Clutter vs Hoarding: Differences, Causes, and Solutions

Clutter vs Hoarding: Differences, Causes, and Solutions

Hoarding and clutter are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but there are actually some key differences between the two. Hoarding is a mental disorder that is characterized by an excessive amount of stuff that leads to significant distress or impairment. Clutter, on the other hand, is simply an accumulation of things that take up space and cause disorganization. So what are these people? What is clutter vs hoarding and What are the causes them to be like this? Also what can be done to solve this problem? In this blog post, we will explore these questions and more!

What Does Hoarding Mean?

What Does Hoarding Mean?Hoarding is simply the act of collecting and holding onto things that other people would consider to be junk. For example, a hoarder might keep old newspapers, magazines, or clothing that is no longer usable. While most of us have some items that we hang onto for sentimental reasons, hoarders take this to an extreme.

It is often defined as the excessive collection of items, regardless of their actual value. To the outside observer, it may appear as if the hoarder is living in squalor or filth, but this is not always the case. In fact, many hoarders keep their homes relatively clean and tidy.

What Does Clutter Mean?

Clutter, on the other hand, is defined as a condition where possessions are accumulated to such an extent that they clutter up living spaces and interfere with the person’s daily activities. Clutter is usually less severe than hoarding, but it can still be a problem if it gets out of control. Moreover, it is important to note that clutter and hoarding are not the same things.

In fact, APA has different diagnostic criteria for the two conditions. For example, while hoarding is classified as a disorder, clutter is not. Clutter is simply considered to be a problem that can be solved with some organization and effort, whereas hoarding is a more serious condition that requires professional help.

What Are The Key Differences Between Clutter vs Hoarding?

Though both are often used interchangeably, there are key differences between clutter and hoarding. Even according to studies, the two conditions are only about 20% overlapping.

Clutter vs Hoarding Is Often Distinguished By

Amount Of Stuff

Someone with clutter might have a lot of things, but they are still able to use their living space. They are often able to find things when they need them and can still function relatively normally, albeit with a lot of mess.

On the other hand, someone with hoarding disorder will have so much stuff that their living space is no longer usable. This might include not being able to use furniture, cook in their kitchen, or even sleep in their bed.

The amount of stuff even starts to take over different parts of their life. For example, they might start eating meals off paper plates because there’s no room on the table or counters for food. Or they might wear the same clothes day after day because their bedroom is too full of clothes to get to the dresser.

Control Over The Stuff

Control Over The StuffAnother key difference between clutter and hoarding is the control that the person has over their stuff. People with clutter might have a hard time letting go of things, but they are still in control of their possessions. They can still decide what to keep and what to get rid of.

On the other hand, people with hoarding disorder feel like they can’t control their stuff. They might feel like they need to keep everything or that getting rid of something will be catastrophic. This lack of control leads to even more excessive buying and acquiring new things.

This is one of the key ways that hoarders differ from people with simple clutter. While both might struggle with deciding what to keep, only hoarders feel like they can’t let anything go.

Type of Stuff

Clutter vs hoarding is also often distinguished by the type of stuff that is being accumulated. People with clutter might have a lot of things, but they are typically useful items. This might include clothes, books, papers, or other items that serve a purpose.

On the other hand, people with hoarding disorder often accumulate useless or harmful items. This might include old newspapers, rotting food, garbage, or even animals. These items might be harmful to their health or the environment but they feel like they can’t part with them.

The key difference here is that people with clutter still have usable and mostly beneficial possessions while hoarders have things that are harmful and unusable.

Emotional Attachment

People with clutter might have a hard time getting rid of things because they are emotionally attached to them. They might have sentimental value or be useful items that they can’t replace.

However, the emotional attachment that hoarders feel is much different. Hoarders often develop an attachment to their possessions because they feel like the item represents something else. For example, they might keep old newspapers because they feel like it represents their need to be informed. Or they might save garbage because it reminds them of a happier time in their life.

