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55 Ways to Clear Clutter

  • Michael Kraus

    File Away

    1. Keep a portable file tote for catalogs, thank-you notes, shopping lists, and a menu planner. Take it with you for when you're waiting in the school carpool lane and check things off your to-do list. -Stephanie Vozza, founder of theorganizedparent.com

  • Michael Kraus

    Make It Tidy

    2. Slip your movie collection into DVD albums, organized by genre — comedies, dramas, and cartoons — so it's a cinch to flip through. Recycle the empty cases through freecycle.org. -Regina Leeds, author of One Year to an Organized Work Life (Da Capo)

    3. Keep shelves tidy by rolling kids' T-shirts, sweaters, and sweatshirts instead of folding. -Stephanie Vozza, founder of theorganizedparent.com

    4. Rather than splurge on a pricey charging station for phones and iPods, make one out of a console or table by drilling small holes for the cords in the back of a top drawer. -Lori Marrero, creator of The Clutter Diet

    5. Avoid "my house is a mess" panic when unexpected guests drop in. Leave an empty storage ottoman or basket out for quick cleanups — make sure it's big enough to stash toys, magazines, and throws. -Alicia Rockmore, founder of Buttoned Up, Inc.

    6. Multitask while watching your favorite TV show by sorting and organizing a messy drawer. -Donna Smallin, author of A to Z Storage Solutions (Storey)

    7. A handsome vintage cabinet or sleek modern console can cleverly hide everything from books and games to a flat-screen TV. -Kim Myles, host of Myles of Style

    8. Keep ladles, tongs, and spatulas in place by attaching adhesive Velcro strips to both the handles and the bottom of the utensil drawer. -Julie Edelman, author of The Ultimate Accidental Housewife (Hyperion)

  • Michael Kraus

    Hang It Up

    9. Repurpose a plastic or wooden wine rack as off-the-floor shoe storage for the hall closet. -Ellen Phillips, author of Kick the Clutter (Rodale)

    10. Don't hide a beautiful bowl in the china cabinet. Instead, show it off on top of the dresser and use it to hold everyday necessities like your watch, wallet, and rings. -Meryl Starr, author of The Home Organizing Workbook (Chronicle)

    11. Hang over-the-door towel bars or hooks on a kitchen cabinet or drawer for holding oven mitts and tea towels. -Deborah Shearer, for organize.com

    12. Bright silicone hooks (pictured) keep my fave fleece from being tossed to the floor. -Lindsey St. Clair, Family Circle Editorial Assistant

    13. If you don't have sufficient closet space, try a pretty chest in the entryway as a catchall for items like hats, gloves, and wrapping paper. -Mary Ostyn, author of A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family (Gibbs Smith)

    14. Put a small recycling bin next to the family desk and discard junk mail as soon as it arrives. -Mary Carlomagno, author of Secrets of Simplicity (Chronicle)

    15. If you lack shelf space in the bathroom, give each family member a portable plastic tote that they can keep in the bedroom for stashing their nonessentials. -Donna Smallin, author of A to Z Storage Solutions (Storey)

    16. To save repeated trips up and down the stairs, keep a basket on the bottom step to stockpile items like slippers or video games. Carry them up all at once at the end of the day. -Romaine Lowery, author of The Clutter Clinic (Sterling)

    Gum Hook, +d, $15, available at japanesemoderndesign.com

  • Michael Kraus

    Desktop Organization

    17. Run out of desktop space? Take a cue from the doctor's office and mount a plastic over-the-door file organizer to post memos, school notices, and outgoing mail. -Ellen Phillips, author of Kick the Clutter (Rodale)

    18. Place a plastic sock drawer organizer in the fridge to keep small snacks like yogurt and cheese sticks organized and easily accessible to kids. -Amy Keroes, founder of Mommy Track'd

    19. Stick a small office file cabinet into an empty corner of the kitchen and corral everything from coupons to recipes. -Kelly Osborne, for seejanework.com

    20. Drill holes in the lids of glass jars and screw into the bottom of a shelf above your desk. Use for paperclips, thumbtacks, and rubber bands. -Sue Whitney, co-author of Junk Beautiful (Taunton)

    21. Make use of empty space in a bottom cabinet with a slide-out drawer for skillets and pots. Chrome rollout drawer, from $45, containerstore.com. -Lori Marrero, creator of The Clutter Diet

    22. I'm never without office essentials thanks to this three-tiered tray. -Laura Serino, Family Circle Associate Home Editor

    Pivini Mini Organizer, Umbra, $16, available at umbra.com

  • Michael Kraus

  • Michael Kraus

    Repurpose an Old Wok

    26. On-the-wall family calendar, Whomi, $14, whoMi.com. -Holly Bohn for seejanework.com

    27. Use leftover twist ties to tame that tangle of television, computer, and cell-phone wires. -Meryl Starr, author of The Home Organizing Workbook (Chronicle)

    28. Instead of tossing that never-used wok or salad bowl, leave it out on the counter to stash dishtowels or potholders. -Julie Edelman, author of The Ultimate Accidental Housewife (Hyperion)

    29. Give a summer tote a year-round purpose. Place it on a closet shelf for storing scarves and belts. -Stephanie Vozza, founder of theorganizedparent.com

    30. Don't waste time returning everyday clothing, like a pair of jeans or a robe, to its designated spot. Try hanging a few hooks in your bedroom closet to keep favorites off the floor but accessible. -Donna Smallin, author of A to Z Storage Solutions (Storey)

    31. Avoid closet chaos by choosing one type of hanger for each closet and assigning every family member their own signature color. -Jennifer Humes, founder of clutterqueen.com

  • Michael Kraus

    Door Decor

    32. What a bright idea — no more misplaced keys. -Judy Prouty, Family Circle Home Style Director

    33. Put a little putty on the bottom of plastic drawer dividers to keep them in place. Museum putty, $6, containerstore.com. -Lori Marrero, creator of The Clutter Diet

    34. Store important personal documents — like birth certificates, tax returns, and Social Security cards — in a mini safe rather than in a filing system in your desk where anyone can access them. -Mary Carlomagno, author of Secrets of Simplicity (Chronicle)

    Door Organizer, Kikkerland, $8, available at kikkerlandshop.com

  • Michael Kraus

    Label and Color Code

    35. A magnetic knife strip in the garage works for holding needed tools like screwdrivers, scissors, and pliers. -Ellen Phillips, author of Kick the Clutter (Rodale)

    36. Color-code your storage bins — blue labels for the linen closet, red for the family room — so they're always returned to their proper place. -Meryl Starr, author of The Home Organizing Workbook (Chronicle)

    37. Get started on the pileup of family photos by placing current pictures in albums first. When you finally have extra time, sort through and add the rest. -Donna Smallin, author of A to Z Storage Solutions (Storey)

    38. Create a closet in a small nook by installing a shower tension rod and hanging a curtain. Place a chest of drawers behind it for storage. -Lauri Ward, author of Downsizing Your Home with Style (Collins Living)

    39. Dymo Personal Labelmaker, $28, available at dymo.com -Jennifer Humes, the clutterqueen.com

  • Michael Kraus

    A Clever Way to Recycle

    40. Tackle a spring and fall cleanup each year — no excuses. -Dan Ho, Host of The Dan Ho Show

    41. Turn clean cardboard egg cartons into drawer organizers for jewelry and other small things that tend to get misplaced. -Alicia Rockmore, founder of Buttoned Up, Inc.

    42. Dress up your desktop by putting pens and pencils in a small vase or arranging essentials like a stapler, scissors, and mail on a colorful melamine tray. -Kim Myles, host of Myles of Style

    43. A compact dish-drying rack on a shelf offers easy access to cutting boards and trays. -Julie Edelman, author of The Ultimate Accidental Housewife (Hyperion)

    44. A DIY organizing kit that includes garbage bags, markers, and labels can make tackling a cluttered pantry or closet less of a hassle. -Lori Marrero, creator of The Clutter Diet

  • Michael Kraus

  • Michael Kraus

  • A to Z Storage Solutions

    Filing System

    48. A desktop filing system controls the pileup of mail.

    Mail Sorter, ButtonedUp, $16, available at seejanework.com

  • Recycle

    49. Toss cans and bottles in a single unit under the sink — or stack a few on the back porch.

    Front-Load Recyclers, Simple Human, $40, available at simplehuman.com

  • Storage Unit

    50. Make the most of under-the-bed storage with a sleek organizer on wheels.

    Rolling Underbed Organizer, Neu Home, $28, available at kmart.com

  • Drawer Space

    51. Rattan baskets that slide in and out of a wood console make it an ideal solution for hallway clutter.

    Jolie Six-Drawer Unit, Pier 1, $200, go to pier1.com for stores

  • Spice Rack Solution

    52. Free up counter space with a wall-mounted rack for paprika, pepper, and more.

    Spice Rack with Jars, Ikea, $13, available at ikea.com

  • Michael Kraus

    Magazine Holder

    53. Sturdy, modern, and graphic cardboard files house everything from subscriptions to menus.

    Magazine Box, SemiKolon, $18, available at seejanework.com

  • Vanity Fair

    54. Makeup, toiletries, and jewelry fit in a retro floral travel case to hang on the bathroom door.

    Tri-Fold Case, Room It Up, $18, available at roomitup.com

  • Divide & Conquer

    55. Tame any drawer with movable dividers.

    Originally published in the January 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine.

    Hold Anything Drawer Organizer, Oxo, $22, available at oxo.com

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