If you're looking for a stress-free way to streamline your home, you've come to the right place: this list of easy things to declutter is guaranteed to transform your space (for the better!) before the new year ahead.
Now, we all know that decluttering tips is the GOAT when it comes to cleaning house – whether you opt for the Marie Kondo method, a dash of döstädning (aka Swedish death cleaning), or some other method entirely.
Still, whichever you plump for, there's no getting away from the fact that all of these ultimate decluttering checklists are usually... well, usually pretty overwhelming. So anything that can make things easier is a big win in our books.
Easy things to declutter before the new year
When it comes to sussing out how to declutter your living room (or any other room in your house, for that matter), we all know that it's a case of go big or go home, right?
Wrong, as it turns out. In fact, slow and steady – à la the eponymous shelled critter in well-known fable, The Tortoise and the Hare – is the best way to go, especially if you're tackling your home over the bleak mid winter.
'Decluttering before New Year's Eve creates more space, eases organisation, and sets a refreshed tone for the festive season,' promises Craig Hoareau, APDO member and managing director of A Tidy Mind London.
'Some things can be decluttered that will make things run smoother and feel less hectic. And, if you would like to declutter for the new year and start January on a fresh note, there are some really easy things you can start with which make a massive difference.'
With that in mind, then...
1. Expired medicines and supplements
It's something we rarely think about (until we're frantically poring over the small print on the half-used tube of Deep Heat we've found at the back of the bathroom cabinet, that is), but expired medicines well and truly belong on the list of easy things to declutter.
'Go through your supplements and medications and remove anything which has expired,' advises Craig.
'You will be surprised at how much space you will create. And remember: most pharmacies take back old medications if you want to dispose of them in a safe way.'
Remember: while you're in the bathroom, you can also pay attention to linen and towels. 'Check them for wear and tear,' says Craig, 'and discard or donate old or unused ones.'
2. Old toys
Before you even think about cracking on with your list of toy storage ideas, remember that old toys are considered an easy thing to declutter for a reason.
'What better time than December to have a mini clear out of toys that haven’t been played with for a while?' says TV presenter and home stylist, Georgina Burnett, who has teamed up with fitted furniture company, Sharps, to provide decluttering tips for customers.
'Not only are you able to make space for what Santa has brought over Christmas, but you can donate all of your best things of yesteryear to those who might get a lot of use out of them.'
Broken toys can, of course, be recycled or trashed (if they are beyond mending, that is).
3. Frozen food
Another seriously easy thing to declutter, albeit something you might not have thought of, is all the uneaten (and forever to remain uneaten) food lurking in your freezer.
'Check your freezers for expired or freezer-burned food items,' says Craig.
'Often we forget about the foods we stuff in the freezer, but just because it is frozen, doesn’t mean it is still great to eat. Create some space for new, fresh groceries and keep your fridge and freezer organised.'
Georgina agrees, adding: 'December is also a great time to check all the food in your kitchen cupboards. You’ll be amazed how many people find jars of mincemeat from the previous Christmas – long out of date but taking up valuable spots at a time you need all the space you can get!'
It's also worth brushing up on the best ways to organise a freezer before you fill yours back up, to make things easier and more accessible in the new year. And don't forget to check your utensils, either!
'Assess your kitchenware and discard chipped or unused dishes, utensils, and gadgets,' says Craig, adding that the extra space will help with meal prep going forward.
4. Christmas decorations
'This may seem like a huge task to undertake in December but it’s probably one of the very few times we head to the loft,' says Georgina.
'When taking out the Christmas decorations (or putting them away), make a mental note of what’s gathering dust up there and follow with a plan to bring things down, one at a time, over the holidays,' she adds.
Doing so, she says, will help you identify which of your busted baubles and lacklustre lights can be counted among the easy things to declutter before 2024 rolls around.
'Declutter excess gift wrap, ribbons, and bows from previous years,' adds Craig. 'Try opting for more eco-friendly options such as the Japanese Furoshiki using reusable materials to wrap gifts. If you want to use traditional paper, make sure they’re recyclable.'
5. Expired beauty and skincare products
Yes, beauty and skincare products have expiration dates – look for the Best Before End (BBE) or Period After Opening (PAO) symbols on the packaging if you don't believe us – making them very easy things to declutter and free up some space.
'Similar to medication, take some time to declutter any expired cosmetics, skincare, and hair care items,' says Craig.
'The dates are there for a reason and using expired products can cause skin irritation. Clearing them out frees space for products you'll actually use. You can use companies like Teracycle to dispose of these products.'
6. Wardrobe clutter
Learning how to declutter your wardrobe will help you to value your clothes more and maximise storage space, making it a must when it comes to our list of easy things to declutter ahead of the new year.
