Clutter Control Tips and Help for Hoarders & PackRats •
The process of decluttering for hoarders and pack rats is VERY overwhelming. Let’s face it – clutter causes ANXIETY for almost everyone but it’s so much worse for people with a hoarding disorder and definitely causes them to feel overwhelmed with anxiety about throwing things away. If it’s you that is the pack rat or YOU are decluttering a hoarder’s house you probably will benefit from these hoarder cleaning tips, the hoarder cleaning checklist and the super helpful declutter tips for hoarders that we’ve collected.
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Are you a pack rat? Do you LIVE with a hoarder or pack rat? Ready to finally declutter your home, but your (or their) pack rat tendencies are getting in your way?
Many folks end up on this page to learn how to clean a hoarder’s house fast or how to convince a pack rat to get rid of stuff – and those are topics that we are going to cover. If you, or someone you’re helping, gets anxiety about throwing things away, keep reading to learn the best way to help a hoarder and declutter advice that really helps.
According to Merriam, a pack rat is “a person who collects or hoards especially unneeded items”.
Now, I don’t really associate “pack rat” with “hoarder” – to me, those are two different extremes – but I guess everyone has their own definition in the hoarder vs pack rat debate.
In my opinion, a pack rat is someone who rarely throws things away.
I’ll admit, I can absolutely be a pack rat – perhaps I have a clutter problem.
I have this irrational fear that if I throw certain things away, I’m going to need them after they’re gone.
Once I realized that about myself, I stopped organizing my clutter and actually began to DEclutter and CLEAN my clutter, things got SO much better.
Once I also added in some pretty storage containers for the things I DO need, I really started to enjoy the process AND the results of my efforts!
These are my FAVORITE storage containers
They are airtight and they look GREAT sitting on my kitchen counters, in my cabinets and other storage spaces around my house!
I even use them for my desk and craft stuff - LOVE them!
Cleaning Tips for Hoarders and Packrats
Here are more organizing tips and cleaning hacks for packrats and hoarders that really REALLY help to start cleaning a messy house, clear the clutter and simplify your life.
Stop Hoarding Clutter
The hardest first step for me was to learn how to STOP hoarding clutter. I knew if I learned to stop hoarding behavior, my cleaning and organizing because of my hoarding behavior would be SO much easier.
Like I said, I’m more of a “packrat” than I am a hoarder.
My fear of “needing it later” is a mental block for me that I’m working on.
Warning Signs of a Hoarder
Now, YOU might be thinking that you are more of a hoarder than just a cluttered packrat. If so, do you know the warning signs of a hoarder?
The ADAA lists these signs and symptoms as warnings of hoarding behavior:
- Inability to throw away possessions
- Severe anxiety when attempting to discard items
- Great difficulty categorizing or organizing possessions
- Indecision about what to keep or where to put things
- Distress, such as feeling overwhelmed or embarrassed by possessions
- Suspicion of other people touching items
- Obsessive thoughts and actions: fear of running out of an item or of needing it in the future; checking the trash for accidentally discarded objects
- Functional impairments, including loss of living space, social isolation, family or marital discord, financial difficulties, health hazards
☑ This Workbook has been very helpful for many with hoarding tendencies.
Here are some super helpful decluttering tips for pack rats, like me =)
It’s very easy to assume that anyone who lives in a clutter-free, organized house was born organized and always lived like that.
In my experience, it’s quite the OPPOSITE!
Many of the most organized people I know started out as disorganized pack rats.
I’m also a former pack rat.
People I’ve met in the past few years are often surprised to find out that my space used to always be very cluttered and disorganized.
Because I work hard to live clutter free – and I’m succeeding – I know that if you set your mind to getting rid of your own clutter, you can.
Knowing where all that stuff IS has greatly reduced my anxiety!
I used this printable “emergency binder” – SO helpful!
How Much Clutter Is Normal?
You might be wondering if you are a hoarder, a ‘pack rat’ or simply a clutter magnet, etc.
Whatever you call it, you’re probably OVERWHELMED with too much STUFF, right?
Many people feel like they are drowning in stuff and wonder ‘How MUCH clutter is normal?”
