21 Understandable Reasons For Clutter [& How To Stop It]


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All that stuff can pile up far too easily – without you even knowing what’s caused it! Here are all the underlying reasons for clutter in your home that may be at fault, and how to overcome them.

11 Eye Opening Reasons For Clutter In Your Home & What To Do About It

Have you got loads of unwanted stuff in your home, but are unsure exactly why? This list of reasons for clutter will help you to see where you may be struggling, and give you some help as to what to do to stop that clutter creeping in in the future.

Because it’s all too easy for clutter to build up, collecting in small or large chunks over time in our homes – and before we’ve even realised it, it’s become an issue that needs to be dealt with – ASAP.

So let’s look at the reasons for clutter – tackle why you may have it in your home, and work out some ways to  stop it before it builds up too much – sounds good, right? Let’s go…

Before we get going though, if you’re struggling with clutter and want to get started on getting it sorted out – then you’ll definitely want to check out the FREE quiz HERE. I show you exactly where you are right now, and what best to focus on first – it’s a game changer when it comes to getting things how you want them, and I can’t wait for you to get started.

The Reasons for clutter in your home:

#1 – Overshopping

How many times have you gone to the shops and bought things you never went out for, and never really needed?

The lure of those aisles and displays is real – and it’s a HUGE issue when you’re trying to have less in your home rather than more.

Of course – the best way to stop this type of clutter is to not buy it. But that’s easier said than done – so the best tip I can give you here is to always shop with a list whenever possible.

Whether it be for food, clothes, home items, gifts – etc… – know what you want and the budget you have before you go out – and only get what you need.

Putting cards in a purse

#2 – Overstocking

A few years ago, my husband opened the cupboard door in our kitchen only to find over 20 bottles of washing up liquid there.

I kid you not.

I pride myself on being pretty organised, and in charge of the house for the most part – so it came as a shock that we had that much. I had never purposely stocked that much in one go – so how could it have happened?

Easy when you realise that we’re all creatures of habit, and I am no different. I’d been doing the monthly shop online and ordering the same items roughly each time without giving it too much thought. Not always checking what we already had.

And that’s how the issue arose. Slowly – over time – just like any other clutter.

Now – with overstocking this can be a tricky beast because it feels like good clutter. After all – it’s stuff you need, right?

And yes, we did get through all that washing up liquid, and didn’t buy any for over a year afterwards – (lesson learned) – but the fact was, we had to store all that excess for all that time.

While there are good reasons to have SOME stock in the cupboards (so you don’t run out, or if the items are things you use all the time and are on sale) – the clutter is caused by having so much you can’t easily store it where it belongs….

So – what can you do to stop overstocking in the future?

  • Check the cupboards before you shop. By all means have a standard shopping list – but a sanity check of stock levels is a good idea before you go.
  • Check what storage you have and are willing to have – for your overspill of stuff. Be realistic on how much of anything you REALLY need, and where it will go once you’ve got it.

#3 – Not Decluttering Regularly

Decluttering can be seen by many as a one-off task, or at most a yearly thing. It’s a big task and has to be tackled when you’ve pencilled in the time.

Trouble with this is that leaving big gaps in between tackling your stuff, means you’re giving it a chance (and the excuse) to build up.

After all – you’ll deal with it one day…

To be successful for the long term with decluttering, you HAVE to do it each and every day.

I don’t say this to scare you – but actually to free you – because if you keep on top of it, chances are you won’t need to do a huge (and time consuming) whole house declutter again.

It’s like cleaning.

When you clean sporadically – you know you’ll have to deal with grime and dust build up. It will take longer to scrub things clean.

When you clean a little each day – a simple wipe of surfaces can be all that’s needed – and the whole house feels pretty good all the time.

So if you can start to get some good clutter habits in your life – which can take a few minutes a day and that’s it – you may be surprised at how much less that clutter builds up at all.

Related: 17 Sneaky Things Making Your Home Feel Cluttered – Despite Everything You’re Doing To Tidy Up…

#4 – Clutter Blindness

Over time we get used to our surroundings, and before we know it, we don’t see things in the same way as someone looking at it with fresh eyes.

We basically get clutter blindness.

We are so used to seeing things in these places, that they almost don’t feel out of place anymore – and that can cause the dreaded clutter build up to happen.

The key to stopping this is to become more present when looking around your home, so you notice things more.

Once GREAT way to do this is to take a photo of each room.

Seeing it in a different way will help you sort of see it for the first time – and you’ll spot those items that are out of place a lot more quickly.

Give it a go – you might be surprised at the results!

Another way to deal with it is to get into the habit of walking around our homes and really looking at the spaces like a stranger would.

What’s out of place? What’s building up? What needs tidying away to another room?

Staying on top of it daily, and being conscious of it – is a game changer and will stop clutter blindness in its tracks.

