How to Declutter Your Junk Room the Smart Way

Everyone has it. That room in your house where junk just seems to collect. All those items that you don't know what to do with, or never have time to go through. It's where all the half started projects, and well intentioned ideas, and forgotten hobbies go to die. 

This can be the storage room, the garage, the spare bedroom, the attic, or any place where you dump the things that don't seem to have their own place. 

Have you ever promised yourself that you were going to finally declutter the junk room and it just never happened? You just can’t figure our how to organize a room with too much stuff. Well, you’re in luck because today we are going to go through the simple steps to get your junk room organized. 

The simple plan to take your junk room from a hot mess to an organized useable space. How to declutter the junk room and organize the junk room.

The Plan

Taking on the junk room as a whole can be intimidating. I mean there's so much stuff in there.  If you knew what to do with it all, it probably wouldn't have been in the junk room in the first place.  

We are going to take on the junk room in steps. Bit by bit, we will get the room under control without having tackle it as one big monster. Using this plan, you can set aside a day and declutter your room in one day. Or you can do one step a day and get the whole room done with a little bit of effort over the course of several days.

Either way, you will come out of it with a room that you no longer dread entering.  A room that stores your stuff but isn't taken over by stuff. A room you can be proud of. 

The Steps

As we go through the different steps of organizing your junk room, I want your to keep in mind something super important. Your stuff is just stuff. If it doesn't make you happy or serve some purpose, then you don't need it taking up space in your home. 

You don't have to toss everything and there are items that can be kept solely for sentimental value. But don't hold onto something just because you feel guilty about the money you spent on it. Just let it go.  Help it find a home where it will actually get used and valued. 


Gather everything you need to take on this room: a water bottle, the giant size garbage bags, three laundry baskets, a pad of Post-It notes and a Sharpie.  It can also be nice to have some fun upbeat music to help you power through the process and keep you motivated.

Step 1

Take a quick scan of the room and toss anything that is undoubtedly garbage.  This can be broken items that you will never actually repair, old documents that you don't need to keep, and damaged clothing that you won't ever mend. 

If it is clearly garbage (or recycling), just get rid of it now. It'll be motivating to get things out of the room quickly and it will help you more easily see the other items you have to go through. Just make one bag for garbage, the other for recycling and go through the room.    

Stick notes

Step 2

Label one sticky note for each of your 3 laundry baskets.  One will be the donate basket, which can include items both to sell or donate.  One will be the travel basket which is for times that go in another room. The third basket is for items for which further action is needed.

Put these baskets outside the room in the hallway. The whole point is to reduce the volume of stuff in this room so getting things out of the room is the goal.  

Step 3

Here we go. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Now walk into the room and assess. Clearly it's a mess, but ignore that and start looking at the individual objects in there. 

Do a quick survey of the really big stuff. Pick out the big things that are obviously trash or something that needs to be donated. These may be things that didn't get tossed in your first preliminary go around.  Things like a crib when you don't have or intend to have any more babies or an old sewing machine that never gets used. 

Pull them out and put them by your front door or out to your car.  Get them totally out of the space. If they are not going to stay there, then you need to get them out of there. Not only is it great for your mindset to actually see things getting cleared out, but it will actually help you get rid of those items if they are in the car or by the door. 

If you can enlist your spouse or a friend to help you move this stuff out of the room. It will help the job go a heck of a lot faster. Stop when the timer goes off. Can you do more? Set it again for another 15 minutes. Go.

The goal here is to start big and go small. Don't start with the fussy little things like photos and memorabilia. It will take forever and when you are done, you will see very little impact on the room. Start big and work your way down to the little things. 

  • Big things are: beds, tables, bookshelves, desks, armoires, clothes racks, empty suitcases, sports gear, cat carriers/dog crates, empty boxes, empty bins, etc.

  • Medium things are: clothes, large toys, whole games, whole sets of things, supplies that haven't been opened (like craft supplies, big containers of toilet paper, pretty much anything from Costco/BJs etc.) books, magazines, sets of objects, shoes, bags, tote bags, gift wrapping stuff, crafting stuff etc.

  • Small things are: photos, memorabilia, paperwork, files, opened containers of small stuff, sets that have been broken up, small decorative items

Once you clear out whatever big items you don't need, try to clear off a flat surface to work on.  this will help as we get to the smaller items.

Step 4

Now, it's time to work on the medium sized items. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Try to just pick out one category at a time. So if this room is a jammed with 80% clothes, then mentally divide the clothes into categories (like all the kids clothes or all of your old work clothes) and start going through them one category at a time.

Ask yourself the following questions as you go through your items: 

  • Do I love this?

  • Do I use this everyday?

  • Does this object have sentimental value?

  • Do I already have something similar?

  • Am I keeping this item “just in case?”

  • Does it make me feel good? If yes? Then keep it.

  • If you immediately feel guilty, sad, angry or any other negative emotion when you see a particular item, get rid of it. Seriously. Life is too short to hold onto things that make us feel bad.

  • What would I replace it if I lost everything?

Based on your answers to these questions, sort the items into the correct basket or into the garbage bag.  This can be a difficult process and can sometimes take a while.  Stop whenever you feel done for the day.  You can always pick up again another day. 

Laundry basket

Step 5

Once you are finished for the day, take the stuff that belongs in the other rooms and drop them inside each room. Keep going until the basket is empty. Write down any actions that you need to take with the items in the action needed bin (hem blue pants, return library book that is 6 months overdue). Discard the trash and recycling. 

Step 6

Come back again soon and do the exact same process for the remaining medium and small stuff. the small stuff will take you much longer to go through than the others because these are far trickier items to deal with. These item often hold sentimental value or require reading to determine if documents need to be saved or tossed. If you need help sorting through paperwork read this post or this one

Once you are done, immediately plan a trip to donate the donate items or schedule your garage sale.  You don't want these items hanging around your home any longer than necessary or they may find their way back into the junk room. 


After all that sorting and decision making, it's time to get to the fun stuff, organization.  Now find or create homes for the things that are actually staying in the room. 

Utilize Closet Space

Whether it’s a library, office, or spare bedroom you’re hoping to create after decluttering your junk room, your closet is a great place to store items that have no other home!

Try Stackable Storage or Bookcases

Stackable bins or drawers are a great junk room organization idea! These products allow you to utilize vertical storage, so you can preserve floor space for your newly repurposed room. The only drawback is they may not match your decor especially if you intend to start using this room.

Another option are bookcases or stackable cubbies with bins or baskets. It still uses vertical space, but will help the room feel less like a storage area. 

Paper Storage

Junk rooms often have lots of random papers, magazines, and old files. Check out this post for great ideas on how to store your paperwork without making the room feel too corporate.  

Use Versatile Shelving

When it comes to how to declutter your home, get creative! A bookcase or built-in shelves can do more than just store books—they can double as a headboard or a display case for your favorite belongings.

Make Shopping an Incentive

While you’ll definitely find some goodies while cleaning your messy room, transforming your junk room into your dream room will likely mean buying a few new items.

Save shopping for when you have cleared out clutter and actually sold, donated, or tossed the items that you’re no longer using! This will allow you to assess what storage items you actually need for the stuff that you are actually keeping. You don't need a shelving unit for 500 CDs if you are only keeping half of them. 

Stop Clutter Before It Starts

Don’t let your newly organized space return to a junk room! Preserving your junk room makeover means having a plan. Cleaning weekly and having designated spaces for items can help you keep clutter to a minimum! 

What kind of space can you turn your junk room into once you get it organized?  Let me know in the comments!