5 Small Decluttering & Organizing Projects for Your Home
If decluttering and organizing are on your agenda for the new year, it’s a good idea to accomplish this by breaking things down into manageable pieces and tackling smaller areas of your home at a time. To get you started, here are five high-impact areas that are often neglected.
1. Linen Closet
Easily cluttered, overstuffed and disorganized, linen closets are a great way to get a fresh start in the new year. Here’s how:
- Towels: Retain two or three bath towels per person, and wash them once or twice a week to keep them fresh and bacteria free. If you have more than you need, consider eliminating any that are stained, frayed or faded.
- Sheets: As a rule, two sets of sheets per bed is usually adequate. Donate any extras that are in good shape.
- Blankets: To avoid your linen closet becoming a repository for all of your unused blankets, consider donating any unused quilts, throws and comforters.
Once you’ve reduced the items in your linen closet, it’s time to label the shelves so that you know exactly which linens go where. If your budget allows, you can also find handy containers to separate and store bed and bath linens. These must also be labeled, and remember to store sets together. For instance, a twin-size top sheet, fitted sheet and matching pillow case would all go in the same container.
2. Coat Closet
If you have a coat closet, you are one of the lucky ones. That being said, we all know that coat closets are prone to disorganization. The solution? A quick purging and organizing session.
To start, pull everything out of the closet and lay everything on a table or somewhere you can take stock of the contents. As you start pulling jackets and coats and hidden treasures out of the closet, you’ll quickly realize that this small space can hold a lot of stuff!
- Outerwear: Donate any items you no longer use. If outgrown jackets can be saved for a younger sibling, it’s a good idea to store them in a different spot since this is prime space. Similarly, consider storing seasonal items like ski jackets and equipment elsewhere.
- Accessories: This would be gloves, hats and scarves, and they are usually quick to sort. Donate any you no longer use; toss out ones missing their mate. If there are any rarely worn, sentimental items, such as logo hats and scarves from your college or favorite sports teams, consider storing them in another part of the house.
- Shoes: Throw away any worn out shoes or those without a mate. Donate any outgrown children’s shoes that are in good shape. If there are specialty shoes, like cleats or athletic shoes, consider storing them in the garage or another storage area. Any special occasion shoes should be stored in your bedroom closet.
- Miscellaneous items: If there are random items stashed away in the closet, now is the time to sort through them and find them a proper home.
Once you purged everything that does not belong, it’s time to return the rest to the closet. Consider organizing coats and jackets by category, or grouping them according to their owner. Also, a great addition to make is an over-the-door organizer to hold accessories.
3. Under the Kitchen Sink
Since this is a small area, you should be able to knock out this task in less than an hour. Once again, start by removing all of the contents and laying it out on a table or counter. Next, wipe out the interior of the cabinet with warm, soapy water.
From there, it’s time to go through your undersink products. Consolidate any duplicates, and throw away any dried up products or ones no longer needed.
For the remaining products, wipe them off with warm, soapy water and corral them in plastic storage caddies to keep things orderly. Group similar products together — dishwashing products in one bin, cleaning supplies in another, etc. For more storage space, try purchasing a cabinet door organizer.
4. The Freezer
While it’s common for people to regularly clean out their refrigerator, it’s much less common for them to address the freezer. Start by removing the contents and wiping down the freezer with warm, soapy water.
Throw away any food that shows freezer burn, is covered in ice crystals, or has been in the freezer for many months. While the latter is technically still safe, the quality of food decreases the longer it is frozen. Things like flavor, aroma, juiciness, and tenderness can all be affected. For example, ground beef declines at around three to four months, chicken starts declining at nine months, and soups and stews start degrading in two to three months.
For those not keen on throwing food away, simply eat it right away before it deteriorates any further.
5. Kitchen Junk Drawer
Most homes have one or more junk drawer, usually in the kitchen, that hold anything from pens and hair ties, to flashlights, power cords and packing tape. They tend to be very random and oftentimes it’s very hard to find anything because they’re so messy.
If this describes your home, consider limiting your kitchen to just one junk drawer, and then limiting that junk drawer to only items you use every day.
To organize, take everything out of the drawer and throw away anything unusable or broken. File or throw away any old receipts, manuals or paperwork. Consider donating other unwanted items that still have life in them. If you have old cell phones, remove the SIM cards and recycle the phones at a designated site nearby.
After the purge, it’s time to deal with the remaining items. Return as many as possible to their proper homes — not back in the junk drawer. For instance, tools can be put away in the toolbox, hair ties go back to the bathroom.
For the items that will continue to live in the junk drawer, use small containers or store-bought organizers to keep them orderly. And remember, the only items that should be in the junk drawer are everyday items, such as phone chargers, pens, tape, and scissors.
Take a few minutes every couple weeks to maintain the junk drawer by removing any items that don’t belong and returning them to their proper place.