A neat, chic entryway gives visitors a positive first impression and makes coming home a pleasure. But between the daily influx of mail and a household’s worth of coats, shoes and bags, this space is often one of the most challenging to keep clean and clutter free. Give your entryway a fresh start with this weeklong plan to clean and declutter from top to bottom — and learn to maintain a serene space long-term.
Day 1: Address the outside.
Cleaning tasks: The entrance to your home really begins outside your front door, so let’s start here. Sweep your porch or stoop, including the siding, and wash the exterior windows at the front of your home. Using a soft cloth, wipe down your mailbox, doorbell, porch lights and front door.
Decluttering tasks: Remove everything that doesn’t belong on the porch and find another home for it. Toss dead plants and store empty pots elsewhere.
Day 2: Clear the decks.
Decluttering tasks: Think of your entryway as a busy but temporary holding area — like a train station, not a permanent storage area. Scoop up all of the mail, shoes, coats, scarves, cell phone chargers, tote bags and so on, and move them away where you can deal with them more easily.
Find a permanent home for the items you remove from the entry — you should be able to do this for nearly everything, except perhaps your keys. Even if you think you can’t find another place to store that jacket or bag, challenge yourself to find a place … anywhere but the entry!
Cleaning tasks: Once all of the stuff has been removed, cleaning will be much easier. Vacuum and mop the floors, vacuum cobwebs from the corners, clean mirrors and wipe scuff marks off the walls.
Day 3: Bring back the essentials.
Decluttering tasks: Rather than keep all your shoes and coats by the door, try keeping only the one or two you use most often. Store the rest elsewhere.
The same goes for bags, sunglasses and other accessories — if you find this difficult, try taking a picture of your entryway looking fresh and clean with only the absolute minimum amount of stuff in it, and use it as a reminder of why it’s worth the effort.
If your entry has room, your essentials may include a rug, a boot tray or bin to corral shoes, a surface for mail and keys, hooks for coats and bags, a place to sit while putting on and taking off shoes, and adequate lighting.
Day 4: Tackle a problem zone.
Decluttering tasks: If you have a large household, consider adding extra closed storage — piles of coats out in the open look messy, even when the coats are neatly hung on hooks. If you have children, make sure the storage is easily accessible and clearly marked.
Cleaning tasks: The biggest cleaning challenge in the entry is dirt tracked in from outdoors. Rugs are your first line of defense against street dirt, so make sure yours are in good shape. If your area rugs are dirty, launder them; if they are getting worn out, consider buying new ones. Instead of choosing a typical doormat-size rug by default, consider if a larger rug or runner would better suit your space — a larger rug has more dirt-trapping power.
Day 5: Improve the flow.
Decluttering tasks: Step outside your home for a moment and come back in through the front door, taking the time to really notice how you naturally move into the space. Is your furniture arranged in a way that is convenient, or do you nearly bump into something on the way in?
Would it be easier to toss your keys on a floating shelf by the door instead of taking four steps to a bigger table down the hall? Today is the day to try something new.
Day 6: Beautify.
Cleaning tasks: Wipe down surfaces; polish wood furniture.
Decluttering tasks: Pay attention to what is kept out in the open in your entryway and what is behind closed doors. You can choose to keep your cutest rain boots and cheery umbrellas on display, and hide the less attractive gear. Add something fresh and pretty, like a bouquet of flowers, to bring your space to life.
If you don’t have a closet or cupboard for hiding utilitarian items, use baskets. But beware of going overboard and providing too much storage — it will only get filled up and then overfilled.
Sometimes a minimalist setup actually helps reduce clutter, because it forces you to put things away where they actually go instead of plunking them down in the entry. Strike a balance that feels right to you.
Day 7: Master a daily routine.
Cleaning tasks: A quick daily sweep will help keep dirt from accumulating in the entry. Storing a broom and dustpan or a small stick vacuum in the closet nearest the door will make things easier.
Decluttering tasks: Get in the habit of opening your mail as soon as you walk in the door, while standing over the recycling bin. At the end of each day, put away anything sitting around in the entry that doesn’t belong.
Tell us: What is the biggest cleaning or decluttering challenge you face in the entry?