30-Day Declutter Challenge

Now that we are more home bound due to the coronavirus pandemic, this 30-Day Declutter Challenge is a great opportunity to tidy up your home. 

Our printable 30-Day Declutter Challenge PDF is no easy task, but it’s your roadmap to declutter once and for all. 

30-day declutter challenge

Whoever would have thought it: decluttering has become trendy. With the popularity of bestselling books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and the hit Netflix show, Get Organized With The Home Edit, it’s clear that people don’t just want to declutter, they need to.

As two minimalists who have moved between nine countries over the past decade, Ryan and I have learned a lot about tidying, decluttering, organizing, and prioritizing our stuff. Trust us, life falls into place better when everything else is organized.

We created this 30-Day Declutter Challenge to help you save space, make some extra cash, and save your sanity. It only takes a few minutes every day, and we lay out a plan to get you decluttered and share our tips on how (and when and where) to sell the stuff that goes. By the thirtieth day, rest assured, your stuff will be OUT and you’ll feel better for it.

This challenge utilizes techniques we’ve learned from professional home organizers and our experience as a minimalist couple for years.

Now that we are all homebound due to the coronavirus pandemic, this 30-Day Declutter Challenge is a great opportunity to tidy up your home. Or, more importantly, your home office if you are one of the many adjusting to working from home.

Read on for the rules of the challenge. It’s a fun competition where you both win (but really, there’s a winner!)

Our Decluttering Journey

I never met anyone with more stuff than Ryan.

When we met, he owned a pickup truck, motorcycle, boat, and snowmobile ($6k altogether). He had nearly $7k worth of fishing gear (both for summer and ice fishing), another $2k of hunting gear, and $3k worth for a trailer, tools, and spare parts to maintain his toys. Plus, a pet chicken named Martha (priceless).

And this was all for a new college graduate with tens of thousands in student debt.

So how did this massive consumer become a decluttering minimalist?

This guide and decluttering challenge break down how to overcome these differences so that you and your partner can reach your goals, focus your energy on the stuff that matters to you, and building a healthy foundation on how you purchase things and tidy up in the future.

How We Decluttered as a Couple

Are you a couple? If so, we understand the unique challenges that come with decluttering with another person.

You and your partner will inevitably have different decluttering, organizing, tidying up, and purchasing styles. Plus, there’s a chance that when you meld your households, you will have two of everything — with each person possibly preferring their own set.

However, decluttering as a couple not only streamlines your day and better utilizes your space. What’s more, is it helps you put more focus on the things you cherish and need.

As unbelievable as it sounds, taking on a decluttering challenge with your spouse or partner can be a relationship-building process. It’s an opportunity to keep items that resonate.

For Ryan (the hoarder and spender), it took time for him to get on board. What helped the most was that we moved around a lot, especially internationally. This meant that every few years, we had to evaluate the entirety of our belongings. It became apparent what things no longer fit with our traveling lifestyle.

However, not everyone has these same motivating opportunities. Alongside the moves, our hobbies began to change. While he loved snowmobiling with his friends, it wasn’t something we normally did together nor something he often did alone.

So, he sold his snowmobile, and whenever he had a guy’s trip, he borrowed one. We put that extra cash towards strengthening the hobbies we did more frequently, like hiking and skiing.

No, this doesn’t mean that Ryan slowly gave up his identity as we morphed into a couple. He just realized that he didn’t always need to buy when he could borrow or rent, especially on infrequent hobbies. Plus, with the money we earned, we were able to upgrade some of the things that sparked the most joy!

Finally, if you and your partner disagree on whether or not an item should go, just let it stay. There shouldn’t be any shame or judgment if one person loves a certain item, no matter how bizarre it is to you.

Remember, this exercise is to help improve your life and to create a home and space that you both love. It’s not about causing stress or rehashing why a grown adult man owns a pair of sweat shorts from Walmart (ahem, Ryan). If you’re not sure, keep it and revisit in six months.

However, if you think one person is hoarding more than necessary, talk about it and try to understand why. Compromise is critical when tidying up as a couple.

30 Day Declutter Challenge Printable

Printable 30-Day Declutter Challenge PDF

Download our printable calendar as your 30-day roadmap to decluttering your home and selling your stuff.

While this is no easy task, the feeling of accomplishment and stress relief pays off immediately.

30-day declutter challenge

First, don’t feel daunted. We don’t expect your pantry to become works of art (like The Home Edit’s!) or for clothing drawers to magically neaten up (like Marie Kondo’s!)

