10 Places to find hidden clutter

Just because something has a place in your home doesn’t mean that it’s the best place for that object. In fact, just because you have space to store an object doesn’t mean that you should.

If you want to have a home where everything is in its best place, here are 10 places to start looking for hidden clutter:

  1. Under beds. When I was in junior high, my mom found a “tennis ball” under my bed while she was replacing my mattress. Except it wasn’t a tennis ball, it was a furry, rotten apple. The space under people’s beds can be scary. Clear out the clutter (and the bad apples) from under your bed.
  2. Closets. If you’re like most people, you have sheets, towels, board games, coats, scarves, umbrellas, scrap-booking supplies, exercise videos, outdated spices, shoes, empty boxes, and hundreds of other items that you never use cluttering up your closets. Linen closets, coat closets, pantries, and wardrobes are full of clutter that you can get rid of now.
  3. Your basement. Spiders aren’t the only things lurking in your basement. Holiday decorations, boxes you never unpacked from your last move, and broken electronics that you have convinced yourself you will one day fix are all looming down there. I know it’s frightening, but you really should go through these things and deal with them in a proper manner.
  4. Self-storage facilities. You know how kids sometimes put their hands over their ears, close their eyes, and scream, “la, la, la, I can’t hear you”? Imagine me doing that right now. If you rent one of these spaces, read this article. Then, do everything in your power to get rid of your need to use a self-storage facility.
  5. Garages. Are there a pair of Rollerblades somewhere in your garage? Was 1998 the last time you wore them? Unused sports equipment, camping gear, and things that didn’t sell in your last garage sale don’t belong in your garage. Wouldn’t it be nice next winter to actually be able to park your car inside your garage?
  6. Your attic. See #3 above, substituting the word “attic” for “basement.”
  7. High cupboards in the kitchen. Waffle makers, popcorn poppers, china, silver, and griddles have a way of making it into your kitchen, never to be seen again. Consider what I said in my previous post about either using what you already own or getting rid of it.
  8. Guest rooms. I have a friend, who will remain nameless for obvious reasons, who has two “guest rooms” in her home. One has a bed, dresser, and empty closet. The other is filled with boxes and boxes of every piece of clothing her children have ever worn and every toy they have ever owned. Her children are married and live in their own homes. Yet, my friend continues to keep her children’s things and will not reclaim her guest room. If you have a guest room hiding things that you do not need, think about my friend and how you don’t want to end up like her.
  9. Desk drawers and filing cabinets. Your desk is a place that should facilitate productivity, creativity, and work. None of these things can happen if your desk is a disaster. If you’re having trouble with out-of-control papers, read posts in our category of organizing paper. If you’re having trouble opening your desk drawers, take a deep breath, disconnect the phone and the internet for a few hours, and focus on clearing the clutter from your work space.
  10. Your car’s glove box and armrest. As far as I am aware, there is not a competition to see how much stuff you can cram inside your glove box. I’m just letting you know.


This post was originally published in June 2007.

12 Comments for “10 Places to find hidden clutter”

  1. posted by M on

    My friend, Domestic Goddess, tells me the story about when her mother found a year’s supply of boiled eggs in a trunk at the foot of her bed. Her mother had lovingly hard-boiled the eggs and placed them in her school lunch box each day…or so she thought.

  2. posted by Ryan on

    Wouldn’t she have been able to smell those things after awhile?

  3. posted by Arjun Muralidharan on

    I just started a major cleanout of my room today, and I got rid of so many old papers I tought I needed to keep, like warranty slips for things I didn’t even have anymore, bank statements of accounts that ceased to exist, and a lot of other stuff that belongs to other family members. I’m getting decluttered, and I have to get my family to do the same…

    BTW, love this blog and it inspires me for my own!

  4. posted by F on

    What about your wallet/purse? I cleaned out my wallet last night. There was so much junk in it

  5. posted by Anonymous on

    My desk doesn’t have drawers you insensitive clod! It’s just a surface with a holding bracket for any standard tower-shaped computer.

    I’ll be honest though, there’s a TON of crap on the floor underneath it…

  6. posted by shane on

    what about guest rooms in general? they seems like a waste of space. any ideas on how to use a guest room and easily convert it for guests when needed?

  7. posted by Dr. Ragan, www.psychologyofclutter.com on

    What a fabulous post. Thanks Erin.

  8. posted by Martin on

    Is it just me, or is the numbering all messed up on the RSS feed of this entry?

  9. posted by PJ Doland on


    It’s not just you. The start attribute for the ordered list element in HTML has been deprecated in recent versions of the HTML standards, despite the obvious semantic value of the attribute. This is the source of the problem. Sorry about the inconvenience.

  10. posted by yellowchild on

    Recently after finding this site i cleaned out my closet and trunk and so forth and so on. After all was said and done i managed to donate a truckload and half to a thrift store that will make more from the stuff than i would have just letting it sit in my dresser. thanks for the help

  11. posted by Alicia on

    What’s the best way to dispose of broken electronics? I have a drawerful of old cameras, Discmans, earbuds, etc. – can I just throw them out or is there a better way to get rid of the clutter?

  12. posted by Monica Ricci on

    I just blogged a day or two ago about creating extra storage under the bed by raising the bed frame up. I even included a photo of all the stuff under my bed. This is not supposed to be a method of creating additional space just to collect clutter. It’s to be used deliberately when you just don’t have enough closet space in your home and it works wonderfully, provided it’s done thoughtfully and in a structured way.

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