HIDDEN CLUTTER SPOTS AND HOW TO DEAL WITH THEM
Creating a decluttered and simplified home can take time and effort. However, it can be frustrating when, even after decluttering, there still seems to be stuff to clutter our homes. In this article we look at some common hidden clutter spots and how to deal with them.
BENENFITS OF DECLUTTERING YOUR HOME
Decluttering your home is a great way of creating more time, space and freedom for getting on with life. Decluttering makes it quicker and easier to manage your home and keep on top of those household routines.
A simplified home is often more inviting for guests and relaxing for us to recharge and unwind at the end of the day. A minimalist home is calmer and more focused on the people who live in it.
There are so many benefits of decluttering your home and I appreciate my own simplified home every day. And, since I became a minimalist and prefer a home with less stuff and more life, it’s been even easier to manage my home with good decluttering habits and being vigilant for things that make my home look cluttered.
My kids share the chores with me and a quick reset of my home every day is all that’s needed to keep things ticking along!
HOW TO DECLUTTER
Decluttering can be hard for many reasons. We get stuck in a decluttering rut, lack motivation, don’t know where to start or we run out of time. We hold on to things for emotional reasons, feel guilty for being wasteful or we’re just not sure what to do with the stuff that we’ve decluttered.
We can become used to the clutter in our homes so we don’t see it for what it really is and notice when the clutter builds up. Clutter attracts more clutter but we have clutter-blindness and aren’t aware of when those clutter levels are rising!
Sometimes there are clutter hotspots that we don’t know how to deal with, such as the entrance way and kitchen counters.
Or maybe you struggle to make decisions on what to keep and what to get rid of so the thought of getting rid of stuff seems scary and overwhelming.
If any of these reasons why decluttering feels hard (there are also many more by the way that I haven’t mentioned here) resonate with you, I suggest you start small, but just make a start:
- Remove one thing from one room
- Take one rubbish bag or box around the home and try to fill it
- Tackle just one project today or this week
Practice your decluttering skills, build confidence and clarity and do a little bit often. These simple tips will help you declutter more effectively.
THE ROLE OF HIDDEN CLUTTER
So, now you know some of the benefits of decluttering and we’ve had a whistle-stop tour of how to declutter and some of the common decluttering problems that many people face, what now?
Let’s imagine you’ve spent some time decluttering your home, but something feels off. You open a drawer in search of something, you go to find something in your cupboards, or get some ingredients to cook for dinner tonight in your kitchen cupboard, or you try to find a particular email or photo on your computer and you get stuck…
Suddenly you realise that you STILL have clutter even though you thought you’d decluttered already.
If this feels familiar, the chances are that you have some hidden clutter yet to deal with! In this article we’ll be looking at what hidden clutter is, where you might find it and how to tackle it!
WHAT IS HIDDEN CLUTTER?
Hidden clutter is stuff that you don’t normally see. If you take a look around your home now, you can easily see furniture, wall and floor coverings, lighting, pictures and artwork on the walls, your home décor.
Although many of these items can clutter your home, it’s relatively easy to both feel and see if they are cluttering your home.
Although minimalist, simplified homes don’t have to be white, empty and with little furniture, they do generally have less stuff in them. It’s easy to tell if your home is as clutter-free as you would like it, at least on the surface.
The problem with hidden clutter is that it is, well, hidden.
It’s stuff that you don’t see when you’re looking around the home now. It’s usually clutter that’s on top of, underneath or inside of other things. Whether that’s drawers, baskets, storage containers, on top of wardrobes and under beds.
It could even be digital clutter that’s hidden in your computer files, folders, drives and inbox.
If the clutter isn’t immediately obvious and crying out for you to deal with it, it gets forgotten about and hides away, out of sight and unfortunately, out of mind.
That is until you get searching for something and you’re reminded of your hidden clutter when you open that drawer or cupboard door!
There are many types of clutter but hidden clutter is sneaky and undoes all our good progress in decluttering the rest of our homes.
That’s why I hope this article helps you deal with the hidden clutter in your own home.
HIDDEN CLUTTER SPOTS AND HOW TO DEAL WITH THEM
Here are some common hidden clutter spots and how to deal with them.
