You’ve deep cleaned your home. You’ve decluttered every room. But, your home still doesn’t feel quite right. It still looks messy and cluttered despite your hard work.
This is actually a quite common complaint. Sometimes we “can’t see the forest for the trees” because we live in our homes and see every room daily. This commonality leads us to overlook things that have been around for so long, they’ve just become part of the decor, creating a cluttered house.
I think this is why professional organizers often suggest removing everything from a room or closet to start with an empty space. Then, you slowly add back the things you love and use.
Today, we’ll address the top things that make your house look cluttered. First, I thought it might be thought provoking to look at some statistics on clutter.
- US consumers buy 40% of the world’s toys, but bear only 3% of the world’s children.
- Most people wear 20% of their clothing 80% of the time. (source )
- 9.4% of U.S. households rent a storage unit. (source)
- People do not look at 80% of the papers and information they keep.(source)
- The average American house is double the size it was in the 1950s–and getting bigger. (source.)
- The U.S. Department of Energy reports that one-quarter of people with two-car garages have so much stuff in there that they can’t park a car. (https://www.becomingminimalist.com/the-statistics-of-clutter/)
- According to the National Soap and Detergent Association, getting rid of clutter would eliminate 40 percent of housework in the average home.(https://www.becomingminimalist.com/the-statistics-of-clutter/)
In this post, we are going to take a step back and get a different view of our homes. We’ll address 14 common things that make your house look cluttered. Then, we’ll address and solve those cluttered house issues for good. Let’s look at those 14 problems now.
14 common things that make your house look cluttered
1. Too-full Countertops
When your kitchen countertops are full of clutter, your space looks dirty even when it isn’t. The same applies to your bathroom countertops. Look at it this way, when you go to a hotel room, the counters are free of clutter and appear spacious and clean. This same feeling applies to your own home. Cluttered countertops are one of the top things that make your house look cluttered.
The solution to this problem is to utilize those cabinets and drawers. Put away any and everything you can and only leave minimal decorations on your kitchen and bathroom countertops. This will lead to them looking clean and spacious and will achieve that uncluttered look you desire.
As you are clearing away the clutter from your home, I want you to take notice of the common types of clutter you find lying about. Chances are, you have the same type of clutter you find yourself clearing daily.
For example, I have a kitchen countertop that daily becomes a clutter magnet. The types of clutter that appear here might be mail, packages to return to the store, projects that need to be completed, etc. If you will pay attention to the type of clutter you are clearing daily, it will show you what areas of your home need the most organization to keep your home from becoming a cluttered house.
For example, mail piling up on the counter will reveal that you need to develop a “home” for your daily mail. I have a financial binder that I put all of the bills inside as soon as I bring them in the house. Mail that needs to be filed and kept goes into my daily file basket. Papers that need attention go into my daily planner.
2. Excessive Decorations
Any home decorator knows that you can definitely go overboard when it comes to decorating your home. Every room needs space for the eyes to “rest,” meaning every square inch of your home doesn’t require decorations. This might be too many family photos, too many knick knacks, too many collectibles, etc. You get the idea.
A room that is clean but filled with excessive decorations still feels dirty giving the appearance of a cluttered house. The solution here is to minimize your decor. Not every book you own needs to be on display. Not every family photo needs to be hung on the wall. Go through your space and remove outdated photos and decorations. Move those photos to an album. Try to leave empty space as often as possible.
3. The exterior of the refrigerator
The exterior of the refrigerator has tendency to become a clutter spot quickly. We mount things with magnets and then never remove them. We add items so we “won’t forget” to do them, but we still forget. A completely covered refrigerator is one of the things that make your house look cluttered.
Even the cleanest kitchen looks messy if the refrigerator is covered. After a short while, you won’t even notice the important items you stuck to the fridge (even though you put them there to try to remember them) thus creating a look of a cluttered house. Let’s address this with a practical solution. Create a good paper filling system and a command center. Do not use the refrigerator for this purpose.
Take everything down, file what you need to, address that “to do” list, and only hang what is absolutely necessary. On my refrigerator, we keep a magnetic shopping list and our weekly home menu. That’s it.
No excessive photos, no excessive magnets, and most of all, we keep no paper clutter. I keep this on the side of my refrigerator, also, because I want the front surface clean and clear of clutter.
