Does This Daily 15-Minute Decluttering Hack Really Work?

Updated: Oct. 13, 2023

Try this simple decluttering method to organize your entire home without experiencing burnout.

I love to clean and organize, so I’m always up for trying the newest cleaning or decluttering hack. I’ve tested the Marie Kondo folding method (my drawers look great!), scrubbed my car upholstery with dollar store glass cleaner (surprisingly effective!) and washed my blinds in the bathtub (this one was more trouble than it was worth).

So when I heard about popular cleaning guru FlyLady, who has been around since 2001, I had to check her out. Her cleaning method is more than just one simple idea or hack. Her website is full of cleaning and productivity tips, including a mandate about shining your sink every day.

FlyLady (aka Marla Cilley) believes cleaning is best tackled when broken into zones and bite-sized chunks. As she says, “Your home did not get dirty in one day, and it will not get clean in a day, either.”

Overall, FlyLady says cleaning should not be stressful. By utilizing her daily and weekly routines, you can make cleaning and organizing more manageable.

Her daily routine includes getting fully dressed every day to increase productivity. Then shine the kitchen sink, empty the dishwasher and do a load of laundry.

FlyLady also recommends a “weekly home blessing hour.” She identifies seven quick-clean tasks that take ten minutes each: vacuum, dust, mop, polish mirrors, purge papers, change sheets and empty all trash cans.

“Don’t obsess, set your timer for 10 minutes for each task, then quit!” says FlyLady.

But here’s the kicker: Before you can clean your home, FlyLady says it must be free of clutter. Her secret? This 15-minute decluttering method.

What Is the 15-Minute FlyLady Decluttering Method?

Set a timer and spend 15 minutes a day decluttering. That’s it!

The timer helps you stay on task so you don’t wander off to dust the baseboards when you should be recycling junk mail. The time limit also keeps you from burning out and giving up.

FlyLady suggests focusing each week on one of her five house zones: entrance, kitchen, guest bathroom/guest room, master bedroom/bathroom and living room/TV room. By spending just 15 minutes a day in one zone each week, your whole house will be decluttered before you know it.

Does This Decluttering Method Work?

Yes. Anyone can do anything for 15 minutes, and you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish.

By focusing on one area, you’ll see gradual progress every day. And by narrowing your work to one zone, you’ll be forced to face all those neglected places where clutter accumulates — the overstuffed linen closet, the cabinet of food storage containers and the chaotic kitchen junk drawer.

Should You Try This Decluttering Method?

If you have problem areas in your home you never seem to get to, or you feel overwhelmed by the task, FlyLady’s 15-minute decluttering method is a great solution.

For those of us who don’t like to stop until a project is completed, this method could be aggravating. Once I’m in the organizing mindset, I don’t want to stop! On the other hand, sticking to the time limit would keep me from decluttering all day long and neglecting the other things on my to-do list.

What About the Other FlyLady Lessons?

Besides the decluttering method, FlyLady has many other tips and tricks for keeping your home clean and organized. Here are a few that caught our eye:

  • Swish and swipe: FlyLady suggests doing this in your bathroom every day. Keep your favorite glass cleaner and roll of paper towels in your bathroom. When you’re done getting ready for the day, instead of leaving it a disaster, take a moment to swish water in the sink and then swipe it clean! Spray the mirror and counters and wipe. It’s a simple idea but makes a big difference if you turn it into a daily habit.
  • 27 fling boogie: This is another clever tool to help you declutter. Walk through your home with a garbage bag and collect 27 items. Do not stop until you have 27. Then close the garbage bag and throw it away. Next, take an empty box and go through your home collecting 27 items to give away. As soon as you finish filling the box, take it to the car so you can donate it on your next errand run. Easy!
  • Shine your sink: If you feel overwhelmed by a messy home, FlyLady says to start by shining your sink. It may not seem like the most important task, but the idea is to give you a sense of accomplishment. Once your sink is empty and sparkling, you’re ready to tackle the next decluttering or cleaning job. “When you get up the next morning,” FlyLady says, “your clean sink will greet you, and a smile will come across your lovely face.”