1. Hidden clutter in the attic and garage
I put these two areas into one section because they share similarities. The attic and garage are often relatively big dumping grounds for random stuff that we don’t know what to do with, or we think we’ll deal with later.
They are also spaces in our homes that don’t tend to get much traffic and it really is a case of out of sight and out of mind. Every now and then we might venture in, perhaps to get the Christmas decorations, camping equipment or find some decorating or DIY supplies.
However, most of the time, the attic and garage are hidden clutter spots to store stuff.
Unfortunately, there is no magic wand for getting rid of stuff but you could use some simple strategies to make decluttering easier in these areas.
- Set a timer for 10 minutes and declutter until the timer goes off. Repeat regularly.
- Have a clear plan or decluttering goal for what you’re going to do with your decluttered items. Donate, sell, recycle or throw.
- Deal with your unwanted items as part of the decluttering process instead of leaving them around to deal with later.
- Break a big area down into small sections. This corner today, that corner tomorrow and so on.
2. Hidden clutter under the bed
Underbed storage is a great way to maximise storage space if you have limited space everywhere else. However, under the bed is also a common hidden clutter spot because we don’t often look under our beds. Stuff stored here gets forgotten about.
Take a moment to look under all the beds in your home. Pull everything out and ask some key decluttering questions to help you identify if you really need to keep what’s under there.
Does it need to be stored there, or could you re-home these items elsewhere in your home in a more appropriate place?
If you do need to keep stuff under your bed, try to ensure it’s packed neatly and labelled if necessary. You could invest in some underbed storage, pull out drawers on casters or clear bags so you can see what’s inside. This will make it easier for you to work out what’s there, as and when you need it.
3. On top of wardrobes
Not just out of sight and out of mind, but also often out of reach and out of mind! But, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there, taking up space and gathering dust too!
As for underneath the bed, take a look at what’s on top of your wardrobes now. Does it really need to be there? Do you need to keep it? Have you got similar or duplicates? Is there a more appropriate storage place for it?
4. Hidden clutter in drawers
Clear tables, countertops and flat surfaces are the cornerstone of minimalist and simplified homes. Not only do they make keeping your home clean and tidy easier and quicker, but they also give a clear line of sight to draw the eye across the room and make rooms appear bigger and more clutter-free.
The problem is that many of us sweep the stuff on our flat surfaces straight into the drawers beneath! So, we’re just moving clutter from the visible surface to the hidden drawer. It’s not until we open the drawer that we’re reminded of the stuff in it!
To stop the build up of hidden clutter in your drawers, here are some ideas:
- Don’t have furniture with drawers! By far the easiest solution to remove the temptation for you to use the drawers in the first place.
- Just because you have drawers, doesn’t mean you have to use them. Empty, or near-empty drawers are just fine too.
- Go round your home and tackle one drawer at a time. Empty it out, decide what you want to keep and what you don’t need anymore. Decide whether this drawer is the best place to store things. Put back only what needs to stay in that drawer. Deal with the rest right now!
- Use drawer dividers and small boxes and containers to divide up drawers. It’s easier to keep the contents tidy, organised and visible rather than everything getting jumbled up together.
5. Hidden clutter in your email inbox
We get bombarded by emails regularly. Junk, spam, promotions, newsletter and subscriptions along with those important work, school and personal emails. They all find a way into our inbox and sit there until we access our emails and check what’s arrived.
Emails are hidden clutter because they’re not physical items that we can see, move, feel, trip over or walk around.
As we’re not reminded of their presence on a regular basis it’s easy for them to build up. Unless, of course, we need to find an important email and then it’s difficult and time-consuming to wade through lots of emails in search of the one or few we want.
Try these action steps to declutter your emails:
- Delete emails you no longer need or want
- Unsubscribe from emails that no longer add value to your life in some way
- Archive old emails you want to keep but don’t want to delete
- Set up a system of folders so you can separate emails into different folders by topic
- Flag or star emails to show priority and importance
- Aim to deal with each email only once or twice
6. Hidden clutter in digital photos and files
Just like for the emails hidden in your inbox, the same principles apply to digital photos and files. We can’t trip over them or see them when we look around our home, but they clutter up our computers and phones in a similar way.
