Decluttering may mean something different to each person. It could mean getting rid of a few things from each room to make some space. For other people, it may be dramatically cutting down on items in the home. This post is all about the time to declutter a home that has never gone through the decluttering process before.
Decluttering a home that has not had any previous decluttering will take up to 6 months for a small home (up to 1200 sq ft), up to 1 year for a medium home (1200 – 2500 sq ft), and up to 2 years for a large home (above 2500 sq ft). There are several factors involved that determine the necessary time.
Keep reading below for more detailed information on factors that affect the speed of decluttering, why the process seems to take so long, how to speed up the process, and more.
Factors That Affect the Time to Declutter
1. Size of home
A small home/apartment may only have 1 bathroom, 1-2 bedrooms, a kitchen, and a family room. A medium-size home could have an additional 5-10 rooms and a large home 8-15 more rooms in comparison to a small home.
In general, the smaller the home, the less stuff you will be able to fit into it. So the decluttering process wouldn’t be as time-consuming and overwhelming.
Whereas a bigger house has more rooms and other spaces to store or hide extra items.
All of these homes may also have an attic or basement, which is an easy place for people to just put items that aren’t frequently being used. Often though, these items aren’t really needed and are just taking up valuable space in the home.
2. Number of people living in home
One or two adults living in a house are going to collect a lot less than a family with several children.
Frequent decluttering is necessary to stay on top of everything whether it is one person or a family.
Children may need more help deciding what to donate, as they get really attached to each toy. So for each new toy that comes into the house, one toy needs to go. If your children receive a lot of gifts for their birthday or Christmas, work with your children ahead of these times to see what they are okay donating in preparation for receiving new toys.
If you want more information on how to help your children declutter their toys, I have another post that goes into more detail.
3. How much you own
Even one or two people can still collect a lot of new items throughout their lives, so really evaluate how much you are storing in your home and whether you need to keep everything.
If you are holding onto expensive items just because of the cost, but not because you use and love them. Get rid of them!
The money is already spent and holding onto these items is not bringing that money back. The items are just collecting dust and causing you stress.
If you are keeping sentimental items that you only have because a family member has passed away, you really need to consider whether you truly love and use the item. If you don’t, it is okay to let it go.
Take pictures of the items and then donate them. Somebody else can love them and use them and that is so much better than holding onto items because of guilt.
4. How long you have lived there
Did you move into your home 1 year ago or maybe 25 years ago? Did you move into this home from another home that was already filled with items or is this your first home?
It’s so much easier to collect items and just keep them in our homes because we are comfortable. Living in the same home for a long time doesn’t create the same urgency to go through everything.
Whereas, if you are moving every few years, you are more likely to take the time to consider what you really need to move into the new home with you.
Now, I am not suggesting that you move every few years to stay on top of everything. But you should be going through your home at least twice a year to get rid of anything that isn’t being used. It’s important to stay on top of everything so that it doesn’t become overwhelming.
Why Does Decluttering Take So Long?
Decluttering takes so long because people have an attachment to their items, either because of who it came from, if it was a hand-me-down, or because of what they spent on the item.
It can be really overwhelming to part with items that hold so much meaning, so it is important to be mentally and physically prepared to tackle everything.
Understand that holding onto items won’t bring you more happiness. It will actually do the opposite and cause you stress. You will also have more items that have to be cleaned and organized.
Keep in mind that the data above stating that decluttering can take up to 2 years for a large home is taking into account the breaks that you will want to take in the process. So don’t feel that it HAS to take that long. If you are really determined to declutter your whole house, it can happen much sooner.
Set goals for yourself and write them down on your calendar so that you can work towards those dates. This could be finishing 1 room or one floor of your house by a certain date.
How to Speed Up the Decluttering Process
Going into the decluttering process with the right mindset can help you be more successful.
Start with items that don’t have any real attachment to them. This would include anything that is clearly garbage, such as toothpaste tubes that you can’t really squeeze any more out of, shampoo bottles that are clearly done, disposable coffee cups, or empty boxes that can be recycled.
Having these quick wins can really help push your mind into a positive space. Which will make it more likely that you will continue going onto bigger, more emotionally charged items.
For all other items, start with one room and just quickly scan through to see if there is anything that you can quickly say, I don’t use it, love it, or need it.
In the bedroom, this could be items such as jeans that no longer fit, lotion that you don’t use or like the smell of, or underwear that has holes in it.
For the kitchen, this could include small appliances that don’t work well, broken dishes, or old Tupperware that you never use.
In the beginning, this process doesn’t have to have to happen all in one day. If you have never decluttered anything from your home and you have been collecting items for a long time, it’s going to take a while and that’s okay.
Take one room at a time and set yourself 30-minute timers. Go through each item and ask yourself:
- Do I love this?
- Do I use this?
- And do I really need this?
If the answer to either of these questions is no, then immediately put the item into a donation box.
If it’s yes, then put the item back where it belongs and move onto the next item.
After 30 minutes, take a 30-minute break. Sometimes getting away from the items will clear your mind enough to make the next 30 minutes more successful.
Again, set another 30-minute timer and keep going.
Make It Future Proof:
Going forward, the decluttering process naturally won’t take as long. This is because you won’t have as much in your home to go through.
As a general rule, when one item comes into the home, one item has to go. This will help you stay on top of everything.
You should still go through your whole home twice per year to see if there is anything else that can be donated or thrown out.
Check out my other post that talks all about how to declutter and how frequently to do it.
Is It Possible to Declutter the House in 2 Weeks?
In general, it will take anywhere from 4-6 days to do a thorough declutter of one room in your home. This range is based on the size of the room and the contents of the room.
So based on this, could you declutter an entire house in 2 weeks?
Statistically, no, it is not possible to do a thorough job in 2 weeks. BUT…..it is possible to quickly go through items once your house is to a manageable point. And get rid of things that you are clearly not using, that you don’t love, that don’t fit you, etc.
A professional organizing expert may be able to help speed up the process, making it more likely to achieve that 2-week goal.
Other related posts:
The reality is, decluttering never really ends. So when asked how long it takes to declutter a house, I would say that a house that has never been decluttered is going to take a decent amount of time. But because you will be putting a process in place to declutter more frequently, it will be easy to maintain going forward.
Don’t look at decluttering projects as something scary and to be avoided. It IS POSSIBLE to get your home to a place where you love it again and don’t have to be concerned with the amount of stuff piling up.