'Go through your clothes, shoes, and accessories,' says Craig. 'Donate or discard items that no longer fit or suit your style.'
If you need a little extra guidance, try sorting your clothes and shoes into four piles:
- those you love and wear frequently
- those you want to keep but don’t necessarily know why
- those that don’t fit your body or lifestyle (donate)
- those that are in poor condition (trash)
Doing so should help you work out what you need to do. And, with regards to that elusive second pile, it might be worth marking the hangers so you can go through them again at a later date...
7. The junk drawer
Everyone, whether they admit it or not, has at least one drawer that acts as a kind of dumping ground – usually hidden away in the hallway, kitchen, or office.
'Mine’s in the kitchen and is often filled to the brim with Blu Tack, staplers, pens and loose keys,' admits Georgina.
'Aim to go through at least three of these drawers in December and you’ll be guaranteed to not only find some useful things to keep in plain sight, but also some easy things to declutter, too.'
She adds that 'you’ll feel immediately more organised' for doing it.
8. Paperwork and documents
'Reduce mental clutter and create a tidy workspace by going through old paperwork,' advises Craig, who insists that the best time to declutter your office is before the new year begins.
'Shred/recycle unnecessary documents and store away important papers,' he continues. 'This creates a tidier workspace and reduces mental clutter.'
It's also worth getting rid of any old calendars or diaries, alongside any notebooks you don't need anymore. Just be sure to transfer any important dates to your new calendar beforehand...
What is the easiest thing to declutter?
The very easiest thing to declutter, Craig says, is all the unused and broken items you've been hanging on to for no discernible reason.
'Identify and discard items that are unused, broken, or no longer serve a purpose,' he says simply.
Georgina adds that an extra pair of eyes can help.
'Is the living room not very liveable? Is the hallway merry or just messy? Is the kitchen just crowded? If you’re too close to the problem, ask a friend around to put fresh eyes on the matter as they may be able to see what you can’t and give you advice on how you could make your home more guest ready.'
What is the fastest way to declutter?
The fastest way to declutter is to dive into the process with a list of items you need to get rid of, such as expired products and food, and a self-imposed deadline.
Go through the house room by room, little and often, and focus on getting rid of the easier items first – and don't forget to 'tackle those random bits of things you’ve collected over the year and chucked in a drawer in the kitchen,' says Craig.
'Review and ask yourself if you actually need or even used it.'
How do you declutter for beginners?
If you're new to the world of decluttering, you may be surprised to learn that the best way to approach it is little and often: you're far more likely to clear a space that way than by ripping open all the cupboards in the house.
If you need a few tips to get you started, Georgina suggests:
Identify Clutter Zones: 'Look back at the year and focus on the spaces that have tended to be your clutter zones. Anything you haven’t used over the past 12 months needs to go to charity. Make sure you empty your drawers and wardrobes as those neglected items will be sulking at the back.'
Have a Sorting Strategy: 'When decluttering, put your items into three piles labelled keep, consider, and donate.'
Design Storage Areas: 'Make sure you have efficient use of space when it comes to your storage solutions, using vertical wall areas too, which are almost always overlooked. Fitted furniture is a great way to maximise opportunities for storage and is surprisingly effective in more confined spaces..'
Make Space or Be Ruthless: 'If you don’t have bespoke storage pieces, make some space to store away clutter in each room so things don’t start to pile up again in 2024. Chances are you won’t ever actually need half the items in your drawer, but that extra space will allow you to breathe.'
Plan to Regift: 'It's really important to ensure you have a cupboard or underbed storage area for unwanted gifts which you could regift at a later date – this will save you money and space at the same time.'
Get the Gang Round: 'How about making a social event of your decluttering by getting a couple of friends around to help? You’ll be amazed by how much more efficient you can be – particularly if they can be more objective about what you get rid of.'
Why is decluttering so powerful?
'A clutter-free environment promotes mental clarity and reduces stress, allowing you to approach the new year with a clear mind and positive energy in a fresh home,' says Craig.
'You will find yourself being more productive and focused on personal and professional goals. A tidy home is also known to promote a sense of well-being and positivity, setting a positive tone for the year ahead.'
Craig adds that, 'when you clear clutter and get yourself organised, you’re creating physical and mental space for new experiences, opportunities, and personal growth in the upcoming year to enter your life'.
'Clutter holds a stagnant nagging energy which pulls you down and leaves another things to be done which is not the best way to start the year,' he finishes.
Now that you have a list of easy things to declutter before the new year rolls around, it's time to get to work. You'll feel all the better for it when you start 2024 with a calm and serene space, we promise.
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Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.
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