Inside: These shocking statistics on clutter will enlighten you to how much of a problem clutter has become.

People own a lot of stuff. And even if you don’t happen to have excess in your home, odds are someone you know does.

If you didn’t realize that there is a clutter problem, these statistics on clutter will help you see its pervasiveness.

Unfortunately, the excess stuff leads to a whole host of challenges including stress and anxiety, wastefulness, and discomfort or dissatisfaction with your home environment.

The following statistics on clutter are shocking, but being informed can help us make better choices going forward to combat clutter and prevent it in the future.

statistics on clutter

Statistics on clutter

1. 11.1% of U.S. households rent a storage unit. (source)

2. 18% of people renting a storage unit have a four-bedroom home (or larger). (source)

3. 46% of self-storage customers rent for a year or more. (source)

4. There are 52,952 storage units in the U.S. which is considerably more than McDonalds & Starbucks locations combined. (source)

5. The national average for a storage unit per month is $100.04. (source)

Check out this post for more information on why you should (almost) never rent a storage unit.

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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      1. Julianna
        This was the best Article that I have read in the last decade.
        Every man and woman should read this.
        Thank you very much

  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. 1. “God of fashion”- huh! Never understood fashion. Most if it is ugly and doesn’t fit the average person.
      2. “Don’t do fiction” – yikes! Some of my best lessons in life have come from fiction! I can’t imagine not having a good story to settle down with on a rainy day, with my cup of coffee by my side. Pure pleasure!
      Your story is a good one, and a valuable lesson, indeed. Just had to put out my thoughts on those two things. Thanks!

  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.

  4. I am totally overwhelmed by my clutter & totally aware of circumstances. Have trouble staying focused on clearing it up

    1. I started last spring with a kitchen drawer, then a bureau drawer. Then I got this idea to use this tiny room upstairs to put up a shelving unit and put seasonal cooking items up there and cleared out a lot of the kitchen, though realized I could donate about 30%-40% of the stuff that was falling out of my cupboards and drawers. By the end of June, we ordered a dumpster and spent a few hours every weekend throwing stuff away (a lot was old and musty from being stored in the basement), donating only good quality items. It was hard sometimes and emotional (tons of photos), but ultimately gratifying. I felt sick when the dumpster was hauled away after 7 weeks – guilty for being sooo terribly wasteful and mournful about letting go of my grown kid’s childhoods (they didn’t want any of it; I saved a single storage tote of curated, representative photos and memorabilia for each of them anyway, ha ha). But I shook it off and am so grateful I got done what I did. A month later, I cleaned my house today in record time because of the reduction in clutter and I’m looking forward to doing more decluttering in that tiny upstairs room once the weather cools off. I hope you can find a way to get started. Very best wishes.

    2. I have had immense difficulty with clutter and have struggled to maintain adequate focus on addressing it for many years. I was tested for and diagnosed with ADHD a year and a half ago (after suspecting I’d had it since childhood.) In my case at least, being on ADHD medication has helped me focus much more consistently and make significant progress de-cluttering at last. It is incredibly satisfying to reclaim space, let go of things I do not need, and get this aspect of my life under control.

  5. Good article, informative.
    We have storage units, I don’t have an extra closet for art work. My husband is a collector, major collector, he has his unit, and we have the house unit. Seasonal items. My rules: It is worth storing if when moving this will go too. Now about clutter. A relative can’t live in her home because of her clutter. Her husband left her pounds of clutter, all his nuclear papers. His trailer, his cars, now add her items. She has 7 storage units and tells me the only uncluttered spot in her home is the toilet seat. It seems to me people have trouble parting with things as we are taught to save it, we will need it again. And when it comes to the drill, we did, ended getting 3 of them, kept storing them away.

  6. Thank you for this article, Julianna! All of these statistics helped me with my school assignment, as well as with my personal life. 😉

  7. I buy all my clothes, except bra & panties at thrift stores! I get so many compliments since I started doing this. Now it would be real hard to pay store price for something! I’m spoiled! I gave most everything in our 3 bedroom home away when we moved to care for my Mom. We put stuff in storage for 6 1/2 yrs. WHAT A WASTE! I live w my son right now so clothes are all I can buy. Haven’t had my own place in 11+ yrs. now. Every move l get rid of more! Very freeing!

    1. I do thrift store shopping too ..
      My problem is that I’m getting older . At 68 going 69 this Sept it’s so hard controlling my weight . It’s either the lack of exercise due to painful joints and back problems. I’m an Rn is still working 84 hrs a week ..
      last month I’m wearing Lg , before it was Xlg , now back to Medium. I can’t be buying uniforms every time I lose or gain weight. We also have to consider the side effects of the many meds we have to be taking now ..
      Tell me now if I am a holder ..
      Thank you ..

  8. On the road to declutter recovery! Most of my belongings my daughter said she does not want; most of my belongings I never use; more than half of my clothes and shoes I do not wear; Half of my garage is full of seasonal things I actually use, but I need to sort through old paint cans and drop them off at the hazardous waste place! I do have a public library’s worth of books I do want to keep. I cleaned and decluttered my kitchen last night, and amazingly felt better this morning.

  9. I have been going through my home. We have been here 20 yrs and raised 6 children. I have donated, thrown out or sold about half of everything. Yes I have replaced my clothes the last year but only because I have gone from a 16 to a 2/4 (severe medical issues) and needed to. I just have a few kitchen cupboards and the garage to go. So freeing! Once I am done I am having someone come deep clean the entire house. 😊

    1. Oh I like that idea of having someone coming and deep clean the house when your all done. I might do that.

  10. I had to laugh when I read that women have an average of $1,000 to $2,500 worth of clothes in their closets; I spend about $15.00 a month on clothes, maybe. I have 3 jeans, 6 t-shirts, 4 sweatshirts, 2 sweaters, 3 pairs socks, 3 pairs of shoes, I pair of snow boots; 1 fuzzy vest,1 fuzzy zip-up jacket, 1 heavy/foul weather coat. I only buy a garment when one wears out, from ARC (like a Goodwill), so for instance, jeans cost $7.00 and last for 3-5 years…so my above wardrobe, if I bought it all at the same time-would cost roughly $257.00 where I shop. I always knew I was weird. *Laughs* Life’s too short to get caught up in piles of clothes I don’t need. (Can you tell I’m in my early 60’s?)

