Can you declutter a whole house in one day? It might not be a good idea, experts warn

Can you declutter a whole house in one day? Profession home organizes explain how to complete a deep declutter and share why it might not be the best approach

A large open plan kitchen living room spavce with grey cabinetsand built in, a white farmhouse sink, kitchen island, and black t-bar cabinet handles
(Image credit: Armac Martin)

Decluttering is time-consuming, and takes up a lot of energy, so it can be tempting to attempt to declutter a whole house in one day to get it over with. 

While performing a deep declutter in one day can be a helpful decluttering tip if you are low on time, it is an intensive process that is not for the faint of heart. As such, it isn't always the best idea, experts warn. 

We asked professional home organizers if you can declutter a whole house in one day, and who it works best for, to learn more about this intensive home clear-out tactic. 

Can you declutter a whole house in one day?

Generally speaking, if you are new to decluttering, it is important to start small and work room by room, avoiding decluttering a whole house at once, begins Amélie Saint-Jacques, professional organizer and Kon-Mari consultant at Amélie Organizes:

‘I do whole house declutters, mainly for my clients who want to do a tidying festival with the KonMari Method™. That being said, for most people, the idea of decluttering their whole house in one day is not realistic,’ Amélie shares. ‘Decluttering typically involves making a lot of micro-decisions, about every object, and even if you have the stamina to keep going all day, it is time-consuming, not to mention overwhelming! When decluttering a whole house, with one or two sessions a week, we're usually looking at several weeks to several months.

‘There are also practical considerations like how many trips you can make to your donation center, how full your trash or recycling bin is, etc.,’ she adds. 

Organizing a drawer

(Image credit: Alamy)

When decluttering a whole house, experts usually suggest a tactic such as the week-by-week decluttering method, or decluttering a home room by room. These help to spread the work out to help prevent decision fatigue and avoid tiring yourself out. 

That being said, if you are short on time and the circumstances demand it, there are ways to make a single decluttering day feasible. This is what the experts recommend.

1. Make a plan and set the mood

'When dealing with such a big space in such a short amount of time, it is vital that you start by making a plan,' urges Nicole Miller, cleaning and organizing expert and owner of Colies Cleaners. Making a plan will help break one massive task into smaller chunks, and can involve making a vision board to help you declutter.

Nicole suggests dividing tasks up and delegating them to friends or family members if you can encourage them to help. Otherwise, we risk taking on too much and depleting our energy. Then, we are reluctant to revisit the task at a later date and the situation gets worse, she shares. 

Setting the mood can also help when planning your decluttering session, helping you to get motivated to declutter, Nicole continues. ‘I set the mood by turning on music that gets the blood pumping or putting the TV on where I can hear shows rather than watch them. It all helps to get the brain ready for work.’  

All-in-One Declutter Planner | $3.92 at Etsy

All-in-One Declutter Planner | $3.92 at Etsy
This printable decluttering planner is all you need to help tackle your home's mess without missing a step. It is perfect for both keeping on top of your belongings and starting on your first big clearout.

2. Start with the garbage, then prioritize visible clutter

One of the biggest roadblocks to decluttering is working out where to start when decluttering. When working on a whole house in one day, Bonnie Borromeo Tomlinson, professional organizer and author of Stop Pushing Perfection, available at Amazon, suggests starting with the obvious trash to make a big dent in the space, then moving onto the visible clutter:

‘Grab a large trash bag and recycling bins and start filling,’ she begins. ‘Empty garbage cans, collect newspapers and magazines, empty cans and bottles, and throw out expired foods and personal products. Work from top to bottom, from room to room, get clear away this first layer,’ she recommends.

‘Then, collect all items that belong somewhere else – dishes in the bedroom, coats from the family room, laundry left in the dryer. Again work from top to bottom around your home, putting items back where they belong. 

‘With the right mindset and a bit of energy, you can begin the process of decluttering. It may even give you the motivation to follow through.’

3. Wait to organize items

It is common to declutter your home and sort out home organization on the same day, but when tackling a mammoth task such as a one-day clear out, it can be helpful to leave storage for another day, suggests Kim Corey, professional organizer and owner of Finely Sorted Organizing. 

‘Unwanted items could be brought to donation or put aside for sale or gifting in a selected out-of-the-way place,’ Kim begins. Instead of then finding the perfect, aesthetic home for every item you want to keep, you could put it in the general area you want to keep it, even tucking it behind doors or in storage bins for the meantime, and leave tidying everything up for a day you have more energy, she suggests. 

It might not be the best practice, but it works in a pinch when you have other priorities. 

4. Start with the biggest tasks and take breaks

If you want to set yourself up for a successful decluttering session in a short amount of time, it can help to start with the biggest tasks when you have the most energy and motivation, says Eileen Roth, Founder of Everything In Its Place, and author of Organizing for Dummies, available at Amazon.

‘Usually, the worst room will make you feel better when it's decluttered. Seeing the results will also give you motivation to get the rest done,’ Eileen explains. Once one area is complete, it is important to take a break before moving on to the next area, she continues. ‘Be sure to take breaks for lunch and snacks - preferably everyone together so no one person is taking a longer break.’

FAQs

How long does it take to declutter an entire house? 

How long it takes to declutter a whole house largely depends on the size of your house and the state of your storage. For a house that is already organized and has been decluttered previously, it might only take a day or two. On the other hand, a very messy or very large house could take up to a month of steady work to declutter, especially if you are new to decluttering.  

What is the fastest way to organize a cluttered house?

Typically, the fastest way to organize a cluttered house is to work one room at a time, starting with decluttering and getting rid of trash (removing all unwanted items from that space entirely) and then storing and organizing the remaining items into the storage units available. Then, repeat the process for each room.  


'When decluttering a whole house in one day, it can be prudent to avoid decluttering sentimental items or working with other people's belongings without them there to help, to avoid making rushed decisions you might later regret,' adds Eileen Roth, professional organizer. ‘I once tossed a notebook of papers my daughter had written all over when she was five or six years old. I didn't realize they were for playing school with her friends. She was so angry with me. She had to make them all over,’ she shares.  

Chiana Dickson
Writer

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, 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.