A Complete Guide to Decluttering Your Home

In this guide we'll take an in-depth look at how we accumulate clutter, its negative effects, the best way to get rid of it, and most importantly, how to remain clutter free.  

We’ve talked about clutter before. How it makes your house feel too crowded and overwhelming, and how the atmosphere turns peaceful once you clear it all out. But, did you know that all that clutter has negative effects on your brain? It’s not just a perception of stress it affects your mental and physical well-being.

Clutter Is Bring Us Down

Woman decluttering her room

Studies Show Clutter Effects Our Mental State.

Recent studies by UCLA and Yale University show the connection between messy clutter and mental health.

Clutter can occur anywhere; at home, at work even on your electronic devices. Let’s take a day at the office: when your desk, computer and time is cluttered you may find yourself mentally exhausted by the end of the day; even worst, the feeling you didn’t accomplishing anything. That is because clutter affects how you process information and inhibits your ability to think creatively.

All that junk competes for your attention and you lose focus which also affects your productivity.

One UCLA study showed women’s stress levels spiked when it came to dealing with the stuff in their house. The clutter overwhelmed their senses making them feel stressed.  In addition, it’s important to note that women are more likely to feel stressed out about clutter than men. So if your wife is a neat freak just let her go with it, and also help out. That’s right we said it, help clean up - happy wife, happy life and all that.

" Clutter affects how you process information and inhibits your ability to think creatively. "

Trailer for UCLA anthropologists launch a study into cluttered homes of dual income middle class families in America. To see the full episodes click here.

We are all just like the entertainment giant, Disney, but instead of making silly cartoon princesses, we are holding on to stuff we should be getting rid of.

Just like Disney needs to trash those Star Wars prequels and try again, you need to get rid of your own trash. Yes, the prequels were trash.

How Does Our Crap Bring Us Down?

Clutter can occur anywhere; at home, at work even on your electronic devices. Let’s take a day at the office: when your desk, computer and time is cluttered you may find yourself mentally exhausted by the end of the day - even worse, you may feel as if you didn’t accomplish anything.

That is because clutter affects how you process information and inhibits your ability to think creatively.

Hire AZ Junk For Bulk Trash Pick Up.

We are pros at providing a hand to clean up even the worst of cluttered properties.

All that stuff competes for your attention and you lose focus which also affects your productivity. That same effects happen at home. Expect home is where you come to relax, where you hope to find some peace after a hectic day at the office. So the clutter crime has an even stronger impact on your brain.

Why Do We Hold Onto Stuff?

Sadly, getting rid of junk is hard. On the upside, it’s not your fault, it’s your brain’s fault. Most of us have difficulty letting go items. Either we are too sentimentally attached or we think they have some hidden value. This is the root of the clutter problem. It’s difficult to break sentimentality. A recent study of the brain showed that letting go of a valued possession has the same effect on your brain as burning your tongue. It’s painful, literally, to let things go. But once you have broken free of this mental trap you’ll be less stressed, more energetic and feel more relaxed.

So how do we manage all that junk? One way to reduce clutter is to stop it before it happens. The more financial or emotional investment we make into new items the harder it is to get rid of it later. This is how the accumulation of junk starts.

We associate a value to all these items we really don’t need, and that association makes it hard to let go. The emotional connection we feel when we touch objects at the store. If you pick up something you are more likely to buy it, and the longer you hold it the stronger your emotional attachment to it becomes.

Consider What You Purchase

Think about your purchases wisely before you start throwing your money down. Especially when it comes to kids toys. Although Americans only produce 3% of the world’s children, we buy 40% of the world’s toys. Once you get started with a few they take on a life of their own, they multiply by the hundreds and begin to infest every room of the house. Instead of a living room, kitchen and bedroom, you have three play rooms. Toys should come with a warning label “Danger, toys will reproduce.”

Most of us have had difficulty letting go items. Either we are too sentimentally attached or we think they have some hidden value. This is the root of the clutter problem. It’s difficult to break sentimentality. Also, many items we purchased were most likely a mistake and we can’t deal with the possibility that they have no value, so we keep them.

