How To Declutter By Using A Household Inventory List

In case of a disaster an inventory list will help the insurance company reimburse you for your loss. However, during the process of making this list you can accomplish a lot more than just a list to put in your safe deposit box. This step by step process will help you learn how to declutter your home, change your future spending habits, and give you peace of mind in case of a disaster. That’s a lot of positive things to make it well worth the time invested.

Step One

This inventory list will consist of both a photo inventory and written inventory. Before taking inventory you will need to gather a few supplies.

  1. A camera to take pictures.
  2. A way to print the pictures (a home printer or print at a store) or a mobile device (laptop, ipad, etc.) to display the photos as you work (Step 2 below).
  3. Paper or notebook and pen.
  4. Empty box or container for discards.

Step Two

Start by taking photos of all areas of each room plus everything that is in the closets, drawers, shelves, and even under the bed storage areas. When you are done you’ll want to either print the photos for each separate room or load them on a laptop or other device. You’ll want to be able to view the photos while working in the individual rooms. If you print the photos on your home printer you do not need to use photo paper at this time.

Step Three

Work on one room at a time. While looking at the photos for that room, ask yourself which items you would replace in case of a disaster or burglary. If you wouldn’t replace the item you probably don’t need it. Now is a good time to declutter it by putting it in the box or container. You can go through those items later to give away, recycle, or trash.

Step Four

Once you have decluttered each room you’ll want to go back and take a written inventory. On a sheet of paper make five columns. Label them: Item, Original Cost, Purchase Date, Serial/I.D. Number, and Current Value. Fill in the columns for all the items that have some value. The small, low-value items can be grouped for a photo inventory only.
As you are making the written inventory list you’ll want to continue to ask yourself if you would replace the item. This is another chance to get rid of more clutter.

Step Five

After you have decluttered as much as possible and your written list is complete you will want to take another set of pictures. Be sure to take a picture of all the little items (create a group picture) you may not have listed on the written list. You’ll also want to make sure you have a good, clear picture of any items that are valuable. Small items such as jewelry, silverware, or figurines, can be grouped together as long as each item is clearly displayed. The combination of the written list and photos will give you a complete inventory of your household belongings.

Step Six

Make a copy of both the written list and the photos (either printed or digital). Keep the copy in a safe deposit box, fireproof safe, or with a trusted family member or friend. If anything happens to your home you’ll have a second copy for insurance purposes. If you want to use this process to continue decluttering in the future you can use your copy at home and start over again. Be sure to make an updated copy when you are done decluttering.


Once the inventory lists are completed you have a valuable resource to help you understand your true financial worth or lack thereof. If a lot of money has been spent on non-valuable and non-needed items it is time to question why. Especially if these items don’t make you smile. Your spending habits could be creating a lot of clutter in your home. Review this list any time you feel down and want to go shopping. It just might help you change those bad spending habits.

By Janice Scissors