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8 Decluttering Tips for Seniors

8 Decluttering Tips for Seniors

Aug. 17th, 2021

Americans own an average of 300,000 items in their homes, and 1 out of every 10 Americans rent off-site storage for their excess belongings.1

Over the course of a lifetime, seniors will accumulate many items over the years that they may no longer use in their everyday lives. However, extra belongings clutter the home and can make it difficult for a senior to move around. It may also hinder your loved one's ability to downsize to a smaller space.

Whether your loved one is moving to a smaller space for retirement or wishes to live in a cleaner environment, decluttering can help them stay organized throughout the day.

Here are 8 decluttering tips for seniors to help them start downsizing the number of possessions that they have.

Start with One Room

When it comes to decluttering, it might be overwhelming to think about going through the entire house. Instead, start with a single room that needs items decluttered out of it.

Decluttering one room at a time will allow your loved one to focus on the items that they least need in one area. It might be helpful to start with a room that is prone to gathering extra possessions. Once the first room is cleared of clutter, choose another room to clean.

If you declutter one room a week with a senior loved one, the entire house will eventually become clean in a few months. Begin with small goals and encourage them to go through their belongings each week.

Make piles: Keep, Throw Out, Donate

Another decluttering tip for seniors is to make 3 piles when sorting through items: keep, throw out, and donate.

By making piles, your loved one can assess what they need and don’t. They will also be able to go through each pile again once you are done sorting to ensure that they did not place something on the wrong one.

If your loved one is uncertain about where to sort an item, you can also add a “maybe” pile and come back to it later. This will give them the opportunity to make a decision on where something should go without feeling pressured.

Get Rid of Hazardous Items

Another tip to help your senior loved one declutter is by starting with hazardous items. Many seniors may struggle with mobility issues and need assistance balancing. It is essential that a senior’s home is safe to help prevent falls and injuries.

Some hazardous items that should be removed or replaced in a senior’s home include:

  • Old rugs
  • Items on the floor
  • Old or broken chairs/couches
  • Power tools or equipment
  • Unnecessary or unused decorations
  • Old medications
  • Old or expired food items
  • Broken glass, pots, and bags
  • Unused electronics and wires
  • Broken/unused appliances
  • Anything that won’t be fixed

Make a Pile of Unused Items and do a 90 day test

As you get more into decluttering, there might be items your loved one may be hesitant to throw away. This could either be for sentimental reasons or the fact that they may feel that they will “need it one day.”

One decluttering tip for seniors is to make a pile of items that they currently don’t use. Place them into a box and set it aside.

If your loved one needs the item, they can open up the box to retrieve it. If they find that they don’t use it after 90 days, then that is a sign that they can live without it. You can let your loved one know that they can buy the item again in the future should they find a need for it.

This is a good strategy to help seniors narrow down what they need and don’t in their home.

Get Rid of Duplicates

In many American households, there are duplicate items that are purchased because something became lost or misplaced. Other times, duplicate items are bought as a “just in case,” whether the item will break or there was an intention to use it at one point.

However, if your loved one has a “better” or “preferred” version of an item, it is best to declutter the extra ones.

Your senior loved one might have some duplicate items laying around that clutter the home. Some items that are prone to be duplicates include:

  • Kitchen: Mugs, forks, knives, spoons, plates, cookware
  • Desk: Scissors, stationary, pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks
  • Closet: Shoes, bags, purses, hats, t-shirts
  • Bathroom: Towels, washcloths, soaps
  • Essentials: sewing kits, sunscreen bottles, soaps

Getting rid of extra items that are not used or needed in the home can help your senior loved one start decluttering.

Organize Everything Where it Should Be

Another tip to help seniors identify items that they need and don’t is by organizing everything where it should be.

Every item in the home should have its place. That means kitchenware should be in the kitchen, books should be on a shelf, and remotes should stay near the television.

Misplacing items can cause the house to become cluttered and, consequently, make your loved one to forget where things should go. This can eventually cause areas in the house to accumulate objects that will “be sorted later.” Sometimes this will result in flat surfaces having piles of unsorted items or junk drawers of items that don’t quite have a spot.

When your loved one organizes items, they might find things that they don’t actually need. This can help them declutter their home and remove things that simply take up space.

Avoid Multitasking When Cleaning

Another decluttering tip is to avoid multitasking when taking time to clean a room. That means avoid turning on the television, cell phone, radio, and anything else that might get in the way of decluttering a space.

Distractions can make your loved one focus their attention on something other than cleaning. This can result in having them put off decluttering further, because they may say they’ll “get to it later.”

Try setting aside a small timeframe, such as an hour, to focus on nothing but going through a space that needs to be decluttered. You and your loved one will be amazed at how much progress you can make by simply putting some time into cleaning!

Be Smart With Storage

As seniors go through their homes, they will want to be smart about how they organize their spaces. The items they need to find should be in the room they belong to as well as neatly organized.

One way to identify clutter is by organizing rooms in a smart way. Some decluttering tips for seniors on how to organize rooms include:

  • Use Baskets or bins. Baskets or bins can be used to store like items, such as television remotes or soaps for the bathroom. Baskets can easily be stored on shelves, in closets, or on top of flat surfaces. Organizing items into baskets can help a senior identify what they have and find any potential duplicates.
  • Create a place for incoming items. Your loved one will receive things such as mail and packages. Set aside a spot for these items, and tell your loved one to sort through them as soon as they can. Making a designated space for these will prevent these types of items from spreading around the home.
  • Organize Closets. Closets can become a place where items accumulate, because of an “out of sight out of mind” mentality. Work to help the senior you know organize their closets with hangers and storage bins. Get rid of anything old that hasn’t been used in years, such as old clothing, shoes, bags, and decorations.

Help A Senior Organize Today!

Start with a few small goals in mind and help the senior you know downsize the amount of possessions that they have. Take these decluttering tips for seniors and help someone begin their journey in minimizing clutter today!

Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.


  1. Becker, Joshua. “21 Surprising Statistics That Reveal How Much Stuff We Actually Own.” Becomingminialmist. Accessed August 8th, 2021. Link: