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21 steps to decluttering your house

Josie Stevens / 24 March 2015 ( 20 March 2020 )

Read our guide to decluttering your home with 21 useful tips to help you declutter, whether you're downsizing to a smaller house or just fancy having a thorough clear out.

Cookery books on a shelf in the kitchen
Everyday items you haven't used for years can be given to charity

1. Declutter your bank statements

Keep bank statements for no more than a year - and shred the older ones. You'll be amazed at how much old paperwork you no longer need.

2. Declutter your guarantees

Sort through your appliance guarantees and get rid of the ones which have passed their expiry dates.

3. Declutter your novels

You probably have a large number of novels that you'll never read again - so donate these to charity shops. Or if there's a local car boot fair or jumble sale, think about setting up a stall to make a bit of extra cash.

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4. Declutter your reference books

You might want to keep a number of reference books, plus non-fiction books such as biographies. But even some of these could be given to family members and friends according to their interests.

5. Declutter your cookery books

Do you really need shelves groaning with loads of different cookery books, when you always turn to one old faithful for your favourite recipes, and perhaps at a push a Jamie Oliver and a Mary Berry? Once again, the charity shops will be grateful for your donation. If you have a tablet you can easily find thousands of recipes online, including our own recipe section with recipe finder.

6. Declutter your wardrobes

This is where you have to be ruthless! Many garments may need to be kept for special occasions, but everyday items you haven't worn for several years can be bagged up for charity shops. Clothes in good condition are always acceptable.

7. Declutter your shoes

We all tend to hold on to too many pairs of shoes, while wearing the same few pairs alternately. It's worth spending a little time trying on your shoes to find out which ones you still like and which ones are still comfortable - and get rid of the rest.

8. Declutter your kitchen items

How much crockery and cutlery do you really need? Keep a good supply of plates, knives, forks, spoons and the like in case of extra visitors. But do you really need 10 varieties of dinner plate and five identical frying pans? The answer is probably no.

9. Declutter the kitchen to kit out the family

Once you've sorted out which kitchen items you really need, there will usually be a fair amount left over which will come in handy for family members - especially younger ones wanting to fit out their own flats and houses.

10. Declutter your kitchen appliances

No doubt there's a Magimix, a juicer or a spare coffee percolator lurking in the back of a kitchen cupboard gathering dust. Just get rid and free up some extra cupboard space.

11. Declutter your kitchen cupboards

Check dry food items at the back of kitchen cupboards. Check the use-by dates on packets, jars and tins - and dispose of the out-of-date ones.

12. Declutter your cleaning products

Time together to grips with that cupboard under the sink! You may well find old cloths, empty product bottles, packets and boxes that have long since seen better days. Simply bin them, or put them in the recycling where appropriate.

13. Declutter your fridge

In particular, tackle the salad drawer of your fridge on a regular basis, where vegetables have been known to go to die unless they are eaten as quickly as possible!

14. Declutter your freezer

Are you really going to fancy that fifth portion of frozen cottage pie in two months' time? Don't overstock your freezer compartments with stuff for the sake of it that you're never likely to use.

15. Declutter with auction websites

It's amazing what everyday household items people will buy on ebay and other auction websites to help you declutter your home. Do your online research on ebay and its rivals you can have a great clear out while making money too, especially on rare, vintage, retro or simply unusual items. Read our guide to selling on eBay.

16. Declutter your loft

Lofts and attics are convenient storage spaces, especially when moving into a new house or flat. But they can quickly become too convenient; how often do we say 'put it in the loft as it might come in handy one day'? So check your loft regularly. Any items that are unlikely to be used again should be either discarded, offloaded to an online recycling group, a charity shop, via auction websites or to a local selling group on Facebook, for example, where other people could make use of them.

17. Declutter old toys

Some toys will hold happy family memories and you'll want to keep them. But we bet you most are no longer looked at and are boxed away somewhere. In which case, sell them on ebay and the like. It'll be gratifying to know they're going to a good home where they'll get a new lease of life and give pleasure to collectors.

18. Declutter your photographs

We all accumulate hundreds of photos over the years. You'll want to keep the lion's share, of course, as part of your family history. But it's worth taking a bit of time to sort out the photos that mean most to you, and get rid of duplicates and old photos of people you don't even know!

19. Declutter when downsizing

When you move into a smaller house or flat, for example, large items of furniture could be advertised in local newspapers, in free ad magazines, through local online selling groups, via online auction websites or offered at a price for collection by local secondhand shops. Read our tips for making the most of your space after downsizing.

20. Declutter your bathroom products

It's so easy to collect almost-empty bottles of shampoo, shower gel, deodorant, hair spray etc after buying new products. Make a point of completely emptying containers before starting to use newly-bought items.

21. Declutter your bathroom cabinets

Bathroom cabinets should be regularly checked and tidied. Be especially mindful to discard out-of-date medicines carefully and properly, such as cough mixtures, painkillers etc. Expired prescription medicines can be returned to your pharmacist. And make sure you have a suitable receptacle to contain cleaning articles, cloths, spare toilet rolls and the like. 

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.