How to Declutter Your Home

For a faster, more profitable home sale

This cluttered kitchen will scare away home buyers.This cluttered kitchen is guaranteed to scare home buyers away!

Learn how decluttering your home before placing it on the real estate market can not only help sell your house faster, but often for more money! If you think that clearing clutter isn't an important aspect of selling your home, you'll think differently once you read this page.

The truth is, overwhelming clutter can make it hard for prospective buyers to see the true potential of a home and may cause them to scratch your house off their list.

The failure to edit out years of accumulated stuff is a common mistake that many home sellers make.

Instead of noticing all the great features of your home, buyers will only see your stuff. You aren't selling your things, so this is a good time to pack up most of them for your new house.

An abundance of furniture make this bedroom look smaller.An abundance of dark furniture makes this bedroom look small, gloomy and difficult to maneuver through.

For most of us, the thought of getting rid of years of accumulated clutter in our home is so overwhelming. Where do I start? What do I get rid of? This will take forever!

Think of it this way-- getting rid of clutter will give you a head start on your packing.

According to a survey taken by a Boston marketing firm, the average American wastes 55 minutes a day - roughly 12 weeks a year- looking for misplaced items.

Jeanette Gardiner, Seastar Strategies LLC

Why you should declutter your home?

Home Office with out of control wires.Unappealing cluttered home office.

Decluttering is probably the most important, yet time consuming part of the home staging process. Home staging forces you to deal with delayed home organization and unfinished projects. 

Overflowing closets tell home buyers that there is not enough room in the home.Overflowing closets scream "no room!"

When you are preparing to sell your house, this task should be first on your to-do list. Sure, you can throw everything in boxes and deal with it later in your new home, but do you really want to do that?

Abundant closet space is a high priority on every home buyer's want list.

Don't let buyers miss the beauty of your home interior design; that attractive fireplace hiding behind a bulky reclining sofa, or the spaciousness of your kitchen hidden under bulky appliances or cereal boxes strewn across the countertops.

Every room is important, no matter how small. If buyers are confronted with an avalanche of objects whenever they open a closet door, they will instantly assume that there isn't enough space in your home for their things.

A cluttered home can also give house hunters the impression that a home is dirty and neglected. They may wonder what's inhabiting dark corners or waiting under piles of stuff.

When I was a Realtor, I saw many sellers disregard the value of decluttering. Surely buyers would see all the wonderful qualities of their home in spite of all the stuff! Sorry, very few do.

In reality, I saw many buyers leave before a house tour was over because they were simply overwhelmed, or just failed to see the potential beyond all the clutter.

Feng shui and decluttering - The first home stagers?

This cluttered entryway is sure to deter buyers!I'm just guessing... bad energy?

Feng shui (fung shway) is an ancient Chinese home design philosophy concerned with creating harmony and stability in a space.

Feng shuists believe that all objects and spaces have different energies that effect each other in various ways, and that everything you bring into your home has positive and negative effects on the energy in your home.

The ancient Chinese were, in some regard, the very first home stagers. One of the basic home design rules of feng shui is to declutter the home.

A cluttered garage.This cluttered garage tells home buyers there's not enough room in the house.

Feng shuists believe that a cluttered home has bad energy, and when home buyers walk into a house filled with clutter, they are sure to feel that tension. 

Like home staging, feng shui recommends that you declutter, depersonalize, clean and repair

Decluttering and ridding yourself of items you have been clinging to forever will help clear the bad energy from your life and get you moving in a positive direction.

The psychology of clutter

This cluttered bathroom counter shows buyers that there is no storage room.Personal items and countertop clutter are one of the biggest buyer turnoffs!

Clutter is a deep and perplexing energy that can drain your mental health.

A disorganized environment can lead to inner discord--we're all aware of the term, "hoarding," where clutter gets out of control and consumes our lives.

Unresolved clutter keeps you from doing the things you desire-- you hope that some day you'll get it under control, but don't know how or where to start.

Even if you organize your clutter by stashing it away in boxes in the attic, or reshuffling it out to the garage; you know it's still there, waiting to be dealt with.

You have simply shifted your clutter to a new space, where it will prey on your conscience and prevent you from moving on.

What Qualifies as Clutter?

