The 5-Basket System: How to Declutter Your Home Once and for All

Get rid of all the unnecessary junk that may have accumulated in your home finally.

Photography: Unsplash

Decluttering is easier said than done. It requires a lot of time and energy, and it can be pretty stressful. And the longer we wait to tidy up, the more we accumulate junk in our homes. To finally address the heaps of clutter you may have lying around in different parts of your home, you will need are baskets and plenty of energy!

How to declutter and organize every room in your home

As you go about decluttering your home, you might feel overwhelmed by everything you find. But what we do know is you’ll probably feel a lot better after giving your home the purge it needs! Let us start you gradually with these tips.

Prepare five baskets

The Spruce suggests a genius way to sort through the things you have at home. The first step is to prepare five baskets (although you can also use other containers such as boxes, bags, or bins). Give each basket a label:

  • Put Away (for items that need to be returned to their original storage area)
  • Recycle (for items that can be repurposed)
  • Fix (for items that are broken but can still be used if repaired or mended)
  • Donate (for items that you would rather give away to other people or to charitable organizations)
  • Trash (for items that need to be thrown out)

As you go through the different parts of your home, resist the urge to organize everything without making use of your baskets. This sorting system helps you decide the items that are still worth keeping and the ones you can live without. It’s a good way for you to know how and where to store the things you do decide to keep.


Start with your living room

Tackle your living area first, which is one of the trickiest parts of the home to keep clutter away because it is usually one of the places where the family spends the most time here the most. Chances are high your kids play here as well.

The Spruce suggests first going through TV consoles, side tables, and bookcases (if any). Empty the little nooks and drawers in these units and give each item you find an evaluation. Sort them into the baskets you’ve prepared — dusty décor you don’t really care for may be chucked to the Trash or Donate basket, while misplaced toys and books can be placed in the Put Away basket.

Do the same to your coffee table. If it has become the storage space for books, unsorted mail, and remote controls, take those items away and leave behind only a few decorative pieces. Here’s a helpful tip: Uncluttered coffee tables can actually help make a living room look tidier!

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“To give the illusion that a room is clutter-free, the top of the coffee table should be 75% clear. Styles with drawers or shelves below the surface will get you there fast,” prop stylist Stephanie Hanes tells Good Housekeeping.

The next step is to go through your electronics, such as remote controls, gadgets, and gaming equipment. Since these items are more fragile, instead of sorting them in your baskets, just return them to where they are supposed to be stored. Smaller electronics like chargers can be placed in your Put Away pile for returning to another area in the house or in your Trash pile if they no longer function. Any toys left strewn about in your living room also need to be assessed carefully. Evaluate which ones your kids still enjoy playing with and which one can be donated or discarded.

If you have an entryway — the space you immediately enter the moment you step into your home — don’t forget to deal with it as well. If you keep any cabinets or desks there, go through the contents of each drawer and sort them accordingly.


Once you’re done with the whole living room, it’s time to return the items in your Put Away basket to where they’re supposed to be. Make sure every item has a designated place, whether they are big things or small ones. This will make it much easier for you to know where everything is and where to return them after use.


Move to your kitchen

Start by clearing away everything you keep in your kitchen and sorting them properly. Don’t forget to go through your overhead cabinets, lower cabinets and drawers, and even the space under your sink. If you have a pantry at home, make sure to declutter it as well.

Once you’ve decided on which items to keep and which to throw away, it’s time to put everything in its proper place. The key to putting together a kitchen that doesn’t look cluttered is to store the items and equipment you have according to the frequency of use. For example, a rice cooker and your knife block are some of the items you might use most regularly, so these items should be stored somewhere you can access them more easily, such as the counters. Meanwhile, items you don’t use as often, like bakeware, can be kept in upper cabinets where they won’t be in the way of your everyday tasks.


Keep your counters as clutter-free as possible. After all, this is the space you use for food preparation and cooking every day. Having too many things there can just get in the way of your work. One way for you to achieve this is to make use of vertical storage. Aside from cabinets, you can try installing hooks for your kitchen towels and cooking utensils or shelves for condiments. As points out, this helps save you a lot of counter space!

Work on your bathroom

If you have cabinets inside your bathroom, go through their contents. Get rid of expired medication, makeup, and skincare products. Make sure to also throw out empty bottles of shampoo, conditioner, feminine wash, and other bath and personal care products there. If they are half-empty and you have not used them in the last four months or so, you are not likely to use it again. Any item that might have found its way in the cabinet that should not kept there in the first place can be go in any of your baskets to deal with later.


Take care of your bedroom and closets

Go to your nightstand, remove items you’ve kept there, and organize them according to the baskets you’ve prepared. Whatever books you may have there can go to your Put Away basket so they are stored somewhere else. Broken gadgets can be placed in your Trash pile for discarding.


Do the same to your dressers and desks. You might have random pieces of clothing that have been left lying around. Make sure to place these in your Put Away basket so you can fold or hang them up later. If you come across anything that has not been used within the last six months, put them either in your Recycle or Trash basket.

Finish up by returning the items in your Put Away basket to where they are supposed to be stored.

After you’re done with your or your child’s bedroom, it’s time to clean up the closet. This might be one of the most difficult areas in the home to keep in order because of the sheer amount of stuff you have in there, but don’t be afraid!

According to The Spruce, one way to go about this is by decluttering your clothing by type. For example, start by going through shirts, then dresses, then denim items, and so on. This way, it will be easier to decide the items to put in which baskets. You may find that you have a lot of pre-loved clothes you can donate or sell!


If your little one has a lot of toys she no longer plays with, these can also be put to good use by being put in your Donate pile. There are many different organizations where you can bring your child’s old toys and even other items such as appliances and books.


This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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