How The 20/20 Rule Can Quickly Declutter Your House

20-20 decluttering rule for minimalism


A simple Google search can lead you to hundreds of minimalist methods to clear clutter fast, but not all decluttering methods are created equal. The 20/20 rule of decluttering has always stood out to me because it’s simple, effective, and gets the job done quickly!

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

I’m a practical guy who likes to keep my life in order to the best of my ability. Minimalism has added a lot of value to my life, including leading me to time-saving decluttering methods like this one.

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What Is The 20/20 Rule For Minimalists?

What Is The 20 20 Rule For Minimalists

In a nutshell, the 20/20 rule for minimalists is about using simple criteria to clear clutter quickly. The rule was created by The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, and boils down to asking yourself two simple questions about each item you want to declutter.

The 20/20 Rule Asks

Can you replace this item for less than $20?

Can you replace this item in less than 20 minutes?

The basic idea here is that if you can replace an item when you actually need it later on, without breaking your bank or eating away at your time, it’s probably okay to let it go. This has been one of my favorite approaches to decluttering that I’ve discovered so far because it provides a black and white system to tackle a task that can easily become overwhelming.

Should You Choose The 20/20 Rule Over Other Decluttering Methods?

Like I said before, I am a minimalist who tends to be driven by efficiency and practicality. The decluttering methods I like best also tend to be very practical. There are tons of decluttering methods out there like the Kon Mari method, Swedish death cleaning, and many others, each of which are tailored to different types of minimalists.

types of minimalismI have lots of minimalist friends who love those other methods because they aren’t just about getting rid of clutter. They are an immersive, emotionally integrated experience.

Both Swedish death cleaning and the Kon Mari method come with reflective questions to ask yourself as you declutter like, “Does this item spark joy for me?” or, “Will this item still have value after my lifetime?”. While this kind of introspective decluttering experience is many people’s cup of tea, it really isn’t mine.

I love the 20/20 method because it gets right to the point and is all about the items themselves, nothing beyond that. Its greatest power, in my opinion, is how effective it is at helping me get rid of small, inexpensive and ultimately useless items.

In a cluttered room, the biggest culprits don’t tend to be the most valuable, sentimental items in the room. Your biggest enemies will likely be things like random shelf trinkets, extra coffee mugs, those old band T-shirts, or old makeup. The 20/20 rule cuts all of those out immediately.

declutter like a minimalist

How Can The 20/20 Rule Help You Declutter Quickly?

Another thing to know about the 20/20 decluttering rule is that it works best when you’re ready to clear clutter fast and effectively. This to-the-point decluttering method presents you with two questions that you can answer immediately and without much thought.

It allows you to bulldoze through high-clutter areas like the back of closets, kitchen drawers, or the forgotten corner of a garage. Other methods, while valuable in their own ways, often present you with questions about the way you feel about an item, how frequently you use it, or how attached you are to it.

The 20/20 rule doesn’t leave a lot of room for those gray areas. The item is either quickly replaceable or it isn’t. It’s either worth less than $20 or it’s worth more. The nature of this quickfire method will exponentially speed up the time it takes you to declutter.

30 day declutter challenge

How To Use The 20/20 Rule To Get Rid Of Clutter

How To Use The 20 20 Rule To Get Rid Of Clutter

While the 20/20 rule is pretty straightforward and self-explanatory, there are a few things to consider that will streamline your decluttering process and make it work for you. Knowing which items to sort through first, or which room to knock out right away, will help give you some starting momentum.

I’ve found that when it comes to clearing clutter quickly, organizing, or cleaning in general, it’s easiest for me to tackle one room at a time. Bouncing around from room to room gets my mind entirely scattered and doesn’t give me the satisfaction of finishing a room before moving to the next one.

declutter your home room by room

Easy Items To Declutter First With The 20/20 Rule

With any daunting, tedious task, starting simple and getting progressively more difficult is a smart way to keep you from giving up. When I’m decluttering with the 20/20 rule, I like to start out with items that will be a quick yes or no and won’t require much consideration on my part.

With The 20/20 Rule, Declutter These Items First

  • Old Hygiene Products
  • Travel Toiletries
  • Extra Brushes And Styling Tools
  • Under-Bed Clutter
  • Nightstand Clutter
  • Mugs And Dishes
  • Unused Kitchen Tools
  • Used Notebooks
  • Cleaning Products
  • Junk Drawer Items
junk drawer clutter

So, when I tried the 20/20 decluttering method for the first time, I decided to take it room by room, targeting easy items first and working my way to the tougher decisions.

Harder Items To Declutter Last With The 20/20 Rule

Where the rubber meets the road with the 20/20 decluttering the rule comes down to items that aren’t necessarily expensive or irreplaceable, but that you still want to keep around. This is where your choices may take a little more brain power.

The idea is that you’ll keep expensive items or items that are homemade and sentimental, pitching items that are cheap and replaceable. The cut-and-dry 20/20 rule makes this easy.

With The 20/20 Rule, Declutter These Items Last

  • Books
  • Clothes
  • Kitchen Appliances
  • Board Games
  • CDs/DVDs
  • Throw Pillows And Blankets
  • Picture Frames
  • Décor
  • Sentimental items
  • Seasonal items
tiny house loft area with bookshelves

But what do you do about those items that are in the middle of that range? I tend to save those items that will take a little more thought and come back to them at the end of my decluttering process.

how to declutter

Should You Try The 20/20 Decluttering Rule?

Should You Try The 20 20 Rule

Overall, I would definitely recommend the 20/20 decluttering rule to anyone looking for a quick, practical way to knock out clutter in all of those common junk spaces in a home. I’ve tried a ton of minimalist decluttering methods, but still find this to be one of the best.

Your Turn!

  • What will you declutter with the 20/20 rule?
  • How can the 20/20 rule help you declutter faster?
1 Comment
  1. Struggling with wishing to live without clutter but my spouse is from a scarcity mindset generation- all I can do is keep my own possessions to a minimum (which, admittedly, I am something of a closet slob and have to periodically jump start myself to get clutter free). Anyway, this can be a huge problem. If anyone out there has gracefully navigated this, let me know.

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