Are You a Hoarder?


If you watch TV at all, then you have probably seen the show “Hoarders.” It features true stories about people who compulsively hold onto anything and everything. Hoarding comes in a variety of extremes, but most hoarders cannot let go of unnecessary items. As they cling to things, the piles grow as high as the ceiling, and this compulsion begins to directly impact their everyday life.

For one family, hoarding was something to be proud of. TLC spoke to a mom who would hoard anything that held a memory. As her daughter begged her to change, her son followed in her footsteps. It was shocking to watch the mom smile with happiness that her son was now clinging to objects. As the family worked together to overcome emotional issues, they were able to gain the strength to start cleaning and uncluttering their home.

Hoarding for many is a way to feel in control in an unstable environment. As they collect and add possessions to their life, they feel like they can hold onto objects even if relationships fall apart. Oprah Winfrey took part in an effort to help hoarders, deciding to dive right into the wreckage and help families out of the mess. As her cleanup crew started tossing the garbage and junk at one home, they came across black mold. It was trapped beneath the piles and grew safely for years. The mold was incredibly dangerous, and a few of the workers had to be treated for rashes caused by the mold.

Another woman felt connected to everything she came in contact with. This could be anything from candy wrappers to pets. She would hoard it all and never throw away anything. TLC came to the rescue when her co-workers complained about her constant smell. Her house was so buried in filth that her clothing and hair permanently stunk no matter how often she showered. As the clutter and piles were removed, the bones and remains of her cats were discovered. It sounds disgusting, but it is the sad reality of extreme hoarding.

If you feel the itch to cling to things that are unnecessary, start cleaning it now before you’re buried in it. Here are six things you can do to tackle a hoarding problem.

Clean One Closet at a Time

If you start going through the entire house tossing whatever your foot hits first, things are going to get messy fast. Start in one room and sort through the closet. Slowly move through the rest of the house.

Toss it Once

Don’t set things aside to be tossed later; do it now. Those things will only take up space and get harder to keep organized later.

Have a Garage Sale

A garage sale is a great way to get rid of items while getting something in return. Set a date for a month or two later, and gather as much stuff as you can together. The garage sale date will motivate you to work hard, but it will also hold you accountable for getting it done.

Only Have One Collection

You might have collected cows as a child, porcelain dolls as a teen, and comic books as an adult, but you need to limit yourself to one collection. It will free up cluttered shelves and lighten anxiety.

Clean, Recycle, Reuse, Donate, and Toss

As you go through piles of clutter, sort items into groups. Some things will need to be cleaned, others can be reused or recycled, and items you no longer use can be donated.

Place it in a Box

If getting rid of that stack of magazines is causing you heartache, stick it all in a box marked “Toss in six months,” and then write the date at the bottom. When six months rolls around, if the box has not been opened, without looking inside, throw everything into the trash.

Cleaning out clutter and piles of unused things can be very therapeutic and freeing. Don’t let hoarding take over your life; get the help you need and tackle it while it can still be tackled.

Image Courtesy of Simon Scarfe (Flickr)

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