The decluttering technique

Families mean clutter, and clutter can lead to stress. If you don't want to be knee-deep in unnecessary mess, follow Supernanny's tips to keep it under control

From toys to books, newspapers, laundry and even more toys, it's all too easy to let chaos take control of your home when you have young children. If you also work outside the home, shcheduling clean-ups can be difficult. The answer is to do it as you go, and take advantage of every spare second.

Step 1: Fit in a family room fly-by

Before you go to bed, straighten out the sofa cushions, tidy away remote control units (one of those fabric holders that sits on the arm of the couch is really handy) and tidy newspapers and magazines, either placing them to one side for recycling or stowing them in a stand or basket. A large wicker trunk or laundry basket, or giant plastic tub (park it behind the couch so it’s out of sight, out of mind) is a great toy box: get the kids to throw whatever they’ve been playing with in there before they go to bed.

Step 2: Seek out storage space

Even if your home doesn’t have a lot of closet space there will be space you’re wasting – under the beds is always a good storage area and you can buy under-bed bags and wheeled tubs. They’re great for storing out-of-season clothing and bed linens.

Step 3: Be a bathroom bandit

Keep a pack of disinfectant wipes in the bathroom cabinet for cleaning the vanity unit surface, taps and toilet – much easier than spray cleaners and cloths and more hygienic too, since you can just dispose of the wipe afterwards. When you’re collecting washcloths and towels for the laundry, use those to wipe down and polish the bath and shower, and the mirror.

Step 4: Clean as you go in the kitchen

Don’t leave spillages to dry onto countertops – wipe them up straightaway. If you can, stow any kitchen appliances you don’t use every day in a cupboard or in the garage, as keeping the countertops clear will create an illusion of space and tidiness (even if it is all hidden behind the cupboard door!) Rinse cooking pots the minute you decant food, and put them in the dishwasher straightaway instead of letting them lie.

Step 5: Find the time

Any time you’re on the phone chatting with a friend, fit in some decluttering – clear old make-up and lotion bottles out of the bathroom cabinet, walk around collecting old newspapers, wipe down the shelves in the refrigerator, clear out that kitchen junk drawer, or sort out expired jarred and canned food that might be buried on the shelves. You'd be amazed at your multitask skills!

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