5 Decluttering Tips for Hoarders and Pack Rats

It is estimated that 2 to 6 percent of the world’s population are hoarders, with studies showing that men tend to have more of a hoarding tendency than women. Learn the 5 decluttering tips for hoarders and pack rats.

Research has also shown that hoarding disorder usually runs through a family, and you might be following in the footsteps of the hoarder’s house you grew up in.

People with hoarding tendencies usually amass unwanted items that they are anxious to lose for fear they might need them later. They keep sentimental items to which they are emotionally attached to the point of being unwilling to let go of them even when they don’t need them.

This article will explore some of the best actionable, wallet-friendly life hacks that people with hoarding disorder can follow to declutter their lives.

With professional help, organizing through important items and unnecessary items, hoarding behavior can be minimized. Regardless of the point at which you are in the five levels of hoarding, your decluttering journey will succeed with these decluttering tips for hoarders.

1. Understand the Disorder, Accept, Heal

It isn’t a cliché that understanding and accepting any ailment in our lives is the first step to healing. It goes the same for people with hoarding tendencies. So first, diagnose by checking if you have any or all of the significant hoarding signs associated with hoarding.

Understanding mental disorders calls for knowing that you have one and recognizing its devastating effects on your life and the lives of others around you. The effects may be physical, social, emotional, legal, or financial.

It would also be worth acknowledging its causes, such as anxiety, depression, and the fear of missing out on things you sentimentally hold dear to your life even when they are of very little to no value to you.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) recognizes the following as some of the major hoarding signs:

  • Being unable to dispose of some possessions
  • Being undecided about what things to keep or where to keep them
  • Experiencing difficulty organizing possessions
  • Suspecting other people touching your items
  • Being obsessed with thoughts or actions like fear of needing something later or regularly ransacking trash to see if you threw in something accidentally
  • Among many others

Unless you adequately understand you have a hoarding issue and possibly the level of hoarding you are in, the decluttering process might be very challenging for you.

2. Start Decluttering

Successful decluttering requires that you spend time decluttering your house once you accept that you have a hoarding disorder. One of the most favorite tips among declutterers is starting your decluttering journey with one easy place or space in your home before moving to the next.

The four main places people usually clutter in hoarder homes are the living room, the bathroom, the bedroom, and the dining room. For most people, the bathroom is the easiest place to declutter first as there are fewer items within the limited confines of the bathroom.

Be sure to start with all the trash like old receipts, food wrappers, magazines, rotten food, newspapers, and appliance manuals you no longer need.

Clear your living space, storage space, or closet spaces by taking out unnecessary items like piles of paper and duplicate items such as clothes or personal papers.

Once you are done with one place, pat yourself on the back and move on to the next!

Ensure that you get rid of the clutter after every decluttering session to avoid retracing your steps.

You can dispose of clutter through means such as donating to charity, giving out to friends and family, and making a few bucks while at it through creative ‘Buy my Closet’ sales.

3. Act on Underlying Issues, Stop Adding More Clutter

Have you established why you are a hoarder in the first place? Be sure to evaluate yourself and the hoarding tendencies to see why you are in it. It could be trauma, anxiety, impulse buying, pack rat habits, or depression. Try to find a solution to the cause first.

If, for example, you find that your hoarder tendencies arise from impulse buying that costs you a fortune and makes you develop the fear of losing items, find ways of limiting your excessive buying, such as leaving excess cash or your credit cards at home when you go out.

Room not organize

You could turn your impulsive buying behavior for the better by dedicating these impulsive moments to disposing of things you bought on impulse but no longer need. Many hoarders agree that decluttering on impulse or in short bursts is one of the most helpful decluttering tips.

4. Make a Declutter and Reorganization Plan

To complete the decluttering journey successfully, ensure you set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-oriented (SMART) decluttering goals. For example, instead of saying that you want to be clutter-free soon, put a more specific duration to it, like six months.

Come up with an actionable plan of attack you can easily break down into simple decluttering steps that will lead you to a more real life where you even ditch any social isolation tendencies you may have.

It’s also important to reorganize your home and life as you proceed with the process of  decluttering so that your now free spaces can be taken up by other valuable items that will improve the quality of life in your home.

Photo of organize room

Throughout the decluttering efforts, be sure to manage your expectations effectively. Like any other addictions and disorders, compulsive hoarding becomes a part of our daily life. To live a happier life with no clutter in it, we need to forgive ourselves if we fail along the journey.

There’s no reason to be so hard on yourself when you find out that things aren’t working or are moving slower than you expect.

Instead, you should understand that those sentimental items you may be deeply attached to are difficult to let go of, and you ought to give yourself more time.

5. Hire a Professional Organizer

If you cannot dispose of useless items on your own, which often happens for compulsive hoarders, consider seeking the help of a professional declutterer or a junk removal company like JDog Junk Removal & Hauling Brunswick.

The outsider brings in a ruthless approach that is devoid of sentimentalities to any items.

If you are on a tight budget, you can seek help from former hoarders and pack rats or family members. Where hoarding disorder runs deep in your family unit, consider seeking family therapy for all the family members regardless of whether they have hoarding tendencies.

Family therapy effectively eliminates any family tensions that may arise from some family members misunderstanding the pack rats and hoarders amongst them.

You can even check yourself into one of the mushrooming hoarder centers, where you can get extensive counseling and guidance on how to best deal with hoarding.

Bottom Line

There is no rut that you can’t get yourself out of if you focus and dedicate yourself to addressing the problem at hand from the point of knowledge that indeed you are in one. Once you accept you need some change, it becomes easy to declutter.

The next secret lies in starting small and scaling up the decluttering project to the level that you can count on short bursts to take out your trash.

You could begin with tiny spaces like the typical junk drawer, taking out all obvious trash like junk mail, used serviettes, old hair, and paper clutter.

Do your best!

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