Decluttering Cure

“Dump Zones” Are My Secret Key to a Clutter-Free Home

updated Sep 24, 2019
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Credit: Sylvie Li

Apartment Therapy’s September Sweep is a free 15-day decluttering program, guaranteed to leave you with a lighter, leaner home by the end of the month. Sign up here so you never miss a lesson, or go here to view all of the assignments so far.

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It’s my job (as the cleaning editor here at Apartment Therapy) to be professionally clean. That does not mean my home is spotless at all times—but I do generally run a tight ship here at the pickle factory loft. And yet, even when my space is sparkling and gleaming from the ceiling rafters to the concrete floors, there is at least one spot in each room that I can guarantee is a mess.

Those are my dump zones, and if you ask me, they’re the key to being one of those “clean people” who can find the time and the tools to battle clutter every day. I have a drawer in the kitchen, a basket in the living room, and both a drawer and a basket in the entryway.

Here’s how “dump zones” work, and how to set some up for yourself.

Credit: Emma Fiala

Today’s Assignment:

Set up a “dump” zone in one of your rooms.

The kitchen doesn’t get to have a monopoly on junk drawers. There are just as many wandering objects in the bedroom, or bathroom, or living room—objects that are better off staying in those rooms. So today, I want you to identify the room or space in your home that feels the most like a small-clutter magnet and outfit that room with its own junk-drawer-type dump zone.

The dump zone might look a little different depending on what room it’s in, but it will serve the same purpose a junk drawer does. It should be a small, confined container where things with no home can collect for a short or long while. You might try a dump bowl in the entryway for collar stays and stamps. Or a dump tray in the bedroom for safety pins and matches. Or a dump basket in the living room for small toys and magazines. Or a dump drawer (yep, you can stick to the drawer concept if you’ve got one to spare) in the bathroom for bobby pins and skincare samples.

Get the picture? Clutter knows no bounds, and it can and will take over any room that exhibits weakness.

In the future, you can use your dump bowl—or tray or drawer—to help you swiftly clear clutter from the room. When you need to tidy up, anything without a home can go in that spot. And you’ll know exactly where to look for that random thing you knew you ought to keep.

And don’t forget:

Clear three things from your monster zone.

All month long, we invite you to share your progress here in the comments and on Instagram with the #septembersweep hashtag. Or join our Apartment Therapists Facebook group to start your own conversation.

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