40 Bags in 40 Days Decluttering Challenge

Every year since 2011 I’ve done a project that has changed my life forever. Since then, thousands of people have joined in and changed their lives too.

The project is called 40 BAGS IN 40 DAYS, and I’ll explain how it can change your life too.


join the decluttering revolution! Challenge yourself to declutter 40 bags of items in 40 days. #40bagsin40days

 What is 40 Bags in 40 Days?

40 bags in 40 days is a forty day period in the spring (coinciding with the 40 days of Lent) where you declutter one area a day.

The goal is one bag a day but you can have more or less. The 2016 challenge officially goes from Wednesday, February 10th to Saturday, March 26th. Sundays are your day off.

But you don’t need to wait for the official challenge, you can start now!


How do I start?

  1. Read the rest of this post.
  2. Print this printable, fill it out. Plan what you will do each of the 40 days.
  3. Here is a list of suggestions for areas to declutter, and one of “non-stuff” things to declutter. One per day, don’t go nuts and burn yourself out.
  4. There will be daily prompts on my Facebook page and Instagram, and you can sign up for the newsletter. I’ll be decluttering too!
  5. We also have a Facebook group that is SUPER supportive and amazing.

Other than that, just get rid of stuff. It’s really as easy as that.


How long have you been doing this?

I first heard of 40 BAGS IN 40 DAYS in 2010.

In 2011, I had enough with the “stuff” consuming my life and wanted to try it. I admitted my problem in this post, The Stuff – It’s Taking OVER, and was shocked to find that I wasn’t alone! Before I knew it, others were joining me and we had a group of people doing it together. With each year it just kept growing, I’ve held challenges on this blog in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and now 2016. Our 6th year! Can you believe it?!


Is your house perfectly clean?

HA! No. Even though our house is simplified, it is still a work in progress. I work from home and my husband and I have 5 children under the age of 7 in a moderate sized home.

This isn’t a magic formula, decluttering is an ongoing process for a simple home. But it’s a good way to give your home a refresh, see what’s working (and what’s not), and look at “stuff” in a new light.

With this challenge you’ll be working together with myself and thousands of people all interested in the same goal: simplifying.


Any rules?

No, just get rid of stuff. :)

Any kind of bag works. From boxes to grocery bags to kitchen bags to furniture. Even non-visible clutter like an email inbox.

Don’t focus on the bags. Focus on getting all of the unnecessary stuff out in one spot per day. Don’t go nuts and tackle five spots because you want to prove something. Don’t get all bummed out because you missed a day (or ten). Just focus on one. spot. per. day.

You might have 40 bags, you might have 12, and you might have 73 1/2 bags, 4 boxes, 2 dumpsters, a chair, and a piano. It’s all good. :)


Where do I put it all?

Good question! You can donate it (my personal favorite), ask a family member or friend, have a garage sale, hit up Freecycle, Craigslist, or a local Facebook selling group, recycle it, etc etc etc. Here is a list of suggestions broken down by item.  Or, at last resort, it can go on the curb.

Don’t let finding a place or purpose for your stuff hold you back, just get it out and move on!


(any more questions? post them below in the comments!)


I’m ready to take on the challenge! 


Since 40 BAGS IN 40 DAYS can seem daunting, I’ve set up a few things to help. Here are some tools to support you and keep you motivated:


1.) Daily Progress Printable

It’s easy to just jump into decluttering but it can get overwhelming.

I’ve created this printable to help you plan, keep track of your progress, and stay motivated. It is designed so that you have one day off per week, most people take Sundays off but you can pick the day.

Download your free printable here, or click the image:

click through to download 40 bags in 40 days printable

To use the printable:

  1. Use a pencil so you can erase. (This is important!)
  2. In the first space, write down 40 different rooms or spots you would like to work on. Here is a list of suggested areas/rooms and another list of non-visible clutter. Be realistic, stretch larger spaces over a few days or a week (basement, attic, closets, etc).
  3. In the next boxes, fill in the date you worked and your actual progress. What area you tackled, how many bags you got, where they will go (thrift store, garbage, family member, garage sale). Day 1 will be the day you start, don’t forget to give yourself Sundays (or at least one day a week) off when filling it out.


2.) Get tips and support every week:

I will be periodically sending out a short newsletter which will contain decluttering advice, motivation, and links to new posts. I know you get a lot of emails. I promise to only send stuff I think you’ll find interesting.

* indicates required


3.) Daily Facebook Prompts:

I’ll be sharing daily updates on our facebook page, so be sure to follow along!

Articles on decluttering, check-in posts, pictures and stories from myself and other participants, and other motivation. We have one of the best, most positive facebook communities out there (maybe I’m biased). Think of it as your own little support group full of cheerleaders who also need to ditch the clutter. :)

I’ve also set up a facebook group where members can post their progress and motivate one another. There are thousands of members and it is a really supportive group of people.

To protect your privacy, the group is “closed”, which means only members can see the contents of the group. Posts may show up on YOUR personal newsfeed and your friends can see you are in the group, but they cannot see what you post unless they are also in the group.


