Reducing the clutter in your home can be life-changing experience with many unexpected benefits.
While organizing guru Marie Kondo seems to have sparked a national conversation about decluttering with the recent arrival of her Netflix series, the advantages of living a less cluttered have long been touted by many others.
Living in a cluttered home is mentally challenging, says Chicago-area psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo. A dwelling will hold only so much stuff. Once the attic, the basement, and the garage are full, possessions begin encroaching into your living space. And given the consumer culture that runs rampant in America, it is a chronic condition afflicting many households.
“It can cause anxiety and it can cause guilt,” Lombardo says. “It’s an added pressure that you put on yourself.”
When you have too much stuff, hallways and bedroom corners become unintended storage areas, making it difficult to fully enjoy your home. Your available space begins to shrink, as spare bedrooms become “junk rooms” filled with knickknacks, children’s toys, outdated electronics, and old magazines. Your kitchen may contain overflowing drawers.
The problem may progress so gradually that you’re not aware of it until things begin to get out of control. Fortunately, the process can be reversed. Removing clutter can become part of your daily routine. What follows are seven benefits you’ll discover once you begin letting go of the things you don’t need.
1. Experience Less Stress.
When your home is filled with items, your brain has trouble processing everything you see, says Lombardo. Normally simple things, such as finding your car keys, can become difficult tasks.
The stress you feel will mount if you delay putting your home in order, says Lombardo. People tend to procrastinate because we thing the tidying up process will be difficult and unpleasant. Sometimes the biggest challenge is just getting started.
Lisa Gessert, a professional organizer based in Staten Island, NY, says stress is the No. 1 complaint among her clients.
“They’re just embarrassed. They just keep apologizing. A lot of emotions come into play when people feeling inadequate about how they run their home,” Gessert says.
2. Argue Less With Your Housemates.
A cluttered home can place a strain on your relationships. Robin Reynolds, a professional organizer in Sherman Oaks, CA. says people quarrel less often when there is no clutter in the home to spark disagreements.
While some people like being surrounded by their belongings, most people have a higher need for order. They don’t like having to remove unfolded laundry or yesterday’s mail from the couch before they can find a place to sit down. If your stuff is causing marital friction, it may be time for a lifestyle change.
3. Spend Less Money.
One of the benefits of decluttering is saving money. Keeping your home free of clutter is a frugal way to live, says Natalie Wise, author of “The Modern Organic Home.” In a cluttered dwelling, people often end up buying duplicates of things they already own because the originals get lost or misplaced. That’s an unnecessary waste of money.
Wise says you should only bring things into your home that add value to your life. If you don’t have a place for something, don’t make the purchase.
Once you get rid of clutter, you’ll know where everything is and there will be no need to buy duplicates.
“People save money knowing what they have,” Gessert says.
4. Be Healthier.
When a home is cluttered, it’s very hard to keep it clean. Vacuuming and dusting a house that’s filled with furniture and keepsakes can be exhausting. Your possessions have to constantly be removed and then replaced. In the process, dirt and dust often are left behind. This can harm your physical health.
“Aside from being tripping hazards and toe-stubbing nuisances, clutter creates chaos in the house,” says Wise. “Chaos is where all sorts of things like to hide: dust mites, dust bunnies, mold, mildew, mice, and more. Clear the clutter away entirely, clean thoroughly, and only allow the best items to go back into the space.”
The best items are ones that are routinely used and have a real purpose, she explains.
In addition, a number of research studies have shown that people who have a clean and tidy kitchen make healthier eating choices. Conversely, those with cluttered kitchens are more likely to binge on junk food because they don’t feel like cooking.
5. Waste Less Time.
Once your home has gone through the decluttering process, you’ll find that you spend less time looking for things that have vanished in a sea of the clutter.
“How many times have you spent hours and hours looking for something around your home?” asks Gilat Tunit, a professional organizer and founder of The Project Neat. “Wouldn’t it be so much easier if you have a system in your home that stores only the things you need in an easy access and efficient manner?”
Hanging on to things makes it difficult to get organized, she adds. People find many excuses for their chronic disorganization. If you try, you always can find a reason to keep something you no longer need.
“We tend to have a hard time parting with things and come up with a million reasons why,” Tunit says.
Regularly donating the old stuff you don’t need to charity shops can help keep your home free of clutter.
6. It Will Be Easier to Sell Your Home.
Keeping your home marketable is an important reason to have less clutter. Cluttered homes are difficult to sell. If you’re a homeowner who is thinking of moving, you’ll need to get organized before you put your dwelling on the real estate market.
Eric Sztanyo, a real estate agent in Cincinnati, says homes that are free of clutter typically sell for thousands of dollars more than homes that have messy rooms filled with personal possessions.
Buyers need to be able to envision how their own furnishings would look a house before they make a purchase. Selling a house that’s overflowing with your possessions is like trying to sell a used car that’s unwashed and messy, says Tunit.
7. Be Happier.
Your self-esteem can suffer when you’re surrounded by clutter. Carrie Krawiec, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Troy, MI. said mothers who live in cluttered homes often view the mess as a sign that they are doing a poor job as homemakers.
Some people describe clutter as visual noise. Knowing that there are many things that should be discarded can harm your emotional state. Gessert says her clients often tell her that organizing their homes changed their lives for the better.