Our 30-Day Declutter Challenge Will Help You Tidy Your Home for Good

Cut the clutter and easily organize every room in your home with our simple day-by-day checklist.

closet shelving show organization and clothing
Photo: Dera Burreson

Decluttering your entire home can feel intimidating if you’re not sure where to start. With so many closets, cabinets, and drawers to sort through, you’ll need more than just a weekend to truly clear the clutter. And while this might feel like a daunting task, we’re here to help. We’ve compiled our best organizing tips into a simple 30-day plan to help you take control of clutter in the new year. Some tasks take only a few minutes to complete, while others can be crossed off in a weekend afternoon. 

Whether your New Year’s resolution is to live more minimally or you just want to clear unnecessary visual clutter around the house, use this 30-day checklist to get started. 

If you can’t commit to 30 consecutive days, don't fret. Pick 4-5 tasks to complete per week instead—just be sure to check them off as you go to stay on track. Likewise, if you have a dedicated closet or cabinet you shove all your extra clutter into—picture Monica’s secret closet from Friends—you might need to spend several days organizing and clearing out that space. Take the time to do a thorough job, even if it means adding a few additional days. 

01 of 30

Day 1: Identify Top Clutter Hot Spots

white pantry wicker baskets storage
Joyelle West

Good news: You don’t actually have to do any physical organizing or cleaning on day one. Instead, set aside time to identify the most cluttered areas of your home so you have a better idea of how to tackle them moving forward. Clutter hot spots typically include your entryway drop-zone, closets, pantry areas, and any drawer or cabinet that can quickly be shut to hide the mess inside. 

Walk around your home and write down any cluttered areas you can see without touching anything, Then, walk through again and open all the drawers, cabinets, and cupboards to identify your top clutter hot spots. Once you’ve made your list, read through our tips for days 2-30 and make a plan for how you’ll combat your clutter. If you need, switch the order of days around so that you have more time to hit the main areas of concern. Having a plan with clear goals can help you feel less overwhelmed about the task ahead. 

02 of 30

Day 2: Clean Out Your Fridge

a refrigerator full of food with both doors open
AndreyPopov / Getty

The refrigerator is often the most-used appliance in the kitchen. But because it's utilized every day, it can quickly fill up with condiments, expired food, and uneaten leftovers. To make mealtimes simpler (and to help cut back on food waste), organize your fridge to make it more functional. 

The first step is to throw out anything that’s expired, along with any condiments, sauce packets, or leftovers you know aren’t going to be eaten. Then, take everything else out of the refrigerator and give it a good scrub. When it’s time to put everything back in, use our refrigerator organization tips to make the most of your space. 

03 of 30

Day 3: Go Through Your Clothes Closet

closet shelving show organization and clothing
Dera Burreson

Chances are, you have old clothes, shoes, or bags in your closet that you’re realistically never going to wear. Whether it’s a purchase you didn’t end up loving or a pair of jeans that no longer fit, there’s no reason to keep items that are just taking up space. Go through each item in your closet and evaluate anything you haven’t worn or used in the past six months.

Fill a donation box with anything you no longer need and is in good shape (but don’t take it just yet—you’ll likely find more items to donate as you work through the challenge), then take stock of what you have left and organize your closet in a way that makes sense for you. This might also free up some storage space for clutter in other areas around your home. 

04 of 30

Day 4: Declutter Your Entryway

Seating area with hangers
Laura Moss Photography Corp

Clutter can be overwhelming, especially when it’s in a highly visible area of the home. If your entryway is filled with discarded mail or jackets and backpacks haphazardly thrown across a bench, a 20-minute pickup can quickly put your mind at ease.

Start by removing everything that has a home somewhere else: Jackets and scarves go back in the coat closet, shoes and boots go out to the garage, and cards or mail can be opened and filed away. Once you’ve done that, consider adding entryway storage options for whatever is left. If you don’t have a designated spot for keys or the dog’s leash, hang stylish hooks behind the front door. If you receive a lot of mail and packages, a pretty woven basket can keep everything relatively out of sight until you’re ready to go through it. 

05 of 30

Day 5: Make Space in Dresser Drawers

above view drawer organized shoes hats
Jay Wilde

You’ve already tackled your closet, but that’s not the only place unwanted clothing items could be hiding. Empty out all the drawers of your dresser and lay everything out on the bed or floor. Decide how you want the drawers to be organized for functionality—for example, put daily items like underwear and socks in the top drawers for easy access—then slowly start putting everything back in the drawers. Only put back items you truly use (the six-month rule works here too!) and add the rest to the donation box. 

06 of 30

Day 6: Purge Expired Ingredients

Slide out kitchen pantry
Greg Scheidemann

With so many cooking ingredients, appliances, and dishes, kitchen storage space can fill up fast. Because it’s easy to close the cupboard doors and forget about what’s inside, you could be wasting a lot of capacity on expired products.

Go through every food item, and toss anything that’s expired. If you come across unopened shelf-stable items (like canned soup or pancake mix) that are still good but you don’t plan to use, donate them to a local food pantry or shelter instead of throwing them away. 

07 of 30

Day 7: Organize Your Home Office

floating minimalist office desk shelves pink black white rose gold accents
Jay Wilde

Whether it’s a place to work remotely full-time or just a storage hub for documents and bills, your home office can quickly accumulate clutter if you don’t have an organizational system in place. To clear the clutter—and keep it away for good—you need to first assess your storage needs.

If bills, bank statements, and important documents are taking up real estate on your desk, implement storage baskets or a filing cabinet to organize your files. To contain cords and computer accessories, add a shelf above your desk and use decorative baskets to hide cords and knickknacks. A good organizational system should hide visual clutter and make it easy to find what you need while you work. 

08 of 30

Day 8: Clean Out Your Spice Drawer

kitchen spice drawer storage organization
Christina Wedge

Unless you cook multiple meals a day, most of your spices will expire before you reach the end of the jar. Although garlic powder, oregano, and nutmeg are all dry ingredients, they only have a shelf life of about a year after the container is opened. Even if the date printed on the bottle says otherwise, most spices lose their flavor and potency after about 12 months. 

Clean out your spice drawer or cabinet by removing all bottles and jars, and tossing anything you’ve had for years. If you want to test each spice before you toss it, sprinkle a little on your fingers and rub them together. If it has a strong smell, it’s probably still good. If not, toss it and replace it.

Once you’ve cleaned out the drawer and added replacements to your next grocery order, organize what’s left in a way that allows you to see what you have at a glance. That way, you’re not buying duplicates when you can’t find something for a particular recipe.

09 of 30

Day 9: Ditch Clutter Magnets

activity sports toys bins wheels
Paul Dyer

Household items can turn into clutter once you no longer have a use for them. Cords for outdated devices, plastic storage containers with mismatched lids, and toys your kids have outgrown—all of these items take up valuable storage space and likely won’t be used again. Donate what you can and toss the rest in order to make space for the items in your home you actually use. 

10 of 30

Day 10: Tidy Up Toiletries

bin organization in bathroom drawers
Carson Downing

Self-care spa days often come with a wide array of products, serums, and accessories—all of which can easily accumulate in your bathroom cabinets or drawers. If your bathroom feels overwhelmed with products, medications, and beauty tools, start by removing everything from the drawers, cupboards, and shelves. Take stock of what you actually use, and toss any old beauty products, almost-empty bottles, and anything else you aren’t using. Only put back products you know you’ll use, and utilize drawer dividers or storage containers to keep like items grouped together. 

Be sure to check every bathroom in your home, not just the one you normally use. Make sure powder rooms or guest bathrooms are free from old loofahs and expired toiletries before guests come to stay. 