4. A messy entryway
The entryway to your home is the first thing your guests see when they come to your home. If you don’t address this area, this can be one of the main things that make your house look cluttered. If you live is a cold or wet climate where you often remove your shoes, this is an area you will definitely need to address. Look at a few ideas on Pinterest and start getting some ideas of how to best utilize this space.
If you remove shoes every time you enter your home, let’s create a shoe cubby for every individual’s shoes. If the kids hang coats, gloves, and outerwear, let’s create a space to hang and store these items.
My kids carry backpacks home from school, so we have a plastic bin for each of them to put their school papers into. I have a space to hang my purse, which I carry daily, and my husband has a box for his wallet and keys. Creating a space for these items will eliminate the clutter and help you get out the door faster each morning as you’ll know where everything is stored.
5. Paper piles
Everyone has a tendency to pile mail and papers from time to time. Piles of paper laying throughout the home are one of the many things that make your house look cluttered. The solution to this problem is a good paper and mail filing system. Every bill we receive goes immediately into our financial binder, so I can pay it by the due date. Every other paper that comes into our home gets either filed or eliminated. Make a habit of addressing the paper clutter daily, so you can stay on top of this problem. A good rule of thumb is to only handle papers once. Deal with mail as soon as you collect it from your letterbox.
6. Too many throw pillows
Have you been in a store and adored those beautiful furniture displays or bedroom decor? Often, you’ll find a lovely bedroom set with a matching comforter, bedskirt, pillow shams, throws, and an abundance of decorative pillows. It looks inviting and comforting, but I’m afraid it isn’t very practical on a daily basis to remove and then add back all of those pillows when you make your bed.
If you absolutely love your decorative pillows and can’t part with them, then you must be sure you display them neatly. Otherwise, consider storing a few pillows or moving them to the closet until you decide if you want to keep them. Pillows scattered everywhere can easily become one of the things that make your house look cluttered.
The same applies to the sofa. Excessive throw pillows constantly require straightening to keep them looking neat and uncluttered. Excessive pillows also require extra work for you when it comes to cleaning.
These items still need washing from time to time, so try to keep them at a minimum or swap them out occasionally. Once you’ve decluttered your pillows, avoid the temptation to buy more to keep this area from contributing to a cluttered house.
7. Toy clutter
A cluttered house full of toys is definitely a battle for most moms. We often just need to look at creative ways to store them and buy storage containers. But, first we need to eliminate the clutter before we can store it all away. Go through the toys routinely and throw out anything that is broken. Donate anything that is no longer enjoyed by the kids.
Store away half of the toys and rotate them out monthly. Teach the kids to do a daily toy clean up with you until they get the hang of doing it on their own. Do not create a complicated storage system. This only makes it harder to put everything away.
Clean up should be accomplished in 10 minutes or less. If you cannot do it in ten minutes, your storage system is probably too complicated to maintain. Maintenance is key to keeping the clutter at bay and avoiding things that make your house look cluttered.
8. Too much furniture
Everyone has been in a home that is filled to every corner with wall to wall furniture. Sometimes we inherit furniture and antiques, and we don’t know quite what to do with them. We feel guilty for parting with them because they belonged to a loved one. Parting with the furniture feels wrong. So, let’s address this issue.
Getting rid of furniture or gifts from loved ones does NOT mean you don’t love or appreciate the person. Instead you must love your space. Loving your space means you want to be in it and enjoy it every day. You can’t enjoy these items if they create a cluttered house. You want to fill your space with the things that you love.
Keeping everything everyone gives you will prevent you from doing that and will become one of the main things that make your house look cluttered. Go through your home and remove any excess furniture and create space for the eyes to “rest.”
9. Laundry and “clean” clothes
We all have to deal with laundry and the work that it requires. Laundry baskets full of clean clothes create a cluttered house if you don’t address this daily. Even clean, folded laundry can be one of the things that make your house look cluttered. Get in the habit of putting clean laundry away every single day. Do not let it linger.
Also, maybe you or your spouse have a space in your room or closet where you lay “clean” clothes, meaning you only wore it a few hours and it’s too clean to wash but too dirty to put away. Start hanging or folding these items daily. Avoid putting them on the chairs or the beds. Create a specific space to store these until they need to be washed.
10. Dishes in the sink or on the countertop
This goes without saying, but dishes have to be addressed daily. Just like clean laundry, even clean dishes can be one of the things that make your house look cluttered if you fail to put them away and out of sight. Once dishes are clean and dry, put them away as soon as you can to avoid this cluttered house issue.
