I’m a professional organiser – people make 4 key mistakes when spring cleaning, my trick to staying clutter-free forever

THERE’S nothing worse than opening a cupboard to have everything fall out onto your lap. 

Although, for Dilly Carter, that might just be her version of heaven. 

2020Dilly has helped thousands of families during her 20-year-career – and is now sharing where everyone goes wrong when decluttering[/caption]

The professional organiser has made a career out of sorting through people’s stuff and has decluttered thousands of homes during her 20-year career. 

And while some may say it’s pretty simple, there are a few key mistakes we’re all making. 

The mum-of-one from Hertfordshire said: “Being thorough is key.

“So you have to do it properly, whether that’s your cutlery drawers, cupboard, or wardrobe. 

“What happens is people go, ‘oh yeah I can have a little sort out of my drawer.

“They just move things, maybe take out a few and that’s it. 

“Then they’re like, ‘oh it doesn’t look that different’. 

“That’s because they haven’t taken it all out, cleaned it all out, removed the things that don’t belong, put them back in their rightful place.”

Now, speaking exclusively to Fabulous, Dilly shares where else we’re going wrong – and her trick to staying organised for good…

Remove instead of just move

As well as rushing through the process, Dilly shared that another common mistake is not actually getting rid of the stuff you don’t want.

Instead, please move it from one room to another and leave it there.

“People don’t remove the items they don’t want from their home. 

“What happens is those items end up in piles in other rooms, in bags, on the stairs, in the back of cars. 

“So that room really hasn’t been changed because there’s still bags of stuff that needs to be gone.” 

Don’t just say you’re going to sell

Along a similar line, the pro-tidier also claimed people don’t sell the stuff they say they’re going to, which ends up cluttering up other areas of their homes.

She added: “We’ve all got those bags: ‘oh I’m going to sell that’.

“Six months later, six years later, those bags are still there.

“So get it out of your house, into the car, and to a clothes bank, to a charity shop, or to someone that you know is going to help you sell them.”

If you do want to make sure you sell it, Dilly suggests setting a tight deadline of seven days from when you pulled it out of your wardrobe.

If you’ve not uploaded it to Vinted, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace by then, take it to the charity shop.

There’s no need to splash out on storage

Although for Dilly, the biggest mistake people make is thinking new storage boxes are the answer.

She claims that most people try to deal with thier mess by up splashing out on more stuff they don’t need. 

“People don’t know how to use the storage they’ve got, that’s the biggest problem. 

“So the issue we find is that people are buying storage but don’t know what to put in it, so they’re just putting any old thing in it. 

“And it’s not about the storage – it’s about the space.

“You have to learn how to use the space properly before you can go and put items in it.

“So decide what you want with that space before you buy the containers.”

She also stressed that you don’t need aesthetically-pleasing boxes to organise your space.

Instead, the mum-of-one suggested using stuff you already have at home – like those countless Amazon delivery boxes our orders arrive in on the regular.

She continued: “Use old shoe boxes, use old cardboard boxes. 

“How many people get so many Amazon deliveries through the door every day in a box? 

The issue we find is that people are buying storage but don’t know what to put in it, so they’re just putting any old thing. 

Dilly Carter42

“There’s so much in our houses that we’re not using properly. It’s just about looking at the space you’ve got and reinventing it, changing it to make things work for you.”

So is there one thing Dilly recommends people NEVER throw away? 

“Those clear, plastic tiny containers that all of us get from our local Chinese, Indian, whatever restaurant it is. 

“They are a very valuable bit of organising kit that you could have for when you’re organising the junk drawer. To separate the pens, pencils, paper clips, Blu Tak, and the keys. 

“They are organisers’ dreams.”

And, at the opposite end of the spectrum, what’s the one thing she recommends everyone ditches? 

“Clothes that don’t fit. 

“That’s the biggest thing that we find – clothes that you’re saving because you want to get back into them. 

“But what we have to realise is as soon as we’re feeling great, what do we do? We go and buy clothes. 

“Because now we’re a different shape, we’ve got a different mindset, we’re feeling like a completely different person. 

“Keep the really good value, quality stuff, but don’t hold on to too much. Pick out the best items.”


So how does the pro go about ordering and arranging her space?

“So the first thing I always do is evaluate the space. 

“Look at it – How is it working now? How could it work better? Is there too much furniture? Is there not enough furniture?

“Have you got the right storage? Is there too much storage? 

“But most importantly, what do you want this space to do for you? Do you want it to be an office? A spare room? Do you want it to be a gym? A walk-in wardrobe? 

“Once you’ve decided what the room’s going to be, then you can plan.”

Step two involves clearing the space – and that means removing everything.

This helps you see exactly what you’ve got, and how much space you’re working with too. 

With the stuff you’ve taken out, Dilly suggests putting it on or in a space you won’t need for a while. 

If you put everything in space you may need in a few hours, like your bed or sofa, you’ll feel pressure to rush through and finish the job, meaning you’ll like have to do it again another time. 

And when you’re sorting, the pro suggests three piles to keep things simple – keep, sell, and donate. 


But how do you avoid having to do another sort-out in a few months? 

Dilly has a simple solution – a ‘dumping basket’.

“I think it’s quite good to have a big basket, almost like a laundry basket, in the corner of your room, so that all you have to do is run and literally scoop everything at the end of the day.

“And then when you have the time, you can sit and sort the toys properly, put them back in their right places.” 

Change Your Space: Reclaim your Home, your Time and your Mind by Dilly Carter is published by Welbeck (£16.99 hardback) on March 16, 2023.