Clutter-free living and tips on household tidying

Written by    Last updated: August 28, 2007

Merging your lives not only means double the fun, it also means double the amount of stuff to deal with. Here are some ideas to get organised, leaving you with more time to enjoy your new life together…

household tidying
Bedroom

Hangers: hang clothes using a system that suits you  ‐ grouping tops and bottoms separately in coordinating colours or grouping outfits together. Thick wooden hangers are best for heavy clothes, such as suits. Attach a strip of felt onto the bar of the hanger to keep trousers from slipping and to reduce the mid‐knee crease.

Folding: delicate clothes should be lined with tissue paper when folding, to minimise creasing.

Seasonal: rotate clothing twice a year to make the best use of limited cupboard space. Dry clean or wash clothes before you put them away for the season. Don’t starch washable items going into storage.  Use storage boxes with labels or garment covers and hang them on a rail in the loft, adding an anti‐moth sachet. Don’t store in plastic bags for more than a few months at a time. Use old sheets or tissue paper where possible.

Space saving: make the most of vertical space in a small wardrobe with hanging pockets that keep shoes, handbags, belts and scarves tidy, while allowing easy access.

Shoes: label shoeboxes with a description of colour and style, or stick a Polaroid picture of the shoes on the side of the box, to immediately identify what you’re looking for. Clean, dry and air boots before storing them. Use shoe or boot trees or crumpled paper to preserve their shape.

Drawers: use drawer organisers to sort out items such as men’s ties, belts and socks.

Make‐up: cutlery drawers are a brilliant way to organise cosmetics neatly – put lipsticks, nail polish, etc into their own special section.

Linen
: save the bother of hunting around the linen cupboard for matching bedclothes – tuck the duvet cover inside the matching pillow case before putting them away.

Laundry bags: save on floor space – instead of using a laundry bin, buy or make a drawstring bag to hang on the back of your door.

Luggage: store large pieces of luggage in the garage.  Put a drawer freshener inside each one to stop them smelling musty and seal them up in heavy‐duty garden sacks.

Guest rooms: don’t waste space in the spare room by putting up a wardrobe – use a moveable clothes rail when guests are expected, then dismantle it afterwards.

Kitchen

Carrier bags: free up kitchen drawers. Instead of stuffing one with carrier bags, keep them in a purpose‐made sack that hangs behind a door.

Documents: store appliance instructions, guarantees and recipes in document files (plastic folders in a lever arch file).

Regular clear‐outs: avoid crowded cupboards by having a clear‐out at least once a month.

Cleaners: store all messy bottles, such as detergents, bleaches and washing up liquid under the sink.

Shelves: maximise the space in cupboards with additional shelving, door racks and wire carousels.

Hooks: hang long handled cleaning equipment on a set of hooks on the wall of the utility room or back of a door.

China: special occasion china can take up valuable cupboard space. Wrap in quilted fabric and store in a safe place.

Bathroom

Wall fixtures: fixing toothbrush and soap holders to the wall will keep surfaces clear, so they’re quicker and easier to clean.

Radiator: consider a ladder radiator – however big your family, it means that everyone has a warm, dry towel after a bath or shower.

Living room

Top shelves: shelves that are too high to reach (and areas such as attics and utility rooms) all tend to be storage black spots. Create dedicated areas for items to make better use of space.

Magazine backlog: keeping every magazine you ever buy ‘just in case’ is a certain recipe for clutter. Tear out any information you’ll find useful, put it in a box file and recycle the rest.

Sort out: categorise everything in terms of ‘daily’,  ‘often’, ‘sometimes’ and ‘seldom’, then store them accordingly.  ‘Daily’ means instant access, whereas ‘seldom’ means ‘ banish me to the top shelf – if not the garage’.

Study

Out of sight:  if your workspace doubles as a dining room or bedroom, conceal as much office equipment as you can when it’s not in use.

Annual clear‐out: go through your filing system once a year, be ruthless and throw out any papers you’ll never need again.

Weekly sort‐out: deal with domestic paperwork on a weekly basis – for half an hour on a Saturday morning, for example. Add new addresses to your files and reply to invitations and letters straightaway.

Shredder: invest in a paper shredder for disposing personal documents.

Proper labelling
: don’t allow computer disks, equipment instructions and hardware to pile up in a cupboard.  Use labelled boxes that can be stacked up neatly.

Study corner
: if you don’t have a study, allocate an area for household administration, then keep the paperwork out of the rooms you like to relax in. Put items into a basket until you’re ready to deal with them, so you can find them quickly and easily.

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