11. Unmade beds
As the bed goes, so goes the room. Make your beds daily. Teach the kids to do so, also. Again, do not make this more complicated than it has to be by adding to many decorative pillows and too many accessories. Unmade beds are one of the easiest and fastest clutter issues to remedy and one of the things that make your house look cluttered if not addressed. An unmade bed invites more clutter. Once a bed is made, you are far less likely to pile anything on it.
12. Overfilled shelves and cabinets
Declutter the interior of those cabinets. Too much clutter creates stress when they are filled to capacity. You can’t find what you need if there is too much stuff. Eliminate all of the excess and create a space for only what you use and love.
13. Visible cords and wires
We all have and use our home electronics, but the cords are unsightly and can become one of the things that make your house look cluttered. Look at Pinterest for some creative ways to hide those cords. There are plenty of ideas and resources available to accomplish this. You’ll appreciate the look of your home when you address this clutter issue.
14. Unclear surface tops
Not every space in your home needs to be covered and decorated. If you have a tendency to create piles and decorate your dresser tops, bedside table tops and bureau tops, you’ll easily turn your home into a cluttered house.
The Fly Lady calls these areas ”’hot spots.” These are the areas everyone has in their homes that become dumping grounds for clutter. Piles develop in these areas if they aren’t cleared daily. This can be a kitchen counter, dining room table, bedside table, desk, etc. Leave open spaces as often as you can. Put items away in drawers and containers and keep the clutter at minimum.
So, there you have it. We have addressed 14 common things that make your house look cluttered. I hope this information has been beneficial to you to help you remedy a cluttered house. If you enjoy reading this type of material, subscribe to my blog where you can find ideas and tips for cleaning and organizing everything in your home.
What makes a house look cluttered?
You could have too many collectibles on display, surfaces covered with clutter, dishes, and paper piles, and visible cords and wires.
How do you make clutter look good?
Try hiding those visible cords and wires. Create a good paper and mail filing system. Keep your surfaces clear by using decorative containers to store things
What is clutter a sign of?
Generally, the type of clutter we have lying about indicates that we have not assigned particular items a permanent “home.” If you frequently have paper piles, you need to create a good paper filing system.
How do you deal with a cluttered house?
Start with the areas that create the most stress in your life. Do you frequently misplace bills or other important documents? If so, start addressing paper clutter first, and create a simple paper filing system.
Where do I start decluttering when overwhelmed?
A house filled with clutter can feel overwhelming. Start decluttering the area that causes you the most distress. Create a habit to begin handling items only once. For example, as soon as you collect your mail, begin putting it where it belongs rather than piling it on the nearest surface.
What does a cluttered house mean?
For some people, cluttered rooms comfort them. They work best in this type of atmosphere. For others, it creates stress and anxiety. What clutter usually means is that one does not have a good system or ample space to store their belongings.
Have you ever wondered How Clutter Affects You? I think you’ll be surprised!I have a detailed blog post about that you can read here.
Also, you can get the complete digital printable copy of the Year Long Thorough Declutter Series Calendar and Checklists here. The printable digital download is delivered to your email. It includes 25 pages of printable calendar pages and checklists like the one below to help you declutter every room in your home. Below is a sample page of what you’ll get in the digital download. You can sign up here.
You can get your printable Daily Housekeeping Routine and Cleaning Checklists here. This 15 page printable kit is delivered digitally to your email for you to print and personalize. It includes a daily schedule, calendar pages, and deep cleaning checklists for every room and area of your home. Below is a sample page of what you’ll get.
Need to deep clean? I have lists for you to guide you along.
First, let’s prepare ourselves to clean. If you are in your nice clothes, you probably aren’t going to be every inspired to really get things clean. I suggest you dress in something comfortable that allows you to bend and move freely from room to room. I like wearing my gym clothes and tennis shoes for this task.
Emergency Clean: If you have company coming over and you have been given little notice, you are going to want to just do an emergency sweep of your home. This is just a surface clean, and it will make your home “guest ready” in a short time.
To do that quick sweep, grab an empty laundry basket or a large box and go throughout the living area grabbing anything that is out of place and tossing that into you basket. This is just a temporary fix, but it is intended to give you some immediate satisfaction just by clearing the room of clutter. When you have time to deep clean, I have checklists below.
Next, grab some multi-surface spray and wipe every counter top and toilet seat from the kitchen to the bathrooms. Then, make each bed. Don’t have time to make beds? Just close the bedroom doors. If you have time, focus on the floors. If you have guests coming over for a visit, just focus on the main living area floors. Don’t do a “full sweep, vacuum, and mop job” if you are in a time crunch. Instead, just sweep and spot clean. Again, this is just a quick fix. When you have the time, I have some deep cleaning checklists below.
