A new OTR guest blogger, Grace Pamer, joins us today with tips on how to tackle hoarding tendencies.
Many of us are natural-born hoarders and we end up having far too many possessions but without the room to house them. For others, it can be a type of mental health illness where they throw nothing away because they are unable to.
If you know someone who fits into the latter category, there is help available either in the form of talking to a councillor or visiting an online forum to talk to other sufferers. A person with a serious hoarding problem would need support before undertaking any of the following tips as it could prove too emotionally traumatising for them.
For the rest of us hoarders, here are 5 easy steps to cut down on your hoarding habit and make a clean start.
1. Get organised and prepare
- The first thing you need to think about is the order in which you are going to tackle your hoarding problem. Split the house into different areas and deal with one place at a time; otherwise, you will feel completely overwhelmed.
- Allow yourself at least three weekends if your hoarding habit has got out of hand as it is important that you take your time. For homes with far less clutter you may be able to undertake this task in less time.
- Make sure that you buy plenty of garbage bags, storage boxes, a recycling bin, sticky labels, and a pen. If your stash is huge, you may want to consider hiring a portable dumpster for the convenience of having someone else to take the rubbish away.
- Separate your hoard into four separate piles and label them “donate,” “discard,” “storage,” and “sell.” This is the hard part as you have to be emotionally strong and decide which bits go where. You will probably have the urge to place everything on the “storage” pile, but you must be strong and get rid of some stuff.
- The general rule of thumb with clothing is if you have not worn it for a year, then you are unlikely to wear it again. Also, if you have worn something the first time it came into fashion, then you cannot wear it any other times (platform boots were great in the 1970s but would not suit you now).
- In this case, you should give your clothing to charity or sell on eBay. Old ornaments and other pieces of bric-a-brac which have been gathering dust for years should either be discarded or donated. Old magazines and newspapers are no good to anyone so you should recycle these.
- Any item you cannot give away or discard (maybe you just have to keep it for sentimental reasons) should be placed in a clearly label plastic storage box. If you are worried that something you have been hoarding may be valuable, you can check this out online before deciding on what to do with it.
3. Protect Yourself
- Depending on which space you are clearing, you may need to wear rubber gloves and protective clothing which will stop any harmful chemicals affecting your skin and clothes. Sometimes things have been stashed away for so long that they get mould and mildew on them or have become loose and are leaking chemical fluids. All of these items must be discarded as they are of no use to anybody.
- If you are de-cluttering a bathroom, you should discard ancient toiletries and out of date medicines (you can hand these medicines in at your local pharmacy that will dispose of your pills in the correct manner). Pills which are past their “Best before _____” date can be harmful to your health and do not carry the same amount of effectiveness, so are useless anyway.
- In the case of your kitchen, you should look for broken utensils, chipped dinner services and out of date cans of food. These should all be discarded immediately as, again, they are harmful to your health. Perishable foods should always be kept in the refrigerator, but if you are a hoarder by nature, there will no doubt be some out of date cheese or carton of Chinese food lurking.
- So while you are concentrating on the kitchen, take the time to deal with perishables and that includes your vegetable drawer or cupboard. Mouldy potatoes attract flies and once eggs are laid, the smell can be intolerable, so it is best to address this problem before it escalates. Try and use anti-bacterial cleaner to sterilise cupboards and surfaces to minimise the risk of even more bacteria spreading from old waste.
4. Ask For Help
- If the thought of cutting down your hoarding habit seems too daunting, then do not be afraid to ask a friend or family member to assist you. You will probably uncover some interesting things which will make a good talking point and some older things may stir up some nostalgia!
- Remember, more hands make light work, so you will get this job done much quicker and you will have emotional support as well as an extra pair of hands.
5. Reward Yourself
- Even if it takes a month to cut down on your hoard, it is well worth it for the amazing results. You will find that without all of the unnecessary clutter around you, your home will look bigger and lighter. You will actually be able to think more clearly.
- During the various stages of clearing your house out, allow yourself regular breaks where you can sit and have a cup of coffee or stretch your legs for fifteen minutes. These breaks are important to your mental and physical wellbeing and will help stop you feeling bored or frustrated.
- You will also find that you have more space in your closet and kitchen cupboards so maybe you can buy yourself a new outfit or a new set of glasses for the kitchen. These rewards will remind you of your hard work and the reason why you did it.
By following these easy steps you will soon have your personal space looking spic and span. You may even decide to decorate in order to spruce up your lovely new living area. You could use the money you make from selling your old clothes on eBay. Remember, a tidy house creates a tidy mind, so get to it!
About the Author
Grace Pamer is the author of RomanticFrugalMom.com, one woman’s on going quest to keep romance alive despite the time pressure of dealing with three beautiful but crazy kids and an always working husband. Check out her love letters for him section if you’re looking to put the romance back into your marriage with a well crafted love letter to your nearest and dearest.