New Year, New Apartment: How To Declutter Your Space

With the new year, comes a new mindset that we must detox and declutter our lives. When you’re living in an apartment, clutter and unnecessary items quickly pile up, and they are way more visible than in a larger home. We’ve found some tried and true methods that help us declutter our small spaces, and that help you stick to that new year’s resolution of keeping an organized and tidy apartment.

declutter apartment

General decluttering tips

  • Decluttering should not be done all at once. You’ll burn yourself out quickly if you set aside just one day for this project. Instead, section off pieces of your apartment into projects, and work on them for an hour or two at a time. The more each space declutters, the more you’ll want to tackle the next space.
  • Don’t leave things half finished. If you’re going to choose a space to work on for a chunk of time- get it done. Leaving a half finished section of your apartment will discourage you from finishing the rest of your space.
  • Dispose of garbage and donation piles immediately. The more they linger in your apartment, the more stressful this process will be. Make plans ahead of time for where your donations are going, and how they are getting there.
  • Just because you’ve finished decluttering your space, doesn’t mean you’re forever done decluttering. We’ve all formed habits that lead to clutter. After spending so much time and energy organizing your space, you’re going to want to maintain that new order. A little every day goes a long way.
  • Your spaces don’t need to look “instagramable” for them to be decluttered and done. Don’t worry so much about everything looking pretty, worry about them being organized for your efficiency and space.
  • Prepare yourself for success, and get the right tools. Be ready with garbage bags for donating and throwing out things and clothing. Set up arrangements if you’re going to be donating items, and know your trash days. Put together a fun playlist, or download some podcasts for your decluttering hours. Dust, clean, and vacuum as you go, so you’re also cleaning your space. 

If you’ve got way too much clothing…

There are two methods we use to clear out our closets. The first is the 12-12-12 method for sorting through clothing: 12 items to put away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to toss. This method keeps you accountable to the ratio—although feel free to lessen or raise the number depending on the size of your closet. While it can be hard to throw items of clothing away, you’ll immediately feel a sense of relief that the dress you wore to your junior prom is no longer taking up space in your closet. And you’ll have a new appreciation for the items that you choose to keep.

The second method we use to clear out our closets is the KonMari method from Marie Kondo. While we don’t necessarily agree with everything in her book, the method of asking yourself, “does this spark joy” is an effective one. As you move through your closet, or even try the 12-12-12 method, ask yourself, does this item make me happy, and if not, why do I still have it? This will help determine which items to toss and which to keep. This method can be practiced throughout your apartment, not just the closet. It’s proven very effective on the “random” drawer in my kitchen.


After clearing out your closet, leave about 10% of it empty, for future purchases. You’ll feel better about that next shopping trip when your closet isn’t already overflowing, and when you already know there’s a space set aside for that new purchase.

If you feel like you have “stuff” everywhere…

We all accumulate stuff throughout our days, whether its promotional pens, fliers, magazines, or knick knacks. These often unnecessary things are either left out and about to make your apartment look messy and cluttered, or they’re shoved into drawers, that then overflow once they hit capacity. To minimize the amount of stuff in your apartment, first make a commitment to no longer bring it back into your space. If the stuff can be thrown out before entering your apartment, do it. Then, take a sweep of your space and see what the visible culprits are. Are these things necessary items, or can they be tossed? Walk around your space with a garbage bag and be ruthless. Your space will be noticeably cleaner and more organized without them.

stuffWhen it’s time to tackle the random stuff drawers, you should also be ruthless. Anything that is expired, unnecessary, or garbage should be tossed. Do an initial sweep to throw these things out, and then do another sweep to organize what is left into categories. When you look at all your random drawer stuff sectioned off, you’ll often notice duplicates or more unnecessary items. Toss them! Be on the lookout for old batteries, charging cords that you no longer need, or manuals to appliances you never use.

If your kitchen could use some attention…

If you’re setting new eating goals for the new year, organizing your kitchen is especially important. Before you get started, make sure the dishes are clean and put away, and your countertops are cleared off.

Do an initial sweep of your kitchen cabinets for anything expired, Tupperwares missing lids, chipped glassware, and any tools or foods that you’ve never used. Everything expired or incomplete should go in the trash. Any food or applicance that can be donated should be put in a seperate bag.

Next take a look through your pantry. Are there opened bags or boxes that need to be thrown out? Are there packages that are taking up too much space, that can be unpacked? Can you organize each section of a shelf by type of food? Mason jars and other storage containers can be useful to house loose items in a pantry.

Move on to your other drawers and cabinets, and stay vigilant. Are there things you never use? Are there seasonal appliances or molds that can be stored?


Has your kitchen island or table become a receptacle for junk or mail? Go through any piles and throw out what needs to be thrown out, and move any important mail or items to their proper place. If you have cookbooks you don’t use, that are taking up space on your kitchen counters, consider moving them to another area of your apartment.

Save your refrigerator for last, and be diligent about throwing away anything that has a questionable expiration date. Clear everything out of the fridge and give it a good wipe down, before returning the items.

For good measure, replace your kitchen sink sponge, restock your paper towel supply, and throw your kitchen towels into the wash.

Hopefully these decluttering tips will leave you and your apartment feeling refreshed and as organized as the day you moved in!

Nikki Blank

Nikki Blank

Nikki Blank is the co-founder and CEO of Sip City, a functional beverage company out of Union Kitchen. Nikki moved from Boston to D.C. in June, and has been inspired by DC’s local food scene, female run businesses, and the energy of the city. In Boston, Nikki worked as a social media editor at the Harvard Business Review and in television and digital news production at PBS. At PBS, Nikki made custom smoothies and switchel for her co-workers, which launched her on the path to Sip City. Nikki graduated from Tufts University in 2015, with a degree in English and film studies. At Tufts, she played varsity soccer, taught two media seminars and wrote a satirical advice column in the Daily newspaper. Her superlative was Most Likely to Host Their Own Late-Night TV Show in a Onesie.

You may also like...