Let’s Kick Off the Chore-Free Summer! How to Have a Clutter-Free Home Without Even Trying

published Jul 9, 2018
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(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Welcome to Apartment Therapy’s Chore-Free Summer. Every weekday until July 20, we’re arming you with time-saving shortcuts and hacks that’ll help you work smarter, not harder, when it comes to homekeeping this summer. Because cleaning doesn’t have to be a chore.

Keeping your home clutter-free can feel like a rat race with no end in sight. Inevitably in the course of living life, stuff piles up where it shouldn’t. Eventually, someone picks it all up and returns everything back to its rightful home. Then, before any time seems to have passed for you to actually enjoy your tidy room, the stuff is drawn right back into a mess. It. Never. Ends.

Today, in the quest for a chore-free summer, I’m going to give you permission to forget about totally picking up after yourself (or anyone else) for a while. Instead of spending these precious, memory-making warm-weather months walking up and down the stairs making sure every book, toy and tool gets returned to its home, we’re just going to build a little shortcut into every room with a designated clutter bin: a smart, passive way to keep the whole house clean.

What You Need:

  • A few bins. That’s it.

Your bins could be plastic storage containers, or decorative baskets, or bowls, or tote bags propped up in the corner or hung on hooks. Whatever you have on hand works great—no need to go buy anything new. What’s important is that they’re big enough to handle a few days’ worth of accumulated clutter for the room they’re going to be in—and mileages will certainly vary.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

What to Do Now:

Take your clutter bins and put one in every room of the house—or at least the rooms that are known to get messy. Leave them somewhere convenient enough that it’s easy to drop things in, but out of the way enough that the bin doesn’t cut off your flow or cramp your style.

Once your bins are in place, relax! Forget about picking up for a while.

What Happens Later:

When the room begins to messy, take everything that’s out of place—minus anything that’s kitchen waste or trash—and dump it into the clutter bin. Voila, clean room! You just saved a few minutes, and granted yourself some extra peace of mind. Don’t worry about putting those things back in other rooms—tonight or, really, ever. They’ll be there when you need them.

This, of course, means that some things—in my case, the hand lotion that I normally keep in the upstairs bath—aren’t where they belong. This is actually a good thing! It’s kind of like a home reset. Here’s why: With the clutter bin system, you’re re-training yourself to learn how you actually live at home. When I allowed myself to leave the lotion downstairs, I realized I almost always lotion my hands while I’m watching TV in the living room. The clutter bin motivated me to establish a little “living room care” basket that I keep next to the sofa. Now my home is working perfectly and looking better than ever.

Have you ever tried the clutter bin method? Can you keep it up until September?

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