The key difference here is that people with clutter are attached to their belongings because of Sentimental value or usefulness. While hoarders are attached to their belongings for symbolic reasons.

What Are The Causes To Be Like Clutter vs Hoarding?

When you think about people who are messy, you might imagine them as being lazy. However, that’s not always the case. In some instances, people can be messy because they have a lot going on in their lives.

And, hoarding is when someone has an excessive amount of items and they’re unable to get rid of them, even if they’re no longer useful. However, there are various reasons that cause people to develop this type of behavior. Such reasons can be;

  • Genetic: If you have a family member who hoards, you’re more likely to develop the same behavior. As this can be passed down from generation to generation.
  • Environmental: If you grow up in a house where hoarding is normalized, then you’re more likely to think that it’s okay. It s very often related to genes.
  • Mental health issues: People with OCD or anxiety are more likely to hoard because it helps them feel better.
  • Poverty: When people can’t afford to buy new things, they may hold on to items even if they’re no longer useful.
  • Emotional attachment: This is one of the most common reasons people hoard. They may have a sentimental attachment to an item or they may think it will make them feel better.
  • Childhood trauma: Sometimes, people who experienced traumatic events in their childhood may start hoarding as a way to cope. For instance, if they were neglected or didn’t have a stable home, they may start hoarding as a way to feel in control.

As you can see, there are various reasons why someone might start hoarding or cluttering. And, it’s important to understand that it’s not just about being lazy.

How Does Clutter vs Hoarding Relates To OCD?

How Does Clutter vs Hoarding Relates To OCD?Clutter vs hoarding is a topic that is often discussed in relation to OCD. It is so because people who have OCD often tend to be very neat and tidy. This is in contrast to people who hoard, who often have a lot of clutter in their homes. The two terms are not interchangeable, however.

Clutter is simply a build-up of things that are not needed or used. While hoarding is the excessive collecting of items, even if they are not needed or used. Clutter vs hoarding are basically types of OCD. Clutter is the less severe type while hoarding is the more severe type. And so, it comes as no surprise that people with OCD are often very neat and tidy.

People who have OCD are believed to be very conscious of cleanliness. Because they want to avoid anything that may trigger their OCD. Having a lot of clutter in their environment may be too much for them to handle and may cause them to have a meltdown.

People who hoard, on the other hand, often do not see the problem with the amount of stuff they have. In fact, they may even see it as a comfort. This is because hoarding is often associated with anxiety and depression.

What Are The Impacts Of These Types On The Life Of OCD People?

There are various impacts that can be faced by people with OCD due to clutter or hoarding. Most of these impacts are considered negative and can make day-to-day life quite difficult. Some of these negative impacts are;

  • Feeling overwhelmed and stressed
  • Feeling like you can’t keep up with the mess
  • Avoiding social activities or invitations
  • Being embarrassed about the state of your home
  • Feeling like you’re a bad housekeeper/parent
  • Having arguments with family members about the clutter
  • Struggling to find things you need due to the mess
  • Wasting time looking for things instead of doing what you want to do.

All of these impacts can make life very difficult in day-to-day life. It can be hard to keep up with the mess, and it can be very overwhelming. If you’re struggling with OCD and clutter or hoarding, there are some things you can do to help ease the impact it has on your life.

You need to understand that this is a mental disorder and that it’s not your fault. Seek help if it’s taking over your life and preventing you from doing the things you want to do.

What Are The Solutions To Deal With Clutter vs Hoarding?

It is very important to know the difference between clutter and hoarding so that you can deal with it in the most effective way possible. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Start By Identifying the Differences Between The Two

It is considered an essential first step to be able to identifying the differences between clutter and hoarding. Once you are able to do this, it will help you understand why one may happen more often than the other in your own life.

For example, people who hoard tend to keep items that have Sentimental value or things that they believe they will need in the future. On the other hand, people who suffer from clutter usually Keep things that are no longer useful or important to them. Understanding the general difference can help you start on your journey to solving your problem.

