The Top 8 Reasons Why You Have Clutter

Why do you have clutter? Despite our best intentions, 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.

Here are eight reasons why your home might be cluttered.

  • 01 of 08

    You Don't Know What Clutter Is

    pile of books

    Praiwan Wasanruk / Getty Images

    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.

  • 02 of 08

    You Are Not Sure How Long to Keep Things

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

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    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, "Many people have no methodology of when and where to let go of things." Well, I'm here to help.

  • 03 of 08

    You Don't Know How to Store Things

    items neatly organized and stored

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    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 need it.

  • 04 of 08

    You Don't Follow a Home Organization Routine

    making the bed as part of a daily routine

    The Spruce / Lucianna McIntosh

    Establishing easy routines for housekeeping and organizing is key. Once you've got a good routine down, you can go on auto-pilot to clear the clutter rather than think about the clutter.

    The best routine is to declutter for a small amount of time every single day. A home organization routine brings you through your home weekly to organize and clear the clutter in another area for a total of 15-30 minutes per day. Totally doable.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    You Are Not Using Clutter Busters

    trays for storing paper

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    Trays, bins, baskets, jars, and hooks are all excellent clutter busters because they take one-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.

  • 06 of 08

    You Keep Common Sources of Clutter Around

    photos and mail

    Rirri / Unsplash

    Will you be dismayed to know that your clutter isn't even unique? The clutter in most homes comes from a surprising array of sources, most of which will be instantly recognizable to you.

  • 07 of 08

    You Buy Too Much "Stuff" You Don't Need

    paints and colored pencils

    Westend61 / Getty Images

    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 fill your home with a new hobby's accouterments.

  • 08 of 08

    You Don't Know How to Let It Go

    sentimental clutter

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    Letting go—especially of sentimental items—is a big part of decluttering.

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 accumulate possessions. Once you're more aware, it may be easier to remove unnecessary objects from your home and workspace.

Fun Fact

Decluttering can lead to money—you may find an undeposited check or cash that accidentally got stashed away. Additionally, you might choose to sell unused items online or at a garage sale.