Are you hoarding clutter in your home? Are you ready to see the clutter for what it is and create a home that you can be proud of?
13 easy decluttering tips for hoarders and people who don’t want to get rid of their stuff.
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How do I know if I’m a hoarder?
Hoarding is when someone has an uncontrollable desire to purchase, acquire, or save items that have little (or no) value, and it can cause harmful effects.
Here are a couple descriptions of hoarders (Source):
- Avoids throwing away possessions
- Social isolation
- Common living areas in the home have been overtaken by clutter
- Can’t get rid of stuff because of the fear of running out of an item or needing it in the future
- Has obsessive thoughts about their possessions
- Doesn’t like when other people touch their possessions
- Has a feeling of overwhelm/embarrassment because of their possessions
- Has difficulties making decisions to organize possessions
- Experiences anxiety at the thought of discarding possessions
Chronic hoarding is said to be when a room in your house is no longer able to be used for its intended purpose.
Chances are that you are most likely not a hoarder, but maybe you feel like you are because of the mess in your house. Maybe you know you need some deeper help than just a couple decluttering tips for you to be able to get rid of the clutter you own.
Only about 6 percent of the population are compulsive hoarders, and hoarding has been shown to run in families. Does your family have a history of hoarding?
While there is a chance that you could be a hoarder, there’s a bigger chance that you’re simply another person who struggles deeply with clutter – but either way, let’s look at how to overcome hoarding and finally get your space back.
Self help for hoarders
If you are a hoarder I would recommend that you reach out to a therapist and a professional organizer to get the appropriate help that you need.
If you’re determined to do this on your own, follow the decluttering tips laid out below to help you overcome the clutter and stop hoarding – but if you find it’s too much to do on your own, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional for help. (We all need a little extra help from time to time.)
Decluttering tips for hoarders
You’ve realized that hoarding is a problem and you’re determined to quit it, but you don’t know where to start. Decluttering is hard, never mind decluttering when you struggle with the very thought of getting rid of any of your possessions.
The good news is, it’s not impossible! It’s going to be hard and it will require a lot of work from you, but if you’re dedicated and serious about stopping your hoarding addiction, you’re well on your way to a clutter-free home and a whole new lifestyle.
How to stop hoarding and change your life
1. Be open and honest about the problem
If you’re in denial and can’t admit that you have a problem, you’re not going to get very far with your decluttering efforts. You can learn all the tricks for decluttering your house, but if you don’t realize that this is something you NEED to do – that you do have a problem with clutter and you need to face it – you won’t get anywhere.
I could talk to you all day about why you need to declutter your house and how you should go about doing it, but unless you believe that you need to do it, too, you won’t get very far.
So the first step in learning different home decluttering tips for hoarders is to find a trusted friend or family member, someone who you can be honest with and who won’t judge you, and admit to them that you have a problem with hoarding clutter and ask for their help.
Being open and honest about your clutter problem will enable you to get a small team of trusted people who will encourage, help, and support you through your decluttering journey.
If you aren’t the one struggling with clutter but are reading this with hopes of learning how to help a hoarder in denial, the first step is to get them to realize they have a problem and they need help. Only once they realize for themselves that they need to do something about their clutter will they be able to really make the change.
2. Plan time
Don’t just tell yourself that you’ll get around to decluttering your house eventually. (We all know that eventually rarely ever comes.)
The second biggest step you’re going to want to take when it comes to decluttering tips for the home is to plan out some time on a certain day to dedicate purely to decluttering.
When you’re planning out your time you won’t want to plan an entire day to doing nothing but decluttering. If you spend too much time decluttering in one day you’ll get burned out faster and start to get lazy with your decluttering. You’ll start skipping items and keeping more than you need to.
The key to successfully decluttering your house is to do it in small sprints, not a marathon. Plan 15 minutes to an hour each day that you’ll spend decluttering, then after you’ve finished, don’t start back up again until tomorrow.
You might feel like you could spend more time than an hour a day decluttering, but you’ll get the best results if you spread it out over several weeks, doing short sprints each day, rather than getting it done in 5 days but spending every hour in those 5 days decluttering.
3. Gather your supplies
The beauty of decluttering is that it doesn’t require too many supplies, but there are a couple key ones that you’ll want to have on hand.
