8 items you can declutter in under an hour for a visibly tidier home

From old candles to expired makeup, these are the 8 items you can easily remove for a visibly tidier home

Three images in a header including a gallery wall, a set of drawers, and a collection of towels on display
(Image credit: Studio Atkinson / Marie Flanigan Interiors & Julie Soefer / Garden Trading)

I don't know about you, but when the weekend rolls around, the last thing I want to spend my downtime doing is cleaning and organizing my home. But there's usually something to be done before I can sit back and relax. 

Thankfully, over the years, I've gotten better at decluttering a house fast to reestablish order. Whether that's perfecting my closing shift routine or decluttering my junk drawer, nothing beats the satisfaction of ticking tasks off my organizational to-do list.

But the best method I've found to tidy my home quickly is the simple act of removing 8 items I won't miss.

Items to declutter in under an hour for a tidier home

Want to tidy your home fast? My first tip is to carry a basket or trash can around the house with you – much like I recommend in my favored 15-minute decluttering hack – to collect these 8 unwanted items as you go. This allows you to blitz your space in no time at all.

Once you're armed with a container of your choice, it's time to tackle those unwanted items:

1. Empty Candles Containers

Voluspa candles

(Image credit: Nordstrom)

While candles are a great way to make a home smell nice, it's amazing how quickly my collection can start to gather dust, especially when they're down to their last bit of wax and no longer able to burn properly. 

Removing old candles from my home not only frees up valuable shelf space but the act often sparks a bit of creativity too. A great tip for reusing particularly beautiful, decorative candle jars is to clean them out and repurpose them as small storage containers or planters. With a little hot water and elbow grease to remove the leftover wax, these jars can find a whole new purpose.

2. Old tins of paint

Open paint cans, color charts and paint brush

(Image credit: Alamy)

If like me, you're partial to the occasional DIY project, you probably have a few old tins of paint lying around the house or in your garage. While it can be helpful to keep sample pots of paint around (for patching up chips or scratches on walls) you probably don't need to keep half a gallon on hand in case of emergencies.

A lot of people aren't aware that paint can go bad and how you store paint will impact its quality and longevity. That's why I suggest you take 10 minutes to go through any spare tins and check on their quality. The easiest way to do this is to open your paint can and give it a smell. You'll quickly be able to tell if it has gone off. Alternatively, give it a stir – if the consistency is not correct, it's time to dispose of that paint

3. Expired cosmetics

White bathroom with vanity area and table

(Image credit: Kate Marker Interiors)

When I was last organizing my makeup bag I noticed a few items were long past their prime, including an old tube of mascara and a concealer that I must have had for years. As a rule of thumb, if anything smells off or the texture's changed, it's out. I like to keep track of the PAO symbol (period after opening) and throw out anything that has been sitting in my drawer for longer than this recommended use-by date.  

I also take this opportunity to dispose of old brushes and makeup sponges, as these can harbor germs if they aren't stored or cleaned correctly. Likewise, if any makeup products or items of skincare simply don't work for me, I ask my friends and family if they would like them or consider donating unopened products to a women's shelter.

Pro tip: Sunscreen also expires, so if you find an old bottle languishing in your bathroom cupboard it's worth checking the expiry date and tossing it out if it's past its best. 

4. Half-used jars

wood pantry cupboard with appliance garage built-in microwave

(Image credit: Neptune)

You don't have to commit to an afternoon of decluttering your pantry to remove any half-used bottles and jars from this space. It's easy for these items to accumulate, often pushed to the back and forgotten, taking up valuable space. 

I make it a point to sort through these containers every few months, combining duplicates when possible and discarding any products that are expired or no longer appealing. This step not only frees up space but also simplifies meal preparation, as I can see and access what I have. 

5. Shabby towels

Towel storage

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

I replace my bathroom towels every two years or when they start to feel rough and lose their absorbency, whichever comes first. This ensures I'm always using towels that are soft and free from built-up bacteria and odors.

You don't have to toss your old towels out immediately though. When I get around to replacing them, I usually wash and dry my towels before cutting them up into several rough squares (about 10 x 10" each). I then bundle these squares into a tote bag, store them in my cleaning cupboard, and use them in place of microfibre cloths for particularly dirty household chores like removing mold from the shower or cleaning dirty sneakers. When these rags are completely worn out I feel less guilty about throwing them in the trash. 

6. Excess cleaning supplies

Close up of soap, jar of brushes and hand wash on a windowsill in front of a leaded window.

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

While keeping cleaning supplies handy is always a good idea, I'm not a fan of having odd containers and colorful spray bottles cluttering my bathroom shelves. Not only do they take up space and look untidy, but they could also prove dangerous if left out and accessible to tiny, inquisitive hands. 

Like cosmetics and medicines, I check and discard any expired cleaning products periodically and rehome the items I need daily on the bottom shelf of my bathroom vanity (or in a labeled container in my utility zone). 

The same applies to excess toilet rolls. While it can be handy to stockpile these bathroom necessities, they aren't the most aesthetically pleasing items. Rather than allowing them to pile up on a bathroom surface, I recommend carving out a space for additional rolls in your linen cupboard. I like to use a fabric-lined basket to store mine, like this Highland Dunes Wicker Basket from Wayfair

7. Art you've never displayed

gallery wall in a living room with a corner couch

(Image credit: Studio Atkinson)

One of my greatest passions is collecting artwork from local artists or thrift shops and creating unique gallery walls with my finds; but I'm the first to admit that I've got carried away and collected a few too many prints over the years. 

The solution to unused artwork cluttering my home? I regift or donate it. Unless the piece is particularly sentimental, if I haven't displayed a piece for more than 12 months, I reason that I probably don't need it and someone else could benefit from it.

If you love a painting but haven't got around to hanging it yet, why not make this weekend the time to find a new frame for it and get it up on your wall? I like to take measurements before I go shopping and bring my tape measure thrifting with me to find the perfect antique picture frame. If it's a particularly small print or painting, I cut a piece of scrap paper to the same dimensions and bring this along to ensure it will fit in my chosen frame before committing to a purchase. 

8. Items in your junk drawer

Vintage drawers used as bedside table

(Image credit: Marie Flanigan Interiors/Julie Soefer)

Lastly, I like to declutter my junk drawer each week to feel a sense of accomplishment. These spaces are magnets for all kinds of clutter, from old receipts to odd screws, so you're bound to find something ripe for the trash can here. 

I start tackling the chaos in my junk drawer by tossing expired coupons and bidding farewell to random keys with no locks in sight. Out go pens that no longer write and all the miscellaneous items or broken DIY tools that hadn't seen the light of day in months. 

By focussing on removing these items, you can quickly transform your junk drawer into a neat and tidy space that actually serves your daily needs. And if you're in the mood to organize your drawers while you're at it, I high recommend trying the boundary method

If removing these items has reinvigorated you, why stop at 8? You could seize your newfound enthusiasm for tidying and take your decluttering to the next level by adding another 2-3 common household objects to your list. Just remember to pace yourself to avoid any feelings of overwhelm. 

Gabriella Dyson
Head of Solved

Gabriella is Head of Solved at Homes & Gardens. She is a DIY enthusiast and a lover of all things interior design, often found antiquing or browsing the aisles of her local hardware store. 

She has a particular passion for historic buildings and is in the process of renovating a Victorian coachhouse in the British countryside. 

For much of the past decade, Gabriella has worked as a freelance writer, crafting copy for national publications and renowned homeware brands. Most recently, she worked on Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine, focusing on case studies for the magazine and website, as well as writing features about issues surrounding historic and listed building projects.