Whether it’s YOU that has too much stuff, or maybe your husband has too much stuff, it doesn’t matter what technical name you give the reason behind it…
what matters MOST is what you DO about it.
If you’re a pack rat and want to overcome your hoarding tendencies, or you want to truly help a hoarder clean their house, keep reading for some super helpful clutter control tips to help you put some order to your house and help the process along.
Try to not overthink all this – it CAN be done!
And remember, everyone has clutter – EVERYONE.
Yes, YOU might have a bit more clutter than “everyone else”, but that’s OK.
What matters most is that you’re ready to DO something about it.
Decluttering Tips for Hoarders
Alrighty, let’s jump into the 8 simple decluttering tips for those that have hoarding tendencies. Remember, cleaning and organizing for hoarders is NOT an easy task – so if you’re trying to convince a hoarder to throw things away, you might want to back up and keep these 8 tips in mind.
Decluttering an entire house is hard.
Decluttering room by room is easier.
Decluttering one small area, like organizing your desk, is even easier.
Decluttering an even smaller space, like organizing your junk drawer, is even better for those that get overwhelmed easily.
Divide the space you need to declutter into smaller and smaller sections until you can look at a section and say, “I can tackle this!”
Work on that space, then move to the next.
Track Your Progress
Take a camera and snap a few pictures of your space before you start. When you finish decluttering a section, snap another picture of that area.
When you compare the before and after pictures, you’ll be able to see the decluttering progress that you’ve made – and it will GREAT!
Just try it for ONE room or one space IN a room – it really motivates you!
Get Rid of the Obvious Trash First
The first thing you should do when you declutter is take a trash bag and get rid of the obvious trash.
Overwhelmed by clutter and can’t seem to get motivated to declutter ALL your clutter piles? Here’s a Decluttering Club Tip: Always use BAGS when you are decluttering your home… NOT boxes. There’s a very simple reason why bags work SO much better when decluttering any room in your home.
Junk mail, packaging, last week’s shopping list – trash them.
You will instantly see some progress in your decluttering project.
Have trouble throwing things away?
Here are 7 questions I ask myself when deciding whether to keep a thing – or trash it.
Start With the Noticeable, Then Move To the Hidden
It is easy for pack rats to start emptying out all of the dark corners and hidden spaces when they declutter.
However, if you already have clutter sitting out in view, this only adds to what you need to work on to have a visibly decluttered space.
Start with the clutter you can see. Then tackle your hidden clutter zones one at a time.
Don’t make this even harder on yourself – start with the areas that will show the most immediate results from your efforts.
Keep Fewer Multiples
Do you really need six travel cups and four weeks’ worth of socks?
Much of the extra unused stuff in our lives is easily obtainable again if we find that we need it in the future.
If you have more of something than you use, thin it out until you only have what you actively use.
How Do I Begin?
Number one question we get regarding hoarder cleaning tips is:
“I’m a hoarder how do I BEGIN to clean??”
I know you feel SO overwhelmed and can’t seem to get started, but here’s my best advice on where to start cleaning…
Yes, we talk about planning your decluttering steps, but the hardest step is the most important step:
Just start SOMEWHERE.
It’s easy to get involved in planning your entire course of action for decluttering your home, but if you spend all of your time planning and don’t get rid of stuff, you will be no better off than before you decided to take the decluttering plunge.
Start now by finding five things you don’t want to keep, or by clearing the junk mail off of your desk.
Doing something small is better than doing absolutely nothing.
Need help and motivation?
Try this Declutter Challenge – it really works!
The 40 Bags in 40 Days Decluttering Challenge is a VERY popular way people are decluttering their homes. In short, you declutter a bag a day – yep, it’s 40 days of purging your CLUTTER one bag at a time. If you want to know how to decrapify your house, …
There are also a couple of things that you can do to help you keep your space decluttered over time. These tips take some dedication, but will help you long-term.
Don’t Try to Change Overnight
You didn’t become a pack rat in a day — it was a habit that you built up over time.
So, for the best long-term results, don’t worry about trying to change yourself in a day or week.
Work on finding and changing the little habits that all contribute to your pack rat nature.
If you work on changing your habits one at a time, your progress will be more sustainable.
☑ Need Help With That?
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Just ONE of those daily habits helped ME a TON!