You’ll want to have:
Once you’ve got those two things you’ll be set to go. The box is for everything that you aren’t keeping (that isn’t trash), and the trash bag is for going through the rooms of your house and throwing away any obvious trash, and then keeping it by your side while you’re decluttering in case you come across any broken objects.
4. Get rid of the trash first
Before you start decluttering your entire house, go through each room with your trash bag and throw any of the obvious trash into the bag.
Don’t go looking for the garbage right now (moving objects to find things to throw away), simply grab anything that is obvious garbage and throw it out. You’ll also keep a trash bag with you later when you are decluttering so you can throw any trash that was hidden into the bag.
Getting rid of the trash first will help make the rooms that you are going to declutter not quite so daunting.
If you look at a room overflowing with stuff and get overwhelmed at the thought of going through it all, going through it, before you start decluttering, with a trash bag will help get rid of a lot of the stuff and you’ll see that there’s not quite as much stuff to sort through as you had originally thought, making your life a lot easier.
5. Look at your belongings through the eyes of a stranger
I’ve talked about looking at your clutter through the eyes of a stranger in this post here, and that’s because it’s such an effective way of decluttering.
This may be one of the hardest things you do, but it’s the one thing that will help you declutter your stuff effectively.
If you look at all your belongings as something you have an emotional attachment to, you’ll struggle to get rid of any of it. But, if as you enter each room of your house, you have the mindset that you’re going to look at everything from the view of a stranger, you’ll have a lot easier time realizing what stuff is impractical and can go, and what stuff makes sense to keep.
If you struggle to look at your belongings from an unattached state, ask a trusted friend to help you by coming into the different rooms of your house as you declutter and asking you about each item you own.
Have them take the objects you own, both practical and impractical, and ask you why you have it, how often you use it, and if you have something else that can serve the same purpose as it.
6. Make a decision in less than 15 seconds
When you’re decluttering you’ll want to make a decision to keep or get rid of an item in less than 15 seconds. If you take more time than that, you’re thinking about it too hard.
As you pick up each item to make a decision, be sure you take no longer than 15 seconds to decide. You know which items are useful and which items you really don’t need, and your first response to the item will be the true one.
So, if your first response is to “get rid of it” but then you start looking at the object and thinking that maybe you want to keep it, go with what you originally decided and stick to it. Don’t second guess yourself! Make a decision and stick to it.
7. Tackle your house one section at a time
Looking at your house as a whole is an overwhelming thought – but looking at your house in sections helps break the mess down and will allow you to declutter it all without realizing how big of a task it is. (Which helps if you get easily overwhelmed.)
Rather than telling yourself that you’re going to declutter your entire house, tell yourself that you’re going to declutter one area of the house.
Then tomorrow, tell yourself you’ll tackle another area, then another, and another.
While you’re focusing on the one area that you’re decluttering, don’t worry about the rest of the house. You’ll get to it eventually, but right now all that matters is that you get your one area done.
8. Stop churning
Churning is when you move items from one room or area to another, without ever really getting rid of anything.
Churning your items is something you want to avoid, as you’re not really making any progress, you’re just making your house look like it’s less cluttered. But that’s not the point – we don’t want your house to just look less cluttered, we want it to BE less cluttered.
If you just churn all the items in your house, it might look better for a short time, but sooner rather than later you’re going to realize you still have too much stuff and then you’re going to have to declutter (the RIGHT way) again.
So, to save yourself from wasting time, be sure you declutter the right way the first time.
9. Be ruthless with your stuff
Do what you have to do to achieve the results you want – and this means being ruthless with the things you own.
Don’t hold on to stuff because you feel bad for getting rid of it, or because it might come in handy one day. Start ruthless decluttering. Tackle your clutter with a vengeance!
10. See everything in your house for what it is
The things in your house that you hold so dearly and could never imagine getting rid of them? It’s time you see them for what they truly are: CLUTTER.
Realizing that the things you own are just material things will help you have an easier time getting rid of them. That keepsake you’ve been holding on to for years? The memory isn’t in the item, it’s in your heart (you CAN get rid of the item without getting rid of the memory).
Realizing this will allow you to get rid of stuff that you’ve been holding on to for years without feeling too bad about it.
11. Get rid of duplicates
You might be holding on to duplicate items in the case that one day you might need them. But what if that one day never comes? Or, what if that one day is 10 years down the road from now? Are you going to hold on to them, unused, forever?
