7 warning signs it's time to declutter your home

All the key signs you need to declutter your home according to the experts

A living room with a sofa and coffee table
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Have you noticed that your space feels a little more cluttered recently, and have been wondering what the warning signs are that it's time to declutter your home? When it comes to determining what markers to look out for in regards to whether your home is overly cluttered, there are a number of signs that organization experts always look for. 

Because, while you might assume that clutter only becomes a problem when it’s spread out absolutely everywhere around your home, that isn’t actually the case. There are some specific signs that the clutter in your home is starting to get out of control. 

We chatted with a panel of experts about the key warning signs to look out for when it comes to the need to declutter your home, and how you can tell if it’s time for a clear out. Here’s what they told us. 

How to recognize that it's time to declutter your home according to the experts 

Admittedly, there are lots of hacks for the actual process of decluttering a small space, but how can you tell when it’s time to rid your home of clutter? What are the warning signs that your home may have become overly cluttered? This is what the experts have to say.  

1. You can't find anything

Kitchen drawer with lots of utensils

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Admittedly, one of the issues with clutter is that it has a nasty habit of creeping up on you without you noticing. One day everything has its place and your home feels neat and ordered, the next you can't find anything anywhere. 

Hashi Mohamed, President of Ivy Cleans, says: "A sign that you need to declutter is difficulty finding everyday items. When you're constantly searching for keys, remotes, or important documents, it suggests that excess clutter is disrupting your daily routine."

To tackle the clutter, aim to focus on one area at a time by following a schedule or checklist, such as following a 30-day decluttering challenge. By opting to focus on one area at a time, you're less likely to become overwhelmed. You can also pick up this 25-pack of drawer organizers from Amazon to help you find all your odds and ends.

Hashi Mohamed
Hashi Mohamed

Hashi Mohamed is the president of Ivy Cleans, a premier cleaning and lifestyle solutions company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Specializing in cleaning, organizing, and promoting a holistic lifestyle, it is passionate about transforming spaces into clean, organized, and vibrant environments.  

2. It takes too long to clean and tidy

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Have you noticed that cleaning and tidying your home, whether it's just one room or cleaning your entire house, is taking a long time? If this is the case, it's a sign that you most likely have too much stuff and it's time for a clear out. 

The great thing about decluttering is that, if you get the approach right, it doesn't need to take hours. Believe it or not, you can declutter any area of your home in just 15 minutes

3. You can't keep your home clean

Wiping windowsill with pink cloth

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Once you've tidied your home if you struggle to keep it clean, even with the help of an easy-to-follow cleaning checklist, that's a sign that you have too much stuff. 

Mohamed says: "Difficulty in keeping your home clean is another red flag. Excessive clutter makes cleaning much more challenging, often leading to neglected spaces that accumulate dust and grime."

Whether it feels like your entire home lacks organization ideas or there are a couple of "problem" rooms that always end up in a mess, you might want to think about decluttering.

4. You get anxious about inviting guests over

Cluttered apartment kitchen

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Rather than being excited to host friends and family, you find yourself worrying about how you can hide the clutter. It's totally exhausting and it puts you off of wanting to host. 

Look, I get it, I've been there. I used to live in a teeny tiny apartment that lacked storage space, and I always felt like it was overly cluttered. And, because of this, I never wanted to invite guests over. So, in a bid to reduce the clutter, I chose to implement the Swedish death cleaning trend in my home. Boy, am I glad I did, it was great decluttering motivation

The reality is that no one wants to invite guests over to a less-than-perfect home. But if you're finding that you're avoiding having guests over at all, because you're embarrassed by the state of your home and the amount of clutter that's dotted around, then it's probably time to think about getting rid of some stuff. 

A great hack for easier decluttering without getting overwhelmed is to buy two plastic bins, like these plastic crates from Amazon, and have one for items you can donate and one for items that you want to throw away. 

5. You feel drained, anxious or stressed when you're at home

Messy living room with items on floor

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If you're finding yourself feeling drained, anxious, or stressed when you're at home, it's worth considering whether the setup of your home could be the culprit.