One study of the brain showed that letting go of a valued possession has the same effect on your brain as burning your tongue. It’s painful, literally, to let things go. But once you have broken free of this metal trap you’ll be less stressed, more energetic and feel more relaxed.

" We  attach value to items based on what we paid for them once upon a time and/or a sentimental value. This leads to keeping junk we may never need or use. "

How To Give-Up Things That You Have An Attachment To?

We’re all guilty of this crime from time to time because it’s human nature. Hoarding comes in all forms from collecting green M&Ms from a jumbo pack to collecting old Atari video games. But once it starts it can progress into a mindset that these objects deeply mean something to you. Letting go is always the hardest part aside from the memories that go with these things. This is why it's so hard for seniors who have collected items year after year to downsize. We provide specialty services called 'Senior Downsizing' just for this reason.

So let’s face it, too many of these clutter items take up more space than you can afford.

Unlike items collect in drawer

Start today. Make a list of trouble areas. These are areas where unlike items collect.

This is why so many people start to pack them in places where they can be safe. In reality, this stuff takes-up space that multiplies over time. Now the time has come to get rid of that clutter so you can finally get organized for future projects. Having extra space is a gift in itself and the ideas will become clearer as you start to get rid of clutter. So take your time and be patient, this kind of project also gives you the luxury of slowly letting go. This way you won’t feel you’ve lost anything, in hindsight you might gain more in return.

Clutter will need to be sorted and selected so you know exactly where it needs to go. You’ll still have it for a while until these items find a new home. Whether it goes into the garbage directly is your choice, there is always an easier way to do it. Here’s a few options to free yourself of your clutter once and for all.

Guide To Decluttering

Decluttering Guide on page

Face facts, if it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it. Even if you can’t sell it, donate it or toss it out. Your brain will thank you. It might sting at first, but in the end it will be better for your overall well-being.

The end goal of giving your home a full-blown declutter is determining where the items you clear out are going to go. There will be some obvious choices if these include sending them to the garbage, but for more decided items, you’ll need to make the ultimate call.

You can start with your movie collection. In case you have lived under a rock for the last decade, movies are digital now, you don’t need DVDs or Blu-Rays anymore.

Heaven help you if you actually have any VHS tapes or worse, any version of Attack of the Clones.

Speaking of digital, books are made that way now too. Go through your bookshelves and clear out anything you haven’t read, and will never read. Or anything you have already read and know you will never read again.

There no reason to hold on to clothes that don’t fit, or are out of style. Chuck shoes that don’t have a partner, and some of the coats and jackets you have. You live in the Valley of the Sun, after all, you don’t need that many jackets.

Face facts, if it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it. Even if you can’t sell it, donate it or toss it out. Your brain will thank you. It might sting at first, but in the end, it will be better for your well-being and peace of mind.

Feel free to give us a ring to help clean out items you no longer need. If you live outside of the metro Phoenix area, search “cleanout hauling” and you’ll find a local company who can assist in hauling away your clutter.


Determine what part of your home is hit the worst

It’s a good idea to start a checklist of every room in your home. This is as simple as going from each room and taking notes and giving them a rating. How poorly they rate compared to other rooms in your home will determine which rooms need to be organized first. You can rate these rooms with stars and give the worst rooms with fewer stars. Alternatively, you can give a rating that is similar to a report card using A, B, C, D, or F.

Evaluating clutter

If you live in a home that you’ve inherited from a grandparent or parent, you’ll know they have stuff. It’s all part of a whole generation that never threw anything away. The idea is that these items could be used for something else.

Evaluating is just a matter of perspective. What do you consider to be trash? Is it something you throw out in your garbage or does that object become someone else’s treasure?

" Evaluating is just a matter of perspective. What do you consider to be trash? "

My grandparents were notorious clutter-bugs, and I would often see sealed boxes lining the hallways of their home. It turns out that they had been collecting clutter for 50 years.

You’ve seen shows like American Pickers and see how nuts they get when they find something that looks like garbage. It might be very collectible and can resell for hundreds of dollars. Then there’s the kind of stuff that’s worth money but it serves no purpose in your home.

There might be items that you thought were lost or misplaced that you rediscover again. You’ll need to decide what to do with these items. And this is all part of the fun of putting them into a category of keeping, reselling, or repurposing. It might be the hardest job since you might have a sentimental feeling for certain items. But to keep a healthy mind you should also have a clutter-free home. This is a matter of perspective all by itself.

