How to declutter a nightstand – for a clutter-free sleep space

A cluttered bedroom can affect the quality of our sleep – here is how to keep it streamlined

pink bedroom with wooden chest of drawers
(Image credit: Future PLC / James Merrell)

No matter how comfortable your mattress and bedding might be, a cluttered bedroom will always affect your quality of sleep. While it helps to declutter the big problem areas like your closet, decluttering a nightstand is arguably more important for a good night's rest. 

It is easy for your bedside tables to become a magnet for clutter, especially with recent bedroom trends showing off curated nightstand decor piled high for aesthetic purposes. A nightstand is, first and foremost, a truly functional piece of furniture – and keeping it relatively clear is not just practical but sleek-looking too.

Despite its handy position, there is little reason to pile it high with clutter, learning some top decluttering tips for your nightstand to it tidy is simple, and you really will feel the benefit.

How to declutter a nightstand 

We have asked some professional home organizers for their top tips on how to declutter a nightstand. 

1. Take everything out at once

terracotta painted wall panelling in bedroom, pale grey nightstand, white wall light, white painted rattan bed, white bedding, pink blanket, shelf on top of paneling, wooden floor

(Image credit: Neptune)

As with decluttering a closet or organizing a dresser, the best way to approach decluttering a nightstand is to take everything out at once and lay them where you can see them. Prerna Jain, professional house cleaner and organizer from the Ministry of Cleaning says, 'Start by sorting items into piles, such as items to keep, items to donate, and items to throw away.'

If you are not as sure of what to keep, then sorting items into categories such as electronics, books, personal items, and so on may be a more holistic approach, adds Rachel Sicherman, professional organizer and owner of Tidy Made Easy Organizing Solutions, Florida. ‘This will help you see what you have and help you determine what you need. Many times we have duplicate items,’ Rachel explains. 

2. Clean your nightstand while it is clear

Nightstand in a bedroom

(Image credit: Future)

When cleaning a bedroom, a cluttered nightstand can encourage you to skip dusting and move on to the next area of the space or, arguably worse, dust around the items you have stacked there. Contrary to what you may think, just because you can't see the dust it doesn't mean it is not there. 

‘When faced with a clear and empty nightstand, shine the area while you can,’ recommends Ronnette Urbach, professional organizer and owner of Rock Star Residential Services. ‘Clean the entire nightstand so that you have a fresh environment to reset – this includes inside any cabinets or drawers too, not just the top!’ 

If you are looking to extend the time between deep cleans, a top cleaning tip is to consider making a homemade cleaning spray that helps repel dust to keep your sleep space cleaner for longer and avoid strong chemicals.

Ronnette Urbach

Ronnette Urbach has over 25-year experience in cleaning, decluttering and organizing for female clients, helping to reduce stress and increase their free time. 

3. Reconsider what you class as an essential

nightstand design mistakes

(Image credit: Susie A Fleming at Beaverbrook Hotel)

The most difficult part of decluttering a nightstand is understanding which items not to store on your nightstand, and what you consider to be essential. 

‘Ideally, a nightstand should be clutter-free. This means using it only to store things that you use while you are in bed,’ says Amélie Saint-Jacques, professional organizer, and National Association of Productivity and Organizing member. ‘The essentials on top of my nightstand are a lamp, the book I'm reading, a clock, and a glass of water on a coaster,’ she shares. 

‘A drawer is handy to keep items such as moisturizer or tissues, and perhaps a pen or paper if you're the type to get ideas at all hours. You can use drawer inserts to keep things organized there. A few meaningful knick-knacks or a framed photo are fine but don't go overboard – clutter attracts clutter!’ Amélie warns. ‘A clear space is much more restful, and that's all the more important when it's so close to your bed.’

If you are struggling to determine what classes are ‘essential’ then evaluate items in terms of when and how you use them, says Rachel Sicherman, professional organizer. ‘Determine if those items are needed for your nighttime or morning routine. Do you have a purpose for the item? Will you use it regularly? Will it bring you joy? If not, donate or throw out those items,’ she suggests. ‘Only keep the items that you need for your nighttime or morning routine on top of your nightstand. Items such as a book, a lamp, a glass of water, and a phone charger. Other items such as remotes and vitamins should be kept in the drawer.’ 

Amélie Saint-Jacques
Amélie Saint-Jacques

Amélie Saint-Jacques is a certified KonMari Consultant and professional organizer based in San Antonio with years of experience in professional tidying. 

4. Banish your phone

nightstand design mistakes

(Image credit: Interiors Fox)

It is common to see a phone charger tucked somewhere nearby a nightstand, sometimes even a laptop charger, however, experts suggest decluttering major tech from your nightstand during your clearout. Not only do cables look untidy and induce stress, but blue light is one of the main barriers to sleeping better and improving sleep.

‘Try not to bring work into your bedroom, and if you must, then make sure you put it away before bed. Likewise, a phone here will be distracting – get an alarm clock, and just charge your phone elsewhere,’ recommends Amélie Saint-Jacques, professional organizer. ‘To get a good night's sleep, it's important to make the room as serene as possible, both in terms of aesthetics as well as distractions. This is why I don't recommend having a television or computer in the bedroom, as we associate them with things other than sleep.’

