The 6 Most Common Types of Clutter

The Most Common Types of Clutter

When I first started writing about clutter, I focused on how to cut clutter room-by-room in a home. Phrases like "clutter busters," "declutter," and "clutter control" came to mind immediately. But after doing some research, I realized that before you begin removing clutter, you have to define what is clutter. According to the dictionary, clutter is "A collection of things lying about in an untidy mass." That's pretty general. In order to assign items as...MORE clutter, let's look at a few different types and how you can purge them today.

  • 01 of 06

    Aspirational Clutter

    Most common types of clutter
    Declutter Every Day. Pexels

    Simply defined: This is the stuff you buy to try to appear -- to others and yourself -- a more interesting or skilled person.

    Think of a coffee table book you keep on display but have never sat down and read or the set of golf clubs you bought after one lesson that are now collecting dust. Aspirational clutter is the clutter we accumulate because we aspire to be different than who we really are.

    Here, I've written more about how to spot aspirational clutter and how to stop accumulating it read...MORE more about aspirational clutter

  • 02 of 06

    Clutter Without a Storage Space

    West Elm Lacquer Wood Tray
    West Elm Lacquer Wood Tray. Photo / West Elm

    There's a saying that been attributed to Samuel Smiles, Isabella Beeton & Benjamin Franklin: "A place for everything, and everything in it's place." Simple, elegant & easy, right? Not always. Some of your clutter isn't really clutter, it's "stuff" without a home: mail you have yet to open, books you haven't put on your bookshelf (because your bookshelf is overflowing), or the beach chairs lying in a pile in the corner of your garage.

    This is the type of...MORE clutter that is going to take some extra steps and time to deal with; here are 2 resources:

  • 03 of 06

    Trash Masquerading as Clutter

    Container Store Bigso Blue Box
    Container Store Bigso Blue Box. Photo / The Container Store

    This is the easiest type of clutter to banish. Some of the stuff you have lying around your home is really just stuff you need to throw out. This is why every single guide to organizing (ClothesGarageKitchen Cabinets, Kitchen PantryShoes) I write for this site begins with a "decluttering" phase. Decluttering is sorting your things and trashing or donating what you no longer need or use. 

    Decluttering Resources:

  • 04 of 06

    Bargain Clutter

    Jenna Lyons Closet from Trulia
    Jenna Lyons Closet from Trulia. Photo / Trulia
    Can't resist a good sale? Is "free gift with purchase" too enticing to resist? You might be hoarding bargain clutter. Just because something was on sale -- or even free! -- doesnt mean you need to bring it into your home. Read more about bargain clutter and tips to let it go.
    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Abundance Clutter

    Shayne Kitchen Table from Pottery Barn
    Shayne Kitchen Table from Pottery Barn. Photo / Pottery Barn
    Is stocking up your favorite weekend activity? Do you regularly buy new items in triplicate “just in case” you need it someday? You might be stocking up on abundance clutter if you keep large amounts of products around the house that go unused. Read more about abundance clutter.
  • 06 of 06

    Sentimental Clutter

    Cynthia Chiffonier from Pottery Barn
    Cynthia Chiffonier from Pottery Barn. Photo / Pottery Barn

    Are you afraid to throw out your baby blanket? Or the crystal vase you received from Aunt Vera? The one you’ve never displayed? Do you have to move your wedding dress out of the way to reach your everyday work clothes? If so, you might be holding onto sentimental clutter.