Work through your house section by section. Take all of your items and ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this item do something no other item can do? Is it unique? Is it truly useful?
  • Does this bring me joy? Which is different from, am I sentimental about this?

As you work through the house, sort the things you are going to get rid of into piles or boxes. Separate the stuff you want to donate, from the items you want to sell on Craigslist or even at a yard sale. You’ll also need a pretty big box for your trash pile. We all have held on to a lot of things we love but are broken. If you haven’t fixed it yet, face it, you aren’t going to fix it just toss it, once the initial pain subsides, you’ll feel a lot better.

As previously outlined, we know it can be physically painful to part from things we have an attachment to, so once you’ve taken the plunge help yourself going forward by changing old habits.

Our modern society has created the norm of buying more, but do you really need more? We as a society accumulate more and more items until we are suffocated by them, adding more noise and stress to our lives and wallets.  Stop the evil cycle!


Document the crime scene

You want to take pictures of everything using your smartphone or digital camera. The reason that you’re doing this is to document the cleanup process. Sort of how most of us like to see the before and after of how much each room was improved and cleaned up. This is also a great topic to tell others about when you complete a big cleanup and decluttering your home. It might help encourage them to make the same steps as you did.


Start a timeline and set goals

As mentioned before, time plays a big part in your cleanup process and you should make scheduled hours that you dedicate to clearing out your clutter. This will also set aside time where you decide what to keep and what to throw away. Make a chart or mark your calendar what you hope to achieve over time. It can be 2 weeks or a whole month but have a concrete time when you want to finish with everything.


Create a staging area

Find a room in your home or garage where you have enough space to set up a staging area. This is an area where all the selection will take place. Items can then be separated and picked out and put into one of three categories. These categories include one pile for garbage, recycling, and donation. But have enough space for deciding if you want to sell these items in a garage sale, yard sale, or online.

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You can choose to put priority on key spots in your home that were placed higher on your priority list. Rooms or areas that scored the lowest and need immediate cleanup will all vary. But when it comes to organizing, this can also include more than just removing clutter. It can help upgrade and improve these rooms too, especially for allowing friends and family to visit your home once again.

You might be feeling a little tired by now, but remember you’re a man, or a woman, and suck it up. Finish by going through your bedroom, closets and all. Don’t forget the bathroom and that unnecessary hair and make-up crap. Really ladies it’s doesn’t take an arsenal. How many nail polishes do you have? And yet you always go to the salon…. See what we’re getting at here? And why do you need 3 hair dryers? What’s that all about?

Let it go…

The key here is not to overwhelm yourself. Work at it a little at a time. Each day focus on one room or area, don’t try to do it all at once. You’ll end up with piles of crap you wanted to get rid of just sitting around on the floor, while other crap waits to be discovered in the rest of the house. You won’t have the energy to finish the job much less figure out how to get rid of it all.


Closets & Clothes

Your home will have plenty of closets and cabinets where things are haphazardly stashed, adding to the endless amount of junk that might build up. You might end up finding items that are put into closets and cabinets that have no reason to be there in the first place. In some cases, rooms that you intended to be living spaces have been turned into unimpressive storage rooms for dry food items and beverages.

Your closet by now has likely become overstuffed with clothing and items that are making it impossible to find anything worth wearing. You can easily spend a day or two going through your closet and selecting items that need to be retired or donated. There might also be clothes that are too worn or not easy to repair. Carefully fold and place clothes you don’t need anymore into two boxes meant for donations or selling.

We hold onto clothing we will never wear again because of sentimental value and wishful thinking. When we take time to make an honest assessment of our wardrobe we can attack a large source of clutter in our bedrooms.

Start with clothes, that usually the worst of it. If your dresser drawers don’t shut because they are so full, you have way more than you need. If you haven’t worn it in over a year, you don’t need it. If it has a tear, a stain, or doesn’t fit, why on earth are you keeping it?


