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How do I declutter my partner’s stuff?

Are you are a minimalist with a messy partner? Or you want to get organised and your housemate likes their stuff everywhere?

Once you start your decluttering journey, it’s normal to want the whole household to comply. So you may ask “how do I declutter my partner’s stuff?” Short answer is you don’t. Living with someone is full of compromises. But I have some ideas about negotiating this complex living situation.

How do I declutter my partner’s stuff? Lead by example

Control the controllable. Prioritise. Do your own side of the wardrobe, your hobby areas and the areas your partner has low stakes in. If they never change the beds or cook, you can declutter and organise the linen press and kitchen. That will keep you busy for ages.

Chances are, your partner will be intrigued by your new breezy outlook, the ease with which you get ready in the morning and the lightness in your demeanour. They will be impressed by the benefits of decluttering.

If they want to jump onboard and minimise as well, you can offer a helping hand with your newfound expertise.

How do I declutter my partner’s stuff? Set boundaries

Ask them to agree on how much space is reasonable for their things. Half the wardrobe and no more. A section of the garage for their collectibles. A lock-up shed for their bicycles. Allow them to store what they want, how they want within those areas. If you can’t handle their mess, try and make those areas behind cupboard doors. Same for messy teens. It’s okay to shut bedroom doors and go about your day.

How do I declutter my partner’s stuff? Compromise

The only way to have your house at your standards all the time is to live alone. If you don’t want to do that, compromise is key.

I have a low clutter tolerance and like clear bench tops. My partner not so much, which can cause tension. So I granted him a massive drawer in a prime kitchen location for all the stuff he would be inclined to leave on bench tops. Paperwork, backpack, cap, keys, pocket contents, drink bottle etc. I have made putting these things away really easy for him, and if he leaves anything out I pop it in his drawer myself.

The sacrifice of kitchen space and a second of my time occasionally is a small price to pay for the household harmony this provides. By the way the drawer is pretty messy but it’s not my problem, and he goes through and tidies it when he needs to.

You might make an arrangement that shared living spaces are not for personal items. No old footy trophies or spoon collections on display unless all parties concur.

Also you could both agree that when you do the tidying you can put all their loose items into a tub at the bottom of their wardrobe. They can go through it themselves, or not.

Pick your battles and prioritise.

Discuss your shared strategies in a calm moment, not while throwing their dirty socks at them. As Dr Phil used to say “Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right?”

How do I declutter my partner’s stuff? Hide it away

This is a last resort because the burden usually falls onto you as instigator. It entails boxing up items that are not used but that your partner wants to keep. They can be put in a low-access area like the attic or top of their wardrobe. Organise and label the tubs rigorously, so that your partner can find their stuff if they need to.

Clear tubs with lids are ideal, and Kmart and other places have plenty of options. If you want to be more sustainable, packing boxes are great as long as they are labelled.

If you want to take it a step further you could suggest that the boxed contents are reviewed in a year with the aim of discarding what hasn’t been missed. You can set a reminder in your calendar to revisit the issue.

DON’T

  • Nag and complain. It doesn’t work and just creates hostility.
  • Discard their things without consent. It erodes trust.
  • Disregard their opinion. Our clutter thresholds are all different and all valid.

To help children declutter we have a few strategies. And some for teenagers as well.

Give it a go. And as always feel free to contact us to help you with these and other strategies.

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