If you’re someone who has held onto duplicate items over the years and you’re struggling to know where to start decluttering, starting with your duplicate items will be a good bet. It won’t be easy, but once you get rid of the duplicates and see how much space you just cleared up in your home and how much more organized your home looks, you’ll be motivated to continue decluttering the rest of your house.
12. Donate your items
There is some controversy with this decluttering tip. Some people think they want to try and sell their clutter to make some extra cash.
While you can sell your clutter, your best bet is to donate it.
If you decide to sell your clutter, that means it has to be sitting around your house or garage until someone buys it, which gives you more opportunities and time for you to decide that you don’t actually want to get rid of it, and to bring it back into your house.
Donating your items allows you to get rid of them as soon as you’ve packed them into the box/bin while you declutter.
You may be able to make a couple dollars here and there with the items that you sell, it’s not worth the cost of having them end up back in your house, which means you just wasted hours of your time decluttering, for those items to end right back where they came from.
Save yourself the hassle and frustration and take that box straight to a local thrift store as soon as you’ve finished decluttering the different areas of your home.
13. Make a decision and stick to it
I briefly mentioned this before, but it’s so important I’m going to mention it again. While you’re decluttering your items, make a decision and stick to it. It’s all too common for people to decide to get rid of something, then look back through the “donate” box and decide they do want to keep it, after all.
Once you’ve made your decision to get rid of something, don’t second guess yourself but stick to what you originally decided.
You could make a rule for yourself that you’re not allowed to go through the donation box, that once the items are in there, they have to stay in there.
Organization tips for hoarders
You’ve got rid of the clutter and now you’re wondering what to do with the rest of the stuff you own. You don’t have clutter lying around anymore, but your house still looks messy.
Now that you’ve cleared the unnecessary items from your house, it’s time to organize the things that you are left with.
Here are a couple organizing tips for hoarders:
- Have a home for everything you own. Make sure everything you own has a designated place in your house where it belongs. (Here’s how to create a home for your belongings.) Don’t leave things lying around, put them where they belong and only take them out when they are being used (then put them right back away). Having a place for everything in your house will keep your home looking organized.
- Clean up clutter hotspots daily. Every home has its clutter hotspots. Clutter hotspots are certain areas in the house that always collect clutter. This could be the kitchen counter/table, coffee table, entryway bench, night table, etc. Quite often these are the places that keys, purses and mail get left. You can eliminate your house’s clutter hotspots by recognizing where they are and ensuring you dedicate a couple minutes from each day to keep them clean.
- Use the “one in” “one out” rule. Anytime you get something new, get rid of something old that’s the same. For example, if you get a new shirt, donate one of your old shirts. If your kid gets a new toy, donate one of their old toys.
- Implement the “one-touch” rule. The one-touch rule is a fantastic way to keep your house clean. This means that you should only touch something ONCE before it goes back where it belongs. For example, if you’re reading a book, put it back where it belongs as soon as you’re done (instead of putting it down wherever you are). Or, if your kid is playing with a toy, it should be put away where it belongs when they’re done playing with it before they move on to the next thing.
- Use miscellaneous baskets. Miscellaneous baskets are decorative baskets that you place in different areas of your home. You may have 5 different miscellaneous baskets in your home, or maybe you just have one. The purpose of these baskets is to collect anything that is out of place throughout the day. Of course, you want to put everything back where it belongs as soon as you’re done with it, but that’s not always feasible. So, in the case that you are reading and you don’t have time to put your book back where it belongs, you would put it into the miscellaneous basket. This basket will collect a variety of different objects throughout the day, then at the end of the day, you’ll take the basket and put everything in it back where it belongs. (You want your miscellaneous baskets to look nice, so these wicker baskets work perfectly.)
How to help a hoarder get rid of things
If you’re not the one who struggles with clutter, but you know someone who does and you’re wondering how to help them get rid of their belongings, it’s important to remember that you can’t force this upon someone.
They have to come to the decision to declutter on their own, and once they do, you can then help them get rid of their clutter.
But if you try to force them to declutter when they’re not ready to, or they don’t think they need to, you can get rid of all their stuff, but they’ll just start to collect more clutter again. It won’t keep the clutter out.
If you truly want to learn how to help a hoarder, you can encourage them and help them see that they have a clutter problem. Offer them support and help, and show them that they can be happier with less stuff.
