day or a 60 day challenge. This really helps build momentum and get used to decluttering regularly.

9. Never commit on the spot

If you want to declutter your life in general, and not just your home, something important is to never commit to things people ask of you right away.

Always say you have to check, and take that time to think about whether you want to do it without the pressure. Always ask yourself if this commitment is going to bring you enough joy and value and be worth it.


10. Understand your why

If you do not know why it is that you are decluttering, you are not going to last very long. When I started like that, I did not really change my lifestyle, and all the stuff came right back.

Understanding your why is key to making long-term changes in your life and staying motivated without getting bored, tired or stressed and giving up.

11. Do not just move stuff

While cleaning a room, you might be tempted to move the stuff you are unsure about to another room and deal with it later. This way, you are not getting rid of stuff, but just moving it and creating extra work you will have to do.

You might have to go through that thing that you moved and move it two or three more times before you end up actually getting rid of it. This is counterproductive and slows down your decluttering process.

To break this cycle, never move things – take the time right away to figure out if this is something you want to hang on to, and save yourself a lot of headache.

Rules for decluttering

These are the declutter rules I use to keep my home organized and comfortable to live in.

What are some of the rules for decluttering your home that you have defined for yourself? What principles do you go by while decluttering? Share your ideas in the comments below!

Join the conversation
  • Faith Faith on Oct 16, 2023
    How do you get someone to want to declutter without hurting their feelings?
  • Michael Walker Michael Walker on Dec 12, 2023
    I have a charity pickup service I always use. They provide me distinctive bags to use, and as I declutter I have the bag right beside me and fill it as I go.