How to help someone else declutter – what to do and 6 questions to ask

September 1, 2021

I recently spent a morning with a dear friend, helping her with decluttering and organizing the kitchen. This was such a treat for me since she has a gorgeous kitchen with oodles of storage space!

In about 90 minutes, we decluttered, tidied and organized a bunch of cupboards.

how to help someone declutter cover

Here's how to help someone else declutter

Simply put: Know your place.

Since this wasn’t my house, I stayed out of the decision-making process. I also withheld anything that could be taken as judgemental or contribute to their overwhelm in any way.

The decluttering process is stressful enough as it is!

Instead, my job during this decluttering session was:

  • to help categorize items
  • to suggest different ways of organizing cabinets
  • to ask questions (but not offer answers or judgment)
  • to move donations and discards out of the way
  • to help put things back in place

Before: the food storage cabinet is spacious, but it needs some structure to help things stay neater.

I feel very strongly about letting other people decide what they want to keep.

So I let my friend decide what she wanted to keep and what she didn't need.

What not to do when helping someone declutter:

  1. Make judgemental comments on the clutter they've acquired, or individual pieces.
  2. Tell them what they should and should not keep. It's their choice.
  3. Take it upon yourself to remove items from the home without permission

I asked questions like:

  1. Do you like the way this cabinet is organized?
  2. Do you use these things a lot? Are they in a good spot for you?
  3. Do you want to keep all of these [cups / water bottles / etc.] Are there some that you don't want anymore?
  4. Can you reach the things on the top shelf?
  5. Would this be something you can put away in the basement? (things that are used a few times a year)
  6. Would it be better if these glasses were easier to reach?

I also followed all of these decluttering rules, and this 20/20 decluttering rule as well.

Decluttering with a friend is lots of fun!

This was just some of the stuff that she chose to declutter. Can you believe all the things she found that she didn't need? And how do those water bottles multiply like that anyway?

I also suggested she buy a step stool so it's easier to get at things on the higher shelves. She could use a couple of large bins to store the smaller food storage dishes. Measure to find a bin that just fits into the cupboard.

We discarded about half the contents of this cupboard, stacked some of the items and rearranged a few other things. This cupboard would be even better with a large bin on each side to contain the smaller items.

As usually happens, my friend continued decluttering and tidying after I left and found a bunch more things to get rid of. Once you get started, momentum kicks in and you'll frequently keep going!

That ability to gain momentum is one of the reasons we recommend picking a small task when feeling stuck with decluttering.

Have you ever decluttered with a friend?

Interested in finding some virtual decluttering buddies? Join us in our Organize My Home Complete membership!

About the author 

Sarah Mueller

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

A Brain-Friendly Tutorial to Clearing Your Clutter

The free tutorial is for you if:

  • Your clutter feels overwhelming
  • You have 1 or more rooms that need significant work
  • You've been trying to declutter for 6 months or longer