To Declutter or Clean, Which One Comes First?

It can be so easy to go in guns blazing when it’s a big cleaning day. You want to get in, get it done and get out…trust me I do get it.

Cleaning can be some people’s arch nemesis and they can’t think of anything worse! It truly is a chore. While others find cleaning therapeutic and look forward to it each week.

An age-old question that gets asked though is which comes first, cleaning or decluttering and it can be a sort of ‘the chicken or the egg’ scenario.

Here, I will be sharing my professional opinion on which comes first…clearing the clutter or cleaning the grime!

Remember, this is just my humble opinion, and you might see benefits in doing it the opposite way I suggest! Let me know in the comments your reasons on why, I would love to discuss!

Right, let’s get started!

Cleaning Decluttering Home

Which comes first?

When looking at cleaning and declutter together, most people think of the classic ‘spring clean’. Of course, this can be done at any time of the year and isn’t just done during springtime but, the name makes us think of clearing out the old, cleaning and scrubbing it brand new and setting it up in an organised fashion. If we heard someone was doing a ‘spring clean’, we knew they were doing a huge, proper one!

Of course, regular cleaning should be done at least once a week to keep our homes inviting, healthy and comfortable but we shouldn’t be having to move piles of items every time we vacuum, scrub counter tops or mop the floor! The less clutter we have, the less there is to move around while we clean but sometimes, our clutter can get the better of us and we need a big, dedicated day or two to sort through it all.

Now, when thinking about whether to clean or declutter first on these specific days, I professionally and personally believe the clutter must be taken care of first however, the cleaning comes before the whole process of decluttering is complete…

Just like we do within our services here at Your Ducks in a Row, we use our signature Organising D.R.E.S.S Code© formula when we are decluttering, cleaning and organising at home.

Our Organising D.R.E.S.S Code© formula is…

Decide – which area of your home you will tackle first

Remove – Everything comes out of that space, so it is completely empty.

Evaluate – Time to place like-items together into categories (….and subcategories) and decide what will be kept, sold, repaired, stored, donated and thrown away.

Systems – With what remains, it’s time to plan out which items will go into which sections, measure all existing storage, drawers etc. and research any products you may need.

Style – This is the fun part! Now everything goes back into the space, is styled and is labelled.

So, where does the cleaning part comes in? It makes it’s appearance after systems but before style.

Why does that order matter?

The reason we put cleaning in between systems and style is very straightforward.

Before putting everything back into its place with new storage containers, labels and having it completely styled, it is important to have a clean space to put everything back into!

If it is not cleaned, then it is a waste of time styling it and putting everything back because you are going to have to take it all out again to then clean it!

So, instead of double handling, you clean the space while it is empty but after you have sorted through your clutter, so you know exactly where and what you need to clean. For example, you may need to invest in extra storage that will be taking up floor space, instead of putting the new storage directly on the floor and then having to move it around to vacuum/mop, you can vacuum/mop before putting in the new storage, so it goes onto a clean surface.

It can save you time!

Using our unique D.R.E.S.S formula and cleaning between systems and styling allows you to save yourself time.


Well, why waste time organising and cleaning what you don’t need? That is, if you end up getting rid of a bunch of sauce bottles from your pantry, why waste time cleaning the bottle lids or organising them for easier access? If you get rid of them first you already know what items you are working with to organise, clean and sort through.

Decluttering compels you to sort things out into what’s needed and what’s not, what’s being used and what’s not and when you remove the ‘stuff’ that you don’t need anymore, all that is left is just what you do need. Then you will only have to focus your organising and cleaning efforts on what you have left!

How they work together

The three processes of cleaning, decluttering and organising need to work together to make each task easier and less time consuming.

If you declutter items frequently, then you are only organising items that you use, need and love. Then, when it’s time to clean, you aren’t having to constantly move things around and pick up piles of ‘stuff’.

Less items in your home = Less to organise = Less time spent preparing to clean each week

So, while decluttering is necessary because it leaves fewer items to clean or clean around, it’s not necessary for decluttering to always happen immediately before each house clean.

It will just naturally allow for quicker cleaning as you will have less stuff in your home.

And there you have it! My personal and professional reasons on why decluttering comes after cleaning! Let me know in the comments if you follow the same process or if you do it a different way!

If the thought of decluttering, cleaning and organising still seems like too daunting, head over to our website and fill out our Enquiry Form so we can help guide you through decluttering whatever space you are needing help with.

At Ducks in a Row, we believe in explaining to our clients how decluttering works before starting the process. We are there to guide and assist by asking questions to help YOU make an informed decision for yourself. So, the question is…Are you ready to get your ducks in a row?


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