Most of us have that one friend who doesn’t like to get rid of anything. They keep everything they’ve ever received stashed away in their home, whether it’s useful or not. Not everyone who has trouble letting go of things is a hoarder, but clutter can still affect them in some significant ways. When your friend is ready to clean up their act, you can be there to help. We’ll show you how to help a friend declutter their place quickly and efficiently.

Don’t Decide—Categorize

The key to success here is that you don’t want to make decisions for the person. Don’t start throwing stuff away that they’re not comfortable parting with, as this can be very distressing. What you can do is help organize what will stay and what will go. Keep things in separate categories so that you always know where to put another item when it pops up.

Focus on the Positives

Knowing how to help a friend declutter is all about your mindset. You don’t want to go into their home with a hostile attitude about their mess. If they start faltering on why they’re doing this, don’t focus on the negative. Instead, focus on all the positive aspects of a clean home. Remind them how much healthier it is, how it will reduce stress and fatigue, and how much nicer their home will feel once the mess is gone.

Provide Support and Ideas

Sometimes, a person who keeps too much clutter just doesn’t know how to get rid of certain items—and this is where you can help. Have resources you can suggest, such as facilities that take in electronic waste, places like the Purple Heart Pickup organization that will pick up clothing donations, or even dumpster rental companies that facilitate easy cleanup.

Organize Areas Better Than Before

Eventually, you’ll reach a point where you can’t get rid of anymore and will need to start finding places for everything that’s left. This is the perfect time to suggest a new system of organization. The more organized their house is, the less likely they will want to fall back into old habits. Gently try to suggest a new way of organizing things like books, dishes, or electronics to make the home feel more put-together. If everything has a place, that goes a long way to making the house feel more livable.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.