Inside: A step-by-step guide to help you get rid of clutter in your bedroom and keep it clutter-free.
The other day I asked on Facebook: if the decluttering fairy came to your house, where should she start? Most of the early responses said bedroom. So I did some research and combined it with my own lessons learned over the years to help you declutter your bedroom step-by-step.
Why should you declutter your bedroom?
It doesn’t seem like the bedroom would be the first thing to tackle when decluttering, right? I mean, it’s not like you can see all the clutter while you sleep.
But you see it before you hit the sack and again first thing in the morning when you wake up. Processing all that visual clutter makes it harder for the brain to relax before sleep, and it also makes your morning far from peaceful. According to the Mayo Clinic, all the “extra stuff is stressful”.
When you keep your bedroom clutter-free, it can function as your sanctuary. A peaceful retreat from the chaos of everyday life, if you will. And that makes for much more restful sleep.
What is clutter?
Decluttering is the removal of clutter. Duh, I know. And what is clutter? Clutter is anything that doesn’t belong. Sometimes it’s things that should be in another room. Other times it’s things that need a new owner. Or, you know, a one-way trip to the trash can.
So what belongs in a bedroom? Let’s talk about this for just a minute. We’re not talking about the absolute minimum here because yes, you could sleep on the floor if you had to, but why would you? We’re talking about a regular bedroom in a regular house. The following is a fairly basic list:
- reading chair or chaise lounge*
- window curtains**
- wall decor and other decorative elements**
*these are not essential but nice to have if your space allows
** also nonessential, these things help make the bedroom cozy – even a cheap hotel wouldn’t skip them
If you’re feeling too overwhelmed to declutter right now, read this post on how to conquer overwhelm for my favorite tips.
How to declutter your bedroom step-by-step
Bedroom decluttering (any room, really) is a relatively simple process. But it will take time and effort so don’t go into it tired. Your best bet is to tackle it when you’re well-rested, maybe with your favorite morning beverage handy, and don’t worry about getting it all done in one day. One step at a time.
1. Start with your vision for the room
Ideally, form follows function, but most of us creative types prefer to start with a look and feel. And that’s perfectly okay. Maybe you’re inspired by something you saw on Pinterest or that quaint hotel where you stayed in Paris. Whatever it is, let it guide you.
Think about how you want to feel as you’re getting ready for bed and again when you wake up in the morning. What do you want to see?
Earlier, we’ve identified what belongs in a bedroom. Other than the purely decorative elements, everything else has a function. Consider which items are essential to you, depending on how you use your bedroom.
Does your bedroom serve for sleeping only? Or does it also have a reading corner or an office corner? Or maybe it houses your favorite sewing machine. Your answers here will guide what furniture you need.
2. Assess the furniture in the room
As you look at each piece of furniture, think about whether it’s truly serving its intended purpose. Do you use your reading chair for reading, or is it piled with blankets, towels, and whatever laundry didn’t get folded yesterday?
Everything in your bedroom should be filling its intended function. If it’s not, decide if that purpose is still valid. Just because you have room for a reading chair, doesn’t mean you have to have one there if you don’t actually read in your bedroom.
Find a new home for anything that’s no longer needed in the bedroom. Maybe another room, storage, or perhaps your nearest thrift store.
3. Clear all horizontal surfaces
Now we get to the part where we start physically decluttering the bedroom. It’s time to take everything off the top of the dresser and nightstand, shelves, and any other flat surface in your bedroom. Essentially, clutter is stuff without a home. So let’s find everything a good home.
That library book you finished a week ago? Grab it off the dresser and return it to the library. And if you’re keeping that scrapbooking magazine, it should go live with the rest of your magazine collection; otherwise, it can go in the recycling bin.
That pile of receipts – which ones do you really need to keep? If it’s for a return, make that return and get your money back. If it’s for your records, scan it with your phone. The ones you don’t need, just shred.
Remember, clutter attracts clutter. The easiest way to keep your bedroom clutter-free is to reduce the amount of clutter that gets in. That means, before you put something on top of the dresser, take a moment to think of the best place to store it. In most cases, it won’t be the top of the dresser. But that’s a post for another time.
Got some pretty things you like to display? Awesome! Give them some breathing room so they can bring you joy every time you see them. I keep two crystal pieces I inherited from grandma in the middle of my dresser where they look pretty and elegant, and also serve as a reminder of family ties as we move around the world wherever the Air Force sends us.
4. Declutter your nightstand
With the top surface of the nightstand decluttered, it’s time to turn to the shelves or drawers. I have a whole post dedicated to decluttering your nightstand. What’s there that doesn’t need to be?