#5 – You Don’t Want To Waste Money

No-one wants to waste their hard earned cash if they can help it – and when you spend your money on things, you want to have made a good choice.

Trouble is – however much we try and buy the right things all the time – we won’t – and we don’t like to admit that we’ve bought things that we needn’t have.

As such – stuff that we think we need to make use of so we haven’t wasted our money, can build up in our homes.

This serves only to remind us every time we see it that it’s not doing anything for us – and that’s really not healthy.

So – what can we do instead?

You could look to sell the item so you get at least some cash back for it (but be aware that this may be very little), or donate to someone/something that would use and appreciate it.

Over all – just remember that it’s doing NO-ONE any good just sitting in your home gathering dust…

Yellow piggy bank

#6 – You Don’t Want To Waste Perfectly Good Things

You may have used these types of items a lot over time, but aren’t using them any longer. However they are working and not broken, not damaged etc… – so it can be hard to let them go when they could still be used.

Thing is – just as with #5 – you’re keeping these types of items because of a form of guilt. You’ve probably been brought up with the notion of waste being a bad thing – but truth is – these items are items that you HAVE used already.

You’ve got your money’s worth from them, you’ve enjoyed them – and you DON’T have to waste them by throwing them away.

Donate them or sell them so that others can enjoy them – and you’ll be onto a winner all-round.

#7 – Your Stuff Makes You Feel Secure

The thought of having nothing is scary – for sure.

For many people, having stuff around them equates to feeling safe – and that’s understandable – to an extent.

The issue arises when nothing can be let go of without feeling uneasy for not owning it any longer.

The best way to overcome this clutter creator is to acknowledge what you ACTUALLY need to feel secure in your home, be thankful that you have these things, and allow the other things to go.

#8 – It’s Gift Guilt

How many times have you been given a gift that has been something you can’t/won’t, or don’t want to, use?

It can be hard to let something go when a loved one has given it you – but you need to realise that the giver of the gift was happy that you received the gift – and that’s enough.

Just let it go – the giver wouldn’t want you to be unhappy, and they probably won’t ever realise that you haven’t got it any longer anyway…

A black present with black and white checked ribbon

#9 – It’s Sentimental To You

It may be that you’ve inherited items, got things that spark memories of the past, or things that mean something to you because you wanted to achieve or do it but haven’t as yet – and that stuff can be really emotional to part with for sure.

Sentimental items can be really tricky to deal with – they have such a strong emotional attachment – but the best way to let them go is to keep a part of them in some way.

Take a photo of the item, and create a photo book for your memories. This is a space saver for sure – and you don’t lose the sentimental value either – win-win!

#10 – You Don’t Have The Motivation To Declutter

The struggle is real!

Decluttering can feel less than exciting for a lot of people, and there’s always something more important in life to do than tackle our stuff, right? – but this can all too easily lead to lack of any motivation for the task at hand.

The trick is to treat it like cleaning the house – and make it one of your daily habits. This means you don’t have to think about it – you just get it done…

Related: How To Find The Motivation To Declutter – 13 Ways That Work

#11 – You’re Overwhelmed By The Thought Of Decluttering

Being overwhelmed is a real cause of mental clutter because we have to look at so much of our stuff in the process – and make so many decisions.

The trick is to break it down into smaller areas so that you can deal with each one in turn.

Related: 15 Ways to Declutter When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

#12 – You Don’t Know Where To Start

This is similar to cleaning your house. When you don’t know where to start in a cluttered home, you end up not starting at all – and things build up.

The best thing to do is to create a plan of action as to what you’ll deal with in order (like having a cleaning schedule helps with the cleaning!).

Related: Where To Start Decluttering – 5 Fantastic Options To Try

#13 – You’re Keeping Things “Just In Case”

Things can build up REALLY easily when you decide to keep things in case they’re needed in the future.

Trouble is – when you have this as your criteria for keeping things – you’ll never let anything go again.

Because – you’ll always have a chance that you’ll need something again!

So – if you aren’t totally sure you’re going to use it – let it go. You can always borrow one, buy it again, or rent it – there’s always a solution…

#14 – You Don’t Have A Place For Things

My definition of clutter is anything that doesn’t belong in the space it’s currently in (whether that means outside the house or just in a new area of the house).

This means that you may have clutter EVEN WHEN YOU NEED TO KEEP EVERYTHING YOU HAVE.

Interesting, right?

Well – the issue may not actually be a stuff issue, but a storage issue instead.

It’s clutter to you right now because it’s not in a good place – and so fixing this and creating the right storage space would be perfect.

This means buying new storage if you have none, or fixing unsuitable storage if that’s causing problems (such as a broken rail in your wardrobe, or a cupboard door that won’t open properly so you don’t bother to put anything in it any longer).

Related: A Place For Everything – The Tricks To Make Your Home Work

#15 – It’s Other Peoples Stuff

Household clutter can build up all too easily when you’re living with someone who doesn’t tidy up and who has any of the other issues in this list as well.