But, get creative! We learned from The Home Edit that you should reconfigure shelves based on the tallest item on them. Be innovative on how to utilize space and hang things.

Second, commit to getting it done. A central tenet for Marie Kondo is not to organize bit-by-bit. Work on completing this challenge within the month to maintain momentum. This also sets up an organized system for how to maintain your organization.

Third, we throw a lot of work at you at the beginning of this challenge. This is more than just harnessing your motivation. We do this to tackle key areas first with a lot of valuable things to sell to start bringing in the money.

Finally, are you decluttering as a couple? If so, turn this into a competition to get double the results in half the time. While unorthodox, decluttering your home as competition spurred us on to downsize before moving to Ecuador.

We tried to sell everything (yes, everything! I literally sold a mop) and we kept a tally to determine who was in the lead.

Let’s get started with your 30-Day Declutter Challenge!

Week 1

Day 1: Tackle your bedroom closet.

We’re starting with the bedroom closet because it’s likely not too sentimental, should be fairly quick to go through, and is a big moneymaker.

To start, what have you not worn in the last year? Even if it’s brand new and expensive but, you haven’t worn it for a year, it needs to go. It will clear up space and allow you to see what you have.

Put the discarded clothes in two piles: to sell or to donate. Sell anything worth more than $5. Anything too old and ratty, throw it away in a trash bag.

Having trouble deciding? One trick is to turn the hangers inwards. Whichever hangers aren’t turned around within the next few weeks needs to go.

This excludes specialty and seasonal outfits that may not have been worn in the past year (especially during the pandemic). Use your best judgment and remember that you can always buy a new item in a few years when you need it again.

As you put the clothes you’re keeping back in your closet, group them by some sort of system, like color, function, or temperature.

Day 2: Go through your bedroom drawers and side tables.

Whether it’s your side table or underwear drawer, it’s time to go through the remaining hiding places in your bedroom.

For items in your bedside table, which include things like electronics and sentimental notes and photos, take your time and group them into piles.

While you may not want to get rid of them, make sure the things in your most accessible drawers are the “high touch” things you use often. If it’s easier to keep electronics in the spare bedroom, then move them to that new room.

Finally, open-faced bookshelves are great to display your items, but make sure it looks neat and orderly. You can organize by color, like how The Home Edit prefers with a rainbow, or by any other system. Consider putting things in baskets to hide clutter and help organize.

Place everything you’re purging into three piles: to sell, to donate, and to throw out.

Day 3: Organize the Other Bedrooms.

Now that you’re finished with your room, look towards the other bedrooms. It could be your kids’ rooms or a spare guestroom. Take your time going through the rooms and deciding what to keep, what to sell, and what to donate.

Depending on how many spare, or children’s, rooms you have, take one day per room. The kids should be helping too!

As always, divide your purged items into piles for selling and donations.

Day 4: Better Utilize the Linen Closet.

Take a few minutes to look at any extra closet space upstairs. Often, there’s a hallway closet holding linens, towels, or bath supplies. We like to keep this closet as our “overstock” inventory (like bathroom tissue) and comforter/quilt closet.

Consider storing comforters and blankets in clear plastic containers to keep them dry and fresh. We also love these acrylic shelf dividers to keep items separated.

Place discarded items in your sell, donate, or trash piles.

Day 5: List items to sell.

Grab yourself a drink, because tonight we’re organizing your sale items. This is the fun part but takes more work than you’d expect. Don’t worry, though, this is where the magic happens.

Ryan and I use a variety of online marketplaces to sell our items.

We highly recommend selling on Facebook Marketplace. It can be done through Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps on your phone or your laptop.

The benefits of Facebook Marketplace vs. Craigslist is that you can check out people’s profiles, filter closer locations, and rank in a buyer/seller rating system to prevent bad business.

Too often on Craigslist, we would get inquiries from people far away, and you don’t want to waste time coordinating or filtering. Plus, Craigslist is creepily anonymous.

Note that we did find value in using Craigslist for our higher-cost items, including selling our $1500 Tempur-Pedic mattress on there. Just note that with Craigslist comes a lot of spammers. Be careful and be upfront that you will only accept cash and pick up only from the get-go.

Finally, we use Poshmark to sell nicer clothes and household items. Click here to earn a $10 referral bonus from us as a new Poshmark seller.

