Hoarding: Organize Your Way Out

Hoarding: Organize Your Way Out

Many people understand the meaning of the word hoarding, however it’s difficult to understand the effects of it until you’ve experienced its cluttered clutches. For those who know someone who suffers from hoarding, it’s often difficult to reach through and help them organize their life. When the time finally comes to clean up a hoarding situation it can take weeks, or even months. Surprisingly, in the USA alone 1.2 million people suffer from hoarding. Statistically, that’s nearly 3,000 people in Columbus and 40,000 in Ohio. There’s a very real chance you know a “hoarder.” Women tend to suffer from hoarding more than men, as 78% of those who exhibit hoarding tendencies are women. With such a huge influence, it’s important to understand how to recover from chaotic situations and bring peace and organization back in the home.

Understand why Hoarding is happening

Understand why Hoarding Is Happening

To first address hoarding, you need to figure out the reasons for the hoarders desire to retain items. Ellen Limes offers great advice in her article 5 Reasons Why People Hoard. Ellen explains that hoarding can be due to a variety of emotional factors. Loneliness, impoverishment, grief/loss, memory, and rescue mentality all can play into hoarding tendencies.  Addressing a hoarding situation will be made far easier if you understand what’s causing the issues. Additionally, formulating a plan for action will move much quicker. Before embarking on the cleanup of any hoarding situation, be sure to start at the cause.

One Step at a Time

Organize one step at a time

Have you ever heard the old adage “Don’t eat an elephant in one bite.”? In every sense, cleaning up an extremely cluttered situation needs to be broken down. Rather than trying to tackle the entire thing at once, break down the task into small, bite sized tasks. Additionally, if large amount of items are dumped and thrown away instantly, there may be strong feelings of regret and anger towards those trying to help. The best thing to do is tackle individual sections slowly and thoroughly. While many things will need to go, be sure that the item’s owner understands why.

Thin Down Collections

thin down collections

While all of us love to collect something, often times many things don’t need to be collected. Take time to carefully consider the items in collections and how much of them are really needed. For example, if the set only contains sentimental value (such as report cards for example), it may be better to save just one or two things as a memory and display them. Perhaps a collection could be divided and sold for more individually. Whatever the situation, be sure to avoid keeping large sets just to maintain the novelty of the collection. Cleanup of a hoarding situation often requires sentimental sacrifice.

Make a Decision, Once

Decide now to start organizing your life

The tendency to set aside an item “for later” can cost multitudes of time in the scope of cleanup. Do all you can to avoid that tendency and fall into the trap of procrastination. As you go through items, make a decision on their value and sorting area one time. Afterwards, stick to that decision. It may be difficult at first to convince yourself or your friend in need to part with certain things. That being said, if the decision isn’t made at the start, it may never be made at all. Given that you’re doing all you can to de-clutter these situations, be sure to stick to your guns at the very start and avoid future difficulty later.

 Try the box Method


Something to do as a backup (and only a backup) to items that can’t be decided on right away is to try the box method. Put any items that you can’t reach a decision on into a box. Store the box away for at least 6 months. If after 6 months none of the items have been accessed, there’s a good chance the items within aren’t all that important. At that point you can decide to either trash them or donate them to your local thrift store. This serves as a great way to attribute value to items, collections, or miscellaneous objects. You’ll gain additional garage storage as well, which is something we love. It’s also a great way to compromise with someone with hoarding tendencies as they’ll be able to see how little they actually use the items they want to keep.

Don’t be Afraid of The Dumpster

Gain garage storage from throwing away trash

Photo Credit: Waste Management 

Sometimes the best solution for old items is to simply throw them away. If you’re looking at a 1982 Joan Jett album with a cracked disc, it probably isn’t going to hold much value. Toss old items in the trash, and don’t be afraid of that decision. Trashing old clutter will save you the most time out of any other elimination method. While this may be the most difficult for a hoarder to accept, it’s also one of the most productive methods of organizing homes and garages. Of course, the box method is always an option if complete resistance is met. However, that should always be a last resort.

Consider Sales or Consignment

Sell Items to get more storage

Everybody wants to have extra money. A great way to eliminate waste and make a quick buck is to consider selling items that no longer have a place within your home. For immediate sales consider organizing a garage sale. Classified sites like Craigslist and Oodle offer great ways to advertise your garage sale. For anything that didn’t sell, consignment is a great way to make a little money off of whatever you have left. If you’re feeling ambitious after that, websites like Ebay offer an easy way to eliminate of even the most random goods. You’ll be surprised at the items that will sell!

No Hesitation

Don't hesitate to

It’s often said that the greatest enemy holding us back from success is ourselves. If you feel the time to start organizing is at hand, take charge and act. Waiting to start the process of cleanup and organization will only yield more difficulty in the future. Often times change is desired and no action is taken. Hoarding is a serious matter and should be handled as such. If you know someone who suffers from hoarding, treatment options are available. Visit https://hoarding.iocdf.org/ for professional guidance on treatment of hoarding and how you can help.