statistics on clutter

If you didn’t realize that there is a clutter problem, these statistics on clutter will help you see its pervasiveness. The statistics on clutter are shocking, but being informed can help us make better choices going forward.

Statistics on clutter

1. 9.4% of U.S. households rent a storage unit. (source)

2. 67% of self-storage renters live in single-family homes with a garage & 33% also have a basement. (source)

3. 52% of self-storage customers rent for a year or more. (source)

4. There are 48,500 storage units in the U.S. which is more than McDonalds & Starbucks locations combined. (source)

5. The national average for a storage unit per month is $88.85. (source)

statistics on clutter

6. 25% don’t have room to park in their garage at all. (source)

7. 50% of people claim the garage is the most disorganized space in the home. (source)

8. “Removing junk” was the top answer for how people could like their garage more. (source)

statistics on clutter

9. The median single-family home is 2,355 square feet (in 1950 it was 983 square feet and in 1970 it was 1,500 square feet). (source)

10. The average adult aged 25-34 spends $161 per month on clothing. Adults aged 35-44 spend $209 per month. (source)

11. The average family spends $1,800 per year on clothing. (source)

12. Globally, the apparel industry is worth an amazing $2.4 trillion. (source)

13. Women have an average of $1,000 to $2,500 of clothing sitting in their wardrobe. 9% of women have more than $10,000 sitting in their closet. (source)

statistics on clutter

14. 32% of women own more than 25 pairs of shoes. (source)

15. 73% of women update 25% of their closet every 3 months. 15% of women don’t have any clothes older than 5 years in their wardrobe. (source)

16. The average American throws away about 81 pounds of clothing every year. (source)

17. 80-90% of clothing donations to charities are sold to recyclers. From there, 45% is exported for reuse and about 50% is recycled. (source)

18. 80% of the items people keep are never used. (source)

19. Retail sales of home organization products reached $16 billion in 2016 (source) (and is projected to generate $19.5 billion in retail sales by 2021). (source)

20. 54% of Americans are overwhelmed by the amount of clutter they have, but 78% have no idea what to do with it. (source)

21. Americans collectively spend $2.7 billion dollars every year (2/3rds of us spending up to $50 yearly) replacing the items they can’t find. (source)

22. Americans spend an average total of 2.5 days a year looking for misplaced stuff. (source) An additional 4.5 hours a week is spent look for digital documents. (source)

23. Credit card debt totaled $1.072 trillion. (source)

24. 78% of U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck. (source)

25. The average American spends $18,000 per year on non-essential items. (source)

26. Women’s’ stress levels are directly proportional to the amount of stuff in their homes. (source)

27. Getting rid of clutter eliminates 40% of housework in the average home. (source)

28. People are more productive, less irritable and distracted in a clutter-free space. (source)

29. People who sleep in cluttered rooms are more likely to have sleeping problems. (source)

30. When in cluttered spaces, people are more likely to make poor eating choices. Those with extremely cluttered homes are 77% more likely to be overweight. (source)

Clutter is a problem

What is clear from the data is that clutter is a problem and it’s one many people are struggling with. When we look at the data from a nationwide poll on why people are experiencing difficulties organizing their homes, the top 3 answers were: (source)

  • 33% said a lack of space.
  • 27% said finding the time.
  • 25% said too much stuff.

Even with the growing size of houses, one-third of people think that space is the problem. I’d say a quarter of them got it right with too much stuff. This is why people need to declutter more, not organize more.

It’s also clear from the data that the clutter is costing us our time, money, and focus. If you want to get back to a healthier financial place, it’s imperative to live within your means.

The statistics on clutter also tell us that our shopping habits are a problem not only for our bank account but for the clutter and global impact that they have. Fast fashion isn’t the answer.

When asked about wasteful spending, the top 4 responses were: (source)

  • 64% said because I wanted it
  • 59% said convenience
  • 52% said to make myself feel good
  • 40% said because it was on sale

The desire for an item wins over logic 59% to 41%.

The good news

It’s easy to read the statistics on clutter and feel both sad and overwhelmed. But when you’re overwhelmed with clutter, it can be more challenging to make changes. The most important first step to make is to set your goals.

Then you can start with choosing easy items to declutter or decluttering some quick high impact areas.

From there you can choose a method to declutter your entire home. Clearing the clutter is only one piece to the puzzle.

Habit changes also need to happen for clutter to not return. You can choose to be more intentional with shopping going forward.

When you opt to live more simply in a consumer culture you may be in the minority, but you won’t be part of the startling statistics on clutter.

What can you declutter today?

Keep up with The Simplicity Habit and get the free 77 easy things to declutter checklist by filling out the form below:

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12 Comments

  1. Clutter is indeed bad news.

    I am going to share with you an unusual story about using a storage unit, and what it tells you about having too much stuff.

    My mother has only ever needed to rent a storage unit, to my knowledge, once. It was for an extended period of time, probably about a year. But it wasn’t a situation that would fit in these statistics too well. The reason we needed the storage was because she and I were moving to a different province (I’m from Canada) and we couldn’t take most of our stuff with us. We were traveling by train, so a whole truckload of stuff wasn’t feasible.

    Well, my older sister needed to store some things, too, so she rented a storage unit and shared the space with us. Since my sister was staying in that same area, and it was technically her rental, it was up to her to look after the unit. However, she put off buying a lock and someone stole about half our boxes.

    It wasn’t like we had a huge amount of stuff to begin with. We were not wealthy by any stretch. But there were definitely things taken that really upset us, like most of my movies and a bunch of novels, and my mom’s artwork and drawing supplies.

    But, looking back, I think the thief did us more of a favour than anything, especially me. Those movies and novels were doing me absolutely no good (I would even say they were harmful – I don’t do fiction anymore). Now, I’m glad they were taken. Granted, there were probably some things that would have been good to have when we moved back to that province about a year later, but you know what? We were fine. We replaced what we needed, and even losing sentimental things did no lasting harm.

    God was looking after us all along. He allowed things to be stolen that we didn’t really need and helped us to sever our attachment to useless stuff.

    Thought that would be interesting to you. 🙂

    PS: I can’t even fathom spending over $100 every single month on clothing, never mind $200. I still have a shirt that I got when I was in grade 8. I’m 32.

    People really are slaves to the “god of fashion”, huh?

    1. Thanks for sharing, Amanda! That is an interesting story. Where I live there are many people in the military so I understood how it makes sense for them (and also for your situation). Sad about the theft, but good that you were able to see good in it in the end. And I agree on the shocking amounts for average clothing spending. We’re bringing down the average 😉

  2. I have been shopping over a lifetime as a means of coping with an unhappy marriage and depression. I have been selling and scaling down but have ways to go. Thank you for this eye opening article.

  3. I had 2 coworkers that had to handle their parents’ things when they died. In storage units “anything paper or cloth was trashed due to moisure-books, furniture, clothes”. Such a waste of retirement money.

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