11 of 30

Day 11: Organize Your Pantry

organized pantry with colorful wallpaper
Jay Wilde

Just like other areas in your kitchen, your pantry needs a good clean-out at least once a year. But don’t just focus on tossing expired products or donating unwanted nonperishables (though you should do that first). Once you’ve decided what stays, focus on creating a storage solution that allows you to see everything you have and find it easily. This will prevent you from buying duplicate ingredients, which can save you money and cut down on food waste. 

Consider organizing the pantry in zones, with designated areas for baking ingredients, snacks, canned goods, and easy meals. Use risers, lazy Susans, and clear containers to customize your pantry organization to your family's needs.

12 of 30

Day 12: Stash Seasonal Items Under the Bed

eclectic bedroom cubby shelves basket throw blanket
Greg Scheidemann

If your mom always told you not to shove things under your bed, think again. The area under the bed provides essential storage, especially if you're working with a small space—so don’t let it go to waste. First, invest in a dust ruffle to conceal the area or attractive under-the-bed bins. Then decide what makes the most sense to store there. 

Since it’s not always easy to access this space, consider stashing seasonal items under the bed so you’re not constantly getting down on the floor to reach for things. In the summer, use the space for extra blankets, snow gear, and holiday decor. In the winter, swap these out for pool inflatables, swimsuits, or beach towels. 

13 of 30

Day 13: Clean Out the Attic

White cube organizer shelf
Ann VanderWiel Wilde

An attic is the ideal storage space for anything you don’t use very often, but it can also easily become a catch-all for unwanted items. Set aside time to dig through any boxes and clear out shelves. You’ll likely find things you forgot you’d stashed up there, and you might also come across things you once wanted to save but no longer need.

Donate what you can and toss any trash before organizing what’s left into groups. Designate a specific area for each type of item: All holiday decor belongs on the same shelf, while childhood mementos and sentimental items should be stored together in clearly labeled bins with lids. 

Depending on the size of your attic (and the amount of stuff it has accumulated over the years) this could turn into a multiple-day project. Give yourself as much time as you need to truly clean it out and come up with an organization system you can stick to moving forward. 

14 of 30

Day 14: Organize Kitchen Cabinets

kitchen pantry snacks
Tria Giovan

You’ve already tackled a good chunk of the kitchen storage areas, so this decluttering challenge shouldn’t be too daunting. Go through the kitchen cabinet-by-cabinet and remove any items you no longer need, like the wine glasses you never use or that saucepan with a broken lid. Once you’ve determined what items to keep, stack and organize what’s left in a way that makes it easy to find everything when you need it.

15 of 30

Day 15: Clean Out Your Junk Drawer

drawers with organized office supplies
Marty Baldwin

As much as we might hate to admit it, everyone has at least one drawer that just accumulates junk. Most of the time, a junk drawer is actually filled with useful items you want to keep but don’t have a home anywhere else. You can absolutely continue storing small items in this drawer, but consider using drawer dividers or small containers to keep rubber bands, scissors, and pens organized and easy to find when you need them. Of course, be sure to toss any items that are broken or you’re no longer using.

16 of 30

Day 16: Get Your Garage in Order

organized storage garage space
Paul Dyer

Because it’s not your home's main hangout, the garage can easily accumulate clutter that doesn’t have a destination elsewhere. And while it’s fine to store garden tools, pool toys, and power tools alongside your bikes and cars, make sure all tools and accessories are properly stored and organized. 

Take advantage of vertical storage by installing a pegboard or shelves for tools and garden equipment, and use these pool toy storage ideas to keep seasonal items stored off the ground. 

17 of 30

Day 17: Sort Important Papers and Documents

Wire baskets hanging on wall filled with papers
Cameron Sadeghpour

If you’ve already found a storage solution for your important papers, bills, and mail as part of your home office cleanup, congratulations—you can take the day off! If you’re still struggling with how to store and organize all the papers you need to keep, grab a basket and a pack of file folders and start organizing. The basket can move from room to room as necessary, but it’ll prevent papers from cluttering any surfaces.

