5 Box Decluttering Method

“I’m sorry to show you my home like this, I am so not ready,” is typically the first thing I hear when meeting a new client to discuss listing their home, but I want everyone to know – If anyone expects your home to be “list ready” during the very first appointment, they’re crazy! As your agent, it’s our JOB to help you get ready to list your home and we’re HAPPY to do it. We’re here to tell you what to do, and what you don’t need to do, in order to get the most value for your home!

Whether you’re listing your home, or you just feel inspired by Marie Kondo and want to declutter your home a bit – Here are some simple, but effective, steps into how to tackle the huge project of organizing your entire home!

The very first thing you’ll need to have ready you’ve likely got in your home already – You’re going to need 5 boxes, totes or baskets to divide your belongings into as you go from room to room. You have two options from here, to either bring these from room to room with you, or keep them in a central location (like a dining room where there typically won’t be “much” to go through) to bring the items into from each room as you finish. Think of it this way, leaving your boxes in a central location, you’ll certainly get your steps in for that day!

1 – “Put Back,” these are the things that have wandered into the wrong room of your home such as a water bottle in the bathroom, your shoes getting kicked off in the office, or your bathroom towel not making it back to its hook. These will go back to their designated spots in your home!

2 – “Recycle,” these are the things in your home that you’re getting rid of completely, but are made of paper, plastic or glass.

3 – “Fix/Clean,” this will be full of the things that have likely been put somewhere in your home with the intent of cleaning or repairing but haven’t been finished yet. Put those items in this box and tackle them as you put them away.

4 – “Trash It,” anything that can’t be recycled or donated and no longer has a place in your home will find its way into this box!

5 – “Donate,” those old shoes that you don’t wear but still have life left in them? The kitchen plates and bowls you got for your first Christmas as a couple but have now become a mismatched mess taking up space in your cabinets? Anything in your home that you’ll no longer use but someone else may want or need goes here – Find a local church or shelter to bring these items to once you’re finished.

Now that you’ve got your bins/boxes ready – Let’s get started!


Start with your medicine cabinet (if you have one) and under your bathroom sink. Throw out anything that is expired, seems a little funky or you know you won’t be using again, like those meds from your Urgent Care visit six months ago or that dried up temporary hair color from that one time you wanted to be adventurous. Remove EVERYTHING from this area, wipe the surface out, and once you’ve tossed everything you’re letting go of, start organizing. My best advice, for under the bathroom sink especially, is to get two smaller containers or baskets to put medicine/first aid items in one (if you don’t have a medicine cabinet), and then cleaning products in another for easy access!

Move onto your drawers and repeat the same steps. I have two small baskets in my makeup drawer and then in the next drawer I have strictly hair products. I am a BIG FAN of having nothing on counters if you can help it, so having these baskets will help separate items you may not want touching!

Repeat with the bathtub, get rid of old products you’re no longer using and maybe replace that loofa you’ve been using for months.

Finally, get to your linen closet. Typically, this becomes a catch all in most bathrooms with a mixture of products, Bath and Body Works lotions from 29 years of Christmases and towels/sheets. Go through and organize your towels based on what you use regularly and what you don’t, refold and place on shelving based on what you can reach for easy use – Do the same with bed sheets. If you have products that will be living in this space, those containers from under the sink will work well here too.

If there were things to “Put Back” that you found, be sure to place those in the appropriate box, as well as the other categories you’ve divided into! In your bathroom, most likely you’ll have a majority of “Trash It” items. Wipe down the rest of the surfaces in your bathroom (countertops, toilet, window sills, bathtub/shower) and be sure to light a candle on your way out!


Start with your visible surfaces; Do you have a dresser, nightstand or chest with piles of “stuff” on them? Organize those things into their appropriate boxes and since you’re already there, hang the clothes that you tried on and threw down when you weren’t thrilled with how it looked (if you’re like me, this is a pile that’s likely accrued over 4-5 days.. woops).

Wipe down your surfaces with a simple cleaner and make your way to your nightstands. Ours end up being overtaken with empty water bottles on most weeks, so that’s a quick toss into the “Recycle” box for cleanup. Your drawers should be organized and just like in the bathroom, nothing on dressers and nightstands gives a clean, simple look.

Your dresser and closet will be your biggest projects, go through your clothing and you’ll likely get a hefty pile for the “Donate” basket here. Organize as you wish and remember to try not to hold onto all the things you “might wear again.”

Wash your sheets, make your bed and fluff your pillows – You’ve just finished two major living spaces.


This space can be challenging to keep clean based on the amount of traffic it gets – You’re cooking, walking through on your way in the house from the garage, or simply just not getting all the non-perishables put away into the pantry after the grocery. You’ll want to start at one side and make your way around.

Wherever you begin, empty the space completely, wipe it down and then place each item back as you decide to keep it or not. You’ll likely have some “Trash It” items and a bit to “Donate” from your kitchen. Keep in mind that cleared off countertops are an easy way to make your kitchen look fresh and clean but don’t throw things in drawers and make those disorganized just to clear your space. Clear your countertops off with a purpose and stick with your organization!

Wipe down the countertops, sink, clean up your stovetop and make sure your backsplash is “splash” free. Take the items that belong elsewhere, stick them in your “Put Back” basket and move on to the next room!

Living/Family Room & Additional Living Spaces

This could be an office, your living room, finished basement, etc. Typically, living rooms don’t have a ton of available storage space and it is likely where you and your family spend the most time! Start in one corner of the room and work your way out – TV stands will sometimes collect things that you throw in when guests are coming over and you’re picking up in a hurry. Go through cabinets and drawers and take out things that don’t belong or even remove electronics that you no longer use – your old VCR, for example.

Coffee tables are sometimes a catch all of remotes, books and such – make sure whatever has a place on your table, belongs, and definitely “Recycle” those old Cosmopolitan magazines that are taking up space.

Fluff your couch cushions, pillows and neatly fold any blankets you use on a regular basis – “Donate” the blankets that don’t get used. Take your shoes, any clothing and any other misplaced items that have found their way into your living space into the “Put Back” bin and keep cleaning!

Once you’ve organized every room, your five boxes are likely full. Start with your “Put Back” box, put your “Trash It” items in your trash can, your “Recycle” items in the recycle bin and get your “Donate” items ready to take to a local shelter or church! Your “Fix/Clean” bin will be the final to put away. Go through and piece by piece get each item back to a functional state and put them back in their designated place.

What other tips have helped you organize or helped you get ready to list your home? Share below!