And that can be REALLY frustrating when you’re doing all you can to keep your stuff clutter-free.

Other peoples clutter is one of the hardest types of clutter problem to deal with – because it’s not ours – and it can raise stress levels really high.

The way to start dealing with this is to simply lead by example.

You can’t get rid of other peoples items – even professional organisers wouldn’t let go of anything without their clients permission – it’s one of the biggest rules of decluttering…

So the next best thing is to show your family what they could be benefitting from when they have less clutter around.

Hopefully once they see from your decluttering of your own things – they will start to want less clutter in their stuff too…

Related: How to Deal with Others Peoples Clutter

#16 – You Don’t Have Time To Sort Things Out

Having no time to deal with clutter is an ongoing battle that we have to deal with – and is a reasonable excuse that a lot of us use when our clutter builds up and we end up with a messy house.

However – the best way to change this is to understand that we are actually spending more time dealing with the clutter than we would if we just sorted it out and kept on top of it.

We have to spend time cleaning it, maintaining it, etc… – and who wants to do that?!

Getting rid of clutter would eliminate 40% of housework

Related: How To Declutter When You Don’t Have Much Time

#17 – You’re Trying To Be Perfect

Perfectionism can cause us to not get started on things, because we only want to do it if we can do it 100%.

Trouble is – 100% is never likely to happen – because we will always find things we don’t know or understand about something, and we can always tweak things and improve them as we use them…

This is one of the reasons that organising is a journey and NOT a destination – and something that’s really important to remember if you’re like me – a recovering perfectionist.

Most of the time good enough really IS good enough…

#18 – You’re Procrastinating

Maybe overthinking is the reason for clutter in your home.

Although planning is a fantastic way to get started, if we stay in thinking mode – then we run the risk of never actually getting things done.

Maybe one of these are stopping you from starting…

  • Not sure what clutter actually IS – what if you make the wrong decision?
  • Not sure how to get rid of things – where will you take them when you’ve decluttered?
  • What if you need something after you’ve let it go?

The way to fix this is to create a simple plan of action.

Plan what will go where, declutter in line with the plan, and have a list of places where things will go.

If you take control then procrastination will be no more!

I used to just crastinate but I got so good I went pro

#19 – You Have No Routines / Habits In Place

Clutter forms when there aren’t ways to deal with the stuff that’s there.

To deal with things, we need to have the right routines and/or habits in place.

Think about it – we never lose or misplace our toothbrush because it’s always put back in the same place each day.

And that’s the key to having less clutter – to have a place for everything, and the routine/habit of making sure it all goes back to the right place after each use.

Related: Clutter Free Habits Organised People Use Every Day

#20 – You’ve Had a Change In Your Season Of Life

When something changes in our lives – no matter how organised and clutter free we were living, it tends to put things in disarray because our day to day has changed.

Some life changes that can have this affect are: –

  • Merging homes / families
  • New baby
  • Starting a new business
  • Moved House
  • Elderly relative living with you
  • Setting up home with someone
  • Downsizing
  • Marriage / Divorce
  • Bereavement

Any of these cause our priorities to change, and so our systems and ways we deal with things need to as well.

We need to acknowledge that something has shifted, and new ways of living in our homes have to be done.

These could be simple tweaks or big updates – the thing to remember is that if it’s not tackled now – clutter will continue to build.

#21 – Health Issues

Bad health can really get in the way of having a clutter free home – and clutter can build up as a result.

Whether you struggle with fatigue, anxiety, mobility issues, or any number of problems – our health needs to be considered as a contributor to any clutter issues we have.

To tackle this – it may be that you need to get some help, or you need to acknowledge that the way you do your home tasks needs to change and be done more slowly and/or in short bursts rather than long stints.

If we can do this – then we WILL be able to get things under control again, it just may take a little patience…

11 Eye Opening Reasons For Clutter In Your Home & What To Do About It

Those are all the 21 reasons for clutter that may be why you’re struggling right now…

If you go through this list, and make a few small tweaks to your mind set, and your habits – it will help so much going forwards – and you’ll be one step closer to that clutter free home you crave.


And remember, when you’re ready to get started, the very best place to go is the FREE QUIZ to find out your bird type (in terms of how organised you are), and learn what YOUR best first step to get clutter-free is….

Read Next: 9 Reasons Clutter Is Expensive – The REAL Cost Of Clutter


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This article was written by Chrissy

Hi - I'm Chrissy... Having run my own business for 12 years as a Professional Organiser and Interior Designer, I know what works (and what doesn't!) when it comes to setting up a home that works both functionally and aesthetically. Now you can mostly find me in a coffee shop or at home, working full time on (which I setup back in 2011) sharing all my tips and ideas. My mission is to help you create a home that you love to live in every day...


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