4.) #40BAGSIN40DAYS on Instagram:

I’ll be posting daily over on Instagram, you can find me at @whbsblog.


If you’re posting a picture, please use the hashtag #40bagsin40days!

Let’s face it, everything looks good in black and white or with a pretty filter on it. Even your bags of crap. ;) Here’s a picture you can share to all of your people (if on your phone hold your finger on it, save the image, and share on instagram):

join the decluttering revolution! Challenge yourself to declutter 40 bags of items in 40 days. #40bagsin40days
I’ve found this particularly helpful when I didn’t want to do my day’s bag. I’d take a picture of a dirty crazy room. Then freak out a tiny bit because I just shared that embarrassing mess to uhh, EVERYONE. But then what happened was almost magical. I’d GO NUTS ON THAT ROOM because I wanted to prove to all those insta-peeps that I am not a slob.

It was incredibly motivating. Follow me (@whbsblog), say hi, and tag me in a post if you are participating with us on Instagram! And don’t forget the #40bagsin40days hashtag when you post so you can connect with other participants.


5.) Tell everyone you know.

I want everyone I know to join us.

I want everyone you know to join us.

I want to change our lives, I want to see your progress. Big or small, embarrassing or beautiful. I want to help you and I want you to become a better version of yourself. We are in this together!

Because you know what?

  1. You don’t need all of this stuff.
  2. It won’t make you happier.
  3. Your home should not make you feel overwhelmed or stressed.
  4. You do not need to be embarrassed.
  5. You can do this. (repeat that)
  6. You are not alone in feeling this way.

I want to start a revolution against all of this stuff that everyone tries to sell us and tell us we need.

I want your home to be a place where you are surrounded with only the things and people you love. You shouldn’t feel controlled by the paper clutter, the craft supplies from projects never carried out, the furniture Great Aunt Sally passed down to you, nor clothes telling you what size you used to be.

Join me.

You need this. I need this. I need you to join me in this. (Trust me, seeing so many faces doing this motivates ME to do my own home.)

We are all here for you and we love you and we want to see you succeed! We want to free you from the unnecessary stuff in your life keeping you from being happy.


    • CmeTrashIt says

      3rd Year for me and I am falling more in love with everything in my home. This year I am fasting from facebook during the challenge to be more intentional about nurturing real life relationships. My home is almost completely declutterred, except for a million photo boxes that need to be sorted, some scanning and distributing the photos to my sons. I also need to confront organizing a monster of a 4 drawer filing cabinet that I store docs in for my home based business. Both of those projects will take all of 40 days! Godspeed all our efforts during this journey!

  1. jackie says

    I don’t do facebook. Or any other similar sites…call it one of my decluttering moves. So I was happy to see I can still participate with this! Very important to keep our lives simple and clear of overwhelming things. There are some things you simply can’t do anything about – this is not one of those things! Just get up and do it – I have been for years. I’ve even managed to go through all the old family photos and record them on backup materials for myself and send them on their way to other members of the family who wanted them. Talk about a feeling of accomplishment!
    I applaud everyone taking part in this! We can share unused, unwanted items with others who need or want them and maybe save a little of our ailing world in the process!
    Thanks for such a down-to-earth approach to making all our lives a little brighter and lighter!

  2. Ozella modarres says

    I am so happy I signed up last year . At age 62 l’m not quite over the hill. In fact still working full time etc.. But, the days seem shorter. I used to do the spring clean once a year for one week. Those days are gone now I work in fits and starts but de cluttering is central to managing a home alone working at my age. That it co insides with lent is so spiritually thought provoking.
    Thank you for solving more than one issue and helping me so much.

  3. Rebecca says

    This is a great ‘push’ for me. Yesterday I got hit with a ‘clean out the jewelry box’ bug right in the middle of changing sheets so I stopped and did it. Only took an hour and I have a bag ready for the thrift store and some notes attached to family pieces for future pass-alongs. Today? Well, thank goodness I can start tomorrow.

  4. says

    I’m a tweeter (found this on twitter) so will be participating there. I think this will hit all the high notes…giving up, doing good and giving to others.

  5. DeeAnn Howell says

    I will be starting the de-cluttering next week. My grandkids are visiting this week, so it will start when they leave. I can’t wait to have a neater, more organized house!!

  6. Victoria says

    Jumping in today! I was going to give up chocolate, but this challenge to de-clutter is much more in tune with getting my family more organized and helping my husband and I work toward goals to improve our lives together! Excited to join in!

    • says

      No! :) We have people starting everyday, and we’ll all be here cheering you on. I’ll keep sharing tips well after the 40 days. I left the dates off the printable this year for this reason. If you’re ready to join, it’s not too late!

  7. Karen says

    I signed up last year and didn’t get around to it. I already get your emails so if I sign up again will I get double email?
    I would also like to join your Facebook group. What do I need to do?
    Thanks, a stressed clutterbug!

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