When to ask for help with clutter and hoarders?

8 signs of when to ask for help for clutter and hoarders who live in a hoarder home.


What’s the difference between a cluttered house and a hoarder house?

A hoarder house typically has –

  • Clutter on all floors, sometimes pathways from points A to B
  • Junk on all surfaces including tables, counters, chairs, couches, etc.
  • Piles on piles of stuff with an assortment of items

How does hoarding impact daily life and routines?

  • Difficult to do basic tasks such as cooking and cleaning
  • Limits social interaction such as inviting friends and family over
  • Constant loss of time and stuff by having to search and look for items
  • Spending more money on stuff the person already has causing duplicates and more clutter

Can the hoarder meet their basic needs?

A hoarder can have a low threshold for living standards. It’s important to be aware if the hoarder can still meet their basic needs in the home.

  • Can they wash their hands and take a shower?
  • Do they have access to laundry and warm water?
  • Are they able to cook beyond a microwave?
  • Where do they sleep? Is the bed or couch accessible?

How long have they been living this way?

  • Has it been a year or more?
  • Is it getting visibly worse each time you visit?
  • Is it difficult for them to downsize and declutter?

If you answered yes to the above questions, I recommend asking the person(s) if they want help.


Is the house unsafe and unhealthy to live in?

  • How high are the piles?
  • Is there access to exit and entry doors?
  • What contents are in the home? (There is usually a pattern.)
  • Are there signs of mold, infestations, or asbestos?
  • Are there pets, feces, or any hazardous materials?

If health and safety is in question then now is the time to help.

hoarder shed with clutter on all floors and surfaces making it a dysfunctional space

What kind of stuff is being collected and hoarded?

One of the key signs of hoarding is when the person(s) keep items of little to no monetary value:

  • Napkins
  • Pieces of paper
  • Broken items
  • Paper boxes
  • Plastic bags

What are signs and symptoms of hoarding?

  • Unable to get rid of items and declutter
  • Inability to let go
  • Anxiety about the potential future use of items
  • No designated home or organizational structure for things
  • Keeping distance between the home and friends, family, and social events

What causes hoarding?

People with hoarding disorder may or may not recognize that their habits and behaviors are negative. It’s important to acknowledge that the onset of hoarding usually starts from a stressful or traumatic event.

The exact cause of hoarding is unknown but it can be associated with ADHD and OCD.


Do you know someone who is hoarder and needs help?

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minimalist living room couch for simple living

How can I start a more minimalist lifestyle?

8 minimalist ideas to start your minimalist lifestyle today!


How can I be more minimalist with clothing?

Create a Capsule Wardrobe.

What is a Capsule Wardrobe? It is when your clothes are composed of interchangeable items that maximizes the number of outfits you can wear. Learn more about how to create a minimalist wardrobe.


How can I declutter books when I love reading?

Keep books that spark joy┬« when you see them or that you will read now. Be honest with yourself. If you haven’t read a book that’s been sitting on the shelf for years, will you really read it?


How can I become more minimalist with books?

This sounds super old school but I recommend renting books from the library. I find that I actually read the books I get when I know I have to return them in 2-3 weeks. This also allows me to read all kinds of books (old and new) without them taking up space in my home.


How can I downsize paper in my house?

Stop the flow of paper coming in! It’s important to have a routine when it comes to mail:

  1. Immediately toss advertisements/spam/junk (less paper accumulation)
  2. Open envelopes and discard, only keep the important paper/letter (keep only what you need)
  3. Place important papers, bills, letters in a pending box
  4. Set a day to go through the mail once a week (no pile build ups)

If you haven’t done so already, automate all of your bills online and sign up for the paperless setting.

minimalist kitchen ideas on how to have less

Is it possible to have a minimalist kitchen?

Yes. Although this category is probably one of the hardest for me personally. I maintain having less in the kitchen by:

  1. Mindful spending: Less kitchen gadgets and more questions like, “What purpose does this item serve?”
  2. Buy food you intend to eat now not later.

How can I have less cleaning products?

Honestly, the only cleaning product I use is vinegar. Vinegar is a natural antiseptic and a perfect solution if you have pets or kids in the house. I have 2-3 spray bottles each filled with vinegar that I keep in the kitchen to wipe tables/counters and in the bathrooms.

I’ve used vinegar for years and love the simplicity of having one product to clean everything.


How can I feel more minimalist with laundry when I hate folding?

It’s normal for laundry to be left in a basket for a few days. It is not normal when that is literally the place it lives and if it does – it better be in a designated spot in a closet. If you absolutely despise laundry and folding then I recommend –

  1. Hang most/all clothes
  2. Designate separate drawers for small items: socks, underwear, bras
  3. Designate a spot for your hamper to live that does not create visual clutter

The key is to have a home for your clean clothes even if you don’t fold them. Simply toss items into drawers or on hangers. If you’re really lazy just leave them in the hamper but have a designated spot for that hamper to live. Create a system that works for you, is easy to maintain, and doesn’t disrupt the look and feel of your minimalist home.


Do I really have to declutter my sentimental items?

Absolutely not. It’s important to keep and display sentimental items throughout your home! If an item really means a lot to you then why not appreciate and look at it daily? Minimalism is about creating an environment that energizes and supports your lifestyle.

sentimental vase displayed for joy in minimalist home
Ready to work with a professional organizer near me?

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writing organizing resources on notebook

Simple Organizing Tips & Tricks

Ready to tidy? Check out these simple organizing tips & tricks!

Focus on Joy:

Learn how to Joy Check!

Closet Tips

  • Remove clothes from plastic! Mold and moths can be trapped inside plastic covering your clothes. I recommend reusable & washable cloth garment bags.
  • Create a beautiful closet with matching hangers: it’s a simple yet effective visual appeal when you open your closet daily

Simple Kitchen Organizing

  • Try to store everything out of sight, inside cabinets and drawers
  • Install a wall basket on the inside cabinet under the sink to store soap & sponges
  • Store less frequently used appliances in low, easy to reach cabinets
  • Toss less joyful items like disposable silverware and chopsticks
  • Store food in air tight containers to preserve quality and for a lovely visual
  • Store loose dry items in bins
    • Snack bin: popcorn, chips, nuts, crackers
    • Canned: soup, beans, chicken broth
    • Sauces: ketchup, soy sauce, hot sauce
    • Health foods: protein powder, supplements
    • Back stock: backup cereal, energy bars, coffee
  • Keep joyful tools and organizers: high level of function, easy to wash/clean, and aesthetically pleasing

Atmosphere

  • Dedicate a “to-do” area.
    • Place a “pending” box for all incoming mail you want to open
    • Hang a calendar for all chores, appointments, reminders
    • Designate a work area for projects you’re working on
  • Create a drop-zone: this is usually near the front door where you can leave a pair shoes, jacket, mask, and wallet. It’s important to only leave one or time items of each category to avoid visual clutter.
  • Areas for daily rituals need to be easy to access: drop-zone, coffee & tea station, pet zone, workout zone, and more!

Storage Tricks

  • BINS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND! Kitchen, Bathroom, Closet, Garage – no matter what space you are trying to organize try to CONTAIN all Like-items together!
  • Labels, labels, labels! Label’s help everyone in the home know where items belong and where to put them back.
  • Utilize all storage areas efficiently
    • Store large items first, place smaller items around
    • Install shelves on empty wall spaces
  • Store items of the same category together and label the shelf and/or box

What simple organizing tips & tricks do you want?

For more tips see Marie Kondo’s Website

Organize your space around your daily habits.