  • Unfinished projects that you plan to finish someday
  • Clothing, shoes, bedding, appliances; anything you haven't worn or used for years
  • Hobby clutter, sentimental pieces that you can't let go, overflowing collections and knick knacks
  • Endless paperwork, children's art projects, overflowing piles of books and magazines
  • Photographs that need to be organized, electronics with wires running out of control and "mystery" boxes that have been stored in the basement or attic for years;
  • Over-flowing kitchen and bathroom countertops; too many items or appliances strewn across the surface.

Storage ideas while you prepare your home

Before you begin to declutter your home, devise a plan for storing the boxes and furniture you'll be taking with you to your new home. Hang onto the furniture and accessories you plan to use for home staging later.

Storage Ideas:

  • If you're lucky in your friends, they may let you store items temporarily in their garage, spare room or basement.
  • Rent a storage unit for short term. 
Arrange for a storage pod to be delivered to your door.Arrange for a storage pod to be delivered to your door. Photo by Pods Moving and Storage.
  • Arrange for delivery of a storage pod right to your doorstep. (Check with local ordinances first.) Go to for more information. This company allows you to pack at your leisure, and will store or deliver your pod anywhere in the U.S., except Alaska. "Pods" also services parts of Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
  • If you have no other options, store your stuff in your garage or basement. This is a last resort, because the goal of home staging is to make EVERY room look spacious. If you must store things in the garage or basement, be sure to stack items neatly and keep everything in a corner or on one side of the room. 
  • Make a plan for unwanted items; donate to a local thrift store such as Goodwill or The Salvation Army. Find out if there are any organizations in your community that do pickups. 
  • Organize a yard sale. Get your kids involved-- they can be great helpers and paying them from the proceeds of the sale can be a great motivator.
An abundance of furniture interferes with traffic paths in this room.An abundance of furniture makes this room feel cramped, and where is the traffic pattern!

When it's time for the big move

For a mover's quote, along with some great moving tips, go to

Moving supplies that you will need:

  1. Packing boxes in many of sizes. (Small boxes for books! You'll thank me later.) You can usually get free used boxes at your local grocery store. Or buy unconstructed boxes at any home supply store. Another option is which provides a list of various places you can order moving supplies.
  2. Plastic storage totes
  3. Bubble wrap--lots of it
  4. Packing peanuts
  5. Tape and permanent markers
  6. Large trash bags for donations and throwaway items
  7. Packing blankets for furniture
  8. Cleaning supplies

My best decluttering tips

Cluttered bedroom dresser, before.Before: Cluttered bedroom dresser

Decluttering supplies:

  • Bags for garbage
  • Bags or boxes for donations
  • Boxes for items going to your new home
  • Boxes for a yard sale
  • Packaging tape
  • Bubble wrap, tissue paper or newspaper for delicate items
  • A large Magic Marker

1.  Instead of trying to declutter the entire house at once, (which can seem futile) select one space at a time.

2.  Select a small area in that space, like a closet, and make that your goal for the day. 

A staged bedroom dresser after.After: Decuttered bedroom dresser

3.  A small space can be a "junk" drawer, a bedroom dresser or a closet.

4.  Work in short time segments. Set a timer for 20 minutes and tackle just one area. Increase the time as you become more efficient. 

5.  Go through items, one by one. If you can't bear parting with a sentimental item that serves no purpose, take a picture of it, then get rid of it.

6.  As you declutter your home, you'll also have the opportunity to give each room a deep cleaning, accomplishing two tasks at once.

A spotlessly clean house is a must if you're planning a home sale. Nothing turns off house hunters more than a dirty, cluttered home except maybe insect infestations or mold!

Keep in mind that you are organizing and purging yourself of things you have been clinging to for years-- don't expect to finish in one day. 

As you see progress, you will feel encouraged to move on to bigger tasks or work in longer periods of time.

Declutter one room at a time

It's best to declutter one room at a time. Attempting to declutter the entire house at once is simply too overwhelming. As each room will have different challenges, I've provided separate tips for each room.

As you declutter, be sure to make any necessary repairs. Happy decluttering!

Declutter your kitchen

Declutter your living room     

Declutter your bathroom

Declutter your bedroom

Declutter your dining room

Declutter your closet     

Declutter your home office

Declutter your basement

Declutter your garage

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Last Updated 2-24-2024