Kid’s room cleanup

Kid’s rooms are always going to be sore spots for daily cleaning anyway. But one way you can start to improve their rooms is by collecting old and finished coloring books and sorting through old kid’s toys. Get your kids involved and let them select which goes to charity and what gets thrown out. Obviously, this includes outgrown clothes that don’t fit anymore. These can go to charity or even second-hand stores such as Goodwill or Salvation Army.


Reclaim your bedroom

There’s no way to tell how disorganized your bedroom has become after an entire year of quarantine living. But now it will make sense to start cleaning everything up, changing your bedsheets, and cleaning your drapes. You can also go through all of your closets, and cabinets to organize clothing and shoes. Selected items that are worth selling can be set aside while donation items should go into separate bags or boxes.


Reorganize living rooms

Wherever you spend the most amount of time, your living room is most likely going to have a lived-in look. These areas will need special cleaning and organizing so they will be ready for friends and guests that will soon be visiting. This is a good chance to use that upholstery and carpet cleaning machine that’s been collecting dust in the closet. Also, take the time to wrap up cables and cords behind the television that have gotten out of control.


Put extra cleanup for your home office

Most home offices were put together in a hurry and that wasn’t well thought-out to be an effective office setting. This will be an opportunity to upgrade and organize your office area. This will also be important to give everything a good cleaning including computer screens, keyboards, and computer equipment. Office equipment should also get a good clean-up and wipe down to bring back a new fresh look.


Seasonal decorations and items

Understandably, this last year didn’t offer the same celebration of the holidays as years before had enjoyed. That doesn’t mean that your holiday decorations were put away correctly from the previous year. These items need to be organized better and according to each holiday. You can use left-over boxes to update these collections and throw out old decorations that are outdated or broken. Don’t forget to label everything clearly afterward.


Remember to have fun…

Involve your whole family if you all live under the same roof.

Everyone can be part of the process and it will bring you closer, especially if it doesn’t seem like work and there is a financial benefit to it. Make this home improvement renewal task into a contest and have a weekly progress chart. Everyone can see where they’ve reached a new goal. Reward your family with bonuses and praise for the hard work they’re doing. You should know that the final goal is to bring you and your family closer.

In this time that is full of dark feelings and news broadcasts that are even darker, create some light moments. If you are busy with de-cluttering your home and everyone is involved, it will stimulate talking with each other. And also bringing up stories that perhaps your kids never heard before! They can learn about the history of some of these items and learn how they can be sold. More importantly, they can learn how being organized is a value all by itself.

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Once you get space cleared you’ll have to organize it further.

Start with the closets since these are where stuff gets crammed in the first place. Reorganize your closet to include items that give the best amount of space that’s needed. Don’t overcrowd your closet either as you should be able to find what you need without trouble. Do this with every closet, nook, and cabinet. Pretty soon the rest of each room will follow the same pattern. Kitchen drawers and cabinets should be like this as well. Keep neat with as much clutter removed as possible.

What To Do With All The Junk?

Recycle Junk

Other Options To Get Rid Of Your Unneeded Stuff



Using old French doors to decorate, organize, and strut your creativity. Here’s some ideas to get those ideas flowing.

old french decorate door

As you finally get areas of your home closer to finally being cleared-out of junk, you can start to decorate. Put those items you decide to be repurposed into action. If they mean a lot and have a place in your home, use them for decoration with purpose. How about an old typewriter on an antique desk? Or a golf bag with a fancy cap beside the front door entranceway? These kinds of items can be restored, polished, and cleaned up so they have a second life as groovy decorations.


Recycle Vs Freecycle

Everyone knows what it means to recycle but have you any idea what freecycling is all about? This is when you donate things to charity, these items can also be tax-deductible. Giving to charity is also subjective depending on who you contact, so you want to know what you donate will go to people in need. In some cases, you can request who these donations will end up going to.

Do you need to rent a dumpster?

If you have a lot of garbage that needs to be thrown away and cannot be recycled, you might need to rent a small dumpster. These are 5 times as large as your typical garbage container and are easy to request by making a simple phone call. They drop off the dumpster and you fill it up and then these containers are taken away. The service price includes the cost of delivery and pickup and is usually fast and friendly.


