I Tried the “10-10-100 Challenge” and Decluttered My Messy Bathroom in Minutes

published Apr 23, 2024
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Cluttered shelf cart in bathroom before 10-10-100 challenge decluttering
Credit: Quinn Fish

When it comes to decluttering your home, the feat itself is intimidating enough that procrastination tends to win (consider me guilty!) — but anything that helps decompartmentalize the chore into smaller, more digestible (and less scary) tasks is a surefire way to ensure it gets done. 

That’s probably the same reason there are so many number-based cleaning and organizing methods — like the 90/90 rule, the 3-second rule, and the “27 fling boogie” — because sticking to simple, easy-to-remember guidelines can help take the stress and chaos out of tidying up. And that’s why when I heard about the 10-10-100 decluttering challenge, I knew I had to give it a try.

As I reorganize my one-bedroom apartment that I haven’t decluttered in full in nearly three years, there are plenty of pockets of clutter (read: junk) I’ve been wanting to tend to, but have been putting off for months. Going through my piles and collections of stuff isn’t exactly how I want to spend my limited free time, but of course I knew it was time.

What Is the 10-10-100 Decluttering Challenge?

According to Courtney Carver of Be More with Less, the 10-10-100 decluttering challenge involves choosing one space, setting a timer for 10 minutes, and then selecting 10 items to get rid of before the time is up. You can then spend another 10 minutes in that same area or move on to another. Ultimately, if you spend 100 minutes, the goal is to have 100 items you’re ready to get rid of. 

I knew this was the perfect opportunity to address my messy above-toilet bathroom storage once and for all, so I set my timer and got to it. As an avid stuff collector and digital editor, I find it hard to say no to free samples and products for testing, and nowhere is this more evident than in my bathroom. In my first 10 minutes, I set my sights on addressing the very neglected top shelf, where I keep my vitamins and daily medications, lotions, toothbrushes, and a plethora of travel-size lotions, shampoos, and conditioners. 

Credit: Quinn Fish

I found an empty sunscreen tube, several bags of dried-up gummy vitamins from trips past, and some nearly empty product packaging I was able to consolidate (cough drops, razors, laundry sheets). I also love having a place for everything, so I put all of my travel-sized toiletries in an old coffee container I’ve been meaning to put to work. I also cleaned my bins and rearranged how they sit to make things easier to grab. I couldn’t believe when my timer rang that it had only been 10 minutes — and how much I was able to accomplish!

Of course, I had to keep the momentum going, which is part of why this method is so successful, so I moved on to the second shelf, which is the catch-all of all catch-alls. I have one big bin where I put miscellaneous face masks, cleansers, creams, and the like. In 10 minutes, I put like items together, consolidated some more near-empty packaging, identified some free products I knew I’d never use, made a little pile of trash, and rearranged the bin so it fit better on the shelf. And just like that, the 10 minutes were up! It simultaneously felt like no time and a year with all I was able to do. 

Credit: Quinn Fish

Why the 10-10-100 Decluttering Challenge Works

What I loved about this decluttering challenge is how it is up to you how you tackle it. For me, I found plenty of items that are purely trash, but also a handful of items I forgot I had, had been looking for for a while, or that I could donate or give away to a friend. Putting quantitative guidelines on the method helps to create a manageable goal to look towards — even if you can’t necessarily find 10 items to get rid of. Plus, knowing you’re only giving yourself 10 minutes feels far less overwhelming than if you set out to spend a whole day decluttering. 

Additionally, after doing two 10-minute decluttering sessions, I mean it when I say I was ready to do the rest of my bathroom. It’s encouraging to see the near-instant results — both with the pile of things you’re ready to let go of and also in incremental parts of your space. But if you had asked me if I wanted to spend 20 minutes decluttering my bathroom, I would’ve laughed and told myself I’d do it next weekend (hint: I won’t!). 

The 10-10-100 decluttering challenge would be great to try on clothes, makeup, pantry goods, junk drawers, or other parts of the home that you’ve been neglecting, or are known to collect odds and ends. It’s an approachable way to reorganize little by little, with pretty instantaneous gratification. And trust me — it’s worth all the hype. Now stand by while I do the rest of my apartment.