27 Genius Tips That Will Keep Your Home in Perfect Order
Storage bins aren't always the smart solution.
Very few people actually enjoy spending hours upon hours organizing their belongings (except maybe Marie Kondo). Though nothing feels better than coming home to a well-organized home, it sometimes feels like the effort required to clean and categorize isn’t worth that sense of satisfaction.
But what if there was a way to keep your home in order without spending hours upon hours? To aid you on your tidying journey, we spoke to expert organizers and interior designers to get their best home organization tips.
“A label maker is step one and imperative for those who like to be organized,” says Deborah Ribner, an agent with Warburg Realty. “This way, your kids, your husband, a nanny, etc. know exactly where to find—and where to put away—winter hats, a measuring cup, and the extra toothbrushes!”
Don’t save anything for later.
One way to ensure that your home is always in perfect order is by following the “right now” rule, says Eileen Roth, organizing consultant and author of Organizing For Dummies. Basically, this rule dictates that anything you take out should be put away “right now,” rather than left out to be dealt with later. “Don’t pile it, file it,” says Roth. “Never start a pile and you won’t have to clean it up.”
Don’t buy things you don’t need.
If you really want to stay organized at home, then the best thing you can do for yourself is “shop with intention,” says Sarah Giller Nelson, owner of Less is More Organizers. “Before buying something, ask yourself, ‘Do I really need this?’ ‘Would I still buy this if it were not on sale?’ ‘If I bring this into my home, do I have a place to store it?’ If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no,’ then walk away.”
Make a checklist.
Santa knew what he was doing when he made that list and checked it twice. Having a weekly cleaning checklist in plain site is a great way to remind everyone in the family of the things that need to get done, notes Kait Schulhof, founder of A Clean Bee. Plus, “keeping this checklist visible will help keep you motivated!”
Split up cleaning duties.
Cleaning the house is no one’s sole responsibility (unless you live alone, of course). Rather than relying on one person to keep every room in order, give everyone a specific room to tidy up so that the task is less overwhelming.
“Sharing your cleaning and purging experience with the people you share your space with will not only help the process go by faster, but it also can be a fun bonding experience and will give everyone the chance to share their opinions on how your spaces could be rearranged,” explains Lior Rachmany, founder and CEO of Dumbo Moving.
Only use bins when it makes sense.
Storage bins are useful for small items, like hats and scarves. However, interior designer Roric Tobin warns that relying on them too much can make a disorganized situation worse.
“Often if you look closer, you’ll find that those perfectly arranged bins or baskets are basically a series of catch-alls that are only hiding the clutter,” Tobin says. “It looks good when company comes over, but when you actually go looking for what you need, sifting and digging through a bin becomes a frustrating endeavor.”
Clean in small doses.
“Use the time you have during the day to tidy up smaller spaces,” suggests Nelson. “Clean out the junk drawer while you are waiting for coffee to brew. While you are waiting for the shower to get hot or the bathtub to fill, declutter the medicine cabinet, drawers, or sink. One day, focus on makeup; the next, expired meds; and on another morning, swab down the countertop or the mirror.”
Get a Lazy Suzan for the refrigerator.
Condiments and sauces have a tendency to get lost all the way in the back of the fridge. That’s why professional organizer Nonnahs Driskill suggests putting a Lazy Susan in there and using it to hold all your jarred items. The turntable makes it easier to see and access everything you need in your fridge.
Store blankets on a drying rack.
“Many homeowners use drying racks for their garments after they finish laundry, but these racks can also double as an attractive blanket holder,” according to the experts at The Cleaning Authority. “Simply fold each of your furry blankets over a rung and set it in your living room corner. This keeps blankets organized and on display—a better alternative to a messy wicker basket.”
Tackle one room at a time.
Cleaning the entire house at once is only going to overwhelm you and make you want to stop tidying before you even start. Instead, Rachmany recommends going one room at a time. “This will make the cleaning process underwhelming and full of small victories,” he says.
Get rid of the stuff you don’t use.
Moving clutter around doesn’t actually make your house any cleaner. That’s why professional organizer Cynthia Alexander always has her clients begin by going through their things and deciding what they want to keep. “After the excess is cleared, it is time to see what fits and enhances the life you want to live,” she explains.
File everything, never stack.
Whether you’re organizing your drawer of pants or putting away your pot lids, it’s always better to file items, rather than stack them. Why? “When you file items, you can easily see every single item and locate the specific one you want,” explains Susan Santoro, a professional organizer and owner of Organized 31. “When you stack items, you have to wrestle with the stack to remove the item you want—and it never seems to be the one on the top of the pile.”