My How to Deep Clean Your Kitchen list can be found here.
My How to Deep Clean Your Bathroom list can be found here.
My How to Deep Clean Your Kids’ Rooms list can be found here.
My How to Deep Clean Your Living Room list can be found here.
My How to Deep Clean Your Bedroom list can be found here.
Also, to keep up the general housework, you may need to create a daily housekeeping schedule that suits your specific needs. To do so, I have created a helpful series you can read here.
I have a basic weekly cleaning schedule that you can find here. It is only $2 for the digital download and covers all of the basics of keeping your house clean. You can see what it looks like below.
Need to develop some habits to ensure your home STAYS clutter -free?
Here are the habits I most recommend: 7 Daily Habits for a Clutter-Free Home. Check out these 7 Daily Habits from Joshua Becker. You can read more here.
1. Handle physical mail immediately. Too often, mail is only relocated from the mailbox to our countertop—where it often sits or begins to collect. But the fact is, most mail can be processed in very little time if we make it a habit. Immediately discard junk mail (or use Paper Karma to eliminate it completely) and process the rest. Mail that requires processing but can’t be handled right away can easily be placed in a manila To-Do Folder out of sight. (source)
2. Clean dishes after meals. I used to hate washing dishes—especially right after preparing and eating a meal. But things changed when I read this story. Now, I view cleaning dishes as just the last step of the family dinner. Washing dishes (or filling the dishwasher) immediately takes less time (they wash easier when food has not dried). And the kitchen is clean all evening.(source)
3. Make your bed each morning. Messes attract messes. One of the easiest places to see this is the bedroom. Your bed is the centerpiece of the room and when it is made, it sets environment and the culture. But when it is left undone, clutter begins to accumulate around it. The first, best step when cleaning a bedroom is to make the bed. And the first, best step for clutterfree living is to do it first thing in the morning (or find a spouse who does).(source)
4. Store things off the kitchen counter. Messes attract messes and clutter attracts clutter. The better we get at storing clutter out of sight, the less likely it is to accumulate. The kitchen counter is a good example. When countertops become an acceptable place to store things, more things begin to collect there. But a clean countertop communicates calm and order, promotes opportunity for its intended use, and is probably easier than you think.(source)
5. Return items nightly. When we minimized our possessions, we found tidying up to be easier. Every item has a purpose and every item has a home. At the end of the day, items are returned. This is a daily habit I have worked hard to incorporate in my life and my kids’ lives. One reason is because it allows every morning to begin fresh, new, and clutterfree.(source)
6. Complete 1-2 minute jobs immediately. Clutter is often a result of procrastination—decisions put off or small jobs left unfinished. Counteract this procrastination in your home with a simple rule: If a job can be completed in less than 2 minutes, do it now. Take the garbage out, scrub the pot, return the remote control, or place your dirty clothes in the hamper. Every time you see a task all the way to completion, a source of clutter is avoided.
7. Minimize overfilled spaces right away. Clutter often reveals itself as too many things in too small a place: too many clothes in a drawer, too many linens in a closet, too many toiletries in a bathroom cabinet, or too many items on a shelf. When this occurs, as it often does, minimize the overfilled space right away by removing everything no longer needed. Don’t put it off. It will take longer than 2 minutes, but usually no more than 15. Staying ahead of clutter is the best way to defeat it altogether.(source)
Need to Declutter Every room? I have declutter checklists for every room and every space in your home to guide you along below.
Also, you can get the complete digital printable copy of the Year Long Thorough Declutter Series Calendar and Checklists here. The printable digital download is delivered to your email. It includes 25 pages of printable calendar pages and checklists to help you declutter every room in your home. When you use the Year Long Though Declutter checklists, your cluttered house will be remedied at a pace you can keep. You can get that here.
Struggling with the daily housekeeping chores? Check out my ebook on this topic, entitled Make Over Your Homemaking. Use this link to get it at a discounted price.
How Do You Remove Clutter from Your Cluttered House? : HOW TO DECLUTTER:
1. boxes -preferably ones you can donate (Avoid plastic storage bins because you may be tempted to just store the items and not part with them.)