If you have a lot of papers you don’t need anymore, consider scanning them so you have a digital copy, then shredding them. Many banks and libraries have shred days where you can take your documents to be shredded for free if you don’t have the device at home. 

18 of 30

Day 18: Take Stock of Tupperware

food storage containers lids blue in drawer

Jay Wilde

There is no perfect way to store mismatched plastic food containers and their many corresponding lids. They never stack perfectly, and the lids inevitably end up a jumbled mess inside a cabinet. One solution is to donate what you have and invest in a matching set that stacks nicely. Or, grab a cheap desk organizer and place it in your drawer or cabinet to keep the lids contained. The stacked risers make it easy to see all the lids at once, so you can quickly grab the right one. 

19 of 30

Day 19: Organize Your Medicine Cabinet

open wall-mount medicine cabinet organization
Cameron Sadeghpour

If you haven’t cleaned out your medicine cabinet in a while, chances are you’re storing more than a few expired products. Not only does this mean you’re wasting valuable bathroom storage space, but you’ll also be out of luck next time you come down with a cold and find your decongestant has expired. Toss any expired medications, making sure to follow proper disposal procedures. Many pharmacies have a medicine dropbox where you can bring old prescriptions or expired products. 

Organize what’s left into categories so you can quickly reach for items when you need them. A good rule of thumb is to clean out your medicine cabinet every six months, tossing anything that’s expired or has been open too long. Add any replacement items to your grocery list.

20 of 30

Day 20: Straighten Up a Hallway Closet

linen closet organized with bins and baskets
Lincoln Barbour

Set aside an hour or two to sort through your linen closet, tossing items you no longer need and organizing the shelves to make them more functional. Assign a category to each shelf, so that when you’re in need of extra towels or spare pillowcases, you know exactly where to find them. Designate one shelf for bedding, another for towels, and add decorative baskets to hold additional toiletries or toilet paper. If you have more than one hall closet, you could add an additional day to the declutter challenge for each closet.

21 of 30

Day 21: Store More in the Laundry Room

view of remodeled laundry room
Hector Sanchez

Depending on the size of your laundry room, you can utilize it to store a lot more than fabric softener and dryer sheets. Laundry room cabinets are a good place to store extra towels and linens if you don’t have a linen closet, or household cleaning supplies that would otherwise take up too much valuable kitchen cabinet space. If you’re not already maximizing your laundry room storage, evaluate problem areas in other rooms of the house and make space for them here. 

22 of 30

Day 22: Declutter Cookware

pegboard kitchen storage
Adam Albright

Now that you’ve gone through each area of your kitchen and identified the items you actually use, find the most efficient way to store your cookware. If cabinet space is limited, you might need to improvise by hanging them above the stove or from a pegboard on a blank wall. If you’d rather not see your cookware on display, install drawer dividers to organize and store lids, and hang your pans on a pantry wall that can be hidden by closing the door. 

23 of 30

Day 23: Organize Board Games

wooden desk with green banner
Jason Donnelly

It’s rare for everything to be put away perfectly after family game night, especially if the kids are on cleanup duty. There’s always a card or two left out, so inevitably the game cabinet becomes littered with loose game pieces. To organize your media cabinet or closet, take all the board games out and put all the loose pieces back in their corresponding boxes. For games that no longer have a box, folded game boards and game pieces will typically fit in a gallon zip-top bag for easy storage. To keep things even more organized, stack the board games, then use small decorative bins or baskets to sort smaller items (like card decks or two-player games) to keep them from cluttering shelves.

24 of 30

Day 24: Hide TV Cords

living room white tv console
David Tsay

Visual clutter can be just as distracting as a pile of junk strewn across your coffee table. If your entertainment center gives you a headache every time you look at the jumbled pile of cords, don’t worry—it’s easier to hide them than you might think.

