1. Home

Discuss in my forum

The Top 8 Reasons Why You Have Clutter

The most common reasons why clutter might be lurking in your home.

By

Why clutter? Despite our best intentions I have it, you have it, and every house you walk into will have some clutter -- even if it’s artfully arranged behind the closed doors of a closet or tucked away in a junk drawer. And, just because it's not visible doesn't mean it isn't slowly and steadily causing stress.

You don’t want to be a clutter bug, it just kind of happens. The best defense against clutter is to educate yourself about why you have clutter.

1. You don't know what clutter is.

Ikea office storage
Ikea office storage

More common then you think, many people might just not know what clutter is. Some "stuff" truly is clutter that should be thrown out; some stuff is very valuable but has taken the form of clutter because it is not being properly stored or was bought and never used.

Learn the difference: What is Clutter?

 

2. You are not sure how long to keep things

How tos to be more productive
Photo / Pottery Barn

This is a huge area of confusion in many households. How do you know when to toss, shred, donate or sell an item if you don't know how long you should keep it? Ginny Snook Scott, Chief Organizing Officer for California Closets says, "Bulk of people have no methodology of when and where to let go of things." Well, I'm here to help.

Check the guide: How Long Should I Keep...

3. You don't know how to store things

MonsterRAX Overhead Garage Storage Rack
Photo / MonsterRAX

Hot on the heels of not knowing how long to keep things, is not knowing how to store things properly. If you're not sure how to store something, it tends to end up as clutter by default: lazy around the house and being tripped over at the most inopportune moments. Or worse, hiding when you really need it.

I've got advice on how to store just about everything in your home: Storage Solutions For Every Household

4. You don't follow a home organization routine

The Healthy Home
Photo / Publisher

I am a committed fan of establishing easy routines for housekeeping and organizing. Once you've gotten a good routine down, you can go on auto-pilot to clear the clutter rather than think about the clutter.

I've found the best routine is to declutter for a small amount of time every single day. My Home Organization Routine brings you through your home weekly to organize and clear clutter in another area for a total of 15-30 minutes per day. Totally doable.

5. You are not using clutter busters

trays
Photo © The Container Store

Trays, bins, baskets, jars and hooks are all excellent clutter busters because they take 1-off items like pieces of mail, remote controls, cooking utensils or toiletries and make them look organized. Group like items together in one of these natural clutter busters.

6. You keep common sources of clutter aorund

West Elm Lacquer Wood Tray
Photo / West Elm

Will you be dismayed to know that your clutter isn't even unique? I sat down with California Closet's Chief Organizing Officer, Ginny Snook Scott, and we talked about the clutter in most homes. It comes from a surprising array of sources, most of which will be instantly recognizable to you.

It seems everyone is hoarding the same types of clutter: The Clutter In Your Home

7. You buy too much "stuff" you don't need

Emily Schuman's Walk In CLoset Part 1
Photo / Emily Schuman

Aspirational clutter is stuff you only aspire to use but ends up cluttering up your home.

  • You take one painting class and buy an easel and set of brushes.
  • You take one cooking class and run out to buy a wok and all of the accessories.

Stop buying! If you think you might like to become a painter or a gourmet cook, great, but stick to it for a few months before you filling your home with a new hobbies accouterments.

Identify and curb aspirational clutter: Spotting & Stopping Aspirational Clutter

8. You don't know how to let it go

Ivan Hunter / Getty Images

Letting go -- especially of sentimental items -- is a big part of decluttering. I know how hard it is to decide when to let something go myself.

This guide has very specific steps to assist you in letting go of clutter: How to Let Go of Clutter

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.