If’ you’ve got clutter you may think of it as merely an inconvenient mess. Those piles and items that have no home make your home look a bit messy, but they aren’t really a big deal.
Or are they?
Clutter is more than just an eyesore. Over time it takes a toll on your physical, mental, and financial health. Here are some of the negative effects of too much clutter and why you might want to start tackling yours today.
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Negative Affects of Clutter on Your Physical Health:
Clutter makes it harder to clean your house with so much stuff to move
You know you should clean house more often, but it’s such a chore! Even simple tasks like dusting the furniture require that you move piles of stuff just so you can get to the surface underneath. Besides, since the surface is covered up no one can see it anyway, right?
This attitude, while understandable, does nothing to help you keep your house clean. While you’re putting it off and putting it off, your house just gets dirtier and dirtier. Just because you can’t see the dirt doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Therefore you’re more likely to have dirt, dust, danger, and vermin when you have lots of clutter
It’s gross, but junk and clutter makes the perfect home for pests of all kinds. The problem is that you likely won’t notice them until you start cleaning. But if they’ve moved in and taken up residence then they’re not going anywhere until you evict them and get rid of their habitat.
- 11 Signs You Have Too Much Clutter
- 6 Mindsets That Keep You Buried in Cutter
- The Most Important Question To Help You Get Rid Of Clutter
When you have those issues with the cleanliness of your home people are more likely to be sick or suffer from chronic conditions
Allergies, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses are made worse by living in a dirty home. If you’re not vacuuming your rugs and sweeping your floors regularly, then all the dirt (and who knows what else!) that’s tracked in by pets and shoes is just there….waiting to make you sick.
Clutter increases your blood pressure
Yep, it’s true. Researchers have found that clutter raises your blood pressure which, of course, over time isn’t good for your heart.
The more stuff there is in a home the more likely someone is to suffer a fall or accident
When there’s too much stuff in the floor…people are more likely to trip and fall. When there’s too much junk out on the kitchen counters….you’re less likely to put down a proper cutting board before you start chopping veggies. Have you ever watched someone attempt to slice an onion or tomato while holding it in their hand? The risk of a major cut is extremely high – all because there’s not space to to the job at hand.
Children are more likely to be injured when contents of overloaded shelves or bins fall on them when they’re trying to find what they’re looking for
We all know kids are curious….and that they climb. You may think that something is up out of their reach (and out of their line of vision) and that they’ll never try to retrieve it.
You could very well be wrong.
If you’ve ever seen a video of something large and heavy tipping over and crushing a child you know that it will literally take your breath away. We can’t control the curiosity of kids, but we can reduce the enticement of climbing because they want something that’s out of their reach.
People who live in cluttered homes are more likely to overeat which causes a variety of health problems.
One study found that having a cluttered kitchen caused people to overeat. It makes sense when you think about it. Too much clutter is often a symptom that things are our of control and that a person has a hard time with moderation. Why wouldn’t the cues that “too much” is acceptable carry over to food consumption as well?
Too much clutter is a fire hazard
Piles of newspapers, magazines, boxes, or junk are a fire hazard waiting to happen. While any fire can spread much quicker than you realize, living in a tinder box increases the risk of a fire and the associated injuries and/or death.
The next time you get ready to light up the fireplace or turn on that space heater you might want to take a look at all of the paper clutter in the vicinity.
Negative Effects of Clutter on Your Mental Health:
Clutter makes people tense
Sometimes people get tense because of the clutter. However, sometimes people are tense because they’re constantly defending their clutter to others. Too much clutter is often a source of conflict in a home: someone likes the clutter while others don’t. It’s a recipe for tension and tempers.
People are frustrated when they can’t find what they need
It’s annoying any time you can’t find something you’re looking for. But when you add layers of extra clutter that annoyance is magnified. If you’ve ever lost something only to find that it was technically in plain sight (but so surrounded by junk that you couldn’t see it) then you know what I mean.
Family members may be embarrassed about how the house looks or smells
Even if you can’t smell it, a house with too much clutter takes on an odor. And an extremely cluttered house is more likely to have food or other items that are decomposing in the refrigerator or in trash cans. No amount of air freshener will ever beat the smell of a house that’s truly clean.
