5 rules professional organisers abide by for a clutter-free home – and you should too

Easy-to-remember everyday mantras for tidy living

Modern kitchen range and fitted units with shelves and exposed painted brick wall and roof beams
(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

Although keeping a clutter-free home is an ideal that many of us strive to have, in reality, it's more so a distant dream. Despite constant efforts to stick to a decluttering checklist, oftentimes, looking at an impending list of unticked boxes does more harm than good in helping us actually keep our homes tidy.

Maintaining a clutter-free home is not a simple 'one and done' (although we wish it were), but rather something that requires consistent effort and a commitment to a few key principles.

To help you streamline your path to keeping a tidy home, we've compiled 5 of the best easy-to-remember mantras and tips for a clutter-free home, as advised by professional organisers.

Living room with green painted wall, natural wood shelving unit decorated with books and decorations

(Image credit: Future PLC)

5 rules for a clutter-free home

From quick 10-minute decluttering stints to sustainable decluttering methods, we guarantee something here will resonate with you, irrespective of your organising habits.

1. One in, one out

Starting it off simply, the first rule to keeping a clutter-free home is for every new item that enters your home, another must leave. Donate it, give it away, or sell it.

Craig Hoareau, APDO member and managing director of decluttering service, A Tidy Mind London explains that implementing this rule is great for maintaining balance and ensuring clutter stays at bay.

Man sat on yellow sofa wearing glasses and white button up shirt
Craig Hoareau

Craig is a proud, verified member of APDO (Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers) and the owner of the decluttering service, A Tidy Mind London, which aims to transform people's homes.

He has a calm and supportive approach to working with clients that allows them to deal with the mental clutter while sorting through the physical ones, too.

Better yet, Amanda Biggs, APDO's membership director and founder of decluttering service, Professionally Organised suggests 'one in, two out', to help you further prevent the accumulation of clutter.

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(Image credit: Future PLC/Matthew Williams)

2. Everything must have a home

'Create a 'planting plan' for where each type of item lives in your home,' advises psychotherapist and declutter expert, Helen Sanderson. When you have a place for everything, you no longer have to wonder where to put it each time, in turn, making tidying up an easier and more streamlined task.

After all, when something is easy to do, you're more inclined to want to actually do it.

Helen Sanderson
Helen Sanderson MSc

Helen is the author of The Secret Life of Clutter, a psychotherapist, interior designer, and one of the UK's most well-respected clutter experts, providing the ultimate holistic decluttering service.

Helen helps people create beautifully organised, clutter-free homes and live more mindful and meaningful lives. She works with her clients holistically, both to uncover what their homes reveal whilst supporting them to let go and move on. 

3. If it takes less than 5 minutes, do it now

Oftentimes, the source of our clutter is a result of procrastination and the infamous 'I'll do it later' mindset. Newsflash: you probably won't get to it later, and will just end up with a bigger task to tackle later down the line.

Helen explains that one of the biggest things that leads to clutter is not completing. 'Instead of leaving things undone and letting them build up, ask yourself 'What is the next action?' and then take it,' she advises.

Therefore, to combat this enemy of a clutter-free home, Ava Wilson, Unclutterer's chief editor, says, 'If a task takes less than 5 minutes, do it immediately.' This includes sorting mail, putting away the dishes, or hanging up clothes.

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(Image credit: Future PLC/Bee Holmes)

4. Keep flat surfaces clear

Keeping a clear and organised kitchen worktop, dining table, and floor clutter-free is yet another thing you'll thank yourself for having kept to.

Not only do clutter-free surfaces help you fake the look of a tidy home, but Craig assures that practising this will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and save you time having to tidy up once it gets too bad.

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(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

5. Only handle it once

Lastly, try to 'only handle it once' – or OHIO – if you enjoy a fun acronym to keep your motivation spirits up. 'Every time you pick something up make sure you put it away and not just put it down somewhere else,' explains Amanda.

If you don't have a home for that item, you can whizz back to rule #2 and create one for it. Simples.

Modern kitchen range and fitted units with shelves and exposed painted brick wall and roof beams

(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

While there's a plethora of rules and mantras we could exhaust you with, sticking to these top 5 is more than enough to get you started on your journey to tidy living and consistently maintain the clutter-free home of your dreams.

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is a Junior Writer at Ideal Home. She's always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham where her love for journalism blossomed following her internship at ArchDaily. Now focused on home tech, Jullia works on writing features and explainers to help people make the most of their home appliance investments. When she isn't writing, she loves exploring the city, coffee shop hopping, and losing hours to a cosy game.