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10 Ways to Cut Clutter in Your Home

Mired in mess, fuss, and disarray? These quick hints for home organization can help you de-clutter fast.
By David Freeman
WebMD Feature

Countless families are bedeviled by household clutter; the most common clutter hot spots are children's bedrooms, home offices, attics, and garages, professional organizers say. What does it take to create a clutter-free space? Here are 10 key home organization strategies from three top organizers.

10 Tips for Organizing Your Home

Find a place for every item. One reason things pile up on counters, tables, and floors is that they have no "home." "Make sure everything lives somewhere," says Sharon Lowenheim, a professional organizer in New York City. Storing items in the room where they're used helps ensure they get put away when you're done, and usually it's best to store similar items together. If it's something you use frequently, make sure the storage place is easy to access. "If you need to reach to a high shelf and take down a turkey platter just so you can return a bowl to its 'home,' odds are it's not going to get put away very often," says Standolyn Robertson, a professional organizer in Waltham, Mass.

Play clutter cop. The better you are about keeping things out of your home, the less likely things will pile up inside. Take freebies. It's nice to get a T-shirt or coffee mug, but will you really use it? Enjoy it? If not, decline it. Or let's say you're a voracious reader. You could buy books -- but why not borrow (and return!) them from your public library? And take a minute to opt out of mailings from credit card companies and other direct marketers. Bottom line? Always look for ways to block unneeded items before they cross your threshold.

Do some detective work. Periodically scan your home for clutter hot spots, and spend some time figuring out why stuff accumulates there. Often, it's not what you think. Take that pile of dishes in your kitchen sink. "People often assume that dishes pile up because it's too much work to load the dishwasher," says Robertson. "But lots of times it's that family members hate unloading the dishwasher, and they hate that because it means having to open the cabinet to put away plastic containers -- and those plastic containers always rain down on them." Once you understand the problem, you'll find it easy to devise a solution. 

Hold off on container shopping. Clutter victims often think the solution is to stock up on organizing products, so they head to the nearest superstore and stock up on bins and boxes. Big mistake. "People love to go out and buy containers, but getting organized does not start out with a shopping trip," says Robertson. She recommends shopping for storage items only after you've done some de-cluttering -- to understand the scope of the problem, the specific cause, and an appropriate solution. 

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