Both Poshmark and Facebook Marketplace allow for shipping and completely no-contact selling. This is easy as long as you keep some spare boxes around and have a printer.

Worried about meeting people to sell your stuff? Ryan and I prefer no contact pickups, so we’ll simply leave the item on our front porch and ask the person to leave cash under the welcome mat.

Never, out of the hundred or so items we’ve sold has this strategy gone awry. We lived on a walkable bar street in downtown Fort Worth. No one ever stole an item, and every item was also always paid for.
No stress, no worry, no face-to-face meeting. Keep it simple.

It works every time. If you don’t have that option, make it as easy and convenient for yourself (not the other person) as possible. Choosing a place like at your gym or the grocery store where you shop usually works.

What’s a good price for your items?

Before selling an item, take a quick look at Amazon.com to check what the full, new price is. Then, take 50% off if it was in ‘like-new’ condition, and 75% off if it was used. If we didn’t get any takers after two weeks, we would lower the price.

Pricing can be challenging. You’ll inevitably agonize over if it’s too high or too low. You’ll likely receive offers that are far lower than your asking price, hoping for better to come along. Don’t worry if you “lose” a buyer. There’ll be more.

Congratulations! You’re already starting to make money with the 30-Day Declutter Challenge!

Day 6: Clear your Home Office.

Your home office is likely a treasure trove of things for you to sell: old envelopes, old printers, extra headphones, and spare furniture.

Plus, with many looking at working from home into the next year and beyond, it’s a good time to list and sell this stuff.

In a home office, many people get tripped up about how long they need to hold onto important documents. It depends on the document, but for example, you should hold onto your tax documents for 7 years.

Most everything else should be digitalized and kept in a safe place (like on multiple external hard drives or in the cloud).

For the paper documents, organize them in well-labeled filing bins so you can easily distinguish between work, medical, and personal documents.

Also, while you’re at it, why not ask yourself, “Should I Get a Standing Desk?” We moved to standing desks years ago for our health and it’s been a gamechanger for our productivity as well.

Finish off the night by categorizing purged items to sell, donate, or trash.

Day 7: Barrelling through the Basement.

Depending on the size of your basement, this may be more than a one day project.

Ryan and I recently organized garage sales for both of our parents, and their basements were mostly furniture and junk. The good news is, both of those sells.

Again, keep anything to sell worth more than $5. More often than not, it’s the unexpected “junk” that sells at a garage sale!

First things first, it’s always prudent to keep things in the basement in plastic containers if there’s a chance of flooding.

Next, make sure that the items you plan to save are visible and well organized in shelving to keep your basement from becoming a black hole.

Steadily go through your things and categorize them for things to sell, donate, or trash. In our basement, we keep plastic bins of all of our seasonal stuff (yes, Ryan keeps an active costume bucket!)

So if you’re unsure whether or not to purge something you don’t use often, it’s okay. You can hold onto it and think about it for a few more months.

Week 2

Day 8: Group and Zone your Garage.

Your garage may or may not be another place in the house that could take several days. Likely, if things are in the garage and have a layer of dust on them, it’s time to throw them out.

By making space in your garage, you’re opening up opportunities to add an area for a home gym or new woodworking table.

Start by seeing what things can be hung on the wall to save floor space (like bicycles and shovels).

Build racks or add shelving to make things visual and organized. Add lighting to brighten corners so that you ensure you’re using all accessible space.

Keep things clean and tidy. Organize purged items into your sell, donate, and trash piles.

Day 9: Categorize Your Kitchen Cupboards.

We’re back in the house and now tackling the first corner of the kitchen: the kitchen cupboards. Is your utensil drawer overflowing? Can you not reach the water glasses in the back? Do you have two blenders?

This is where container storage can shine. And speaking of containers, make sure your food containers all have their lids.

Throw out the dishware and utensils that are in bad shape. With the money you’re earning from your sales, the kitchen is a great place to reinvest in.

Yes, you can make your kitchen look like a store. In fact, that’s a great end goal for the 30-Day Declutter Challenge. Then you’ll always know what you have and how much.

Place purged items into your sell, donate, and trash piles.

Day 10: List Items to Sell.

Just as in Day 5, list all of the items you’ve decluttered from the past five days on your online marketplaces. You can also renew your older listings and modify the price.

Day 11: Diving into the Refrigerator, Freezer, Pantry, and Spice Cabinet.

