Clutter vs Hoarding: What’s the Difference

Clutter is the uncontrolled accumulation of personal possessions, often without order. On the other hand, hoarding is the excessive acquisition of items that hold some form of value to an individual but can be difficult to justify using one’s limited time, space, and resources.

Clutter Is Easily Manageable

When you’re working to clear clutter, you’re simply setting aside a certain amount of time to go through items, decide whether or not they need to be kept, and discard them if they aren’t required. 

The simple fact primarily defines clutter: you have too much stuff in your home, and things are no longer easy to find. Once a cluttered area has been cleared, it’s pretty easy to maintain.

Hoarding is More Enduring

If you have hoarding tendencies, you may be more likely to keep things that have no value to your life simply because parting with them can be very difficult. But hoarders aren’t always as evil as they seem. Sometimes they’re unaware that they have a problem, and they’re simply trying to put things in a better place than where they found them or preserve items that would otherwise go to waste if the hoarder doesn’t have the means of disposing of them.

Hoarding is More Expensive

If your home is in a state of clutter, you may be able to find things eventually by digging around in piles or stacking things on shelves. But when your home is overcome with clutter to the point where this isn’t feasible, you will need to invest in some organization system or additional storage space. In some instances, this will be an investment worth the return, but if you’re trying to throw away things that are still functional, it might pay off after a short time.

Hoarding can leave people with no storage space and no way to find anything they need.

Clutter is Highly Personal

The most significant difference between clutter and hoarding is that the idea of clutter tends to be very personal. Specific standards for what an average home looks like are commonly used when discussing clutter. But people learn to live with their clutter, and it can feel comfortable for them, so they might not see their situation as anything unusual or worth addressing.

Hoarding, on the other hand, usually stems from an underlying mental problem or disorder such as depression, severe anxiety, an obsessive-compulsive disorder, or a lack of self-control.

Clutter isn’t Always Disorganized

The word clutter tends to be a synonym for disorganization, and there is no doubt that an organized home is a more pleasant place to live in. But clutter isn’t always disorganized. Sometimes people have too much stuff, and they’re not taking the time to maintain it, so things get out of control. Over time, they may become overwhelmed by the amount of stuff they have, leading them to become disorganized.

Hoarders may have trouble organizing their items, and clutter can be problematic if it becomes too big and unmanageable.

If you’re trying to decide, seek clutter and hoarding help and consider the available resources, your finances, your efforts to clean out your home, and the amount of time required to manage a more manageable clutter versus something micro-hoarded. Just because someone has many things doesn’t mean they’re hoarding or have a problem with clutter.

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