5 things you need to declutter in January – for a fresh start to the new year

Every January refresh should start with these five things, experts say

A selection of woven wicker baskets in an entrway
(Image credit: Pacific Lifestyle / January Furniture Show)

January is one of the best times to declutter your home but knowing where to start can feel impossible, especially when swamped with the remnants of Christmas.

Although there are several January decluttering rules you should follow to truly refresh your home, professional organizers suggest starting with these five things first to get a start on your new year, new home goals. 

These are the five things to start with when decluttering in January, and why they are a priority.

Things you need to declutter in January 

In January, one of the best decluttering tips is to start small and build up to avoid getting burnt out. After the stress of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, it is important to work up to big tasks to avoid decluttering when overwhelmed and ensure you can sustain your progress throughout the start of the new year. 

With that in mind, these are the five things you need to declutter in January before moving on to the rest of your home. 

1. Your bedroom and closet

Master bedroom with a wall of storage and sliding ladder to reach the top level, wardrobes and exposed beams under a vaulted ceiling, and net curtains drawn back.

(Image credit: Mel Yates, One Represents Ltd)

Closet decluttering is a must for the New Year, especially if your goals involve changing up your look or being more conscious of how much you own, or you have had an influx of new items as gifts, says Nate Berkus, interior designer.

‘My closet gets a major overhaul and edit every new year as well as the interiors of every drawer,’ Nate shares. ‘Your bedroom is maybe the most important room in your home. It’s where you sleep and rejuvenate. Keep it tidy and continually edit and declutter throughout the year.’

Nate Berkus for 1stDibs
Nate Berkus

Since Nate’s first appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2002, he has become one of the world’s most recognizable interior designers. He has authored two New York Times bestselling books and stars alongside his husband, Jeremiah Brent, in HGTV's Nate & Jeremiah Home Project.

2. Gifts you didn’t love or didn’t fit

christmas tree and gifts wrapped in blue and red paper

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Although it might seem thankless, sometimes we just don’t love every single gift we receive over the holidays – or they simply might not fit! Raychel Klein, home organizer and CEO at RayBayBay Home Organization recommends taking time in January to return or exchange any gifts that do not serve a purpose or spark joy. 

‘Even though it's new, it doesn't mean it isn’t cluttered, especially when it's something that you don’t particularly want. Additionally, you don’t want to miss the time frame that those pieces are eligible for return/exchange/store credit.’

Doing it sooner rather than later can also make letting go of stuff easier, too, as you don't build up guilt around the item. 

Raychel Klein
Raychel Klein

Raychel Klein started her home organization business in 2020 with the mission of helping people escape the vicious cycle of clutter. She is a certified KonMari consultant based in Seattle, Washington.

3. Old lists, routines and calendars

Home office painted in Farrow & Ball Dead Salmon

(Image credit: Julie Soefer/Marie Flanigan)

Decluttering doesn't have to just involve getting rid of bulky pieces or typical items such as clothes. Cindy B. Sullivan, productivity coach, speaker, organizer, and founder of C B Sullivan Consulting reminds us to also take stock of decluttering home offices, reviewing your calendars, getting rid of old to-do lists, and resetting your schedules. 

‘Many people start the new year with new intentions and new goals. This is a perfect time to make room for them. Clear away routines and activities that no longer support you. What can you say "no" to so that you can say "yes" to something else?’ she urges you to consider. 

Cindy Sullivan
Cindy B. Sullivan

Cindy Sullivan works with individuals and organizations who want to be more effective and productive with their time – helping busy and motivated professionals accomplish what’s most important to them. She provides consulting, coaching, training, and speaking in the area of Time Management & Productivity.

4. Any lingering holiday decor

Wreath on wall above fireplace, decorated mantelpiece

(Image credit: Rowen & Wren)

Holiday decluttering should take place when you take out or put away your Christmas and holiday decor, but any lingering pieces need to be dealt with as soon as you can in January to restore order, says Raychel Klein, home organizer:

‘You may not have gotten to decluttering your holiday decor in December, but as you start to put away these items in January, be sure to separate and discard ones that no longer spark joy. Envision the next holiday season, opening a box filled with only items that bring joy.’

5. Food and sweets left from Christmas

Slabs of chocolaye with hazelnuts in

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are some great food storage tricks to help make food and Christmas leftovers last, but they can only go so far, reminds Raychel Klein, home organizer – especially if you have built up a collection of sweet treats:

‘It’s typical of the season to receive candies, sweet treats, holiday-scented fragrances, and other perishables. January is a good time to toss anything you realistically won’t consume. I can’t tell you how often I have spring and summer decluttering sessions that still contain holiday foods.’

Start with decluttering a pantry and decluttering a refrigerator, but don't forget to check around your home for staches that may have been forgotten about when you have been unwrapping gifts.  


What should I organize in January?

When reorganizing your home in January, you should always start with your closet and your kitchen. These are two of the most practical spots in your home that may fall into disarray over the busy holiday period between hosting guests, cooking Christmas dinner, and finding outfits for parties and events.  

How do I refresh my house in January?

When looking for a home reset in January, start with decluttering, cleaning, and organizing your home. This is essential to start restoring order after Christmas chaos and can help you to make or find space for the new items you have received as gifts and toss out any trash or items you no longer need in the new year. Once the order has been restored, then you can consider which decor and furniture pieces you might want to shuffle around or completely change out for a new home look for the new year.  

Once you have started your decluttering with these essentials, then you can start to declutter the rest of your home. Working slowly and progressively at the start of the new year can help you overcome decision fatigue and give yourself a break after a busy period.  

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.