Digital clutter wastes our time, makes us less productive and more inefficient and raises stress levels. Just recall how frustrating it is when you can’t find a file or photo because you’ve got hundreds of other files and photos to search through.
Overcome hidden digital clutter by regularly deleting and archiving old files and photos, using folders and a clear labelling system.
7. Hidden clutter in cupboards
Cupboards are excellent hiding places for hidden clutter because they come in various sizes and have doors which can be closed so you can’t see what’s inside!
Be wary of using cupboards to store your stuff. Try to ensure you’re not keeping random clutter in random cupboards by designating cupboards, or at least individual shelves, for a particular purpose. Linen for linen, cleaning supplies for cleaning supplies etc.
Give everything in your home a ‘home’ of its own. This is a particular place for it to be stored when not in use.
Chucking things in cupboards just so it’s not visible in your home or because you don’t know where else to put it is a common habit that makes your home look and feel cluttered.
8. In food cupboards
It’s not just cupboards that attract hidden clutter, but our food cupboards, pantry, larger, fridge and freezer can do the same too.
This makes it difficult to know what ingredients you’ve got in the home, what’s in date and what’s expired and also when you’re running low or have run out.
It makes deciding what to eat and preparing the food more difficult and you risk wasting food that’s gone off or because you’ve bought extra of stuff you’ve actually already got.
Overcome hidden clutter in your food cupboards and freezer by:
- Doing a regular stocktake and inventory of food to check for expiry dates and stale food
- Making sure everything is clearly labelled including freezer meals you’ve prepared in batches and food you’ve decanted into other containers
- Do regular meal-planning
- Maximise small windows of time to declutter your kitchen cupboards, fridge etc when you’re waiting for dinner to cook or the kettle’s on the boil
9. Hidden clutter under the stairs
You might have a cupboard under your stairs, or just an open space but either way, under the stairs can be a dumping ground for random clutter.
Hidden clutter can build up there because it’s a high traffic area and you never really stop to assess what’s there. Sometimes, because it’s in the middle of the home where lots of people might move through, nobody takes ownership of the space and what clutters it.
Sometimes under the stairs is an awkward place to access, requires physical effort to clear and it’s out of the way so doesn’t affect your day-to-day living and enjoyment of your home.
Get rid of the hidden clutter under the stairs by pulling everything out, assessing what’s there and, if you do need to use the space for storage, keep it tidy and organised. Use baskets, drawers, shelving, hooks, racks etc to help your family keep it tidy and organised too!
10. Areas which you just walk through
Just as with hidden clutter under the stairs, clutter kept in areas which you just walk through can also be hidden because we don’t spend long enough in that area to notice it’s there. This could be stuff in your entrance way or the hallway, landing or on the stairs.
Avoid this type of hidden clutter by keeping stuff off floors and access routes, give everything a proper ‘home’ when not in use, and getting your family to practice good decluttering habits by putting things away properly when they’ve finished using them.
11. Organisation solutions and storage baskets
Just because you’ve organised your home and your stuff and it’s all in neat, tidy storage baskets, it doesn’t mean you don’t have hidden clutter!
It can be deceiving how much stuff we don’t actually need or want that’s still kept in our homes just because we’ve organised it.
Organised clutter is still clutter and it still takes up space in your home, time in your schedule and weighs on your mind.
Always try to declutter first and then organise. That way you’ll probably need less storage space, less storage baskets and it will be easier to organise, categorise and find a home for what you have left.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
I hope you enjoyed this article on hidden clutter and it’s perhaps made you think about the hidden clutter in your own home. Where does your hidden clutter lurk? Did you remember you had it? What tips do you have for dealing with it?
I’d love to hear your thoughts as well as any ideas for other hidden clutter we haven’t covered in this article. Please leave a comment below!
Sunday 11th of December 2022
I am in the process of decluttering and trying a minimalist lifestyle. As I go through it, I could see and experienced most of the things that were discussed and it serves as a guide. Wish you'll continue to send articles like these and will appreciate if you could include articles about decluttering the mind.
Thank you. I really appreciate it.
Balance Through Simplicity
Monday 12th of December 2022
Hi Enrico, I'm glad you're finding benefit in decluttering. I'll definitely keep writing so thank you for your encouragement and sharing your thoughts!