The Top 8 Reasons Why You Have Clutter

Messy bedroom with drawers
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Despite your best intentions, do you still have clutter? Just about every home has some clutter—even if it’s contained behind closed closet doors or tucked away in a garage, basement, or attic. You know where your clutter lurks, and even if it's not visible, it could be causing you stress. It's time to eliminate the burden clutter brings by getting to the root of why you still have it.

Here are eight reasons why your home might be cluttered.

  • 01 of 08

    You're Unsure What's Clutter and What's Not

    pile of books

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    Sometimes there's a fine line between what makes clutter and what is not clutter. Something may be valuable but not very useful. Or, you're worried you might need the item you're about to toss or donate. Determine and abide by your own definition of clutter. Here are pointers to help you define what clutter is to you:

    • Do you find the item useful right now?
    • Do you find the item beautiful to look at?
    • Are you willing to repair it right now if it's broken?
    • Will I feel guilty tossing or donating an item and why?
    • Is this an item that simply needs to be properly stored?
  • 02 of 08

    You're Unsure How Long to Keep Things

    deciding when to part with items is a big part of avoiding clutter

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    It's common to feel confused about how long to keep items, whether it's clothing, sentimental items, gifts, or financial documents. Clothing that's out of style, worn, faded, or ill-fitting are likely clutter candidates to toss. But sentimental items and gifts don't have a pre-determined shelf-life. Try handing down sentimental items and gifts while displaying a handful of other meaningful items. When it comes to paper, it pays to learn how long to save documents that may be clogging up your files for no reason.

  • 03 of 08

    You Need Storage Strategies

    items neatly organized and stored

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    Storing items can be overwhelming. You might not have enough room or the right storage containers to properly contain various items. When left alone, those items can turn into clutter by default and creating tripping hazards at the same time. Learning the tips and tricks on how to store things properly helps the decluttering process along.

    Keep Storage Strategies Simple

    The abundance of storage containers can be overwhelming. Keep it simple and stress-free by committing to buying clear bins of all sizes. That way you can reuse bins anywhere in the house regardless of decor and you'll know what's in each box.

  • 04 of 08

    You Need a Home Organization Routine

    making the bed as part of a daily routine

    The Spruce / Lucianna McIntosh

    Establishing a quick routine for housekeeping and organizing is easier than you may think. Once you've got your routine down, you'll be on auto-pilot when it comes to staying clutter-free. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

    • Do a daily clutter sweep (about 15 minutes) throughout your house.
    • Have a weekly routine, including meal planning and cleaning your house room by room throughout the week.
    • Your monthly routine involves deeper cleaning and a more intense decluttering process.
    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    You're Unsure What Tweaks Control Clutter

    trays for storing paper

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    Clutter busters are the small tools you use to control the stuff around your house. Trays, bins, baskets, jars, and hooks are all excellent tweaks to corral everyday clutter. Use these containers to group like items together so they're easy to find. For example, gather strewn mail in one tray, easily displaced remotes in another basket, and messy toiletries in a tray.

  • 06 of 08

    You Compare Your Clutter With Other People's Clutter

    photos and mail

    Rirri / Unsplash

    You may see other people's clutter and compare it to yours. Your clutter may not be so bad after all. But just because your best friend's house is filled with stuff doesn't mean your home has to be that way, too. Everyone has reasons individual reasons for clutter, but it's up to you to figure out what motivates you to stay disorganized.

  • 07 of 08

    You Buy Things You Don't Need

    paints and colored pencils

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    If you love to score items with bargain-basement prices, or you have plans to take up hobbies that require purchasing tools and equipment, you may be unintentionally cluttering up your home. Your free item may be tossed aside unused. Or, you may abandon that hobby after the first class or lesson. Two thought patterns can help you curb this problem:

    • If you don't have an immediate idea of how to use a sale item or who to give it to as a gift then don't take it home.
    • If you want to learn a skill or hobby, buy the bare minimum or rent the items while sticking with the activity for a few months before purchasing more tools and equipment.
  • 08 of 08

    You're Unsure How to Let Things Go

    sentimental clutter

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    Letting go—especially of sentimental items—is a big part of decluttering. It's possible to clear your home of this type of clutter while keeping cherished memories. Accept that you'll feel many emotions going through the items and parting with them, but these tips can help ease the process:

    • Set a goal (time and date) to tackle a box of sentimental items.
    • Take it slow when sorting so you don't feel rushed or overwhelmed.
    • Pass items down to family and friends.
    • Donate items to a charity that's meaningful to you.
    • Choose a limited amount of items for display.