Effective Decluttering Strategies to Help Overcome Hoarding

Welcome to the world of decluttering, a crucial skill for those navigating the challenges of hoarding disorder. Imagine living in a space so cluttered that finding everyday items becomes a daily struggle, or consider the emotional weight of feeling unable to part with any possessions, no matter how trivial. For individuals with hoarding disorder, this scenario is often a reality, impacting their daily life.

Decluttering is not just about creating a tidier space; it can also have a positive impact on your mental health and overall wellbeing. However, for those with hoarding disorder, the process of sorting through and parting with items can be particularly daunting due to deep emotional attachments. This calls for decluttering strategies that are not only effective but also sensitively tailored to address these unique challenges.

In this blog, we’ll explore practical, compassionate strategies designed specifically for overcoming the complexities of hoarding. Whether you’re dealing with hoarding tendencies yourself or helping someone who is, the journey starts here, with the right approach to making decluttering manageable and meaningful.

How Do We Define Hoarding?

Hoarding disorder goes beyond just being a bit disorganzed around the house. Ot’s a recognized psychological condition characterized by an inability to part with possessions, regardless of their actual value. This disorder significantly differs from the occasional accumulation of clutter or the hobby of collecting. While collectors typically organize and display their items with pride, individuals with hoarding disorder often feel embarrassed by their possessions, leading to clutter that disrupts their living space and daily life.

The challenges faced by those with hoarding disorder are profound and multifaceted. Items that may seem worthless to others, like old newspapers or broken objects, can hold immense sentimental value, making it painful to consider discarding them. This attachment often stems from fears of losing important memories or the belief that the items will be needed in the future.

Additionally, the mere thought of sorting through and discarding items can cause severe anxiety for someone with hoarding disorder. The decision-making process about what to keep or throw away feels overwhelming, sometimes to the point of paralysis. The task is not only emotionally draining but also physically daunting, as the volume of possessions can be vast.


Basic Principles of Decluttering for Hoarders

When it comes to decluttering for individuals with hoarding tendencies, understanding where to begin and how to pace oneself is crucial. Here are some basic principles designed to make the process more manageable and less intimidating:

Start Small

One of the most effective strategies is to start small. Tackling a single drawer or shelf can prevent the process from becoming overwhelming. This approach allows the individual to focus on one manageable task at a time, creating a sense of accomplishment without the anxiety that often comes with larger decluttering efforts. It’s about making the task feel doable, which in turn can build confidence and momentum.

Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is another essential principle. For someone with hoarding disorder, even small decluttering tasks can seem daunting, so it’s important to establish achievable objectives. A practical goal might be to declutter for just 15 minutes per day. This limited timeframe helps prevent fatigue and keeps the task from becoming too stressful. Over time, these short sessions can add up to significant progress, making the overall goal of decluttering feel more attainable.

Utilize Available Space Efficiently

As you progress in your decluttering journey, it’s important to maximize the use of available space. This means organizing items in a way that optimizes your living area while maintaining accessibility. Use vertical space with shelving units, hang items that can be hung, and consider under-bed storage for seldom-used items. The key to find storage solutions for your Melbourne home lies in the effective use of space and having a good system of where different items are kept.

Step-by-Step Decluttering Process

Here’s how you can systematically tackle decluttering if you or someone you know is struggling with hoarding tendencies:

Sorting Items

Start by categorizing each item into one of four distinct groups: keep, donate, recycle, or discard. This system simplifies decision-making and helps maintain focus during the decluttering process.

Keep: Items that are frequently used, have significant value, or bring joy.

Donate: Items in good condition that are no longer needed but could benefit someone else.

Recycle: Items that cannot be donated but are suitable for recycling.

Discard: Items that are no longer usable and cannot be recycled.

Handling Emotional Attachment

Emotional attachments to items can be a major hurdle in decluttering. To ease this process:

Photographic Records: Take photos of items you feel strongly about but don’t need to keep. This allows you to preserve the memory without keeping the physical object.

Start with the Less Sentimental: Begin the decluttering process with items that evoke less emotional response to gradually build your decluttering muscle and confidence.

Creating a Decluttering Schedule

Consistency is key in transforming decluttering from a daunting challenge into a sustainable practice.

Regular Schedule: Integrate decluttering into your daily routine, setting aside a specific time each day or week for this task. Even 15 to 30 minutes can make a big difference.

Incremental Goals: Focus on one area at a time—whether it’s a drawer, a shelf, or a corner of a room—and gradually expand as you gain momentum and confidence.


Remember, decluttering is not an overnight fix but a gradual process that nurtures healthier habits and clearer spaces. For those struggling with hoarding, every item discarded represents a considerable emotional victory. The journey towards a clutter-free environment can significantly alleviate mental strain, opening up not only physical space but also mental space for new experiences and a more relaxed state of mind.