the big, bad house decluttering series. part one.

January 1, 2016. I resolved to declutter and deep-clean one area of my house every day for the next 31 days. I finished organizing our master bathroom on the 1st–right before pressing play on Netflix’s Making a Murderer. And the rest was history.

We finally finished watching the series–and every other tidbit of Steven Avery coverage. And now it’s time to get back to my New Year’s Resolution. This month I’m excited to partner with Mark Waldhoff–Licensed Realtor with Waldhoff Gard & Associates to bring you the big, bad (in a good way) house decluttering series.

When I started this blog, Mark was one of the first to inquire about a potential partnership–and this home decluttering and deep-cleaning series seems like a perfect fit. Mark is a licensed broker with Keller Williams Realty in Champaign. He’s been selling real estate in our area since 2004. Since then he’s built a business based on personal relationships–and providing excellent customer service to all his clients.

Mark and his wife Kacy (and their girls Tessa and Lauren Rae) are going to declutter and deep-clean their house right along with me. And Mark’s going to give us some expert tips on home organization from a realtor’s point of view.

And who knows?! Once your house is decluttered and deep-cleaned, you may start thinking you’d like to sell it. If so, you can call Mark for a free home market analysis. He’s happy to meet with you, answer any questions you may have about buying or selling a home AND provide you with details about your current home’s value–which will obviously go up after you complete this blog series. Ha.

OK, so–four weeks to a cleaner, more organized home. Only five or six areas to clean and organize each week–so you’ll have an extra day or two to catch-up if you get busy, lazy or caught up in a Netflix documentary. And I’ll give you detailed instructions on how to clean and organize each area–plus some expert tips and some links I love.

You can do this. Let’s get to it.

. . .

Week One. Underneath it All; The Hidden Areas of Our Lives (That are Chock-Full of Crap)

Monday–Under the Bathroom Sink

  • Pull everything out from underneath the sink–and wipe the empty area with some multi-surface cleaning spray. I use Young Living Thieves Cleaner for everything–it’s the best, non-toxic cleaner I’ve found. And it smells amazing.
  • Look at every single item you just pulled out from under the sink and ask yourself the following questions: Is it old, icky and/or expired? Have I used it in the past year? Will I use it in the coming year? Can I combine any items to save room?
  • Separate (or combine) everything accordingly–into three piles–keep/donate/toss.
  • Find some containers (Rubbermaid, old baskets, shoeboxes, whatever) and group the items you’re keeping into those containers.
  • If you store towels under your sinks, look for the bad ones (stinky, stained, old, holes) and donate or toss. Refold the good towels in three piles–bath towels, hand towels and wash cloths. I taught myself the towel tri-fold yesterday–link below.
  • Repeat these steps under every bathroom sink in your house.

Nice and neat. And look, Ma–I learned how to fold towels like a boss!

Mark says, “Some potential buyers love to look in cabinets and drawers out of general curiosity. But there IS actually a valid reason to poke around under the sink–to check for a water leak. The effects of a slow drip an be minimal, but in some cases the damage can be severe. So it’s a great idea to keep this area of your home organized and to check under your sink for slow drips periodically.”

Tuesday–Under the Kitchen Sink

  • Pull everything out from underneath the sink–and wipe the empty area clean.
  • Look at every single item you just pulled out from under the sink and ask yourself the following questions: Is it old, icky and/or expired? Have I used it in the past year? Will I use it in the coming year? Can I combine any items to save room?
  • Separate (or combine) everything accordingly–into three piles–keep/donate/toss.
  • Group like-items together–dishsoaps, household cleaners, bathroom cleaners, etc.
  • Repeat this step under your laundry sink and bar sink too (this process works for kitchen cleaning supplies, laundry supplies and booze).

I put three of those Target plastic bags at the bottom of each trash can  all around the house–underneath the plastic bag lining the can. So the extras are right there and ready to use every time we take out the trash and need a new liner.

