5 Reasons You Keep Clutter in Your Home

Man working in home office by bikes and books piled by doorway
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Have you ever found yourself putting something in a box just to get it out of the way? Don't worry, because you're not alone. Take some time to dig a bit deeper and figure out what type of clutter you might have, why you have it, and what to do about it.

You Can't Pass Up a Bargain

Are you the type who can't resist a bargain or freebie? Stocking up and taking advantage of good deals is natural, but if those bargains or freebies sit unused in your home, ask yourself whether you would buy the item if it was full price. If not, it could be time to toss it. It's only a good deal if you're going to get a lot of use or enjoyment out of the item on a regular basis. Here are a few other ways to reduce your bargain clutter:

  • Start making and using a shopping list so you're not tempted to waste money on items you never intended to buy.
  • Stop the habit of using shopping as a form of entertainment or distraction and use the time on more productive activities.
  • Wait a few days, and if you're still thinking about that item, chances are you'll buy it and use it.

You Hold Onto Sentimental Keepsakes

It's understandable if you have a tough time letting go of sentimental items. It may feel like you're turning your back on your most meaningful memories and past events. But there are a few good ways to handle these feelings without cluttering up your home. When you take the following steps, it will be easier for you to donate or consign the rest of your keepsakes:

  • Choose a few items as a touchstone to the past to take care of and let the rest go.
  • Store the item or items properly; learn to care for antique linens and photographs, for example.
  • Keep memorabilia stored in a remote dry and cool area of your home, such as the basement or attic, but not in your everyday closets.
  • Display a few small and important items, such as greeting cards and photographs.

You Like to Stock Up

Who doesn't love a fully stocked pantry? Humans are hardwired to stock up to be fully prepared for tough winters and lean times. But there’s a limit to how much a home can hold. If you're overly enthusiastic about buying grocery items in bulk, your good intentions may have turned into clutter. And, you run the risk of items spoiling. There's a fine line between filling versus cluttering up your pantry and cabinets. Here's what to do to avoid the clutter:

  • Save on space by buying travel sizes—that way you can see if you like the product plus it's easier to store.
  • Focus on bulking up on staple household items, such as paper goods and detergents, that you are certain to use when stocking up.
  • Dedicate a space in your basement or one away from your living area and kitchen to store your stock up items.

You Buy Dream Items

You may call these items "aspirational" clutter." They represent the items you dream of using in the future to better yourself. Consider the unopened self-help books on your bedside table, the unworn fancy dress hanging in your closet, the unopened gourmet ingredients never used for a recipe, or the brand new golf-club set waiting for those lessons you plan to take one day soon. These unused items take up valuable space in your home, and may even turn into salable items for your next tag sale. Here are steps to take to stop this type of clutter from coming into your home:

  • Buy a piece of special occasion clothing only if you have a place to wear it in the immediate future; buying an item just to have it takes up valuable real estate in your closet.
  • Buy a new spice for a recipe you already have in mind and intend to make within the week; spices can spoil and pantry ingredients can attract pests, too.
  • Don't spend money on a new hobby until you're actively engaged in participating in it; rent or borrow an item before buying it. 

You Don't Know How to Declutter

You may have clutter because it's a daunting task to declutter. Learning how to clear unwanted and unused items takes time and patience on your part. There are three keys to eliminating the jumble of things you have in your home: