You will no doubt, have visited many homes in your lifetime to be amazed how some are maintained in an extremely tidy and well organised manner, sometimes to the point of being over obsessed e.g. DVDs and CDs lined up in alphabetical order and other homes will look like a bomb has hit them. That’s not to say that they will necessarily be filthy and dirty however. There’ll just seem to be no organisation or thought as to how things are stored or put away and you’ll often wonder how people can find anything in there.
Sometimes, there may be a genuine explanation for this. Some people may place more importance on living their lives than on time spent organising their possessions, others may have several children who will mess a house up the moment it’s tidy, and others may work extremely long hours and are just too shattered by the time they get home to be bothered with tidying up.
How Clutter Affects Safety
It isn’t simply a matter of being untidy when it comes to clutter all over the place. It can also have more far-reaching safety consequences. Falling or tripping is probably the main concern and babies, young toddlers, the elderly and infirm are admitted to hospital in large numbers every year simply as a result of suffering a fall as a direct result of clutter left lying around.
And, by ‘clutter’, this can mean clothes, bedding, toys, books and newspapers, in fact anything left lying around instead of being put away in its rightful place. Clutter can also become a danger if a fire was to break out in terms of blocking escape routes for you to get out and for emergency services to get in.
Getting Rid Of Clutter
When you have lived in a place for a certain length of time, you’ll have obviously gained possessions along the way to the point where many items will have sentimental value or you’ll simply feel that you can’t dispose of something because it might come in handy at some point, even if you’re not currently using it. Probably the biggest examples are clothes you’ve grown out of. Perhaps you’ve put on weight and can no longer get into that skirt or those trousers that you’ve had in your wardrobe for years. How often have you heard people say, “I’m on a diet and as soon as I’ve lost X amount of pounds I’m going to wear that dress again as I’ve only ever worn it once.” Now, ask yourself this question – Once you have lost your weight, don’t you think you’re likely to feel like buying a new dress to mark your success? After all, that old thing up in the wardrobe will have probably long gone out of fashion by the time you can fit into it again. That’s a very real example of clutter.
However, clutter removal doesn’t have to mean consigning everything to the bin man or charity shop. Clutter is not all about clothes and there may be certain items lying about the house which would be better kept bagged or boxed up and put in the attic, garage or shed, for example. So, where do you start? Here are some good room by room tips for getting rid of clutter and no doubt you’ll be able to apply them and to add to them when considering your own clutter.
People are notorious for keeping things they hardly use on top of work surfaces in the kitchen. It could be that old Breville sandwich maker, a coffee percolator (and now you only drink instant coffee) or the tall glass pasta jar full of spaghetti when you only eat tinned spaghetti hoops. Take all these items down from the counter and determine which ones to bin, which to give away, which could be useful some day and think of a better place to bag, box and store them and which do you use now and how could they be stored more efficiently, in cupboards perhaps? How many plates and bowls do you have in those cupboards? Probably ten times more than the amount of people who live there. Couldn’t some of these sets be stored and put away in the garage or loft or given away?
Whether you’ve outgrown some clothing items or they’re simply yesterday’s fashion and now seem hideous to you, you must go through your wardrobes item by item and ask yourself, “What is THAT doing in there?” No doubt, it’s taking up valuable space where all your latest gear is strewn all over your chairs, dressing table or simply chucked onto the floor. Does it really make sense to allot wardrobe space to all of the stuff you’ll never wear again, leaving your new stuff to deteriorate as it continues to gather dust and pet hair etc. wherever you’ve thrown it when you last wore it.
Whether it’s DVDs you’ve seen or CDs you’ve listened to over and over again until you’re bored sick of them, what are they doing there? If you’re lucky, you may have put them in a rack or you’ll have possibly simply left them lying about somewhere near your hi-fi or TV set. Why not box them up and store them in the garage or shed – you can always get them out one at a time later, should you wish to watch or listen to them again.
And those books? Are you really going to read all of them all over again? You’d have to be quite insecure to believe that people are going to view you as intelligent and worldly simply on the basis of you having a well stocked bookshelf or cabinet. And, think of the space you’d save by getting rid of them. And those last 4 weeks worth of OK magazines in the paper rack? Come on, you’re not going to get around to reading those now are you? The next edition comes out tomorrow. Why not put them in the paper recycling bin them or take them to your local dentist or doctor’s surgery where they’ll be much more appreciated.
Other ‘Guilty’ Areas
Other places around the house which are good examples of clutter are the shoe cupboard or the cupboard under the stairs. There are so many people who never ever throw any footwear away – it simply moves further to the back of the cupboard under the stairs and makes finding the shoes you are currently wearing even more difficult and the cupboard smellier.
Then, there’s the medicine cupboard. How many out of date pills, lotions and potions might still be in there? Even your food cupboard’s not entirely innocent. You’d probably be hard pressed to find one food cupboard in any house where every single item was still within its sell by date.
Alternatives to Throwing Away Your Clutter
If the thought of throwing out all of your clutter is simply just too much to bear and storage is not really an alternative option, then why not give some items away to charity, to friends or have a car boot sale?
There are also many companies who specialise in recycling all kinds of things and many items can then be passed on and used again in the likes of third-world countries who might be delighted to receive your old ‘brick’ mobile phone or CD walkman now that you’ve got the latest mobile and an iPOD. However you go about it, getting rid of your clutter will not only make it easier for you to find things, stay organised, save you time and make cleaning your house a whole lot easier and perhaps most importantly, it’ll make your house a safer place to be too.