Wednesday–Under the Beds

  • Take a Claritan if you’re allergic to dust. Ha.
  • Pull everything out from underneath the bed. Vacuum the area with a vacuum (or sweep the area if it’s hardwood or tile–a Swiffer Sweeper works wonders). Move the bed to reach the entire area.
  • Look at every single item you just pulled out from under the bed and ask yourself the following questions: Why is this under my bed? Is there a better place to store this item? Is this something I really even need (Has it been under there, untouched for more than a year? And will I use it in the coming year?)?
  • Separate everything accordingly–into three piles–keep/donate/toss.
  • You can find cheap storage containers designed to slide under your bed. These containers would provide easy access–and keep your items organized and dust-free. Not a bad idea–especially if you’re like me and hoard tons of stuff under your bed.
  • Repeat this step under every bed in your house.

I didn’t take an under the bed pic. Because mine is so bad–it’s a project for another day. Plus, keep reading–Mark says it’s ok for it to be a mess. Ha.

Mark says, “Opposite of cabinets and drawers, I’ve never seen a client look under a bed. Feel free to hide as much junk as you can under there! It’s a great place to hide clutter before a showing.”

Thursday–Under the Couch Cushions

  • Remove all the couch (and chair) cushions in your house.
  • Grab your kids. Give them a bag. Instruct them to go around to each couch and chair and pick up any toy (or piece of loose change) they find that was hidden underneath the cushions.
  • Vacuum all the seen and unseen surfaces of all your couches and chairs. Make sure to really get down into all the cracks.
  • Vacuum or sweep the floor under all the couches and chairs too. Move them if you have to–to really get all those dust-bunnies. If you have any energy left, do the same thing under your rugs, coffee tables and end tables.


This was my favorite area to clean–and my kids’ favorite too. We found alllll the things under our couch cushions–our play-kitchen spatula, a Batman, a Lego Star Wars Storm Trooper helmet, and three old, stale Goldfish (which Deano ate right then and there, gross).

Friday–Inside your Purse, your Briefcase and your Diaper Bag

  • Empty the contents of all these bags onto your kitchen table.
  • Look at every single item you just dumped onto your table and ask yourself the following questions: Why is this in my purse/briefcase/diaper bag? Is this something I need on my person at all times or can it be stored in a better place? Are any of these coupons/gift cards/credit cards expired?
  • Separate everything accordingly–into three piles–keep/donate/toss.


My everything bag. And yes, my computer is ginormous.

So many receipts–and those CVS Extra Bucks I *always* forget about. And all the schoolwork from last week–including toilet paper binoculars. Also some raisins from Labor Day.

. . .

That’s it–that’s week one. Easy and painless, right?

I completed this entire week’s decluttering and deep-cleaning plan in one afternoon. So you can definitely follow along and do this with me–just a little bit every night this week. Each area on this list took me less than thirty minutes to organize and clean. And now I feel amazing–I’m relaxed and I feel like I can breathe again. Everything’s in it’s place, even if that place is a recycle bin–and that’s going to save me time and energy. Boom.

If you don’t finish all these areas during the week, just catch-up on the weekend.

If you do finish everything and you’re feeling motivated (and really caffeinated) tackle your floorboards, window ledges and wall art on Saturday or Sunday. Just grab a few old rags and a bowl of warm water (to rinse the rags as you go) and/or some cleaner–and wipe every dusty floorboard, window ledge and piece of wall art in every room of your house. Dust loves floorboards and window ledges–and wall art. So it will take you awhile to get through your entire house, but you’ll feel so good once it’s done.

Mark says, “Cleaning is the most important aspect of preparing your home for sale. And I don’t mean just surface cleaning–your home really needs to be deep-cleaned. Areas that sellers sometimes miss are dusty air vents, ceiling fan blades, baseboard trim, wall art and windows and window ledges.”

. . .

Let me know how your week goes in the comments. And thanks to Mark Waldhoff for all the good tips. We’ll see you back here next Monday for the next post in the series. Happy Organizing!

11 thoughts on “the big, bad house decluttering series. part one.

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