Have a garage sale

One of the best feelings in the world is having a garage or yard sale, which will need to wait until restrictions are fully lifted. These select items can be sold for whatever you feel they’re worth, but most often people like to barter. At the end of the day, whatever items you haven’t sold can be given away. You can also have a second sale with discounted prices if you don’t want to donate them.


What to donate?

Items that are good to donate include clothing, shoes, coats, and clothing accessories. You can also donate furniture or electronic items that you want to get rid of. There are many things that you can donate but the most common items will be clothing. You can call local donation centers in your city or town and arrange to drop them off. You might be lucky that they’ll offer free pick up so you don’t have to travel at all. For all unwanted items you can try your local city trash service as they normally offer a free once-a-month bulk trash pickup of some type; read more here on Phoenix's bulk trash pickup service.


Selling-off select items

If you have certain items that are worth money but you don’t want to keep them anymore, should be sold online. The methods that work best include eBay, Facebook, and Craigslist. Certainly online advertising works better if you use words that aren’t going to get you in trouble, but eBay is most likely better for collectible items. It will also be determined how much interest there is for the items you want to sell for the highest price.

Benefits Of Selling Items

If you’ve ever used online sites that let you advertise things for sale for free, you know what I’m talking about.

Facebook is OK for this kind of stuff but you might know a better site to advertise with. This is part of the organizing process since it will also take time. Items that have higher values such as collectibles can be posted onto eBay. You can immediately see what they are worth and set the value based on the condition it’s in. The benefit will come when someone buys your item. Everyone can see the sense and value of that.

Do you need to rent a dumpster?

Hire AZ Junk For Bulk Trash Pick Up.

Items that are big and clunky like an old sofa or pool table that wore out might not be worth selling. These are curb items that others pick up upon request. If you can get a few bucks for them, all the better. Don’t expect much unless you know it has a value that can be shown. Using pictures to advertise online allows you to barter if you are using free post sites. Once again, if you’ve got plenty of time it’s worth waiting for a reply. Organizing any room will be a slow process so the items you organize for selling are easier to manage.

Keep a logbook of the items you are selling is a great reminder of how the benefits start to tally up. These become great memories of the time that you cleared up all your clutter and can show a profit margin. Remember those ideas about what to use all the renewed space for? That profit can be used exactly for that or just keeping up with your monthly bills.

Alternatively, take the money that you’ve saved from selling off your clutter and use it for improving your home. With some new paint and minor home improvements, you can add space-saving cabinets and closet organizers.

Upgrade your kitchen with simple and affordable storage ideas like shelving, standing cabinets, baskets or even a new kitchen island.

new Island kitchen

Maximize your space even more with these add-ons that don’t cost much money at all. And to be honest, when you have more time to do these things, improving your home is easier. Especially since you’ve been able to remove and get rid of clutter!

If you have a lot of garbage that needs to be thrown away and cannot be recycled, you might need to rent a small dumpster. These are 5 times as large as your typical garbage container and are easy to request by making a simple phone call. They drop off the dumpster and you fill it up and then these containers are taken away. The service price includes the cost of delivery and pickup and is usually fast and friendly.

Remaining Clutter Free

Clutter Free Room

What We Can Learn From Minimalism

Being a minimalist doesn’t mean throwing everything out until you have only one chair, one plate and one set of clothes.

It’s about living with less. Here’s a great definition of what it means to be a minimalist:

It is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

In order to free up your time, your space, your life, you have to start getting rid of the rubbish.

It’s hard to learn what is and what is not rubbish at first (HINT: it’s all rubbish) but once you start you’ll feel so much better and deciding what to toss will become easier every day, until eventually you are left with only the things that truly matter.

" We’re so Obsessed with More, It Feels Like We Have Less "

Look around your house. See that bookshelf full of dusty old volumes you haven’t read since you moved in? Next, to them, there is probably a nick nack, or 50, whose origins confound you as much as the blueprint of the flux capacitor. Your kitchen counter has disappeared under the sea of juicers, espresso machines and storage jars making the idea of counter space a mere illusion. Your closets, so full, the clothes on hangers are getting wrinkled.

" Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff "

Here is the secret, the meaning of life, the coup de grace … all of that stuff, every piece, from the books to the juicer is rubbish.

Just junk.

