When you declutter your home, there are certain questions to help you declutter that you should be asking yourself. Sometimes the questions that help you declutter are tough ones. You will be working with sentimental items, items you spent money on, and items that bring you immense guilt when you think about getting rid of them. These questions to help you declutter should give you the push and inspiration to look past the difficult emotions and make a decision that leads to a more clutter-free, happier home.
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Questions to ask yourself to help you declutter:
#1 – Does it spark joy?
This is by far my favorite of the questions to help you declutter. Read the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo, and this is the question she asks in regards to everything she touches in her home.
If it doesn’t spark joy, then it has to go. Now, you might be thinking, my teapot doesn’t spark joy. It sits there on my stove all day, every day. However, for me, it is one of the most joyful parts of the day. It represents my morning tea, which means a fresh start and a new day. If I didn’t have my teapot, I would be sad…and cranky.
#2 – Is this a duplicate?
For most things, you only need one. In fact, minimalism often touts the rule of one. When you are trying to become a minimalist and learn minimalist principles, you will learn those duplicate items are not usually necessary.
For example, who needs six pyrex dishes? I didn’t. Yet, when we decluttered our kitchen, there was an actual debate in our home regarding keeping all six casserole dishes. I don’t even cook casseroles. We now have three. That still seems like too many, but hey, pick your battles when decluttering with a reluctant spouse.
#3 – Is it broken?
If something is broken, it is time to seriously considering tossing it. If you have no plans to fix it within the next week or two, time to let it go. The reason I say two weeks is because if the item really does bring you joy, you will get it back into working order. If it doesn’t, then I suggest moving on and letting go of any guilt associated with the item.
To take this question a step further, put any broken items in a bag or box in plain view. If after two weeks you haven’t done anything with the items, you have no excuse but to transfer the box to the dumpster.
Check out 100 items you can probably get rid of today with this decluttering checklist.
#4 – Am I holding on to this item out of guilt?
If you are holding on to something out of guilt and need permission to let it go, let me be the one to help you. “Let it go. It’s ok.” Guilt is a powerful emotion, and it can dictate so many of our belongings.
If there is an item causing you guilt that was a gift, I will let you in on a little secret, most of the time, the person who gave you the item will never know you got rid of it. Once that item is gone, the guilt usually disappears with it. I say this because you are no longer feeling guilty for not wearing a sweater a family member gave you or holding on to a book you never cared to receive initially.
#5 – Am I holding on to something for sentimental reasons?
Like guilt, sentimental emotions tied to our stuff can be quite powerful, and this question to help you declutter will help you at least recognize the emotion. Sentimental clutter can take over a home quickly, and if you don’t learn how to manage it, it can take away entire rooms in your home!
I am far too familiar with sentimental clutter. We once had a finished basement that was half full of sentimental clutter. There were boxes from floor to ceiling, so when I tell you I get it, I really, really do. Going through that stuff was hard, and it took time. However, I will never regret the end result. We had this beautiful space that never got used. After getting rid of the sentimental clutter, we were able to give our kids a playroom and our guests a calm bedroom retreat.
#6 – Have I used this in the past year?
If you have not used an item in the past year, it is time to let it go. Generally speaking, I prefer the six-month rule when clearing clutter from my home. If you follow the one-year rule, you can be more than sure you are not using something any longer, as it covers all the seasons. If you run across something you forgot you owned but you really will use it, then it is time to put it into full rotation.
#7 – Am I saving this for “just in case”?
This is the one question I must ask my husband all the time, “Honey, do you really need this or are you saving it for just in case?” More often than not, it is for “just in case”.
As with the last question, if you haven’t used it in the past year, you probably won’t ever need it. Will you get rid of something in your decluttering process you may regret in three months? Possibly, but by then you will be really good at being resourceful with the items you have and may be able to work around not having something any longer.
#8 – Would I buy this today?
This question to help you declutter often applies to items found in your closet. We buy things for different reasons. Sometimes we buy things on sale, and sometimes we buy things for no other reason than the high that comes from getting something new. Then, we get home, and the item sits on our closet, collecting dust or getting pushed to the back. If you pick up something and know you would never be caught buying the said item today, it is time to let it go.
To prevent shopping for the endorphin high, check out twenty free activities you can do instead of shopping.
#9 – Does this still fit me or my lifestyle?
When you declutter your closet, give yourself permission to let go of articles of clothing that no longer fit you. For clothes, if you need to get more meaning from giving something away, check out a local shelter or consign them.
Give yourself the same permission to let go of items that no longer fit your lifestyle. I quit working in Corporate America. I own about ten blazers that I absolutely love, and it was a labor of love finding them and building outfits around them. However, I no longer work in a corporate office. I have no reason to hold on to these blazers. They no longer fit my current lifestyle. I will probably keep my favorite two blazers, but the rest are going to a local women’s shelter that helps women dress professionally for interviews. I am hoping some good can come out of my excess.
#10 – Is this item worth the time and money needed to clean or maintain it?
This is a good question to ask to help you declutter because sometimes we love something and we even use it, but it has started to no longer be worth the time and effort to clean, maintain or store. The item we love has become a chore of resentment.
I think of our old coffee pot. We got it as a wedding gift and used it for years. Every afternoon I would come home and have to empty the filter and throw out the half drank pot. I hated the clean-up, the wasted money of coffee not consumed and the space the coffee maker took up on my kitchen counter. After some debate and reluctant experimenting on my husband’s part, we converted to a French press. He now drinks all of the coffee he makes every day, empties it out when done because it is so easy, and then puts the press in the dishwasher or stored under the counter because it is so small. We both love it!
#11 – If all else fails, ask yourself this: Why am I decluttering my home?
If guilt, sentiments, or anger kept me from getting rid of something, I would ask myself this one last question to help me declutter. Why am I decluttering my home? What was I hoping to get from having less stuff in my house? The answer was easy. I was overwhelmed, tired and over the constant upkeep. Being a mom was hard enough, and I didn’t need excess clutter making the job even harder. This one last question was ultimately what helped me get through the most difficult of emotions.
Decluttering your home can bring up some complex emotions regarding the items we are keeping in our home. Just remember why you started the process. Remind yourself that you deserve a clean and peaceful home that doesn’t have you constantly picking up after everyone else. Making new memories is way more important than holding on to memories that are stored in a box and hidden away in a room. You can do this!