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Expert Interview: Decluttering and Organizing Your Apartment during Quarantine

While the lock-down is still going strong, we’re spending more time indoors, meaning more clutter is likely to form. However, we also have some extra time, given that we don’t commute or go out anymore. As such, it’s the perfect moment to reorganize and declutter your apartment, for a breath of fresh air.

When you look around, you might get overwhelmed and not know where to start. That’s completely normal, and to help you overcome this feeling, we’ve asked organizing experts to share some of their advice on how to declutter your rental apartment during quarantine. Here’s what they told us:

Barbara Reich, founder of Resourceful Consultants

decluttering expert advice“For the kitchen, eliminate duplicates of cooking tools. No one needs 4 spatulas and 3 graters. When you have fewer things in your drawers, you’ll see everything more clearly and feel calmer. Get rid of novelty appliances. You probably don’t need that snow-cone maker, the chocolate fountain, or the bread maker. These novelty appliances take up a lot of space. If you don’t use them, donate them to someone who will.

Also, group similar things in your pantry, so you don’t buy what you already have. Store duplicates of items one behind the other. Unless you have a large family or are entertaining a large group, avoid stores like Costco and BJ’s. You’ll be tempted to overbuy or to buy huge sizes of items like ketchup that expire before you can use them.

Put what you use the most where you can reach it easiest. The cereal bowls and plates you use everyday should be very accessible.  If you want your children to get their own snacks, place them where they can reach them.

Similarly for the bathroom, group duplicates of products together. You won’t know what you have or when you need more unless all of your products are together. Store duplicates of items one behind the other. Get rid of samples you’ll never use. Just because something was free, it doesn’t mean you should keep it.

bathroom organization and decluttering

Discard anything that’s expired. Most medications lose efficacy after the “use by” date. Replace makeup that can collect bacteria or other germs. You can’t keep the same mascara and eye makeup for years at a time. Be conscious of when something was purchased, so you can replace it at least every six months.

Put what you use the most where you can reach it easiest. The products you use every day should be within easy reach. Try to avoid having to open multiple cabinets or drawers when you get ready in the morning.”

Jefferey Phillip, Principal Organizer and Designer at Jefferey Phillip

organizing decluttering“Knowing where to begin is a common roadblock that people share with me when they want to get organized. To overcome this, make a list of the areas and specific things you want to organize and clean. By taking the time to jot down a little plan/to-do list, you can help mitigate the feeling of being overwhelmed. This will also allow you to focus your energy on specific tasks and create goals, which will help provide a sense of accomplishment when you finish a task and move onto the next.

When working on large projects and crossing things off a to-do list, it is often recommended that you start with the harder tasks followed by the easier tasks. Typically, I suggest working the opposite way around: start with the easier tasks and move onto the more difficult ones. I recommend this approach because I find that we are more motivated to work on a difficult task once we have crossed a few items off our to-do lists and achieved some success. Start with a small confined area like the refrigerator, a junk drawer, a bathroom medicine cabinet or any space that you find the least intimidating and daunting.

In recent years, organizing has become very inspired by images of spaces transformed with stylish new bins to categorize and organize one’s belongings. However, it’s important to remember that organizing and being organized does not mean you need to buy new bins, boxes, labels, etc. A lot can be done with the items you have around the house (e.g. shoe boxes, glass jars, washi tape for labels, rubber bands, ribbon, Ziploc bags, etc). Whether the quarantine climate is making it more difficult for you to get the supplies you want or causing you to watch your bank account more closely, there are lots of creative ways to organize with what you already have and still make your space beautiful, functional and efficient.

organizing wardrobe

Lastly, since we are in a time of quarantine, donating the items you are decluttering can be a little more difficult. However, there are online resources to help with reselling items in good condition. Websites and apps such as ThredUpRebagPoshMark and TheRealReal are still open for business. If you have other items to donate or resell that don’t apply to these websites, simply categorize the items in bags/boxes based on where they need to be donated. Then, you’ll be ready to drop them off as soon as it’s safe to do so in your area.”

Rob Truglia, Senior Brand Marketing Manager of MakeSpace

organizing advice“While current times are uncertain and have drastically changed our daily life, decluttering and organizing are two ways to help you reclaim both your physical and mental spaceTake an inventory of your items. Start off by reassessing what’s in your closet, sifting through things by type. This will allow you to compare similar types of items and decide what needs to stay and what needs to go.

Keep things at eye level. Keep everything you wear on a regular basis in the middle of your closet at eye level, so it’s easy to find and grab in your early morning pre-coffee haze. It’s also important to maximize your vertical storage space (since we can’t all have walk-ins) and put things like shoes higher up, creating an optical illusion of more space.

Also, now that many of us are turning our homes into our office space, make sure to give this area a little extra attention and get organized. Get all your cords untangled and in place by using clips (e.g. binder clips) to help straighten out any loose wires. Clean up your drawers and add dividers to help keep things in place. If you don’t have any, cut up a cereal box as a quick DIY hack. And if space is in need, building up is another great way to do this. Add floating shelves to make the room look spacious, while keeping items you need stored off the ground.

As the coronavirus continues to keep us all indoors, it’s important to maintain a consistent cleaning regimen to keep ourselves and anyone in our home safe and healthy. For the home as a whole, we always recommend frequently wiping down surfaces with disinfectant spray, while sweeping and washing floors to keep them clean. 

Given that spring cleaning tends to have many people cleaning out their closets and going through their belongings, putting away items into storage is another alternative to minimize the amount of stuff you keep in your home. At MakeSpace, we are offering no-contact service in affected areas, or by request in the midst of COVID-19. Our goal is to help customers feel safe and comfortable throughout the process, so we want to do what we can to make that possible.”

We hope you’ve found some inspiration to get you started on a decluttering journey. Take it one step at a time and learn to enjoy the process.

Mihaela Buzec
Mihaela Buzec
Mihaela Buzec is a senior writer and online content developer for RentCafe. She covers topics about everything related to the renting lifestyle, from decorating and interior design to finding the right apartment, frugal living, money saving advice, and more. She dives deep into topics of interest, writing well-researched comprehensive guides on subjects such as renting with pets, saving on utilities, or avoiding rental scams to help renters stay informed and live smart. Mihaela holds a BA in English and German Language and Literature, an MA in Current Linguistics, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in neurolinguistics.

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