How to Organize Your Home (and Keep It That Way)
Try these 51 easy-to-implement tips to help you get rid of clutter, get your home organized and get on with your life.
You're late for baseball practice -- again! -- because your kid can't find his cleats. Though you're tempted to scold your little slugger, you can admit you're a bit clueless about how to organize your home.
According to Debbie Lillard, a home organizing expert and author of "A Mom's Guide to Home Organization," being organized is critical in moments like these. "With a busy family it's important so that everyone can get where they need to be, on time, with all the things they need. Organization should give the family more free time in the long run and less stress."
When the thought of organizing your home feels completely overwhelming, you have to start somewhere. Donna Smallin Kuper, an organizing expert and author of "Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness," says to be intentional. "Focus on one area that has a daily impact on your life, so you can really feel it every day," she explains.
Here are 51 ideas to teach you how to organize your home:
- Create a game plan. Walk through each room and write down what needs to be done.
- Find a printable checklist (like this one from House Mix) to organize your home.
- Declutter before you organize. Smallin Kuper recommends asking yourself, "Would I buy this again today?" If the answer is no, toss it.
- Include the kids by having them fill a bag with toys to sell or donate.
- Schedule a family organizing day. Tackle one space together.
- Check out Donation Town to find a charity that will haul away your unwanted stuff.
- Assign organizational chores for kids along with daily chores.
- Have a drop bowl or hook for keys in the entry way.
- Keep a shoe basket by the front and back doors.
- Keep a bag packed for each child's activity. Hang it in the entryway so they can grab it and go, recommends Lillard.
- Add a row of low hooks so kids can hang their own coats.
- An over-the-door shoe bag can contain mittens, hats and pet items, says Smallin Kuper.
- Recycle junk mail as soon as it arrives.
- Move all your bills to digital to reduce paperwork build-up.
- Keep appliance manuals together in a binder.
- Prevent drawer organizers from sliding around with picture hanging strips, with directions from IHeart Organizing.
- Hi Sugarplum explains how to store CDs and DVDs in a cute basket.
- Keep one small bin of toys for children in each room.
- Keep memorable school and artwork in a binder or filing box.
- Place a basket at the foot of the stairs for items that need to be carried upstairs at the end of each day.
- Affix a sturdy envelope to the inside of the pantry door for takeout menus.
- Keep sticky labels and a pen next to the fridge to label leftovers with the contents and date.
- Use clear glass containers in the fridge so you don't forget about items.
- Place plastic grocery bags in a wall mount dispenser, or hang reusable tote bags on a hook in the pantry.
- Short on kitchen drawer space? IHeart Organizing stashes dish towels in a pretty basket on the counter.
- Affix cork sheets to the inside of kitchen cabinets for the week's recipes, like Young House Love does.
- Label pantry shelves so family members who help with putting the groceries away can keep it organized.
- Corral food storage lids in a basket to keep them from taking over.
- Use lazy Susans in the refrigerator for access to those back-of-shelf items.
- Keep a plastic basket under the sink for dirty dish rags.
- If your kids do homework in the kitchen, hang a wall pocket organizer to prevent papers from taking over the table, advises Lillard.
- Contain art supplies in a pretty rolling cart, like Suburble does.
- Keep cleaning products in a caddy that you can tote from room to room.
- Don't stash toiletries or cleaning products you're not using under the sink. If you don't love it enough to use it now, you don't need it.
- A two-tiered fruit basket can maximize space in a small bathroom, suggests Golden Boys and Me.
- Don't hoard linens -- two sets of sheets per bed and two towels per person is plenty.
- If you don't have a linen closet, create one using an armoire, a la A Bowl Full of Lemons.
- The Inspired Room shows you how to use storage baskets throughout your house.
- Have a hamper with a removable bag in every bedroom.
- Similarly, keep a trash can in every room.
- Keep three small baskets in your laundry room: one each for items to hand wash, bleach and mend.
- Utilize the oft-forgotten storage space under beds for linens or Lego collections.
- Use pictures cut from a magazine to label toy bins for young children.
- Or print your own picture labels with help from Honey We're Home.
- Use open-top container in toy rooms so kids don't have to struggle with lids.
- Store puzzles in zippered storage bags, suggests The Real Thing with the Coake Family.
- IHeart Organizing separates kids' outfits in the closet by the day of the week.
- Keep a storage bin in each child's closet for items they grow out of. When it's full, donate, recommends Lillard.
- Honey We're Home keeps unruly jewelry contained with a tiered stand.
- Contain gift wrap neatly in a repurposed wire trash can, suggests Chez Larsson.
- A sock divider can double as tie storage for Dad.
Lastly, remember that organizing your home isn't a one-time job. "You need to incorporate small organizing tasks into your daily routine so it doesn't become an overwhelming job," says Smallin Kuper.
Andrea Dashiell is a freelance writer whose work has been published in The Seattle Times, Seattle Magazine, ParentMap, Parents.com, DailyCandy and RedTricycle.