Should You Clean or Declutter First? You May Be Surprised


Cleaning and decluttering are both essential to having an inviting, healthy, and comfortable home. But the order in which they are completed isn’t the most important aspect.

Cleaning a home should be happening every single week, while large decluttering projects are recommended several times per year. Based on this, cleaning will happen first most of the time. However, when it’s time to tackle a decluttering project, declutter first and then begin the cleaning process.

Let’s dig into when cleaning, decluttering, and organizing should be happening and why decluttering doesn’t always come before cleaning. Plus how to determine when smaller decluttering projects are necessary.

Clean or Declutter First?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t ALWAYS have to declutter before cleaning.

While it’s true that it’s much easier to clean a space that isn’t cluttered with items, the goal is actually to declutter frequently enough that you don’t have to do it each time you have to clean. 

Think about the time spent just picking items up off the floor so that you can vacuum. Or clearing things from countertops or tables just to be able to wipe them off.

If your home constantly has piles of items all over the floor and you can’t find anything, decluttering is necessary.

If you had fewer items in your home and the items that you have in the home have a set place to return the items to, it would be less likely that items would pile up on counters, tables, or floors. You wouldn’t have to spend much time tidying up in order to properly clean.

declutter, donate, trash, recycle

Declutter At Least Twice Per Year

Large decluttering projects should be happening at least twice a year. If you are frequently bringing new items into the home, you should be decluttering items more often.

For smaller decluttering projects, a general rule to follow is anytime a new item comes into the home, another item needs to go. Plus anything that is clearly garbage should be thrown away immediately.

When it is time to declutter, whether large or small projects, you should definitely take the time to declutter first. This way you won’t have as much to clean.

You don’t have to declutter every single time you need to clean though.

If you had to look through many items in your home to decide what to donate or sell every single week before you could even begin cleaning. Do you think you would still have the energy and time to clean after? Probably not. Which means cleaning would get pushed back and likely not even happen at all.

Prioritize cleaning more often than decluttering.

Based on this, it’s clear that you don’t need to declutter every single time you clean. But frequent decluttering will make the cleaning process easier since you will easily be able to reach the areas that you need to clean. Plus you will no longer be cleaning items that you don’t need or want.

Check out this post for more detailed information on how long it takes to declutter a house of any size, if you are new to decluttering.

Clean Your Home Every Single Week

Cleaning, decluttering, and organizing are three different processes.

Cleaning tasks include dusting, vacuuming, mopping, wiping down countertops, scrubbing toilets and showers, washing clothing, sheets, towels, etc. It can also include general tidy up of rooms but not actually removing anything from your home or creating spaces for the items.

The goal of cleaning is to get rid of dirt, dust, grime, mold, crumbs, etc., which is important to the health of your home and the people inside the home.

Cleaning should happen every single week while decluttering and organizing can be spaced out further.

Click here for ways to make cleaning more fun for the whole family.

clean every single week

Organize After Decluttering

Organizing is another process that generally comes after decluttering. It is necessary to organize your items so that you have a place to put everything and that you know where to find the items.

Being more organized means that you won’t end up buying duplicates of items. You will completely use up products (eg. perfume, make-up, food items) before buying new ones because you will be able to quickly see how much is left.

Organizing should be happening every 3 to 12 months, depending on how often new items come into your home and when your last large organizing project happened.

It is another process that if done well, doesn’t need to happen often because you will have a system in place to keep everything in order. It will also make cleaning a breeze because you won’t have piles of items all over the house. They will be nicely contained.

This post covers more detail on how often you should be organizing your house in order to stay on top of everything.

How Cleaning, Decluttering and Organizing Work Together

The three processes all need to work together to make each task easier and take less time.

If you declutter items frequently, then you are only organizing items that you use and love. Then when it’s time to clean, you aren’t having to constantly move things around and pick up piles of stuff.

Less items in your home = Less to organize = Less time spent preparing to clean each week

So while decluttering is necessary because it leaves fewer items to clean or clean around, it’s not necessary for decluttering to always happen immediately before each house cleaning. It will just naturally allow for quicker cleaning the less you have in your home.

In Summary

Make sure that you are always keeping only what you use and love in your home. If you don’t have set spaces for something, do you really need it? Either take time to create a space or just donate the items.

If you are decluttering items frequently enough, you won’t get to the point that you have a lot to declutter prior to cleaning.

Cleaning shouldn’t be spending hours putting everything back where it belongs. It should be a quick tidy-up and then dust, scrub, vacuum, and mop. You won’t have to worry ever again about whether to declutter or clean first because you will have a fully set up system that will ensure your home only contains what you love moving forward.

Recent Posts

Should you clean or declutter first?