Most frequent questions and answers about home organisation and de cluttering.

Of course you can declutter and organise by yourself. Indeed, after our assessment meeting we leave a plan with you so you can do just that. But many people need help doing the work. If you have been meaning to declutter for years but have never got round to it a professional service is often the answer. Our service gives you much faster results. Most importantly our approach helps you take control and keep things tidy and well organised after we leave – forever!
Living in a clutter free home changes your life for the better. It enables you to focus on the things that are important to you, unburdened by an untidy or chaotic environment. Your home and life will be calmer – guaranteed. We don’t see our service as an ongoing one, quite the reverse, it’s a one-off investment that changes the way you live. You need to ask yourself is a tidier calmer home something you want? Is it something you have so far failed to achieve? Is it something worth paying for?
Absolutely. We keep all your details confidential. We will not discuss the work we do for you with anyone else. Our client records are confidential. We use unmarked vehicles. Prior to disposal any unwanted documents in your home with confidential, financial or sensitive information are shredded, in your home if appropriate, prior to disposal.
The first visit is around an hour and a half. Part of the purpose of this assessment visit is to agree with you your objectives and for us to advice how long it will take. The actual time will depend on the size of the space or room, level of clutter and the types of the items affected. Paperwork takes longer as each item has to be individually evaluated. Our minimum session time is three hours because this is usually the minimum time required to sort, organise, reallocate, containerise and label items as well as identify items no longer needed and segregate these for recycling/disposal.
Your role is to work with us through the project. We take you through the options and agree what we’ll do. How physically involved you become depends on you. But we will need your permission to dispose of anything. We’ll seek your ideas on how best to relocate items in your home.
No, so if you need cleaning, we suggest you contact a professional cleaning service. Decluttering and home organising are about sorting and relocating items you cherish in the places you want them. It is something you only do once, or very occasionally, whereas cleaning is a repeat activity designed to remove accumulated dust and dirt. Of course, items that we agree to retain are carefully washed down as appropriate prior to finding their new place in your home.
We won’t judge you at all. By requesting our service, you have taken an important step forward, and we’ll recognise that together. Once your home starts to become how you really want to it to be, you’ll feel much more in-control and less overwhelmed by the stuff that surrounds you.
No. Any decision to dispose of items is entirely yours, every step of the way. We’ll discuss the overall approach and priorities at the start. And then everything will be checked as we proceed. Knowing that as much as possible is donated to worthy causes or is recycled helps place an emotional value on what leaves your home.
No. Before any storage is purchased we need to sort everything out and agree what you’re retaining and where it will go. Only then can we identify any storage containers or systems that are needed. It may well be that we can reuse what you have. We’ll offer our recommendations and will be happy to assist if anything is needed. You can buy containers or boxes yourself from shops, or order them online. At your request we can buy them on your behalf, but only do this with your agreement. To help clients choose we have a small range of sample files, boxes and baskets that we think generally work well.

If you have things of value we’ll recommend how you might sell them. Other items can be donated to charity shops. That way your items then find a new home and are put to good use, and the charity raises valuable income. If possible we’ll use a charity shop of your choosing, though this is not possible for electrical items as very few accept these. Some items will however need to be disposed of. Almost everything can be recycled, so we carefully segregate items and can by agreement take them to a municipal recycling centre. Only things that can’t be sold, donated or recycled are sent to landfill. We will not however handle items or substances that may be dangerous or cannot be disposed of through local municipal recycling facilities.

No. Our process is designed to be a permanent solution, so once we’ve tackled the challenge, we recommend an approach to keeping your home as tidy as you want for ever. This is made possible by changing what and how you buy things, how you use and store things in your home, and how you recycle and dispose of things. All these lifestyle changes are positive in themselves and bring huge benefits in terms of living a calmer, happier clutter free life. And as well as being more environmentally friendly they may well save you money too.
Everything we sort into the ‘disposal’ pile will be checked with you. We apply our Filesort system. It is very rare that you need to keep all your paperwork for a given policy, service or account. Generally you should keep the main/original contract, and then just the most recent correspondence, perhaps for the last year. Some legal documents and items like passports are an exception to this and need to be carefully and securely filed separate to your main file system. Anything we dispose of that contains your name, financial information or personal information will be securely shredded prior to being bagged for recycling. Going paperless is usually possible for most contracts and services, meaning future paper will be radically reduced, and we’ll help you do this. We’ll also teach you to maintain your remaining papers and files using the Filesort system so documents are always to hand when you need them.
Anything we dispose of that contains your name, financial information or personal information will be securely shredded prior to being bagged for recycling. We can do this in your home if you want for added peace of mind. Please note this can be quite noisy.
Introducing our service for a friend or relative who needs it is a lovely idea and can be really helpful. Hiring a decluttering and home organising service has to be a personal decision and the process involves agreeing to disposal of possessions. So, unless you have Lasting Power of Attorney we will need their active involvement and not just consent. As a minimum you’ll need to discuss the idea with your friend or relative first and get them to agree to an introductory phone call or visit. We’ll do our assessment visit in the usual way to agree what they want to be done if anything. Even if you are paying for the service we will regard the householder as the client and will follow their wishes.

Our service covers Cheshire and South Manchester. We will consider larger projects outside these areas, and offer virtual decluttering to all areas, so do call if you’re interested. If we can’t meet your needs ourselves we’ll be happy to refer you to appropriate Professional Organisers or decluttering services in your area using our professional network.

Marie Kondo is perhaps the biggest influencer in the world of tidiness. She has specific approaches – for example she advocates decluttering by type of item rather than room-by-room. While we’re influenced by her work, we also take on board other leading practitioners in the field who have different approaches. And we add our own ideas and experience too. For example, we generally don’t follow the sort by ‘item type’ approach, and prefer to work room-by-room as there’s a hugely motivating effect of seeing the results complete in one area of your home before moving on to other areas.

The cost depends on so many variables – the size of the home, how cluttered it is currently, the nature of the items (paperwork for example takes much longer than other things to sort) and how fast you as the client can work on the process and decide what to discard. This is why following our telephone or Zoom conversation we conduct a detailed assessment visit. Here we talk about your goals, and assess the challenge. It’s only then that we can provide a cost. It’s rare that we’d be asked to declutter a whole house, though we’re only too happy to do that if you want. The biggest challenge is to start the process. Once a room or two are decluttered and returned to calm, we teach you to systematically declutter yourself. This is something you and your family can then do for the rest of the house if you wish.

The danger in attempting quick decluttering is that it’s not effective, and things soon return to their untidy past. We’d emphasise decluttering thoroughly, over decluttering quickly. What you can certainly do is declutter one area, say a cupboard, pretty quickly. Once the results are there to see the rest can follow. There really are no short cuts to decluttering a home. Our declutter system follows seven clear steps; assess and plan, remove, sort, reposition, recycle/dispose, contain and label then finally adopt a tidy lifestyle. With a place for everything that becomes really easy. Skipping any of these stages risks failing to create and maintain the calm home you want.

A professional declutterer works with you to achieve the tidy home you want. The declutterer uses a system to accelerate the process. You are always in charge and have full control over the decisions on things that are no longer needed. And at Calm the Clutter we go further, emphasising both environmental sustainability and making your home permanently clutter-free by teaching an approach that keeps it calm and tidy.

It’s best to start with an area that’s in high use and causes irritation. That way you can make quick wins and see a real benefit of your work. A cluttered area of the living room, or a tightly packed cupboard or wardrobe are good places to start. Generally it’s best to avoid starting with documents or photographs as these are hardest to sort through. Save that until your decluttering has liberated more space in your home.

If you consider your home to be cluttered it really isn’t possible to declutter in a day. What you can do is declutter part of your home. Why not start with a cupboard you use often? Getting a big impact from the first steps is really important. Once you see the results you’re bound to carry on.

The Home Edit is a great TV show, and an inspiration to declutterers everywhere. Their basic approach is one we share. Decluttering in situ doesn’t work. You have to take everything out first. And we also agree that containerising first should be avoided as it just provides places for future clutter. Where we differ is that the Home Edit team seem to do their work with the client absent. This creates the dramatic reveal at the end of the TV show, when the client walks in to see their transformed home. In contrast, we work with our clients. Only the client knows what’s precious to them, and what needs to go. So, when Calm the Clutter comes to your home there won’t be any TV cameras, and you’re in charge!

We’d work on the seasonal approach. For most people in the UK two seasons is enough as the British weather is so variable, particularly in Spring and Autumn, so warm and cool are the seasons. Put the current season in prime place and the ‘out season’ elsewhere. That way you’re not using the prime space for things you’re not going to wear for months. Rotate the two sets when the weather changes decisively – the clock change is a good guide to that. The twice a year rotation is a great prompt to prune too. If you have clothes you ONLY wear on special occasions such as evening dress wear, or for specific times such as a continental holidays or skiing trips consider putting these in a separate area.

How to sort out your main clothes? Firstly, recognise that you almost certainly have too many. Shock yourself and count. Write down the types of clothes you have (trousers, socks etc.) and count them. Just seeing the result will kick start a throw out, guaranteed. Often you’ll have extreme numbers of something you rarely wear. I don’t wear ties, but owned 55 (if you’d asked me before I counted I’d have estimated maybe 30). As a result I no longer have 55 ties. Second, ask yourself the classic question “when did I last wear that?” If it’s longer than two years are you really going to wear it again?

Charity shops welcome good quality clothes, so feel good about thinning out, it really is a win for you and a win for others. How best to organise the clothes that enjoy prime position, the ones that you’re wearing across the week, depends on your lifestyle. For someone in an office, uniformed or professional job, it often makes sense to segregate work from home clothes as it saves time selecting what to wear. You might consider sorting by type within that, tops, bottoms and so forth. What’s most important is to have a system that suits you.

A key consideration once you’ve pruned is maximising use of the storage you have. This might mean reconsidering the rails and shelves and adjusting them if needed. Very few people adjust shelving once installed, but it’s so easy to do. You might consider introducing new storage such as drawers, dividers, boxes and the like. But only do this once you’ve fully decluttered otherwise more storage just encourages more clutter.

To an extent these terms are used interchangeably. A Professional Organiser may put more emphasis on the whole process, including systems for keeping things tidy, whereas a declutterer may just focus more on getting things tidy in the first place. However decluttering is always the key to transforming to a tidy and calm lifestyle. There is no point in putting in organisation or systems for filing paperwork say, if documents and letters are strewn in piles and clusters throughout the home. So, you have to start with decluttering.

The only way to transform your house into an oasis of calm is to thoroughly declutter, then organise storage spaces so there’s a space for everything without squeezing things in. Anything less than this means tidiness is temporary. Achieving permanent tidiness is possible in every home. But it does need effort, and a systematic approach, which is where a professional organiser or declutterer can help.  

A decluttering service is a professional in-home service for reducing and organising the items in a home. The scope of the service does vary, and there are different approaches. Here at Calm the Clutter we use a sequence that’s proven to work.

  1. Agree your goals
  2. Develop an action plan
  3. Remove and fully sort everything (e.g. keep, sell, donate, recycle, throw)
  4. Relocate – we find a place for everything
  5. Plan for life – a tailor-made plan to help you and your family calm the clutter forever.

Our standard charge is based on £30 per hour. The cost of a project depends on many factors. Of course, you can do the whole thing yourself for free. However, many people doing it themselves ‘pick’ at the problem because it is overwhelming, and their home soon returns to its previous state. The advantage of using a professional decluttering service is that it greatly accelerates the process and gets lasting results. Taking a thorough and systematic approach may well be something worth paying for.

Spark Joy is a lovely phrase Marie Kondo uses when she asks clients to test whether an item should remain in the home. She asks simply ‘does it spark joy?’. It’s a tough test, and we’d suggest you may wish to keep a few items that don’t make that cut. For example, you probably should keep this year’s home insurance policy, not exactly a document of joy, but pretty useful if you have a flood. It’s not a new idea of course. We quote William Morris, the leader of the Arts and Crafts Movement and creator of so many iconic textile designs, who back in the nineteenth century wrote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. Here at Calm the Clutter we’d say that’s spot on.