Decluttering your apartment: our top 5 tips
The essentials at a glance
When and how often should you declutter your apartment?
It's best done at regular intervals, from weeks to months, but it's particularly important if you’re about to move.
Where’s the best place to start decluttering, and how should you do it?
Where: It just depends. There are various approaches, but it’s important to go about it systematically.
How: By planning in enough time to do it and not trying to do everything at once – that way you'll stay motivated.
What happens at the end?
Once you’ve done your decluttering, dispose of any rubbish and old items sensibly, or sell or donate them.
Are there any other benefits to decluttering?
It frees up your mind and your spirit. Remember: clutter in your home clutters up your mind.
Declutter your apartment like a pro
There are plenty of good reasons to give your apartment a good clear-out. When, and how often? there are no hard and fast rules, but there are a couple of rules of thumb that you can follow. Note that these should only be applied once your home has already had one good clear-out from top to bottom. In other words, it’s important to lay the groundwork that will make future decluttering much easier. Once you're at this stage, the experts recommend:
- Every four weeks: small storage spaces like drawers and shelves
- Every three to four months: wardrobes and larger storage spaces
- Twice a year: cellars and attics
Moving house represents the ideal opportunity to do a thorough clear-out and create a good baseline for the state of your new home. This creates space and gives you a new-found sense of freedom. Another bonus is that you won’t need to load as much onto the moving lorry. In fact, having a good clear out can do you a world of good, and it’s quite fun when you know how. It’s a task that often gets neglected. If you don’t feel like it, you can easily end up putting it off to another day... and another. So the project doesn’t become an ordeal, we’ve put together our top 5 tips for tidying up and decluttering. These are guaranteed to help you get the job done quickly and effectively.
1. The first basic rule of stress-free decluttering is: Don't take on too much at once, so that you don’t get overwhelmed after a short while and give up completely. If you're going to be moving soon, start going through your belongings systematically at least a month before your moving date. If you own a lot of things and don’t want to be rushed, set aside even more time to declutter, but do set yourself deadlines.
2. Create the right atmosphere for decluttering. Lots of people find that upbeat music gives them a boost. Alternatively, ask a cheerful friend to help. Ideally, choose a day when the weather is bad, when you wouldn’t want to be outside in any case.
3. Now you can proceed in one of three different ways – you choose the one that suits you best.
You can either start with a small task, such as the drawer where you tend to stash your keys, car documents, pens and notes. If you take it drawer by drawer rather than attempting to clear out an entire room in one go, you’ll find it seems to go faster, and you can actually see what you've achieved. We recommend clearing out individual shelves and compartments completely so that you can also remove any dust or dirt. Now you can now put the things that you use regularly back into the drawer neatly.
Many people find it easier to start with the easy things instead of the small ones. Do you know exactly what’s lying untouched in your cellar or attic? We thought as much. Things we can’t even remember are usually easier to part with than those we see every day. That’s why another recommended approach is to start your major declutter in your storage spaces. After that, you’ll find it easier to part with items in other rooms.
Another tried and tested method is to tackle categories of things instead of rooms. Most of us instinctively start tidying up room by room: bedroom first, followed by the bathroom, and so on. But it might be faster to first get rid of all your old clothes, followed by books, and so on. It makes sense, for instance, to gather all of your books together one afternoon and go through them.
4. Don't forget your tidying up toolkit: Set out boxes, crates, bags and the like so that they’re ready for you to put the sorted items into them. That way you always know what needs to go in the rubbish, what’s going to be kept and what can be recycled. You could also set up a “maybe box” for things that you haven’t been able to decide on just yet. You can set this box aside and then open it again after a month has gone by. Which of these things did you miss, and which of them do really need to go? N.B.: Limit yourself to just one “maybe box” – otherwise you run a real risk of putting far too much stuff onto this pile.
As a rule of thumb, aim to throw out items that you haven’t used for more than two years and which have no emotional value.
5. Now for our final decluttering tip: Work off a to-do list; it’s even more fun if you can tick off your tasks or cross them out.
Options for disposal after a clear-out
If you have successfully treated your apartment to a declutter detox, you’ll end up with a pile of things that you no longer need. You’ll be amazed at just how little you actually use on a regular basis! But what should you do with all of the rubbish and unwanted items? It’s important to be systematic about this bit of the process, too, as disposing of lots of things is an essential part of decluttering. There are a range of solutions, depending on the type of item:
Gifting or donating
- Tell your friends and relatives about your decluttering project – maybe they’ll jump at the chance to salvage something from the resulting stockpile.
- Or do a good deed: non-profit and charitable organisations are always grateful for quality donated items. Thrift stores will also be happy to accept items that are still in usable condition.
- It’s easy to donate old clothing and footwear via the appropriate containers at old clothing collection points.
- Selling your things at a flea market is a classic strategy that still works well.
- Small ads portals are useful for selling things online.
- There are also special platforms dedicated to selling clothing, antiques or art.
- You can scan books and CDs in an instant and sell them via specific apps.
- It’s best to dispose of smaller items of sorted rubbish in your household rubbish or by going to your nearest recycling point.
- If you've accumulated a lot of refuse, you can normally order extra bags or even containers from the local authorities.
- If you need to get rid of furniture, it’s worth registering with your local recycling centre and disposing of it as a bulky item.
- Many locations have regular collection points for electrical waste items, and there are many electronics stores where you can simply take old or faulty appliances, and the specialist staff will dispose of them in the correct way.
The following article contains even more tips and tricks for decluttering: