Have you ever noticed how many emails you get or articles you see that start with a number?

“5 Final Thoughts About…..”

“7 Things You’ll Never Regret…”

“The 11 Best…”

Well, decluttering rules are no exception! In this article, I’ll share 10 sets of rules with a specific number of rules! Confusing? It’s all in the numbers.

Here is the condensed version. If you want to know more about a specific set of rules, just click on the hyperlinked title beneath each image.

The 90/90 Decluttering Rule

The 90/90 Rule turns out to be only one rule, but you decide on the number. It started with 90 days – 90 days before and 90 days afterward.

This works well for decluttering clothing. Ask yourself if you have worn an item in the past 90 days and whether you will wear it in the next 90 days. Then remove those items that don’t make the cut.


The 20/20 Decluttering Rule

Turns out that the 20/20 Decluttering Rule also boils down to one rule.

This is a good rule if you are one of those people who want to hold on to an item “just in case” you might need it sometime in the future.

Describes my mother to a T! And I’m my mother’s daughter.

If you get rid of an item that you realize you need, can you replace it for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes?

If so, it goes in the discard box.

For people living in a very rural setting like I do, you may not be able to meet the 20-minute deadline, but the concept still holds. And even where I live, we have a new Family Dollar-Dollar Tree store less than 5 minutes away out here in the middle of nowhere!


The 12-12-12 Method of Decluttering

The 12-12-12 Method of Decluttering is simple to remember and to execute.

Find 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to return to their storage place.


The 12 golden rules of decluttering
The 12 Golden Rules of Decluttering

This one really does consist of 12 rules, and they include some good ones to follow.

  1. Get rid of duplicates
  2. Get rid of things you haven’t used in a year
  3. Digitize nostalgic photos and newspaper articles
  4. Don’t keep items out of guilt
  5. Put things back where they belong
  6. And find a home for them
  7. Sell, give away, donate, upcycle or throw away
  8. Don’t keep items you wouldn’t buy
  9. Opt for covered furniture
  10. Don’t forget storage under your bed
  11. Think tall (as in using vertical space)
  12. Evaluate your spending


10 gentle decluttering rules
The 10 Gentle Decluttering Rules

These 10 Gentle Decluttering Rules are not decluttering methods or how-to rules. Instead, they are to help you learn how to let go of things and live with less.

  1. Why is more important than how.
  2. One thing at a time.
  3. This is not a race.
  4. If everything matters, nothing matters.
  5. Keep your eyes on your own stuff.
  6. Small progress is still progress.
  7. Less is not nothing.
  8. Just in case means never.
  9. Holding on is harder than letting go.
  10. This is love. Simplicity.

As you read the above rules, could you envision how some of them may have played out in your life? Our own interpretation of these rules is how they should be applied.


6 rules of decluttering
6 Rules of Decluttering
  1. Vow to bring less home.
  2. Document your nostalgia.
  3. Start small and simple.
  4. Lose the duplicates.
  5. Nix the guilt.
  6. Put things in their place.


5 new decluttering rules
5 New Decluttering Rules

As an introduction, Taryn notes that the average American spends 2.5 days per year looking for lost items. And 20% of families who live in homes with 4 or more bedrooms have items in storage. Yikes!

  1. Declutter little. Declutter often.
  2. Apply KonMari decluttering techniques only to your everyday clutter.
      • Begin with clothing.
      • Decide if an item “sparks joy”.
      • Store like items with like items.
  3. Write down your why.
  4. Learn to live with less.
  5. Get ahold of your digital clutter.


5 favorite minimalist rules
5 Favorite Minimalist Rules
  1. Spontaneous combustion – meaning if an item in your home were to spontaneously disappear, how would you feel?
  2. 20/20 rule – if you rarely use an item and can replace it for less than $20 and in less than 20 minutes, get rid of it. (Hint: you will probably never end up buying it again!)
  3. Project 333 from Courtney Carver  – have 33 pieces of clothing in your closet that you commit to using for 3 months. Pack up the rest of your clothes and put them away, so you can always go back to get what you missed or needed until you are satisfied with the process.
  4. 90/90 Rule – consider if you used the item in the previous 90 days and would you use it in the next 90 days. Then make the decision to keep it or discard it.
  5. Wait for it – if you decide you want something, wait a specified amount of time to see if you still want it. Many times, you’ll find you don’t really need it after all.


5 decluttering steps
5 Decluttering Steps
  1. Change your mindset.
  2. You need rules.
      • Have I used it in the last 12 months?
      • Do I love it?
      • Would I buy it again?
  3. Tackle hidden areas first.
  4. Have containers for “Memories” and “Does Not Belong”, so you don’t get distracted when you’re in the middle of a decluttering project.
  5. Start with one small area at a time.


5-step decluttering process
5-Step Decluttering Process
  1. Trash. Start with the most visible mess – the trash.
  2. Do the easy stuff. Easy stuff is stuff that has a home somewhere else, but isn’t here. So take it there.
  3. Duh Clutter. Stick the Duh Clutter in the Donate box.
  4. Ask the 2 decluttering questions.
    • Question #1: If I needed this item, where would I look for it? Take it there now.
    • Question #2: If I needed this item, would it occur to me that I already had one?
  5. Make it Fit. Apply the Container Concept to the space where you're working.
    • Consolidate
    • Purge Down to the Limits of the Container


1 decluttering rule
1 Decluttering Rule

There are no rules. At least there are no hard and fast rules. Make your own rules based on what you want to accomplish and the best way that works for you, your personality, your energy level, and your available time.



Disclosure: My blog posts sometimes contain affiliate links. This means I earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase, which is at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

I’m Vicki Peel, former home economics teacher and educational administrator. If you are not receiving my emails, coupons, and freebies, look for the Subscribe block (below right) and submit your contact information. I will not share your information with anyone, and all the content you will receive as part of our community is free. I may occasionally promote someone else’s paid content, offer a product for your consideration or share an item that I think might be of use to you. However, you are under no obligation to purchase anything – ever. So, sign up now so you won’t miss anything!