I Tried the “90/90” Rule in My Kitchen, and It Took the Stress Out of Decluttering Once and for All

published Jun 14, 2024
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Kitchen countertop before decluttering.
Credit: Lauren Brown West-Rosenthal

One of the biggest selling points of my home was the butler’s pantry. It’s a little alcove attached to my kitchen with extra cabinets, shelves, countertops, and storage. I thought it would be my secret defense against clutter because I’d have so much extra space that I’d never fill it. But the problem with extra space is when you have it, you use it — and then some. And so I did, and lately I’ve been in need of a decluttering miracle.

I’m still holding on to so many of the impulse buys I found online during my pandemic shopping craze. From the electric sous vide egg maker, old-fashioned popcorn maker, indoor grill, and more, the gadgets and gizmos have really piled up. My kitchen, particularly the butler’s pantry, is bursting at the seams. The cabinets became so stuffed that overflow went to the counter space. It was time to start asking myself serious questions about what I needed and what I did not, and the 90/90 decluttering method was a perfect place to start.

What Is the 90/90 Decluttering Rule?

I’d heard of the 90/90 decluttering method but smugly didn’t think it applied to me. Created by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists, the 90/90 rule has you ask yourself two questions about objects you’re not sure you need to keep: Have you used it in the past 90 days? And if not, will you use it in the 90 days ahead?

Had I used the sous vide egg maker in the past 90 days? I think I made one batch perhaps three years ago. Would I make them in the next 90 days? Considering the parts were mixed up with that of another gadget my daughter had to have — a shaved ice machine (and dozens of syrup options) — the answer was no. Same for the ice machine. Ditto for the indoor grill — which, in my defense, I would have liked to have used but could never really figure out. 

Credit: Lauren Brown West-Rosenthal

I also said goodbye to aprons that just aren’t my style, drawer organizers that didn’t fit my drawers and took up space in my cabinets instead. Plus, I managed to clear off my countertop! Yes, my family had enjoyed our assortment of Girl Scout cookies over the past 90 days, but we would be better off without them in the next 90 days. Clearing the cabinet space out meant finding new homes for my husband’s post-workout protein powder and hot sauce making kit so our counters could be open and free.

What Happened When I Tried the 90/90 Decluttering Rule

Credit: Lauren Brown West-Rosenthal

As I proudly showed off my hard work and newly organized pantry to my husband, he was happy that his protein powder had a new home and was impressed that our counter was decluttered — but dubious that things would stay this organized for another 90 days. Oh, and he was disappointed that the indoor grill was a bust. But knowing that I have such specific questions to plant in my mind whenever the clutter is piling up anywhere in my house, I already feel less stressed and anxious about getting rid of things. 

If I haven’t used something in 90 days, the odds of using it in the next 90 days are slim. There are exceptions, such as my KitchenAid mixer that I use maybe twice a year but can’t live without. It’s even helping me think through if I really need something before I even buy it — which means that sous vide egg bite maker would never stand a chance today!

Have you tried the 90/90 rule in your kitchen or home? Let us know how it went in the comments below!