Last week we talked about how to purge and declutter your house by going through each room and completing it before moving onto the next room.
Another option to declutter your home is to purge by category. This means you gather up all related items from the entire house and sort them all at once, then put them back in their respective homes.
Pros and cons of the category method
I personally dislike this option because it requires a lot of running back and forth between rooms and gives you opportunities to miss items that might be hidden away or stored somewhere. This is a way for distractions to take hold, if you happen to notice something that needs dealt with while you are moving from room to room gathering items.
However, this is a good option if you happen to have your clothing or other items in multiple rooms or closets because it helps you understand how much “clutter” you are dealing with in a certain category.
For example, I have a pair of boots by the back door, 3-4 pairs of shoes in my bedroom closet, and a couple pairs of shoes in the coat closet. For me to look at any one of these locations, it would seem like a decent amount of shoes, but when I get them all together, it is clear that I need to pare down my shoe collection.
If we were to amass all of the books in our home in one place, we would probably collapse a hole in the floor. Maybe we won’t declutter those by category. You know, for structural integrity’s sake.
Potential categories for this purging method include:
- Blankets and bedding
- Car related items
- Cleaning supplies
- Craft supplies
- Cutlery and kitchen utensils
- Disposable items
- First aid supplies
- Makeup and toiletries
- Office supplies
- Spare parts and hardware
- Towels and washcloths
You can, of course, go by categories that make sense for you, especially if you have a collection or hobby not listed, such as photography (cameras, lenses, other goodies!) or baseball cards, etc.
How to declutter by category
The steps for decluttering by category are essentially the same as decluttering by room.
- Begin by clearing a space for your stuff, such as a bed, table, or floor.
- Gather all items throughout the house in the category and bring them to the central sorting location.
- Evaluate all items, asking the same questions listed in the previous method – have you used or do you plan to use the item in a month, three months, six months, twelve months? Do you love it? Does it belong?
- Sort your items into donate/sell/trash/keep boxes.
- Take the trash out, take the donations to an organization, put the sell stuff into a designated space, and put the “keep” stuff away.
- Continue to the next item category on your list.
Which sounds best for your particular situation – decluttering by room or by category? Tell us all about it in the comments.
4 thoughts on “How to Purge Your House: By Category”
Thank you so much for your series on decluttering. My house is full of stuff — unfortunately most of it belongs to two roomies. I’m going to start purging my own stuff, but I’m not sure if they will theirs. Any suggestions?
I am actually going to work on a series about living with non-minimalists soon – stay tuned! My general advice is that you should make at least one controllable space that can be just for you, clean and simple and minimized, where you can go when the clutter overwhelms you.
I am 67 years old and I am disabled. How can I declutter easily while being restricted in my movements. My brother stays with me help me. He is 70. We are moving from GA to FL. I do have a lot of furniture, but I have to purge my bedroom, his is upstairs and I can’t do stairs.
Hi Helene, sorry I missed your comment when you posted it. You could hire someone to help on a website like Care.com or ask an able bodied friend to help you to be able to handle some of the heavy lifting, so you speak. The repetition of tasks like going through all your clothes, folding and packing, then repeating with every category of stuff you own can be very hard on the body. I myself am also disabled and it’s very hard to do repetitive tasks like that.
If you still have time I recommend doing just a bit each day and having plenty of rest in between.