Like a considerable number of people, you may face an ever-increasing number of items in your home. In other words, you may be heading towards issues with clutter in your residence. As a consequence, you now desire to understand what you can do to prevent the accumulation of clutter. You may even desire to know what can be done to avoid becoming a hoarder.

What Is a Hoarder?

If you worry clutter is accumulating in your residence, and if you worry that you personally have become a hoarder, you almost certainly are not one. The reality is that hoarding is a psychological disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic. One of the key elements of hoarding disorder is that a person with this condition doesn’t recognize that he or she has a problem. The simple fact that you are inquiring about dealing with clutter and worried about being a hoarder is an indication that you are not clinically afflicted with the disorder.

The fact that you are not clinically diagnosed with hoarding disorder today doesn’t mean that you might not face that condition at a future point in time. Traumatic life events like the death of a family member or divorce can lay the foundation for hoarding disorder. This is more of a possibility if you already have a predisposition towards clutter in your home.

Having made these points about clinical hoarding disorder and your life, you may have a family member or other loved one who does meet the clinical definition of the condition. Considering that possibility, the basic symptoms of hoarding disorder, according to the experts at the Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Excessive accumulation of items for which there is no use
  • Profound, if not overwhelming, difficulty in throwing away items, including things of no value
  • Increasing inability to make decisions
  • Persistent procrastination
  • Difficulties in organizing and planning
  • Heightened emotions at the thought of giving up items
  • Clutter continues to accumulate until a residence becomes increasingly unlivable

Start the Declutter Process Slowly

If you have an issue with clutter in your residence, and if you worry that may eventually develop into hoarding, your best strategy is to commence the declutter process slowly. Slowly starting the declutter process slowly alleviates stress and anxiety that can accompany such an effort. In addition, by starting slowly you can witness a sense of accomplishment in eliminating clutter in your home.

Decluttering slowly involves selecting a small area in your home, or one type of collection of items you may have in your residence. Allocate a week to deal with that space. This tactic ensures that you don’t become overwhelmed by biting off too much at one time.

The Box Test

If you are like many people, you may balk at eliminating things you’ve accumulated out of fear you might need them in the future. (Keep in mind that concern you might need something in the future doesn’t rise to the level of being horrified at the prospect of throwing something out. In other words, just because you have a reasonable concern about a potential need for something in the future does not in and of itself equate with being a symptom of hoarding disorder.)

One strategy you can utilize to address the concern about needing certain things in the future is to employ what fairly can be called the box test. If you are dealing with smaller items, place them into a box. In most instances, clutter does involve the accumulation of smaller items.

Set the box aside for six months. If you don’t open the box during that time, you can get rid of the contents.

Handle an Item One Time

Another strategy you can employ, which is not necessarily at odds with the box test, is to handle an item one time. A common problem people encounter when it comes to trying to declutter is that they routinely set one item after another aside to reconsider at another time.

If you want to be successful with your declutter effort, make a decision about an item in the present time. Either make a firm decision to keep an item or to eliminate it. If there is a sincere issue about possibly needing something in the future, submit it to the box test.

Eliminate Unused Items

If you are like the vast majority of people, you’ve items in your residence that you’ve never used. If you need to declutter your residence, eliminating consistently unused items from your home is a wise course.

The process of eliminating unused items can be augmented by taking what best can be described as a minimalistic approach to the acquisition of new items. You avoid the purchase of items that you lack an existing need to utilize.

Consignment Options

You may have accumulated clothing and other items that have some use. Rather than throw such items away, you might want to consider exploring possible consignment options. By going the consignment route, items you don’t need can be put to good use and you are able to make some money in the process. Realizing some cash in the process of eliminating items can encourage you in the effort.

Donation Options

Finally, when you have the need to clear up clutter you can also consider donating your items to one charity or another. You can make the process of sorting items to be donated an ongoing process, according to U.S. News & World Report. Not only does this put things you don’t need to better use, but others who may not have the money available to acquire certain necessities also have access to them because of your generosity.

I do have an issue with accumulating clutter in your home and you find yourself with real issues eliminating items, you may not meet the technical definition of hoarding disorder and yet nonetheless need professional assistance. This professional help can come in the form of an organizational specialist. In addition, even in the absence of diagnosed hoarding disorder, you may have some other issue or condition for which therapy or counseling might be beneficial. There are professionals that specialize in working with people who have issues relating to the clutter in a residence.


Emily Kil

Co-Owner of Eco Bear Biohazard Cleaning Company

Together with her husband, Emily Kil is co-owner of Eco Bear, a leading biohazard remediation company in Southern California. An experienced entrepreneur, Emily assisted in founding Eco Bear as a means of combining her business experience with her desire to provide assistance to people facing challenging circumstances. Emily regularly writes about her first-hand experiences providing services like biohazard cleanup, suicide cleanup, crime scene cleanup, unattended death cleanup, and other types of difficult remediations in homes and businesses.