Keeping Your Restaurant Immaculate

Getting Ready for a Major Home Decluttering Effort

by Jurjen Zandvliet

If you're ready to do some major house decluttering, it's time to use the three-pile approach to get rid of everything you don't want or need. You'll need to be ruthless in your decisions to keep or get rid of something, which can be difficult. But when you're done, you'll have more room in your home and you'll feel good about your organizational efforts.

Defining Your Three Piles  

By using these three piles, you identify everything that you no longer need and distinguish how to dispose of it all:

  1. Items that you'll donate to a thrift store, food bank, or other charity. You can feel good about giving these things away because other people will make good use of them.
  2. Items that you'll take to a recycling center. You'll get satisfaction that you're keeping these items out of the landfill and that they will be repurposed into something useful again.
  3. Items that you'll throw away. You'll regain the space taken up by these items that no longer have any value to you or anyone else.

Your goal is to place as many items as you can into the donation pile. Next you want to recycle as many items as you can. This leaves the minimum amount to send to the landfill. Establish a distinct physical space for each pile away from the others. This helps to keep the project from feeling overwhelming as each pile increases in size. For example, set aside part of a room for the donation pile. Make space in your garage for the recyclables.

Make arrangements with a trash collection service to haul away the landfill items to save you trips to the city dump. If you have old appliances to get rid of, such as a washer and dryer, you'll appreciate the convenience of a service that comes to your door and takes those items away.    

Create a Decluttering Mantra  

For every item you touch, you need to ask the following questions:

  • Am I using this item right now?
  • Will I use this item in the next few months?
  • If not, how do I justify the space it's taking up in my home?
  • Can someone else make use of this?
  • Can this be recycled into something useful?
  • Are there any reasons this shouldn't go to the landfill right now?

This helps you to decide in which pile to place the item.  

Decluttering Room by Room  

Pick at least one room every day to go through until you've been through the whole house. Doing more than that may feel overwhelming. If you don't think you have much clutter, here are some examples that you may actually have in each room.  


  • Cans of food that haven't been used in months
  • Extra dinnerware such as plates, glasses, and flatware
  • Small appliances you no longer use


  • Old bed linen that is no longer used
  • Spare blankets
  • Clothing, especially outgrown kids' clothing, and shoes
  • Outerwear such as winter coats and sweaters

Living Room

  • Extra pieces of furniture
  • TVs, stereos, game consoles
  • Books and magazines


  • Hair dryers and curling irons
  • Makeup mirrors
  • Bath towels and wash cloths

Basement and Attic

  • Artificial Christmas trees and wreaths
  • Wrapping paper and supplies
  • Cardboard boxes

You'll be surprised at how many things you're able to get rid of by following this approach. You'll gain space back and many of your unused items will be put back into circulation where they can be of benefit to others.