Store items closest to where you use them.
Santoro also suggests storing items not far from where you use them in order to “save time and frustration.” Plus, “it also makes it more likely that you’ll put the item away where it belongs.”
Designate a spot for your keys.
Unless you enjoy tearing your house apart every morning in search of your missing car keys, then you should invest in a hanging wall organizer where you can keep all of your keys in one place. “As long as you have one designated place, you’ll always know where to find your things, and you’ll contain the clutter to one space,” explains Elsa Elbert, owner of organization company Composed Living.
Use hanging shoe organizers for everything.
Shoe organizers don’t have to be just for shoes. As Marty Basher, home organization expert for Modular Closets, points out, the vertical storage units can also store “all the stuff that gets lost in most closets.” Think smaller items, like socks, gloves, swimsuits, scarves, and undergarments.
Get rid of old cookbooks.
In the age of the internet, cookbooks only add clutter to your kitchen. Even if you constantly find yourself using a recipe from one of Ina Garten‘s books, you can jot down or take a photo of it to continue using the recipe. Then donate the bulky cookbook to clear up precious shelf or counter space.
Strip your items of their packaging.
The next time you come home with a giant haul of paper towels and other non-perishables, remove the packaging they came in. “Eliminating visual clutter creates a more streamlined, tidy look,” says Elbert.
Clean up immediately after cooking.
Always, always remember to put items away once you’re done using them—and yes, this applies to the dishes, too.
Though cleaning up immediately after exerting energy on another activity is gruesome, doing so will ensure that you aren’t stressed for the rest of the day, thinking about the tidying up you have to do.
Label foods by expiration date.
Save money and clean up the clutter by labeling and organizing the food in your fridge by expiration date. Driskill suggests using the bottom right drawer of your fridge for older items that are about to expire and the bottom left drawer for newer produce. Just make sure to label each drawer so your family knows which items to grab first!
Follow the rule of three.
You don’t need a house full of bin and buckets; you just need three, according to Luiz Perez of 5miles. And they are a trash bin, a recycling bin, and a donation bin. “If it’s worn out or broken, toss it,” Perez says. “If you no longer need it, but it’s otherwise usable, recycle it; and donate or sell unused items via local marketplaces, like 5miles.”
Use drawer organizers to keep small items separated.
Just because people can’t see how disorganized your desk drawers are doesn’t mean that they aren’t anxiety-inducing. Instead of throwing your pencils, pens, and paper clips inside your top drawer and calling it a day, invest in a few inexpensive drawer organizers that will keep everything neat and separate.
Sort through the mail every single day.
“Skip the growing mail pile and make a point of organizing it each and every day,” says Basher. “Toss everything you can. Use a hanging file system labeled with the actions needed. A file for bills to be paid, paperwork to sign, and items needing to be saved and filed. To help cut down on the amount of paper coming into your home, sign up for online billing everywhere you can.”
Store toys in a hamper.
Don’t let your child’s toys take over the house. Rather, Basher recommends buying a hamper specifically for stuffed animal and game storage. “This storage solution is easy to move, and allows your child to easily lift the hamper lid and reach inside to access a toy. The hamper lid is also a nice way to keep toys out of sight when they’re not being used,” he notes.
Store like with like.
With stationary stored in one drawer and stamps stored in another, it’s easy to lose track of what you own and then buy things you don’t actually need. That’s why you should always organize things according to their function. Stationary, for instance, should be stored with office supplies and wrapping paper, and candles should be stored in one place along with all of your lighters, diffusers, and other odorous items.
Listen to music while you clean.
Home organization doesn’t have to feel tedious! Instead of looking at the task with dread, you can crank up your favorite tunes and approach the assignment as if it were a dance party. With your favorite playlist at full volume, you won’t even notice that you’re doing a chore.
Organize with a friend.
You can’t always trust yourself to decide which items in your closet you should keep and which you should donate. Someone you can trust, however, is a friend. Your pals won’t be afraid to tell you when it’s time to say goodbye to those jeans that haven’t fit in years or that dress that you haven’t worn since before you had kids. With their help, you’ll easily be able to thin out your closet and make room for the items you do need.
“There is such a thing as over-organization,” says Basher. “Trying to organize by color and then subcategorizing by activity, for example, will probably just lead you to spend hours figuring out where to place your clothing after laundering or dry cleaning, losing the efficiency of organizing you closet in the first place.” And if you’re struggling with storage space for your clothes, then read up on What to Do When You’re Completely Out of Closet Space.
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