An exception to this rule may be charger cables for e-readers, especially those with paper-imitating screens for reading before bed. These are useful to keep with the device if you regularly use them as part of your bedtime routine. 

5. Think about what you need easy access to

bedroom with double bed and pillows

(Image credit: Future PLC)

One of the biggest nightstand design mistakes to avoid is opting for a table that doesn't have some form of enclosed storage – whether it be drawers or a cabinet. Although free-floating nightstands or leggy bedside tables make look stylish in a bedroom, or even help to make a bedroom look bigger, it is impossible to keep everything you need besides your bed on display without it looking untidy.

‘Keeping fewer items out on the nightstand will reduce visual clutter,’ concurs Julianna Poplin, professional declutterer and owner of The Simplicity Habit. It is, she suggests, a good idea to keep regularly used essentials like your lamp, glasses, and maybe a book on the table itself, but anything else such as nightly medications or pens and diaries should be concealed. ‘It can also be helpful to have a small dish for placing jewelry items so that they don't get lost,’ Julianna adds. 

Julianna Poplin

Julianna Poplin loves to help clients discover and intentional life through organizing and decluttering their homes, having become a professional organizer in 2017 to help others find simplicity in their everyday lives. 

6. Consider a drawer organizer

white bedroom with white 1940s sheepskin chair, white bed, wooden screen, white rug and lamp and bedside drawers

(Image credit: Stephen Kent Johnson/ Otto)

There are all kinds of bedroom organizers available on the market to help in organizing a bedroom, many of which are ideal for organizing and helping to declutter nightstands. 

Although it can be hard to sort the helpful pieces from the additional clutter, professional organizer Prerna Jain recommends using dividers that have distinct compartments to help sort a large variety of items. ‘Differently sized compartments can easily be adapted and used for things such as books, magazines, and jewelry without confining the organizer to one purpose,’ she explains.

When using organizers for bedroom storage, it is best to create a system to ensure that they are used correctly and won't just add to or encourage your clutter problem, reminds Rachel Sicherman. ‘Use drawer organizers such as small clear bins, trays, or baskets to keep similar items together such as electronics, vitamins, and other personal items for cohesion.’  

Square One Organizer Set | From $120 at 2Modern

Square One Organizer Set | From $120 at 2Modern
You can seamlessly organize your bedroom drawers with this high-quality set. With three different shapes available to slot together in different combinations, as well as cork-padded feet to keep them in place, these versatile organizers will make your life much easier. 

Why decluttering a nightstand is important

neutral bedroom with soft gray headboard, elephant photograph and mid century style bedside table

(Image credit: Taran Wilkhu)

There are plenty of things in your bedroom you can get rid of right now, and many of them will likely be found nesting on or on your nightstand. These framing furniture pieces are some of the highest traffic spots in our home and are often overutilized and overburdened with everyday junk that would be better off elsewhere. 

‘Your nightstand is important because it's often the last thing you see before you go to sleep at night and the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning,’ Julianna Poplin, professional declutterer reminds us. ‘Having a clutter-free nightstand is an essential part of having a relaxing bedroom which helps to improve the quality of your sleep.’ 

Although you might find it hard to believe that clutter can have such an impact on your quality of rest (you do have your eyes closed after all), studies have shown it can cause undue stress. ‘Getting a good night's sleep is an important part of staying healthy physically and mentally. Creating and maintaining a clean and organized nightstand will help promote a peaceful and relaxing sleep environment,’ adds Rachel Sicherman, professional organizer. She also recommends forming habits around decluttering your nightstand to prevent clutter from accumulating and causing overwhelm. 

Besides, it is easier to clear away one or two things than declutter when feeling overwhelmed and having to restart the whole decluttering process all over again. And yes, that does mean taking your water glasses back to the kitchen once they are empty.

Rachel Sicherman
Rachel Sicherman

Rachel Sicherman is the founder of Tidy Made Easy after finding peace in tidying and decluttering. She believes that getting tidy and organized can truly revolutionize your life, while also focusing on design and aesthetics. 

The best places to buy nightstands

H&G have rounded up the best places to buy bedroom furniture for you, so you can find the perfect nightstands for your space:  


What should you keep in your nightstand?

When organizing a nightstand it is best to keep nightly and morning essentials within close reach. Items such as glasses, books, a diary and pen, and any medications including lip balms and lotions are good universal items to have at hand. If you have a larger nightstand with significant storage space then using a drawer or shelf for nightwear is also a good idea to keep them separate from everyday clothes and easy to find before bed or after a shower. 

What do you put at the bottom of a nightstand?

When organizing a nightstand, what you put at the bottom will depend on the style you have. If the bottom of your nightstand has a cabinet or shelf, then it is a good idea to stack heavier items such as books at the bottom to prevent them from falling off your night table or getting in the way. If you have an open shelf or empty space, then a catch-all basket is a good alternative. This can help to prevent things from accumulating in messy piles on the floor around your bed’s edge, and even store unsightly cables when not in use.  

Keeping your nightstands in check is essential. Not only does it help to optimize your home organizing ideas, but promotes healthy sleep and makes your bedroom look more expensive at the same time. 

A nightstand's small footprint also makes it a great place to start decluttering too! We will be clearing ours up tonight, will you?

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.