2. sturdy trash bags
3. marker/pen to label boxes
Decluttering Tip: Avoid using storage bins to declutter. Storage bins tend to tell your brain to “store” the items for later. That is just delaying decisions. If you aren’t getting rid of items when you declutter, you are not truly decluttering. This is why I recommend a trash bag, also. A trash bag tells your brain to “trash” the item.
Obviously, recycle if you have that option. The boxes you use should be ones you are willing to part with, so I recommend sturdy cardboard boxes. As to donations, there are many charities that will come pick up your items for you at your home.
I use one in particular where you can book an appointment for pick-up online. This is so convenient, as it saves you the hassle of hauling stuff away yourself. Scheduling that pick-up also motivates you to declutter by a certain date.
Need a visual to keep you motivated? If so, check out this great video on decluttering your home’s most clutter-prone areas.
How to Declutter:
1. Start by eliminating trash first- use a sturdy trash bag
2. Sort items by category if needed so you can see what you have
3.Get rid of duplicate items, broken items, outgrown clothes and shoes, anything you’ll never use again
4. Box up the donations and trash/recycle the rest
5.Select a charity to donate your items and schedule the pick-up if that is an option
Also, you can get the complete digital printable copy of the Year Long Thorough Declutter Series Calendar and Checklists here. The printable digital download is delivered to your email. It includes 25 pages of printable calendar pages and checklists to help you declutter every room in your home.
How to Declutter the Guest Room or Your Kid’s Room checklist can be found here.
How to Declutter Your Laundry Room and Patio checklist can be found here.
How to Declutter Your Coat Closet/Hall Closet/Linen Closet checklist can be found here.
How to Declutter Your Home Office checklist can be found here.
Need help deciding if you should keep or toss an item? Ask yourself these questions below:
How to Declutter Your Attic checklist can be found here.
How to Declutter Your Garage checklist can be found here.
How to Declutter Your Living Room checklist can be found here.
How to Declutter Your Kitchen Checklist can be found here.
How to Declutter Your Entry/Foyer/Mudroom checklist can be found here.
How to Declutter Your Clothing checklist can be found here.
How to Declutter Your Bedroom checklist can be found here.
How to Declutter Your Bathroom checklist can be found here.
Need some Inspiration to Declutter? Join us for the Year Long Through Declutter Series by leaving me a comment below. We declutter 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. When you subscribe, you’ll receive an email with your daily task. You can sign up here.
New to deemiddleton.com and don’t know where to start? I recommend going in this order:
Step 1: Check out this post on the 1st step you should take to get organized. Also, you can get the complete digital printable copy of the Year Long Thorough Declutter Series Calendar and Checklists here. The printable digital download is delivered to your email. It includes 25 pages of printable calendar pages and checklists to help you declutter every room in your home. You can sign up here.
Step 2: Create a daily Housekeeping Schedule. Check out my ebook on this topic, entitled Make Over Your Homemaking. Use this link to get it at a discounted price. You can use this series to start to set up your own schedule. You can also use this simplified weekly schedule.If you often ask: What is the fastest way to clean a dirty house? Or, if you struggle to get organized and have tried and failed time and again, you can likely find out which of these 11 reasons cause you to fail to get organized.
Step 3: If you’ve been wondering, “what should I declutter?”…Sign up for the Declutter Series and get your entire home decluttered in just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.”Declutter Your Home” checklists are provided in each email.
Step 4: What is the fastest way to clean a dirty house? Use a timer and use the Deep Cleaning Checklists above. They will help you get your home sparkling after you’ve decluttered.
Interested in becoming a full-time blogger like me? Check out my blogging series. At the top of every page on my blog, you’ll find a drop down menu. Just select the BLOGGING category.
Check out the most popular posts on deemiddleton.com:
Also, check out a great post on decluttering over here from becomingminimalist.com. Joshua Becker has some great tips on decluttering and minimalism.
For further reading, check out the fly lady here. She has some great cleaning and decluttering ideas plus excellent organization tips to get you started.
Also, you can get the complete digital printable copy of the Year Long Thorough Declutter Series Calendar and Checklists here. The printable digital download is delivered to your email. It includes 25 pages of printable calendar pages and checklists to help you declutter every room in your home. You can sign up here.
I hope you have found this information on clutter beneficial. If you need help organizing, decluttering, or deep cleaning you home, check out the links above. You can also use the drop down menu at the top of each page and search by category.
If you are overwhelmed by clutter…You can get the complete digital printable copy of the Year Long Thorough Declutter Series Calendar and Checklists when you sign up here.