Toss anything that is expired or clearly in rough shape. Designate zones in the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry so that you can easily see what inventory you have.

Invest in storage solutions like shelf steps, transparent stackable bins, and drawer organizers. For spices, consider laying them down flat in a drawer with the labels facing up.

Ryan and I love organizing our fruit and vegetables in a big bowl on our countertop. Not only are they beautiful, you see what stock you have and what needs to be eaten first.

Remember: sell, donate, or trash for the extra stuff.

Day 12: Elevate the Entertainment Closet or Play Room.

We know, a lot of games are not used often, but you still need them around. Ryan and I recommend that you keep a few and sell a few. Many of this stuff will likely sell well.

If you don’t have an entertainment closet… you’re missing out! We share 19 of our favorite 2+ player board games in our article, ‘Board Games for Couples.’

Day 13: How Livable is Your Living Room?

For today, turn on some music or a background movie and organize your living room. Outside of the stray shelf or cabinet, hopefully, you don’t have too many stray items.

This is a good time to reevaluate the functionality of your furniture and decorations and see where you may want to change things up.

This may mean reducing the clutter on tabletops or consolidating some of the excessive photo frames. Make sure your living room is cozy, welcoming, and sparks plenty of joy!

For items that aren’t as sightly (like children’s toys!) invest in a decorative basket to keep things tidy.

Organize any items you’re getting rid of into the sell, donate, or trash piles.

Day 14: Dive into the Dining Room.

Honestly, our dining room is our unofficial office. So if you’re like us, it’s more important than ever to declutter this space for productivity and peace of mind.

Reevaluate your spaces in the dining area from your bar cart to your china cabinet. Some items in here might be sentimental (like your grandmother’s crystal) so tread carefully.

If you’re not using these items and want to part with them, check with other members in the family if they want it first. If not, have at it to sell, donate, or trash!

Week 3

Day 15: List Items to Sell.

Just as in Day 5, list all of the items you’ve decluttered from the past five days on your online marketplaces. You can also renew your older listings and modify the price.

Day 16: Can You Enter Your Entryway Closet or Mud Room?

You want this space to be clean, welcoming, but functional. That typically means no clutter!

If your shoes, jackets, and scarves are everywhere, it’s time to invest in some storage solutions. Get things off the ground by adding in hooks or racks.

If there isn’t any space on your current hooks, you know what that means: time to sell, donate, or trash! You know the drill now with this 30-Day Declutter Challenge.

Day 17: Get Control of Your Digital Life.

It’s time to grapple with your electronics drawer and digital life. For us, this lives in a bag in our backpack.

Ryan and I recently laid out all of the cords, headphones, chargers, phones, digital cameras, and USB wall plugs that we owned. We had multiples of everything. And multiples of the extras!

We purged and kept 2-3 cords of each type and sold the rest. It felt good to get rid of the messy tangled cords and bought an electronics organizer to help (we link to the one we have, pictured below).

Do you have trouble keeping your electronics at bay? Check out our article, ‘Unplug from Technology,’ for a 7-day digital detox.

Day 18: Declutter Your Garden Or Porch.

Yes, even outside can get cluttered. Whether it’s too many plants (which, yes, you can sell or gift!) or too many pots or garden tools, keeping it simple but meaningful will make you so proud to come home every day.

Also, it means that the plants and decorations you do keep will be well-cared for and have space to grow.

Day 19: Honing in on Your Home Gym.

How to build a home gym and picking your equipment is important to your health and fitness.

However, even in this space, you may need to purge items. Multiples of free weights are typically sold for $0.50 per pound on online marketplaces.

Outdated fitness equipment (like the ab roller, anyone?) may be making you depressed for never using it. Plus, old equipment could be downright dangerous if the elastic in your resistance bands are cracked.

Sell, donate, or trash!

Day 20: List Items to Sell.

Just as in Day 5, list all of the items you’ve decluttered from the past five days on your online marketplaces. You can also renew your older listings and modify the price.

Day 21: Mastering the Master Bathroom.

How many hotel sample-sized shampoo bottles do you have? Too many to admit? Us too!

Thankfully, a lot of charities accept those for donations. Or just make a plan to use them up, one little bottle at a time.

In our bathroom, we purged things like old medication, bath products, and hair ties. There wasn’t much, but it felt nice to get organized. Who knows, maybe you’ll find things to sell or donate, too.

Week 4

Day 22: Combing Through All Remaining Bathrooms.