Concealing cables behind a wall is one of the most effective ways to hide wires, but it’s not a fast or easy solution. If a small remodel isn’t in your weekend plans, pick up a few cable concealers (also known as cable raceways) at your local hardware store. The small flat box will still be visible, but it holds all the cords in one place and usually comes in several colors, so you can choose one that will blend in with your wall or baseboards.

25 of 30

Day 25: Streamline Shower Supplies

bathroom sliding glass shower
Marty Baldwin

You’ve already conquered bathroom drawers and cabinets, but clutter might still be lurking behind the shower curtain. A combination of soaps, shampoos, hair products, and loofahs can quickly overwhelm a small shower space, especially if you don’t have proper storage. Take everything out and give your shower a good clean, then add a hanging caddy or shower rack to hold all your essentials. There are hundreds of design options, so you should be able to find a relatively inexpensive option that perfectly fits your needs.

26 of 30

Day 26: Tidy Bookshelves

living room white bookshelf
Brie Williams

Open spaces like shelves and built-ins need to be kept neat and tidy in order to prevent them from looking cluttered, even if they really aren’t. If your bookshelves have turned into an eyesore, spend this day rethinking your decor. If you have a lot of books, organize them by color to turn them into a design statement. Or arrange horizontal stacks of 3-4 books and supplement with small accessories and picture frames for an organized bookshelf that blends seamlessly with the rest of your home. 

27 of 30

Day 27: Sort and Store Holiday Decor

christmas light storage

Jay Wilde

Because they're only used a few months out of the year, be sure the holiday decor you’re storing are items you actually love and use. It can be easy to stash wreaths and garlands away at the end of the season and forget about them. Take inventory of your holiday decor, donate what you no longer need, and sort the rest into stackable clear storage bins.

This is also a good time to make sure everything is in good working order: Check your string lights to make sure they work, and confirm any outdoor inflatables are totally dry and clear of mold or mildew before they're packed away.

28 of 30

Day 28: Toss Old Beauty Products

neat makeup drawer storage bathroom
Jay Wilde

Makeup is expensive, so it can be tempting to hold onto old or expired products, especially if you don’t use them very often. But besides posing health risks, keeping old makeup around just makes it harder to find the products you do use. Clean out your makeup bag or drawer, and toss anything that’s old, dried out, or no longer usable. Clean any makeup brushes or sponges and let them dry completely before storing them away with the cosmetics you’re keeping. Then, organize your products in clear containers with the most-used items placed toward the front.

29 of 30

Day 29: Donate or Recycle Your Discards

Bags with Garage Sale and To Donate items
Marty Baldwin

By now, you’ve probably added quite a few items to your donation pile. To make sure your pre-loved pieces do the most good, check with local shelters or community centers to see if they have a need for any of the items you’re getting rid of. You can also join ‘Freecycle’ social media groups in most major cities, which can connect you to people in search of specific items. 

Only donate clean clothes in good condition; items with holes or rips should be tossed, recycled, or repurposed into cleaning rags. Also keep in mind that donation stores like Goodwill have donation restrictions, so it’s best to call ahead or check the website before dropping off any boxes.

30 of 30

Day 30: Hold On to Sentimental Items

vintage family photographs
SetsukoN/Getty Images

Congratulations, you’re done! After purging clutter and tossing things you no longer need, it probably feels good to get rid of so many unnecessary items. But as you continue decluttering and utilizing your newly organized spaces, we encourage you not to toss everything you aren’t using anymore. Family heirlooms or sentimental items might not be used frequently (or at all), but the emotional attachment to these things is worth the valuable space on your storage shelves. As long as you can find an organized way to store sentimental items, they’re almost always worth keeping.

We encourage you to do a mini version of this declutter challenge every few months to keep clutter from accumulating again. Since you’ve already completed a major refresh, you should be able to quickly run through all the steps in a weekend or two, making sure all the cabinets and closets are in good shape. And once you’ve finished decluttering, start our 30-day cleaning challenge to keep your home sparkling.  

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