Get Organized And Create A Plan

This is the next step in solving your clutter or hoarding problem. You need to get organized and make a plan of action. This will help you stay on track and keep everything under control.

Some things that you can do to get organized include:

  • Make a list of all the areas in your home that are cluttered or full of hoarded items.
  • Start with one area at a time and work your way through the entire house.
  • Get rid of anything that is no longer useful, important, or serves a purpose in your life.
  • Create a system for organizing the things that you want to keep.
  • Make sure to maintain your new system on a regular basis so that it does not become cluttered again.

By using this method, you can slowly but surely get rid of the clutter or hoarding problem in your life.

Have Designated Place For Everything

Have Designated Place For EverythingThis is often one of the most effective solutions for dealing with clutter or hoarding. Having a designated place for everything can help you keep track of your belongings and prevent them from becoming lost in a pile of clutter.

Some things that you should have a designated place for include:

  • Keys
  • Bills
  • Clothes
  • Shoes

Make sure to label these places so that everyone in the household knows where things go. This will help to reduce the amount of time spent looking for things.

Enlist The Help Of A Friend Or Family Member

If you are having trouble getting started with solving your clutter or hoarding problem, enlisting the help of a friend or family member can be very beneficial. They can offer support and encouragement while you are working on getting rid of the clutter in your life.

In addition, they can help you to stay organized and on track with your plan. Having someone to help you can make a big difference in the success of solving your problem.

Get Rid Of Duplicates

This is very common for hoarders to have multiple of the same items. If you find that you have duplicates of something, get rid of one of them. This will help to reduce the amount of clutter in your home.

In addition, it can also help you save money because you will no longer need to purchase two of everything. When getting rid of duplicates, make sure to choose the item that is in the worst condition or that you do not use as often. Also, make sure to keep the item that has the most sentimental value.

Replace Clutter With Something Useful

If you find that there are certain areas in your home that are constantly cluttered, try replacing those items with something useful. For example, if you have a lot of books that are taking up space and causing clutter, consider replacing them with a bookshelf.

This will help to reduce the amount of clutter in your home while also providing you with a place to store your books. In addition, it can also help you to save money because you will no longer need to purchase new bookcases every time your old one becomes full.

One of the best ways to get rid of clutter is to donate items to charity. This helps to clear out space in your home while also helping those in need. When donating items, make sure to choose items that are in good condition and that you no longer need or use.

In addition, it is important to make sure that the charity is reputable and that they will put the donated items to good use. There are many great charities that accept donations, so make sure to do your research before choosing one. By donating items to charity, you can declutter your home while also helping others. But keep in mind that this solution is not for everyone and that you should only do it if you are comfortable with it.

Seek Professional Help

Seek Professional HelpThis can be a very effective solution for those who are struggling with a serious case of clutter or hoarding. Professional help can provide you with the support and resources that you need to get your problem under control.

Moreover, they can also help you to develop a plan for dealing with your clutter or hoarding problem. If you are struggling to solve your problem on your own, professional help may be the best solution for you. Clutter and hoarding can be a big problem in many people’s lives. But by using these solutions, you can slowly but surely get rid of the clutter or hoarding problem in your life.

You can consider Mantra Care for the professional help you need for your clutter or hoarding problem. Mantra Care is a team of highly-trained and experienced professionals who can provide you with the support and resources you need to get your problem under control. You can first try the free consultation to see how Mantra Care can help you with your specific problem. Visit the website today and book your free appointment.


Conclusively, clutter vs hoarding is two different things. Clutter is simply a messy and unorganized living space, while hoarding is a much more serious condition that can be detrimental to one’s health and well-being. However, both can be addressed with some simple changes and solutions. If you or someone you know is struggling with either of these issues, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

They will only worsen over time if these conditions are left untreated and unidentified. So, it’s best to take action now and get started on the path to a cleaner, healthier, and happier life. Thanks for reading!

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