Declutter Your Space With The Five Things Method

When looking at a complete mess, with items strewn about the room, how do you normally feel? While some may immediately get motivated to clean up, most people feel overwhelmed or unnerved. These feelings can sometimes make it difficult to start your chores, which may leave your home disorganized most of the time.

Fortunately, there's a way to simplify decluttering, and it's called the Five Things method. Created by licensed professional therapist and TikToker KC Davis, who is also the author of "How to Keep House While Drowning," this method says that there are only five categories of items in each room, and picking them up in groups can help you stay motivated. "If you're someone who has a hard time keeping your space clean or getting your space clean after a bout of depression, anxiety, ADHD, children, I have some tips. First of all, it's very easy to get overwhelmed..., but if you will take a deep breath and remember, there are only five things in this room," Davis explains in her TikTok about the method. The trick with this method is ignoring the other groups of items while searching for the specific thing you're collecting.


The first step in the Five Things method is picking up all the trash and placing it in a trash bag, which you can carry from room to room. This includes wrappers, cans, cups, used paper towels, and broken items. Also, get rid of any junk mail, credit card offers, bank statements, and paid bills from your mail pile. Then, you can either bring the bag straight out to your large bin or you can place it next to your trash can in the kitchen. 

An important thing to remember about the Five Things method is that it doesn't need to be completed all at once. On Davis' TikTok, one person asked, "Any tips for when you finish one step but don't want to continue or get distracted?" to which the creator replied, "When you don't want to continue, you can stop." This takes the pressure off and allows you to tidy up your home on your own terms. If necessary, you could stop here, take a break, and pick up where you left off.


The next item you need to collect is laundry. Walk around your space and start picking up clothes and throwing them in a laundry bin. This is also the time to pick up any shoes and place them where they need to go, in their correct pairs. If your space is filled with only dirty clothes, you can throw everything in one bin, but if you have both clean and dirty clothes, make sure you keep them separate.

Oftentimes, once most people pick up dirty laundry, they feel like it immediately has to be thrown in the washing machine. However, this is not the case with the Five Things method. In fact, it's actually better to wait until the five steps are completed before starting to clean at all, as this could decrease your motivation to declutter your whole home. If you're busy, you could also wait to do your laundry another day, but at least it's now all in one place. 


It's common for dishes to pile up in rooms, left over from meals or snacks eaten throughout the day. Walk through each room in your house and collect all the cups, plates, bowls, and silverware and place them in the sink. Just like with the laundry, it's best to wait until after all the five steps are completed before washing your dishes or placing them in the dishwasher, as stopping to wash dishes could keep you from finishing the Five Things method completely. This is another task that, if you don't feel up to it, could wait until another day. 

Along with trash, collecting dirty dishes is one of the steps that makes a massive impact. One comment on KC Davis' video says, "I did trash and dishes today!" to which the creator replied, "Those two make such a big difference!" If you only have a short amount of time, consider focusing on just these two things. 

Things that have a place

Fourth, walk around your home and place things back where they need to go. For instance, place toys back into bins, put the TV remote back on the coffee table, fold the blankets and put them in a basket, and rearrange the pillows on the couch. This can be done in every room of the home, as there are probably things lying about that need to be relocated to their proper place. In the bathroom, toiletries left out on the counter can be placed back in drawers or cabinets, while in the kitchen, clean dishes may need to be put away. 

Something you may feel pressured to do during this step is to start dusting or wiping down surfaces, as you're bound to notice that things need to be washed while putting everything away. However, it's best to wait until the decluttering is completed before cleaning. 

Things that don't have a place

Once you've gone through the above four steps, the final thing to do is walk through your home and pick up items that don't have a place and put them in a pile. Then, you can move your way through each item and decide where everything should go.

This can sometimes require some trial and error, as you may test out a storage place for an item but find that it's not the best solution, in which case you should find another place to keep it. For instance, maybe you think that your blankets are best stored in a basket, but this makes cleaning much harder, as you'll have to roll and pack them down. Instead, you could simply fold your blankets and drape them on the back of the couch. Once everything has been picked up, you can now move on to cleaning your home, which will involve doing the laundry, washing the dishes, wiping down surfaces, and vacuuming.