Family members may be reluctant to have friends visit the house which can lead to anger and resentment
You’ve probably read accounts from people who grew up in homes they were ashamed of. These people talk about the lengths they went to to make up stories why people couldn’t come in the house. They also recall with shame and embarrassment the excuses they came up with to always go to friend’s homes and the guilt they felt when they never reciprocated the invitations. They talk about how miserable they were having to constantly cover up the fact that they were mortified that someone would find out what conditions they were living in.
Even if your house doesn’t resemble an episode of Hoarders, just the fact that it’s constantly messy or dirty can be a source of embarrassment to your family.
Clutter makes it harder to focus and concentrate on tasks
Too much clutter is distracting! They say that our attention spans have been slowly shortening over the years anyway. How much worse is it when we are visually distracted by so much competing for that attention?
I recently read that 25% of Americans admit to losing or misplacing things at least twice each week and that 50% of Americans admit having missed appointments because they lack focus and systems to keep themselves organized.
Clutter affects your mood increasing your level of anxiety, sadness, depression
Have you ever gotten to the point where there’s so much mess that you just can’t stand it any more? That’s usually when mom goes on a tear and announces to the family that it’s time to clean the house up “or else!” We do get to the point where the mess has taken it’s toll and we’re anxious and stressed out.
Makes you feel claustrophobic
If you’ve ever watched an episode of Hoarders, you’ve probably wondered how people can live in such surroundings. You’ve probably wondered if those people feel like the walls are closing in on them. Too much stuff can definitely make you feel like you’re suffocating or drowning in junk.
Diminishes your satisfaction with your home and surroundings
It’s hard to feel pride in a home that doesn’t look nice. And in a world of 24-hour HGTV, our dissatisfaction can be magnified when we start comparing our homes to the staged homes we’re seeing. Even when we realize that our home won’t look like a television set, it’s hard to feel good about your home when it’s a cluttered mess.
Physical clutter contributes to mental clutter and less efficient and productive thinking
Have you ever tried to get a difficult project done at a desk that’s a total wreck? It’s hard to find what you need, supplies and materials get buried, and you end up wasting lot of time and mental energy that should be going into your work.
Contributes to feeling overwhelmed and out of control
It’s virtually impossible to feel calm and in control when you live in an environment that looks like a disaster zone.
It makes you feel like a failure when you can’t get control of your own surroundings.
When things are out of control you feel judged. You assume people are looking at you and wondering why you can’t do something as simple as take care of your home. 63% of people even admit that they put the blame on other
Admitting you’ve bought things you don’t need (or even like) leads to remorse and self-blame.
We’ve all done it…given in to an impulse at the store and bought something on a whim. And then at some point we realize it was a total waste of money and now it’s clutter we need to get rid of. No one wants to admit that they wasted money because it feels like admitting that you have no self-control.
But the money is gone at this point anyway. Your only question becomes whether or not you’re going to hold on to the clutter and enjoy feeling recrimination every time you look at the item.
You may feel taken advantage of if a lot of the clutter came from or belongs to other people
Sometimes the stuff that’s taking up room in our homes doesn’t even belong to us! We’re holding on to it for adult children, friends who need temporary storage, or because our parents have downsized. Whatever the reason, if you’re looking at clutter that’s not even yours it’s hard not to be angry at other people. They’ve dumped a mess on you but you’re the one suffering from it – and it’s not fair.
Negative Effects of Clutter on Your Finances:
- Money is spent replacing things you can’t find…$2.7 billion dollars annually if you want to get specific about it.
- You’re more likely to go out to eat when it’s hard to utilize your kitchen to cook at home
- Shopping may become a way that family members make themselves feel better when they’re suffering from mood problems caused by the clutter. This creates a vicious cycle.
- Storage of excess stuff costs money if you’re renting a storage facility. It’s a good time to own one of these companies since about 10% of Americans have an off-site storage unit they pay rent on every month.
- The effects of clutter on your mood, focus, concentration, etc. may affect your job performance which may limit your opportunities for advancement and raises.
- You may incur late fees because you couldn’t find a bill in order to pay it on time. In fact, it’s estimated that 23% of people in the U.S. pay their bills late because they can’t find them or aren’t organized enough to have a scheduled time to take care of this task.
So while we may think our clutter is not big deal, the fact is that when clutter gets out of control it can have major effects on all aspects of your life. But any time you get some clutter and mess out of your house you’ve made progress. Keep chipping away at the clutter and you’ll find all areas of your life beginning to improve as you gain control and confidence.