Cut the Clutter One Layer At A Time

When there is a lot of clutter laying around sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Most people have heard the saying “peeling an onion” applied to many different things. A few years ago I heard it applied towards clearing out clutter. I think it was Flylady ( but I’m not 100% sure. Either way, the idea has stuck with me and helps when I need to tackle some clutter.


You can peel an onion one layer at a time. The outer layers are usually easy to peel off. As the layers get smaller and tighter they take more effort. The same is true with clutter. The outer layers of clutter are the items that should be trashed or recycled without thinking about them too much. These might be old newspapers, magazines, empty food cans & wrappers, clothes that no longer fits, or any other item that is trash.

Once that layer is out of the house you can move on to the next layer. This layer shouldn’t be to hard either. It’s mainly putting the things you want to keep in their proper place. They are only temporary clutter because they haven’t been put away. These might be papers, toys, DVD’s, clothes, etc. that aren’t in the room where they belong.

As you get into the next couple of layers it will be harder to get rid of the items. The excuses to keep things start popping up. These are not the emotional excuses but the practical ones.

  • What if I need this item someday?
  • I’m always misplacing things so I need lots of extras.
  • I paid good money for this item. I can’t get rid of it even though I don’t use it.

The inner layers are the toughest to get rid of. These are the ones with emotional attachments. The reasoning behind these emotions may not make sense but that doesn’t make it any easier to get rid of the item.

  • I don’t like the item but it was a gift from my aunt so I can’t get rid of it.
  • I inherited the item. It must have been important to my loved one, so it must be important to me.
  • I’ve had it so long so it must mean something to me even if I can’t remember what that something is.

Keep things for the right reasons, not irrational ones.

When you cut an onion it can make you cry. The same thing can happen when you try to let go of clutter. The first couple of layers aren’t too bad but those inner layers will get to you and can take longer.  Go ahead and cry over the clutter, then get rid of it.

What’s left after you peel away the clutter are your precious things that add value to your life.