This Is Why Your Place Is Messy: 5 Common Clutter Causes

updated Mar 4, 2020
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(Image credit: Arthur Garcia-Clemente)

Ask (and answer yourself) honestly: Is your home messy right now? Are you a bit boggled as to why, since it feels like you’re constantly working on trying to keep it clean and uncluttered? There are common clutter causes that work against a clean home — here are five to consider. If any of these are the culprits keeping your home messier than you’d like it to be, we share what you can do to eliminate them for an easier-to-keep-clean home.

(Image credit: Hayley Lawrence)

You…Pile paper

Mail, books, coupons, magazines…do you have paper of some kind sprinkled around every surface of your home? Even if paper’s not technically “dirty,” its unwanted and overwhelming presence can make a home feel messy.

What to do:

Keep paper from coming in by keeping a small recycling bin just inside or outside your front door to get rid of junk mail instantly. Take the few extra minutes it might take to immediately file the important mail you do have in your filing system. Cancel any magazine subscriptions for titles you haven’t found time to read in a few months (or go digital for everything). Consider doing a clean-out of shelves to clear out and donate old books and make room for new ones that might come in.

(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)

You…Do not put things back where they belong

Are you always taking things out, finishing your task, and then leaving them where they landed?

What to do:

Incorporate a policy that any time you leave a room, you take something that doesn’t belong in that space with you to its actual home. And actually have homes for all your items.

(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

You…Need a serious solution for worn/used/dirty clothes

Clothes can be the big thing that’s cluttering your home. It can be hard to break the habit of leaving clothes where they are when you take them off. Or not hanging gently-used, not-quite-dirty clothes over the backs of chairs.

What to do:

You can do a closet declutter so you have less stuff — and more room in your closet for what you do use. You can establish a rule with yourself that you only take out an article of clothing out at a time, and always put something back in before you take a new one out. You can make sure all dirty clothes go into the hamper every morning.

(Image credit: The Twiggies)

You…Think you’ve cleaned more recently than you actually have

Memory can be a liar. You might answer “oh just last week” when asking yourself when the last time you mopped is, but truthfully, with how fast the calendar days fly by thanks to our busy lives, the real answer might be closer to “more like last month.”

What to do:

Keep yourself accountable by either establishing a regular cleaning schedule that you stick to, or make notes in a calendar when you do finish cleaning tasks. This way you keep track of how often you are completing important cleaning chores that need doing on the regular. And not mis-remembering them getting done more often than they actually are.

(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)

You…Are fighting an uphill cleaning battle thanks to kids, pets and roommates

Are you doing your best but you feel like no matter what you do, it’s pets, roommates or your kids contributing to the mess?

What to do: Have a pow-wow, tell them what a hard time you’re having, install some ground rules everyone can agree on, and make sure everyone plays their part in keeping the home clean. For pets, invest time or energy into proven tools that might help curb their messes (like hidden food bowls, better food storage, easier-to-clean bedding or litter catchers).

Re-edited from a post originally published 4.9.15-NT

(Image credit: The Twiggies)