Any important old papers should be filed away; the rest can be shredded or recycled. Your nightstand isn’t a catch-all, or it would have been called that when you were shopping for it, right?
Think about what you need and want to have handy when you’re going to sleep and when you’re waking up in the morning. Those are good things to keep in or on your nightstand. The rest needs a new home.
5. Declutter your dresser drawers
Ah, dresser drawers. What do yours look like? Are they overflowing so that you can barely get them to close, or do you have plenty of room in them?
You could approach this by emptying one drawer at a time, going through the contents and deciding what stays and what goes. Then arrange what remains in a way that makes it easy to pull out what you need without disturbing everything else. Read my article about decluttering the dresser for a more in-depth look.
Remember, no one needs 67 basic crewneck t-shirts, okay? So whittle them down to the ones you wear regularly and donate the rest.
6. Declutter your closet
And now we get to the closet. It deserves its own chapter, and it will get one soon, so stay tuned. Until then, let’s at least go through the basics.
What is on your hangers? And how much space do you have? If you had to hang a puffy winter jacket in there, would it fit comfortably, or would you have to push everything to the side to make some room?
Ideally, you have enough room for everything to hang freely so that your things don’t get wrinkled just from being in your closet.
So, what do you wear regularly? Those are things that should definitely stay, obviously. But then you have those other things. You know the ones. You put them on, and five minutes later you’re changing into something else. Those need to go.
7. Declutter under your bed
And last but not least, let’s take a look under your bed. There’s nothing there? You rock! (And can I please be more like you?) But if you store something there, it’s time to take a look at it all.
What are you pulling out? Is that a knitting machine? (No? Maybe just me then, hehe.) An extra cutting mat you’re keeping because just in case? A box full of old Christmas ornaments that you haven’t used in a decade? That stack of magazines you shoved there when you moved in five years ago and haven’t touched since?
Seriously, take a deep breath and decide how likely you are to use those things ever again. If you’re not going to use them, they need a new home. For useful things, I suggest your local thrift store.
How to keep your bedroom clutter-free forever
Once you have followed this guide step by step and decluttered your bedroom, the most time-consuming chunk of your work is over. Congratulations! Now you enter the maintenance phase.
I take it as a given that you make your bed every morning. If you don’t, you should. The bed is usually the largest piece of furniture in the room, and it sets the look for the whole room.
The rest of maintenance is a matter of taking a few minutes every day to quickly check if anything is out of place and moving it where it belongs. The idea here is that dealing with a tiny mess prevents it from ever becoming a big one.
Related post: How to avoid making these bedroom organization mistakes
Common questions about reducing clutter in the bedroom
What should you store under your bed?
Some people, especially Feng Shui experts, would say “nothing” because energy flow something-something, but the reality is that many of us need every bit of storage space we can get. So use the space under your bed to store extra bed linens, blankets, and pillows. And don’t just shove them in there, either. Fold them neatly.
How can you make your bedroom look cozy?
Start with a clutter-free and organized bedroom. Then, making it feel cozy is a matter of simplifying the color scheme and adding warm lighting and texture (blanket, throw rug, curtains). A potted plant or two will not only up the coziness factor but also lend a touch of European elegance to your bedroom.
Do you sleep better in a clean bedroom?
Of course. Keeping your bedroom clean, as in free of dust and dirt, helps you breathe better. Once you’ve decluttered your bedroom, keeping it organized and clutter-free helps your brain wind down at the end of the day.
How do you clean your bedroom in 5 minutes?
That depends on the state of your bedroom, but assuming it’s free of clutter, five minutes is long enough for you to dust your dresser and nightstand, and do a quick vacuum of the floor.
Should you keep your shoes in boxes?
Yes, except for the ones that are in your active rotation. Those go on your shoe rack near the door. (You have one, right? Because who would want outside dirt in their bedroom?) Shoe boxes keep your shoes dust-free and protect them from getting misshapen. They are also excellent when you move often like we do because it’s easy for movers to load your shoe boxes into a large moving box, and it’s just as easy for you to unpack them in your new home. No squished shoes. Yay!
Were you wishing earlier that the decluttering fairy would start with your bedroom? Well, now you don’t have to wait for her to show up. You’ve just learned how to do it yourself.
Take it slowly, step by step, from your vision for the room to the space under your bed. And remember, clutter attracts clutter. So deal with a tiny mess before it becomes a big one. You’ll likely sleep better in your newly clutter-free peaceful oasis.