How to Declutter By Category

7 ideas to help you declutter by category this week! 

(Week 2 of the 30 Day Declutter Challenge)

For me, decluttering by category is somewhat of a new thought, but the more I think about it this is how I actually declutter and it’s genius!

You see, normally I start with the goal of organizing or re-structuring a particular space: a closet, or a bathroom, or a junk drawer. But, in the actual nitty gritty of the process I separate everything into CATEGORIES and continue from there. I had never thought of inverting the process, and instead of starting with the space, go directly to the categories. However, I can see how this might be super helpful for someone who is overwhelmed by trying to tackle a whole space. 

Here are a few examples of categories that you can declutter today! Before we jump in, none of these “days” are supposed to take longer than 15-20 minutes tops! A little a day can go a loooong way! For even more ideas, I just love Abby Organizes. She has a ton of ideas for organization and decluttering, and I love reading her blog! Ok, here we go!


Category #1: Bags

Gather up all the bags in your house. If you have a TON of purses, you may have to make that a separate category… whatever works for you. Gather all your bags in the same spot. Don’t worry about where you are going to put them just yet. Just start going through them one by one. Eliminate the easy ones first: broken or damaged bags, donate. Then go through the rest and start making decisions. If you have three duffel bags, but only really use one because it functions better, go ahead and donate the other two. OR, you could use it for your emergency go bag, but designate its purpose. Keep going until you have made decisions about all the bags in that pile! 

Category #2: Blankets

I love fuzzy throw blankets. So do my dogs and my kids! So this is a category that can quickly get out of hand. I try to purge these regularly and I find it is an easy category to stick with. I have cute holiday throw blankets, but I store those with the holiday decor. All the other blankets have a basket in the living room; if it starts overflowing, I know it is time to go through and make decisions. If you are having a hard time letting go, think of some places where these blankets may do some good. Animal shelters and homeless shelters will gladly take them and make great use out of them.

Category #3: Books

I understand books are hard for a lot of people! But, if you are drowning in books, my recommendation would be to set a timer. 10 or 15 minutes and look over your collection. Ask yourself if you are ever going to read this again? Do I have this on my Kindle or electronic reading device? Would someone else benefit from this book? Once the timer goes off, stop. You may surprise yourself with how many books you were able to let go of.

Category #4: Electronics/ cords

EVERYONE has a hidden stash of cords or old electronics. You know the box I’m talking about. You move it around from move to move, but you never go through it. If you haven’t pulled that box out in months,(years?) it’s time to donate it. If you’re anything like me and find you need a cord, you’ll probably purchase a new one rather than rummaging through that box. JUST. DONATE. IT! 

Category #5: Cups/ Mugs

Have you ever stayed at a cute vacation rental or RV share? They are usually outfitted with just enough cups, plates, mugs and silverware. Every time, I’m amazed our family SURVIVED. Ha! Seriously, it shows me there is no reason that a family of 5 NEEDS 37 coffee mugs and 17 random plastic cups. Also, if someone has a trick for getting my kids to REUSE their cups and not grab a new one every time, that would be great. 

While I have slowly eliminated all of the little kid cups and random plastic cups in our house, I still have a hard time letting go of some of the mugs. I’m guilty of collecting all of the Starbucks mugs whenever we travel, but, to be fair, I use those. The problem is we also have a huge collection of other mugs that were gifts or other memorabilia. If you are like me, I would again, set a timer and get RUTHLESS. If you don’t use it, it’s time to donate it. It’s just taking up precious space!

Category #6: Outdoor Toys/ tools

This category may need a little team effort from family members. My husband is pretty organized with his tools so I do not feel any need to try and declutter those in our home, but when I’ve helped other families this is a category where things can multiply. Sort through and put similar items together. When you see 5 hammers side by side you realize that maybe you don’t need that many!

For outdoor toys, get your kids involved. We have 4 different footballs outside in our ball bin. Were it up to me, I’d get rid of three and keep the newest-looking one. But, my son has very particular reasons for wanting to keep all 4 footballs. One is for when the littler kids play, one is better for the beach, one is better for practicing, and one is the most like a game day ball. I would have never known that if I hadn’t asked him!

Category #7: Shoes

This category may have many subcategories depending on your family (or love of shoes). When I declutter shoes, it’s very specifically the shoes that have built up in our outside bins. I gather them all up and line them up by pair. Sometimes lost shoes are found!! “Oh, that’s where those were!” And sometimes, it’s as easy as, “Yeah, those don’t fit me anymore.” Boom. I’m usually able to declutter those shoe bins pretty quickly. 

So that’s it! A week of ideas for how to declutter by category. What are some other categories that you can think of? Have you ever decluttered this way? What is your preference- space or category? This is week 2 of my 30-Day Declutter Challenge. Take the whole challenge now and let me know how it went! For the free checklists for the challenge click here: FREE 30 Day CHALLENGE CHECKLISTS.

Check out my other challenges and free downloads now! Take the 7 day digital declutter challenge and declutter your digital life. Or grab my FREE Sunday Planning packet now to help organize and plan your weeks to control the chaos. Thank you so much for stopping by, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Organizing, y’all!

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7 Responses

  1. These sorts of decluttering projects are so great. Approachable and in small bites!

    I seem to keep accumulating mugs with no intentional effort by me whatsoever. I’ve gotta cull through and remove a few for sure. 🙂

  2. Excellent tips. I use a purse until it wears out, only have enough blankets for myself and an overnight guest, and am an apartment dweller, so I’ve got no “outside.” But books? Those are always a challenge to downsize, even for the most organized of us.

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Hello! I'm Jana

I have been married to my Army soldier for 15 years and am experienced when it comes to PCS moves, organizing new spaces, and creating more efficient systems for my family. I love paddleboarding, fitness, blogging, and spending time with my 3 kids, my hubby and our two dogs Nacho and Buddy. I’m so glad you are here and I hope to help you organize YOUR MILITARY LIFE!

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