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7 Easy Ways to Stop Adding Clutter to Your Home

Updated on November 1, 2012

What do you need to declutter?

Last time I decluttered I realized I had eleven nasty old pillows that needed to be gotten rid of!
Last time I decluttered I realized I had eleven nasty old pillows that needed to be gotten rid of!

Having too much clutter in your home can create many different problems. Decluttering is the first step, of course, but once you've done that then you need to learn how to prevent the clutter from building up again. In this article we'll look at why we should stop the clutter and then go over seven easy ways to quit bringing more clutter into your space.

The Problems with Clutter

Clutter may be causing one or more of the following problems in your home:

  • You are constantly stressed out by the mess in your house. Your home's clutter shouldn't have to occupy so much space in your head, let alone your rooms!
  • The clutter causes many things to be lost. This creates a lot of wasted time as the family hunts for things like keys and shoes.
  • You are embarrassed by the clutter in your home. You may avoid having people come over to your house and be losing out socially as a result.
  • The clutter is a source of tension among family members. One person's mess affects the rest of the house so it's important for families to work together to get rid of the clutter.
  • Clutter costs money. Part of the problem for many people is a financial one since the items coming in to fill up the house all cost money.

7 Ways to Stop Adding Clutter

When you're ready to get the clutter in your home under control, these things can help:

1. Make a commitment to yourself to end the clutter. All problems get solved first by acknowledging the problem and making a commitment to end the problem. This is a commitment you make first and foremost with yourself. It can help a lot to really analyze the reasons that you want to end the clutter since those reasons will keep you focused and motivated as you work on the issue. Personally I think journaling is a great way to figure out the reasons to stop cluttering the home and even advocate making a written commitment to yourself in your journal. You may also want to make a commitment out loud to someone else - your family, your roommates or just another friend who also wants to get clutter under control. This helps to hold you accountable to your plan to stop bringing clutter into the house.

2. Implement the "one in, out rule". A terrific rule for reducing the excess STUFF in your home is to make sure that you get rid of one thing for every one new thing that you bring into the home. You may still spend money on new items but you won't be adding extra stuff to the house. Over time, you'll get used to the process and it will help you think seriously about new purchases because you'll be mentally assessing what you're going to let go of to make space for this new item. Often that will result in the realization that you don't need this new item after all.

3. Set goals for saving money. Although some people are great with bargains, most of us spend more money than we should and that money takes up space as clutter in our homes. By setting specific goals for saving money you reduce your spending ability and therefore reduce the number of new items that you can bring into your home. You may want to make a goal to save a certain amount for a specific large purchase as a reward as this will help keep you on track with not buying little things that take away from getting that reward.

4. Shop the perimeters. In her book about overcoming hoarding tendencies professional psychologist Dr. Robin Zasio suggest always shopping the perimeters of all stores. That's because that's where the items you actually need are most likely to be located whereas the internal rows are usually the extras that end up just taking up a lot of space in your home.

5. Identify your problem areas and avoid them. Every single time that I go into an office supply store I spend a fortune. I get a lot of things that I don't need and that I often don't use. That's because I see all of these great things that seem like they would be terrific for my home office and I can easily convince myself that this business expensive is going to be really useful for me in the long run. I know better now, though. I can't help wasting money on clutter-y stuff in office stores so I usually don't go into them. When I need office supplies I get them at a local convenience store, order them online, have a friend pick them up for me or consider other options. What is your problem area that really adds a lot of clutter to your space? How can you avoid it?

6. Always ask "do I need this?" This is important not just when shopping but also (perhaps especially) when bringing other items into the home. For example, someone has just given you a gift of a book that you are never going to read. Immediately re-gift that or donate it because you don't need it. Gifts aren't the only culprit. Freebies, special deals and other discounts often encourage us to get things but if you ask yourself "do I need it?" and the answer is no then just take a deep breath and let it go without ever bringing it home with you!

7. Schedule a de-cluttering day each week. This is going to help you get rid of things that do wind their way into your house. Additionally, it's going to give you a constant reminder of your plan to stop bringing clutter into the home. If you're out shopping on Tuesday and see a new vase that you don't need and you have in mind that you're decluttering on Wednesdays you are going to re-think that purchase and eventually over time really stop adding to the clutter in your space.

More decluttering tips

The Most Cluttered Rooms

Which room in your home is most cluttered with items you no longer want or need?

See results


Submit a Comment

  • Donna Huebsch profile image

    Donna Fairley Huebsch 

    5 years ago from Clearwater, Florida

    Really like this hub - clutter is the bane of my existence! You have some great tips here. If I may, I'd like to mention a habit I've developed which is helping me reduce paper clutter. As I come into the house with our mail, I pause at the paper recycle bin just outside the door in our garage. The junk mail goes straight into the recycle bin and never enters our house - a small thing, but it helps!

  • MoiraCrochets profile image

    Moira Durano-Abesmo 

    5 years ago from Sagay, Camiguin, Philippines

    I should remember all these...

  • Scribenet profile image


    5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    I like the shop the perimeters idea...had not heard of that. I practice the "one in one out"' theory and the do I need it ?" question is always top of mind.

    Good Hub!

  • Randal Clark profile image

    Randal Clark 

    5 years ago

    So many people have a clutter issue. Sometimes it's emotionally charged but a lot of the time it I find it is just because it is easier to get things, buying is a lazy decision in our very consumerist society. This is a great article. I work in debt and credit restructuring and we actually have a portion of our program that speaks to de-cluttering a clients life and house in order to decrease stress and thus decrease "therapeutic" spending.

  • rfmoran profile image

    Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 

    5 years ago from Long Island, New York

    I sometimes think that clutter is an organism because it just seems to grow. Great advice here, and way beyond the obvious stuff. I love the idea of one in/one out. Shopping the periphery in stores is something I never would have thought of. Well written and well thought out. Voted up and useful.

  • Huntgoddess profile image


    5 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

    Very informative.

    I've always had a cluttering problem. It was because there was no place I was actually allowed to put anything.

    Now that I've been homeless for two years, all my stuff is in storage lockers, but those are getting cluttered :-) as well.


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