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Ideal Home
Amy Hodge

How to declutter a house fast – without feeling overwhelmed

An IKEA console table with hairpin legs.

Spring is always the time of year when many of us think about having a good clearout at home, but if you've let things build up and the thought of sorting through it all seems overwhelming, there are a few ways to declutter a house fast. 

Starting with the ultimate decluttering checklist, begin by thinking about what items are important for you to keep and anything you've been wanting to get rid of for a while.

'Start by creating a compelling vision of what you want to achieve: something inspiring that you can move towards when the decluttering gets tough or boring,' explains Helen Sanderson, author of The Secret Life of Clutter. 'Write down all the practical, social and emotional benefits you will get when you have completed the work. This will help motivate you and give you more energy to work with.' 

How to declutter a house fast

If you're wondering where to begin, we've gathered our fast decluttering methods below to help you get the job done quickly. Even if you only have time for a ten-minute declutter once you start you'll feel much better as you see your home becoming a clearer and calmer space.

(Image credit: Future PLC/Carolyn Barber)

1. Create a decluttering playlist

Decluttering doesn't have to be a punishing experience, use it as a chance to listen to your favourite music or a podcast, to make the job less laborious. 

'The secret to making any decluttering job quicker and easier is simply to create a clutter-clearing playlist,' explains Sheena Taylor, APDO member and Founder of Your Professional Organiser.

'By setting the mood with energising music, not only is a timeframe for the session established but it also infuses enjoyment into the task,' adds Sheena. 'Music can make the most mundane chores more enjoyable, boosting focus and motivation so the job gets done.'

(Image credit: Future/Simon Whitmore)

2. Ask for help

If you know that you'll find decluttering hard or you're unsure where to start, don't forget to ask for help. 'Decluttering can be overwhelming, so don't be afraid to ask for help from family or friends if you have a big task at hand,' advises Chris Hutton, storage expert at Adams Selfstore

'Working together not only makes the process faster but also more enjoyable.' You could also get help from a professional organiser who can make the process quicker and easier.

If you can't physically have another person there, setting up a video call with  friend and decluttering together will help you tackle the job on a time limit.

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

3. Tackle one area at a time

Start small and don't be tempted to empty every cupboard at the same time otherwise you'll be trying to sort through a huge amount of stuff, which can feel overwhelming if you don't have a lot of time. 

'Tackle one area at a time,' explains Melissa Denham, interior design expert at Hammonds. 'If you open your wardrobe, drawers, and cupboards and empty everything out in one go, it’ll be massively overwhelming, and chances are you’ll give up halfway and just fold things up and put them back away without really getting rid of anything.' 

'Instead, focus on different storage sections one-by-one,' adds Melissa. 'This will make it easier to really focus on what to keep and what to get rid of, and it will also enable you to tackle the job in stages over several evenings or weekends, which can also make it feel a bit more appealing.' 

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

4. Set a timer

As you declutter, you will undoubtedly come across sentimental items like old cards, cuddly toys etc and you can easily get distracted from the task at hand.

Mark Godman of Gentleman & A Van advises 'setting a timer and work in blocks to prevent burnout.' By sticking to a time frame, you will be more focused on the end goal. 

If there are sentimental things you want to look at, set them to one side so you can look at them another time and then you can decide it they need to be kept in storage or given a new home.

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

5. Make it manageable

Plan your decluttering session around the time you have available and break it down into manageable chunks. 'If you only have an hour or two to spare, don’t try to declutter a whole room, start with an area, shelf or drawer,' advises Rebecca Roberts, APDO member and Founder of Curate My Space. 'Don’t worry about how long it will take, just put the time aside and get started.'

'Remember that decluttering can be a physically and mentally demanding job, so break up a large job into smaller manageable sessions,' adds Rebecca. 'I know you want to declutter fast but preserving your energy will help to stop the overwhelm and you’ll be more efficient and get more done in the long run if you don’t try to tackle too much at once.'

(Image credit: Future PLC)

6. Divide items into keep, donate, sell

As you work through all your items, dividing them into categories can help you to quickly decide what to keep and what to rehome. 'Our tried and trusted decluttering tip, once you have gotten everything out, is to create piles for "keep", "donate/sell", "recycle", "get rid of",' explains TV's Style Sisters Charlotte Reddington and Gemma Lilly. 

'Having these clear piles will help you to stay organised and give you somewhere to put everything as you go and you'll also quickly be able to see if any of the piles are getting much bigger than others – especially if that pile is "keep", it might make you a bit more ruthless.'

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

7. Get rid of stuff quickly

One way to declutter a house fast is to make sure you know where any recycling, rubbish or donation spots are going once you're finished. 'Plan where your donations are going so they don’t end up sitting in your home for months,' advises Laura Price founder and creative director of The Home Organisation

'Either work out which charity shop or bank to drop them off at or arrange an online collection.' Laura also suggests to stock up on clear bags for charity donations and recycling and black bags for rubbish so you can easily organise the items that you're clearing out.

Here are just a few charities that offer free collection services:

(Image credit: Purlfrost)


What should I remove first when decluttering?

'The first thing to remove when decluttering is the mindset that keeps you stuck,' explains Helen Sanderson, author and professional organiser. 'If you don’t do that, you will not make any real or lasting progress. Clutter is the physical manifestation of your beliefs, habits and behaviours. So, you need to get to the root of why you have clutter in the first place, or it will just grow back.' 

'It may sound obvious, but the first things to declutter are the things you can easily let go of,' adds Helen. 'Keep your focus on looking for what you no longer need and can let go of, not what you want to keep.' 

What is the fastest way to declutter and clean a house?

'Concentrate on one room or area at a time and remove everything that doesn't belong in it,' explains Victoria Fearnley APDO member and Founder of Surrey Decluttering

'Grab yourself a basket or sturdy bag for these things and redistribute into their rightful place once you're done in that room.' 

So grab a timer, some baskets and get decluttering.

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