Now that you’re a bathroom organizing professional, it’s time to get to work on your other bathrooms: the powder room, guest bathroom, etc.

Same as before in this 30-Day Declutter Challenge, make sure cabinets are kept clean and you have a good grasp of your non-expired inventory. Continue to sell, donate, or trash.

Day 23: Cleaning Out the Laundry Room.

Similar to the bathroom, work your way through the laundry room. Take stock of your inventory and clear out areas of old products and old clothes. Sell, donate, and trash.

Day 24: Attack the Attic.

Growing up, Alex’s attic was a huge storage unit, but one that anyone barely goes into. If this sounds familiar, it’s safe to say that likely everything up there can be sold, donated, or trashed.

Day 25: Finish Listing Items to Sell and Publicize Your Upcoming Garage Sale.

Just as in Day 5, list all of the items you’ve decluttered from the past five days on your online marketplaces. You can also renew your older listings and modify the price.

Also, congratulations! Your garage sale is just 5 days away (or whenever the next upcoming weekend is!)

Take this time to make a posting for your garage sale on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Include photos of some of the items and describe them in your post.

Search in Facebook groups for a local garage sale listing group and request to join the group. Sometimes, this takes a few days which is why it’s important to start early.

For example, one local group we found is called ‘Twin Cities Buy/Sell/Trade’ in addition to many other online garage sale groups. Post in every group that you can!

Finally, consider purchasing your garage sale signs online for the best price. Trust me, they’re better than your DIY ones.

Days 26, 27, and 28: Miscellaneous Spots, Free Day.

We gave a lot for you to do this month, so take these last few days to organize the remaining areas or taking more time in a room we already covered.

Ideas for new spots to go through include your

  • Car
  • Toolbox
  • Purse
  • Jewelry box
  • Library
  • Filing cabinet
  • Music room
  • Junk drawer

What spots did you find that needed more attention during this 30-Day Declutter Challenge? Share in the comments. 

Final Stretch!

Day 29: Create Garage Sale Signs.

The night before your garage sale, set up signs. We made a few homemade signs but decided the professional garage sale signs like these were far superior.

The most important aspect is having two stakes in the ground per sign, so the wind doesn’t turn it around. During our last yard sale, we found one of our arrows pointing in the exact opposite direction!

You can buy those signs at the hardware store too, but they’re double the price. So if you can plan in advance, order them.

Also, double-check the weather!

Day 30: Garage Sale Day!

You did it! You have completed the 30-Day Declutter Challenge!

Spend the day or weekend chatting with your neighbors and recycling your goods to new homes. Anything leftover, box up and don’t bring it back into the house.

Put them straight into your car and drive to your local donation site (like the Salvation Army or Goodwill).

For the few items you’re still hoping to sell online, that’s fine you can wait. Or, just know you did your best in thirty days and be done with it. You don’t want to add clutter just waiting on selling your last final items.

Now, if you’ve been competing with your partner, count up how much you made and tell us in the comments who ‘won!’

30 Day Declutter Challenge Printable

Printable 30-Day Declutter Challenge PDF

Download our printable calendar as your 30-day roadmap to decluttering your home and selling your stuff.

While this is no easy task, the feeling of accomplishment and stress relief pays off immediately.

Managing Clutter in the future

Congratulations and welcome to your new, decluttered home! However, the Declutter Challenge doesn’t end here. Now it’s time to decide how you’ll purchase and purge items in the future.

As a couple, sit down and decide how you’ll maintain your newly organized and tidy household. The simplest rule to follow is for every new item in, take an old item out. That means if you’ve upgraded or purchased a new sweater, an old sweater has to be sold or donated.

The goal of this 30 Day Declutter Challenge is to create a permanent habit and lifestyle on how you keep and manage your possessions, together.

In our experience, completing this declutter challenge will teach you to appreciate the material items that you own. It will also teach you to be more mindful of new material items that you bring into our life.

As declutter challenge graduates, we no longer buy anything that we don’t absolutely need, which leads to more savings as a couple.

When we do buy items, we spend more time researching and deliberating. Therefore, the products we buy are top-quality, last for a long time, and come with a sense of pride.

Happy decluttering and tidying up!

If you want to learn more, here are a few of our favorite decluttering books:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Let us know in the comments how your 30-Day Declutter Challenge went… especially when you complete it!

Make your decluttering a habit. Download our free printable 30-Day Declutter Challenge PDF.

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The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”

After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.

The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.

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