Starting from Scratch: A Bold Way to Declutter

Starting from Scratch: A Bold Way to Declutter


Sort it all out with a total reset.

One of the Four Noble Truths taught in the Buddhist tradition is that a cause of suffering is attachment. This can pertain to material things, as it can cause feelings of greed, desire and vanity. Not to mention, claustrophobia! At the new year, many of us feel a bit overwhelmed by our belongings, and desire to organize and pare down. But where to start? For this week’s Healthy Habit, let’s examine the Clean Sweep method.

Pull Everything Out

Choose an area in your home—let’s say the kitchen cabinets or a desk. Remove every single item and pile it all up in another spot. An old sheet can be a nice dump-it-out zone. Prepare to be shocked how much has been jammed into a small space! Now, give the vacant area a wipe down with a fresh-smelling (ideally organic) cleaner, and start shopping your pile.

Sort the Keeps

“Should I stay or should I go,” inspired by The Clash song is ideal to have in mind. What do you really need and want? “By focusing instead on the items that we use the most and adding only those back in it becomes easier to see the bigger picture and let go of what no longer fits in,” writes Kristin Wong on Apartment Therapy.


Place the must-keep items back into the area, assessing if you need organizational tools such as bins or shelving. Quickly, and I mean quickly, donate or toss the rest before you can become reattached to it.

Go Gradually

A Clean Sweep of a space is intense—and a bit messy while in progress—so be kind to yourself and anyone who shares your space. Unlike 15-minute mini cleaning tasks, a full-on Sweep takes a lot of time, so set aside a couple of hours per space. Trying to do the whole house in one weekend isn’t realistic; tackling the pantry, on the other hand, is. Here are some zones to try:

  • A clothing or linen closet
  • Filing Cabinet
  • Bathroom
  • Hallway/entryway
  • Playroom
  • Dining room table
  • Kitchen counter

Have you tried a Clean Sweep of emptying out a closet or other space and then selectively putting back items? Tell us about it in the Comments Section.

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