Sent to you by the evil empire in order to suck your life force away. And their secret operatives are winning the war while you shrivel away into an ever smaller version of yourself until one day you’ll become nothing more than an empty hollow shell whose entire energy is being sucked dry by the very rubbish you let into your home.

" How can you save yourself? They may take your money but they will never take your freedom!! If you want it back you’ll have to paint your face blue and pick a fight with it. But instead of mooning it, try the more mature strategy of the minimalist. "

Organize Less

You’ll learn many important lessons while you fight the good fight. The first of which is, organizing is a waste of time.

" Owning less is better than organizing more "

Your space is so cluttered you literally spend hours and hours of your life organizing and reorganizing it. The best way to organize is to throw it all away. Now you know it will always be in the right place. That leads me to another important lesson. Once you’ve thrown it out, you won’t even remember what most of it was.

It might look nice once you are done reorganizing it for the 129th time, but once it is all cleared out you will understand just how overpowering it was to have so much rubbish lying around.

Stop Buying Stuff

For for Pete’s sake, you can’t have less if you keep buying. Buying  more is part of the lie. It will not satisfy you. Sure, that new thing will bring you joy at first, but like my dad always used to tell me, “Once the new wears off, you won’t play with it anymore”.

This may be the single most important lesson.

After you’ve let go of the clutter in your life, you’ll realize just how consumer-driven your focus can be. But once you have control over your rubbish stash you also gain control over your shoppers habit too.


Why should I declutter my home?

Decluttering your home should almost be a spiritual experience. Decluttering has been proven to reduce stress and helps create a more harmonious atmosphere. It also increases storage space, and creates a more organized and comfortable living environment.

Where do I start when decluttering my home?

Start with the smallest room, maybe a bathroom. Starting small gives you an idea of just how much “stuff” you’ve collected over the years and what it’s going to take to get things back to being manageable. Plus once you start, you’ll feel better about what you’re doing and that’ll give you the confidence and energy to tackle the bigger problem areas.

How do I determine what to keep and what to get rid of?

Ask yourself a few realistic questions. Will I actually use this sometime in the next year? Is this something that brings me or others joy? Is this something that I have a personal connection with?

If an item does not meet these criteria, it is likely time to get rid of it.

What are some good methods for decluttering?

One of the best ways to get started is simply to take out every single item in a room and lay it all out in a large open space to see what is really there. Some other good methods for decluttering include the KonMari method, the "one in, one out" rule, and dividing items into categories, such as donate, sell, or trash.

Can I make money from decluttering my home?

Yes, you absolutely can make money from decluttering your home. Ebay and garage sales can attest to this. People buy and sell all sorts of used stuff every single day. And sometimes you may not even realize some of your junk is worth a lot more than you think it is.

What should I do with items that are no longer useful or relevant?

You should always start with trying to donate things that hold no real value to you if you can. For other items it may be possible they can be recycled or even “upcycled”, depending on their condition. If an item is not in good condition, it should be disposed of properly through your local waste management program.

How can I prevent my home from becoming cluttered again in the future?

Like the old adage says, to stop burying yourself in a hole, stop digging. Or here, stop buying or collecting stuff just to have it. It’s important to adopt a minimalist mindset and regularly evaluate your belongings. Make it a habit to get rid of items that are no longer needed or used. After a while you’ll start feeling good when you rid yourself of something rather than holding onto it.

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About the author
Wordpress Username: azjunk

Brad Thomason is the owner of AZ Junk Removal, a seasoned professional with decades of experience in the moving and junk removal industry. With an acute understanding of how people acquire and dispose of items, he established his company in 2001, serving the Phoenix, Arizona area with exceptional junk removal services. Throughout his career, Brad has witnessed the exponential growth of the city as new communities, businesses, and retail centers continue to develop.

Committed to offering a more personalized approach, Brad operates the company as an owner-operator, actively involved in daily operations. When you choose AZ Junk Removal to eliminate clutter, you can expect to work directly with Brad, one of his close family members, or friends. This level of customer service sets them apart from other franchised hauling companies in the Valley.

With his wealth of knowledge and commitment to providing top-notch service, going with Brad Thomason is the clear choice for all of your junk removal needs in Phoenix, Arizona.


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