Mohamed says: "One clear sign is feeling overwhelmed or stressed when you enter your home. If you start to feel anxious due to the sheer amount of stuff around you, it's a strong indicator that decluttering is needed."

Shlomo Cherniak, Owner of Cherniak Home Services, adds: "If the clutter in your home is causing you to feel overwhelmed or stressed, it's a strong indication that it's time to declutter.

Admittedly, knowing where to start when it comes to removing clutter from your home isn't always an easy task. Luckily there are plenty of expert-approved decluttering tips that can help. 

Shlomo Cherniak
Shlomo Cherniak

Shlomo Cherniak is the owner of Cherniak Home Services, and is a professional, reliable, and affordable handyman, offering a wide range of services including an expert-led cleaning service. 

6. You're running out of storage space

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If there's one sign that you need to declutter it's the fact that you're running out of storage space. 

Mohamed says: "If you notice that your storage spaces are overflowing — closets are
packed, drawers are jammed, and shelves are crammed with items — it's a signal that you have more than you can manage."

Cherniak adds: "When your storage spaces are overflowing and it becomes a challenge to close drawers and cabinets, it's a clear indication that you have too much stuff."

Having a clear-out and removing any clutter should be your first port of call for decluttering a closet that's overflowing or better organizing a dresser that's too full. But, once you've had a sort-out, you might also want to opt to source some better storage solutions for keeping your closet organized, such as using these space-saving clothes hangers from Amazon or fabric storage boxes from Amazon

7. Your surfaces are covered in clutter

Cluttered desk with pencils and headphones

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There is nothing worse than living somewhere that's cluttered, whether it's a dorm room that you need to organize or a compact apartment that's covered in mess. 

Cherniak says: "If flat surfaces like countertops, tables, and desks are constantly covered with clutter, it's a sign that you need to declutter and create more space."

Knowing how to approach decluttering (and organizing) your countertops can be challenging. And the same goes for your desk; if it's your desk that's covered in mess, knowing where to start with small office clutter can be tricky. 

Jamie Gold
Jamie Gold

Jamie Gold is a Home Design and Remodelling Expert  and Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach based in San Diego. 


How do you know when to declutter?

Often, clutter accumulates slowly over time. It's normal not to notice clutter in your home until it's started to build up. 

When it comes to understanding if you need to declutter, it's important to think about factors such as your mood and how you feel when you're at home. Because, if the state of your home is impacting how you feel, that's a significant sign that it's time to make a change and declutter your space.

Other warning signs to take into account are factors that impact everyday life. So, for example, if you notice that you can't use your kitchen countertops properly because they're too cluttered, that's a sign that it's time to have a clear-out.  If clutter is impacting your day-to-day life, it's probably a sign that you need to spend some time getting rid of items that you don't need. 

How can you declutter your home?

The process of decluttering can be overwhelming, so it's important to take things slowly and not try to do everything at once. 

Jamie Gold, Home Design and Remodelling Expert and Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach, says: "Don’t try to tackle it all at once. Choose one small but meaningful decluttering chore. Maybe it’s a single kitchen utensils drawer or a vanity cabinet that will provide instant gratification."

Make a list of everything that you want to get done and then, slowly over time, tackle one space at a time. This will make sure that the decluttering process doesn't become overwhelming. 

Often, you don't notice clutter until it's started to noticeably build up or you notice some of the signs that your home contains too much stuff. 

Signs like feeling anxious and drained when spending time at home may indicate that you are living in an overly cluttered space. You may also notice that your home feels like it lacks adequate storage space, that it's always a mess, and it takes a long time to clean. These are all warning signs that your home needs decluttering. 

Mohamed says: "Acknowledging these warning signs and taking action to declutter can lead to a more organized, efficient, and peaceful living environment."

Once you've decluttered your home, it's worth taking the time to think about the organizing hacks that you can implement to keep your space feeling neat and ordered. 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.