10 Essential Rules That Will Easily Prevent Clutter Creep

Inside: Learn about 10 ways to prevent clutter creep in your home.  Download your free decluttering checklist to start removing the excess from your home today.

Prevent clutter creep with these 10 tips. #declutter #simpleliving

Imagine you just spent countless hours decluttering your home.  You went through every room, got rid of the items you no longer loved or needed and you felt happy about what was left.  Everything had a place!

Now imagine, a few weeks goes by and you look around.  You notice there are stacks of papers on the counter that you need to deal with.  There is mail from last week that you haven’t even opened yet.  And your kids have both brought home artwork from school and it is sitting on the kitchen table.

On top of that you purchased new running shoes because your old shoes were no longer supportive.  Instead of throwing the old shoes out, they are both taking up space in your bedroom.

All the surfaces and closets that you spent so much time and energy decluttering have been filled back up again!

That, my friends, is clutter creep.

Why does Clutter Creep happen?

Clutter creep does not make you a bad person or even a bad declutterer (yes, I just made that word up!).

Clutter creep is something that happens gradually over time.  It is something that happens if we are not intentional with our belongings and the amount of stuff that we allow to come into our homes.

Clutter creep is not a reason to throw in the towel and say, “oh well!  This house is going to just get cluttered again, so I might as well not even bother!”

Please don’t do that!  There are tips and methods you can implement today, that will easily prevent clutter creep in your home.

Keep reading to learn more!

Prevent clutter creep with these 10 tips. #declutter #simpleliving

How to Easily Prevent Clutter Creep

Remember your why

This is so important to preventing clutter creep.  When you clearly identify why you want a simplified home in the first place, you’ll be so much more likely to keep up the fight with clutter creep.


“Gratitude turns what you have into enough.”  -Melody Beattie

I love this quote and think it sums up the importance of gratitude in simplifying your home.  When we approach life with an attitude of gratitude we will realize that we have more than enough.

One in / one out

This is a great rule to follow and it’s a simple one too!  Basically, when you bring something new into your home, something else must leave your home.  So in my example about about the running shoes, instead of keeping both pairs of shoes, I should get rid of the old pair since realistically I am not going to wear them both. This will at least help keep your stuff at a baseline.

20/20 rule

I learned this great trick from the minimalists.  The rule is aimed at helping us declutter our “just in case” items.  We keep so many things in the off chance we may need them someday.  This someday rarely ever comes and these “just in case” items sit untouched, taking up valuable space and mental energy in our homes.

The 20/20 rule says that you should declutter those “just in case” items that you can’t replace with $20 or less in less than 20 minutes from your current location.  This is a great gauge to use when trying to decide whether or not to keep something.

Ask why before you buy

I love that this one rhymes, but I also love that it makes me stop and think about a purchase before I hit the submit button online or hand over my money at a store.  Asking myself if I truly need something before I make a purchase cuts down on the impulse buys.  When I am shopping online I also try to keep the cart open for at least 24 hours before I hit submit.  9 times out of 10 I will come back and realize I don’t actually need the item or I will forget about it all together.


I talk about this in the post about simplifying your email inbox and I think it’s worth mentioning here as well.  Unsubscribing from promo emails and social media accounts significantly reduces the chance of you making an impulse purchase.  If you are not getting inundated with promos or deals, the chances of you going to the retailer site is much much less.  I want to go to these sites on my own terms, not the retailer’s terms.

Prevent clutter creep with these 10 tips. #declutter #simpleliving

One touch rule

This rule is really crucial when it comes to paper clutter.  The idea is that you only touch something once, and then you put it away.  You don’t merely move it around from place to place.  This happens a lot with mail.

For example, you bring the mail into the house and set it on the table by the door.  Later on you realize you never opened it, so you bring it to the kitchen and have time to open one letter and decide to get to the rest later so you just set the pile on the counter.  The next day the same thing happens, but you just leave the mail by the door.

By the end of the week there is mail all over your house!  I know this is an exaggeration, but if you have one place you put mail or if you open it as soon as you bring it into the house, you’ll cut down on the paper clutter around your home!

Limit items to containers

This is especially helpful  for toys or collections of things.  I have a small box for matchbox cars and one for the trains.  When these boxes start to overflow my kiddo knows it’s time to go through the boxes and decide what stays and what gets donated.

Keep a donation box or bag readily available

I do this with clothes and toys mostly, but you could have a box in your garage for anything you want to donate.  The important thing is to remember to drop off the box when it’s full!  Otherwise you run the risk of the items making their way back into your home.  And we are trying to prevent clutter creep here!

Borrow stuff you only need to use once or twice

This is a great rule for things like tools or big baby gear like swings that you only use for a few months.  I know there are local facebook groups for things like this.  Or ask your friends and family if they have something you can borrow!

Need a bit of help decluttering your home?

Get your free decluttering checklist below!  You will be well on your way to a home with only the things you love and more time to spend with your loved ones.

Prevent declutter creep with these 10 rules.

Additional Decluttering Resources

Books (click the book cover to learn more):



Freed From Clutter 7 Day Challenge from Your Modern Family

The Essentials from The Art of Simple. This course goes into a bit more than just decluttering, but it has a great module focused on decluttering.

Clutterfree e-course from Embracing Simple

Pinterst Board – My Declutter Your Space board is FULL of amazing decluttering articles.

Which method(s) do you use to prevent clutter creep in your home?

Let me know in the comments below!

Prevent clutter creep with these 10 tips. #declutter #simpleliving

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.

Photos by Sarah DorweilerKari Shea, Maarten Deckers on Unsplash, and Ivorymix.com.

5 Responses to 10 Essential Rules That Will Easily Prevent Clutter Creep

  1. Clutter creep is real! I can spend ages decluttering, feel really proud and then a couple of months later wonder why all my clutter is back! These are some great tips to stop clutter creep in its tracks. I try to follow the one in/one out rule as best I can but I’d never heard of the 20/20 rule before…I shall be giving that one a go! Thanks 🙂

  2. Christine says:

    Great post, Tara! I’m using most of your tips to prevent clutter creep. I especially like your point “Remember your Why”. This always reminds me not to buy things that are not necessary. To me, more stuff, more clutter. Keep the “why” in mind helps me maintain a clutter-free home more easily.

    • Tara says:

      Thanks Christine! I have to remind myself of my why often! It’s so important to have a big why to help you make decisions. Thanks for stopping by!

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