Learn About Your Buying Habits
A decluttered space is energizing, but if you are still following your old clutter-building ways, that space will fill up before long.
Pay attention to the reasons WHY you buy things.
Do you buy new things to cheer you up? Or do you feel a thrill when you find a new yard sale gem?
Do you buy things when you’re bored or you feel sad and unmotivated?
Cleaning Motivation To Get Motivated To Clean – Even If Depressed & UN-Motivated * It is HARD to get motivated to clean your house when you feel depressed, sad and very UNmotivated to do anything at all. Plus feeling overwhelmed by your messy house doesn’t help anything at all! So …
I used to compulsively browse through craft stores and used book stores when I felt bored – it’s just what I DID, ya know?
Learning why you buy and keep things will make you more aware when you’re about to buy something that will quickly turn to clutter in your newly decluttered space.
Many people who struggle with clutter and hoarding issues have really turned their lives around to a more simple and clutter-free life with the help of this one little book:
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
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- Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
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When you’re a pack rat, decluttering your house may seem too big or too involved of a task.
But if you break the process up into sections and learn a few things about yourself, you can not only get rid of the clutter, but you can keep it away.
How To Declutter When You LIVE With a Hoarder
If you LIVE with a hoarder and need to figure out HOW to HELP a hoarder declutter when the clutter is in YOUR house, well, things get tricky.
It’s different when you’re dealing with a “pack rat” vs living with a true hoarder.
Most “pack rats” simply accumulate STUFF that they feel has value as a physical thing.
On the other hand, clutter is more than just “stuff” to many hoarders – emotionally, it goes WAY beyond clutter being “things” which makes it very difficult for a hoarder to change their ways… or for YOU to change THEIR ways… without professional help.
Folks write in all the time and ask me how to convince a hoarder to get rid of stuff.
Helping a hoarder get organized is a real challenge and you might feel you need to do certain things to almost ‘force’ them to declutter.
So how do you convince them?
Ready for the truthful answer?
You simply CAN’T convince them to get rid of their stuff – THEY have to decide – and it’s a process that very well might require some sort of Professional help.
Hoarding is a very deep-rooted issue.
Imagine you came home one day and someone went all through your closet and threw away your clothes that THEY thought you didn’t need.
You might feel somewhat violated, right?
Now take that feeling and multiply it by 10,000.
Don’t spend your time trying to CONVINCE them – make effort to support them and get the help they might need to make those decisions on their own.
In my opinion, and from my own experience, the best way to declutter your HOME when you live with a hoarder, is to stop trying to fight the disease of hoarding and, instead, give your hoarder a safe place to “hoard” their things.
Give them ONE room, one area in the garage or basement, etc where it’s OK and their things are safe from being thrown away without their permission.
If you can narrow down their hoarding to ONE small area of your home, then YOU can get to work decluttering the rest of your living areas.
Even if you can ease them into one “clutter room”, I’d still advise getting professional help to understand the psychological reasons behind their hoarding.
From Cluttered Mess To Organized Success The Fast and Easy Way – Ready to finally transform your home from cluttered mess to organized success? Great! Below are tips and tricks for cleaning your cluttered home the fast and easy way. Your cluttered house IS a sign of a problem. Whether …
When you decide you ARE ready to organize your home…
Such simply BRILLIANT organizers for every little space in your home!
I could spend ALL DAY browsing through all these home organization products and planning out what I need.
I know that having a ‘place for EVERYTHING’ is key for ME to keep my home neat, organized and clutter-free.
If I need to spend a few bucks to make that happen, I’m ALL for it!
Being organized is MUCH cheaper than being a cluttered mess.
Are You a Cluttered Mess – Borderline Hoarder? It’s Ok… Here’s Help * Truth is, clutter happens to even the best of us – BUT some of us are just designed by nature to have a cluttered mess lifestyle. The good news is, we don’t HAVE to be messy people …
- Cleaning Tips for Hoarders and Packrats
- Stop Hoarding Clutter
- Warning Signs of a Hoarder
- How Much Clutter Is Normal?
- Decluttering Tips for Hoarders
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
- How To Declutter When You LIVE With a Hoarder
☑ Click To Learn the 5 Simple Words That WILL Make YOU More Organized
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