15 Decluttering Questions That Will Help You Easily Clear the Clutter

Are you ready for a big decluttering session but worried about getting stuck and giving up again? Ask these decluttering questions to help you purge effortlessly.

You blocked out thirty minutes and started your decluttering process. Five items in and you’re stuck.

That old teddy bear holds a ton of sentimental value and you’ve had it for a really long time. You can’t decide what to do with it and you’ve wasted twenty minutes wrestling with the decision.

Don’t give up. You’re going to run into situations like this along your decluttering journey. When you do, these decluttering questions can help you make quick decisions and keep moving forward.

What Is Clutter?

The Cambridge dictionary defines clutter as “a lot of objects in a state of disorder”1. I define clutter as any particular item or group of items that are in the way, causing you stress or annoyance, affecting your mood, bringing about negative feelings, or preventing you from being the best version of yourself.

Clutter can be one item, a lot of items, or an entire collection of things. If it’s taking up precious space or causes any negative feelings, it’s clutter.

woman asking questions that help make decluttering decisions

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What is the First Step to Decluttering?

It sounds cliché, but the first step to decluttering is admitting that you actually have a clutter problem.

If you don’t believe you have a clutter problem, hiring a professional organizer won’t even help you in the long run. Everything will be important and you won’t be able to get rid of anything.

If you don’t think you have a clutter problem, try answering each of the following questions with a brutally honest answer.

Do your belongings carry any emotional baggage? Do they get in the way or negatively impact your current lifestyle in any way? Does the amount and condition of your stuff cause stressful exchanges with another family member?

If you didn’t quickly and confidently answer NO, then you likely have a clutter problem.

Why is Decluttering So Hard?

Decluttering is hard because we hang on to stuff for sentimental reasons, we fear we’ll need particular items in the near future, or we can’t get past the fact that we spent good money on those things.

There are many factors that make decluttering difficult and present roadblocks to your progress but the important thing is that you work through them and keep going.

15 Decluttering Questions To Help You Identify and Remove Clutter

One of the easiest ways to keep making progress while decluttering is to ask the right questions that help you make ‘keep’ or ‘let go’ decisions.

With the KonMari method, Marie Kondo asks ‘does it spark joy?’. If the answer is NO, then it’s clutter and needs to go. If that questions doesn’t really work for you, try these deccluttering quetions to help you make decisions.

1. Do I Love It?

Always start with ‘Do I love it’. It’s the quickest and easiest decluttering question to answer. If you love it and it ‘sparks joy’, keep it.

If you truly just love something and it doesn’t cause any negativity, that’s a good reason to keep it. You don’t need to ask any other questions.


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2. Do I Use It Regularly?

A few of these next decluttering questions are going to focus on how often you use an item, but I suggest starting with the ‘Do I Use it Regularly’ question because it can be another quick ‘YES’ with lots of stuff.

If you use an item on a regular basis, just put that thing back where it belongs and move on to the next item. There’s no need to ask any more questions for that item because you don’t need to declutter it. In fact, if you do get rid of it, chances are you’ll end up purchasing another one which will be wasting money.

If there are a lot of ‘quick YES’ items in the area you’re decluttering, do those things first. Put them where they belong, then go through the items that are a little bit harder to make decisions about.

If you get stuck on sentimental items, set them aside for later so you don’t use up too much time. You can deal with these things later.

3. Have I Used It In the Last Year?

This is the next question I ask because the NO answer can come just as quickly as the YES ones above. Me and my quick wins, but getting them out of the way builds momentum and motivation.

If you can’t answer ‘Have I used it in the past year’ with a definitive YES, then it’s a NO. Even holiday and party items get used once a year.

Seriously! Be brutally honest with yourself. That chevron fabric that was making a comeback two years ago is on its way out again, and you’re never going to use it. Donate that stuff and move on.

4. When Was the Last Time I Used It?

If you didn’t get the quick YES or NO to the last two decluttering questions, then ask yourself the ‘When WAS the Last Time I Used It’ decluttering question.

If it’s been more than six months, or you can’t remember when it was, you should probably let it go. Chances are you don’t need it and only use it occasionally out of a feeling of obligation.

The one exception is the holiday items mentioned above. If you’re the likely host for holiday get-togethers, go ahead and hang on to those items. Maybe just box them up and store them somewhere out of your way until you need them.

5. Can Somebody Else Use It?

You’ve gone through the first four questions and still haven’t decided the fate of your electric roasting pan, what now? Ask yourself is somebody else can use it.

Maybe your daughter roasts a ham or a turkey a few times a year and doesn’t really have the oven space for side dishes. She could certainly use an electric roaster to free up her oven space.

You rarely use it, it’s kind of in your way, and she can give it new life. Besides, you can always borrow it if you need it, which leads us to the next question.

6. Can I Borrow It From Somebody Else

If you’re trying to make a decision on a seldom-used item, think about who else has one. Is it somebody you can borrow from if you really need it?

Let’s use the roasting pan as an example. Your daughter’s probably going to use it four to five times a year, and you’d only use it once.

Give her the roaster with the caveat that you get to use it for Thanksgiving dinner every year.

7. Can I Use Something Else?

Speaking of kitchen items, another helpful question to ask is ‘can I use something else?’

Do you really need that roasting pan, or can you just roast that turkey in the oven? I spatchcock mine and roast it in the oven quicker than that electric roaster can get it done.

Apply this thinking to all items. The last time I decluttered my kitchen drawers, I found an avocado tool that I’d only used once. When I need to cut up an avocado, I always reach for my trusty chef’s knife.

There was no reason to hang on to a kitchen gadget I’d likely never use.

8. Do I Have More Than One?

Ask yourself if you have duplicate items. If you do, pare down to just one where it makes sense. We often buy multiples of things only to find out we’ll stick to one favorite.

I just finished telling you about my avocado tool, right?! I didn’t need three. What I didn’t tell you was I actually had three of those things.

One was metal and sliced the avocado half into individual slices, one was a plastic version of that, and one was the mac daddy multipurpose avocado tool.

Needless to say, somebody at the Salvation Army will make a good score finding all of those.

9. Do I Really Need It?

Now there’s a very good question! As you move through different seasons and lifestyle changes, your needs and priorities change.

If you just bought a new home with a guest bedroom, you probably don’t need that air mattress and sleeping bag you used for guests in your first place.

Likewise, If you’re on a minimalist journey to simplify and own less stuff, you don’t want to waste a lot of money on a storage unit

10. Would I Buy It Today?

This is the decluttering question I ask a lot when it comes to a small kitchen appliance, a kitchen gadget, home decor, and clothing items. Our taste, style, and preferences change over time.

That bright, colorful fruit basket you fell in love with at Home Goods was adorable when you bought it three years ago, but you’ve changed a little and lean towards more muted colors now.

And that leopard print blouse you rocked at a concert in your twenties doesn’t quite fit into the capsule wardrobe you’ve adopted in your forties.

If there’s no way you would buy it if you saw it in a store today, that’s a good reason to get rid of it.

decluttering questions you can ask to help make toss or keep decisions

11. Do I Feel Obligated to Keep This?

Feeling obligated is a funny thing. It can be an expectation you impose on yourself or one that somebody else imposes on you.

You might feel obligated to keep things for several different reasons.

  • They’ve been passed down through several generations and you’re next
  • They were unwanted gifts from somebody close to you and you don’t want to hurt their feelings
  • They’re precious items that belonged to a lost loved one and have sentimental value

If somebody else is making you feel obligated, talk to them. They likely come from a different generation and passing things down was an expectation

12. Am I ‘Saving’ This for Somebody Else?

Next, ask yourself if you’re saving things for somebody else.

Are you keeping things to pass on to somebody else? Ask them if they really want it. If they say YES, make arrangements for them to pick it up as soon as possible. If they say NO, tell them you’re getting rid of it, and do it!

13. Is It In My Way?

This decluttering question can be a real eye-opener. When things are ‘in your way’, they become an annoyance.

If you answer YES to this question, you need to really evaluate the item and decide if there is a better place to put it. If not, it’s time to get rid of it.

14. Does It Cause Me Stress?

Stress can come in many different forms.

Those items that get in your way and annoy you are causing stress. All of the stuff you feel obligated to keep is causing stress. Any item that causes any kind of a negative feeling is probably causing stress.

The important thing is to admit that those things are causing stress and get rid of them.

15. Can I Let This Go?

If you still haven’t had a resounding YES or NO answer from the fourteen decluttering questions above, the last question you should ask is ‘CAN I let this go?’

I use this as a catchall question when I’m dealing with a lot of similar items like art supplies, office supplies, clothing, and sentimental clutter.

If you can let it go, do.

Decluttering Questions to Help You Purge Your Stuff the Easy Way

Decluttering is a challenge, and you can spend way too much time deciding what to keep and what to let go.

The good news is these decluttering questions can help you determine which things don’t fit your current goals and season in life.

Grab the guilt-free decluttering checklist and start decluttering your entire home today.


printable decluttering checklist of over 100 items you can declutter without feeling guilty

Join thousands of VIPs for cleaning, decluttering, and organizing tips sent straight to your inbox. As a welcome gift, we’ll send you these FREE printable lists of Over 100 Easy Items You Can Declutter Today!

1 Clutter – Cambridge Dictionary

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