What it comes down to is being there for them. Don’t judge them or criticize them – this will only make them bitter and won’t solve the problem. But if you can support them and help them realize that they need help, that will get them one step closer to being able to let go of not only their clutter but their clutter habits altogether.
Paper hoarding solutions
Paper clutter can be one of the most difficult types of clutter to get rid of. When paper clutter starts to pile up, it can feel nearly impossible to get rid of it. With everything from important receipts, warranties, and manuals to newspapers, letters, and flyers, it can feel impossible to tame the paper clutter.
But, it’s important that you don’t ignore this paper clutter and you work diligently to get rid of it, just like with the other clutter in your home.
When sorting through your paper clutter, you’ll have some papers that you have to keep. To keep these papers organized and from piling up again, use a filing cabinet to keep your papers organized and all in one place. (Filing cabinets can get quite expensive, so these filing boxes are an affordable alternative.)
Here are a few tips for getting rid of paper clutter:
1. Divide the papers into piles
If the paper clutter is organized into like-piles, you can skip this step and move on to the next step. If it’s not sorted, you’ll need to start by sorting it into different piles. You’ll want to sort it into these different piles: impersonal papers, statements, bills, receipts, manuals, letters, everything else. In the impersonal papers pile, you’ll put everything like newspapers, junk mail, flyers, etc. The statements pile will hold things like your bank statements, bills is where you’ll put all your different bills, receipts is where receipts and warranties will go, manuals will hold all the manuals you have lying around, letters is where you’ll put any personal letters, everything else is where you’ll pile the papers that don’t fit into any of the other categories. Once you’ve got the papers categorized, you can move on to the next step.
2. Part with the impersonal papers first
Take that impersonal papers pile that you made in the previous step and toss them all. You don’t need to hold on to old newspapers, flyers, or junk mail. Don’t think too much about this step – simply grab the whole pile and toss it.
3. Sort through statements
You’ve parted with the impersonal papers, so now comes the part where each paper has to be looked at to be able to make a decision to keep or toss. Start by sorting through your “statements” pile. If you come across any statements that you don’t need to hold on to, now is the time to toss them. Remember, if you do online banking, you can find your bank statements online and therefore don’t need to hold on to the physical copies.
4. Sort through bills
These are your credit card, utility, and any other bills you have. Again, if you pay these online you can find the bill online and don’t need to hold on to the physical copy. Get rid of any you no longer need.
5. Sort through receipts
Receipts will likely be the hardest and most time-consuming paper pile to go through. You’ll want to be careful about which receipts you throw out, but you don’t want to keep them all. Keep only the receipts that you may need in the case that you have to return something. Any other receipts, unless they need to be kept for a different reason, can go.
6. Sort through manuals
You’ll notice that some of your manuals may be years old. You might not even have the item that went along with the manual anymore. If that’s the case, you can confidently get rid of the manual. You may want to keep manuals of items that will be taken apart in the future and you don’t remember how to put back together.
Keep in mind that you can find manuals for many items online, so do a quick search online and if you can find the specific manual you have, feel free to toss the physical copy.
7. Sort through personal letters
You’re almost done – now you’re just going to sort through any personal letters you have. Some you might want to keep as a keepsake, but it’s important that you don’t keep them all. Keep a small handful, but no more. Remember, for each thing you keep, you have to then create a space for it in your home. To reduce clutter you could scan the letters onto your computer and save them in a file, then discard the physical copy.
8. Everything else
This is the home stretch – you’ve gotten rid of nearly all your paper clutter, and the stuff that you’ve kept you’ve organized nicely in a filing box. Now you’re going to quickly go through any other paper clutter that is left. Get rid of the papers you no longer need.
Decluttering isn’t easy, especially when you’re living in a house that looks like it’s off of “Hoarders”. It’s overwhelming, time-consuming, and difficult. But, once you declutter your house you will feel so, so much better.
If you need more motivation, this book about decluttering and organizing will encourage you to get rid of anything that doesn’t give you joy and will help you declutter your house without being overwhelmed.
You’ll have more energy when living in a clutter-free house, you’ll be happier, and it’ll be easier for you to clean.
Decluttering is hard, but it’s worth it. If you follow the decluttering tips for hoarders that I laid out above you’ll be well on your way to a decluttered home in no time – without being overwhelmed.
You’ve got this!
I’d love to hear from you – what are some of your favorite decluttering tips that made the biggest differences in the way that you decluttered your stuff?