  11. Also interesting in this respect is the endowment effect. So it becomes harder to let stuff go because once you own it, you value it more than it is worth. Higher than what you would pay to buy it. Strange effect but it explains a lot of why it is hard to get rid of stuff. Especially if you have parents who say “be careful with that! It might be worth a lot!”

  12. What you failed to mention is trauma is a Hugh cause of clutter. Dealing with the trauma will help you deal with the clutter.

  13. Please explain how the average adult spends $161 on clothing a month, but the average family only spends $1800 a year. Are the kids and one adult running around naked?

    1. I am going to guess that they gathered that data from 2 different sample groups of people. People who are single may spend more on average on their clothing while families may be a bit more budget-conscious. Either way, that is a lot of money being spent on clothes each year.

  14. This was the best article on decluttering I’ve read. I keep getting paralyzed about what to do with the stuff once I decide I don’t want it. What should I donate and where? Should I put it in boxes or trash bags? Should I store in my garage until I have time to take it somewhere? I’d like to rent a dumpster but feel guilty throwing stuff away. I get exhausted trying to figure out the next step that I don’t start.

  15. 100 percent agree with everything- except the clothes. I no fashion plate, but have to travel a lot for work- different climates, different events- conferences/meetings/formal/business/casual/black tie etc. I have 70 pairs of shoes, some I might only wear once a year, but I still need them to go with a particular outfit! I was amazed at how little the average person spends on clothes. I don’t buy fancy brands- but it is still more than $1800 a year.
    Apart from clothes I agree that clutter fills our lives with unnecessary stress. My mother in law was born in 1941, has held on to everything- broken or useless, just in case! She is stressed, sick, overwhelmed, anxious and sleeps poorly. She just can’t let go.

  16. I hear so much about decluttering since moving back to the US after decades in Central America (with my son and six suitcases between us). I know people are struggling with it. And it sounds overwhelming. I just think there isn’t enough emphasis on being honest about how prevalent overconsumption is. We only have clutter because we bought things we don’t need. Before anyone starts to declutter, you could just start by not buying anything you don’t need, for a week. Or a month. It’s so hard in this culture, everything is geared toward more.

  17. me & paper clutter= for Decades, i hauled around across the country many many boxes of my most precious collection – my boxes of paperwork. things i thought i could never replace, things i thought i’d need someday, things i wanted to look over again in the future, things i thought someone else could use one day, pieces of books and magazines, a gazillion pictures, and letters from the past. in 5 years of Massive decluttering and very honest looks at Why i was holding onto these things, i downsized from over 42 legal boxes to just 13, down to 8, then 5, and now 2. today i’ve opened my last box to declutter, and i’ve tossed Half of it. did i feel the twinges of wanting to keep them, yes. did i let that stop me, no. may my story help someone else out there. truly except for my diplomas, pictures of my kids, and just a couple of my daughter’s drawings, the rest was Just Extra Weight i was carrying around, and lemme tell ya, Not constantly feeling overwhelmed by “needing to organize my papers” has given me Incredible Peace of Mind! 🙂 hugs, jenn

  18. I was just recently forced to declutter. I had mold in my 850 sq ft home and had to get rid of the majority of my belongings. Almost a blessing in disguise. Still working on remodeling and replacing furniture. trying to be more thoughtful in what I put out.

  19. I live in one of those 50’s 865 sq ft houses and up to now I kept saying we have no room but this article brought to light that we have plenty of room…just too much junk so my decluttering starts today. We have hundreds of VCR tapes we haven’t looked at in years so off to the thrift store with them. Step #1 hooray!!

  20. Good article. I started to declutter Autumn 2021 (40 yrs worth of our stuff and four family members stuff who have passed). I do it in my spare time and I still have some more to do but have come a long way! I started a notebook and included my favorite quotes/sayings you posted. I also keep track of how many bags or boxes I cleared, how many bags to the Donation Center and how many bags tossed. And for giggles I tracked how many pairs of footwear I let go of (29 so far!). This keeps it real, a true accountment. I am also doing drawers, cabinets, pantry, closets and more! Things are beginning to have a place. And you are so right: It takes less time to clean, I feel less overwhelmed most days now, everything s/h a place and if someone stops by, I don’t feel so embarrassed. It is a process. And we have several home projects that we are trying to wrap-up too. But we are getting there. I look at my notebook log and see just how much I have accomplished, and it motivates me to keep moving forward! I have become a conscientious/mindful shopper and I am very proud of that!
    Thank you!

  21. I enjoyed your article; with stats. However, I find the vilification of people who might hold on to clutter; or god-forbid, love fashion, are somehow flawed.

    Your article was welcome and fact based. I didn’t feel any judgement. These replies are worrisome. Why don’t readers just worry about their clutter; stop making global statements about others.

    I have been dealing with a debilitating hoarding habit; since my breast cancer diagnosis. The inevitable judgement of others, has kept me from seeking help. There are a lot of people like me.

  22. Thank you for this very interesting article. I live in the Netherlands and had to convert the feet to meters before I really understood the full impact. It made me very sad. We all, me too, buy to much stuff. What are we working for? My house is small, even for Dutch standards (300 feet). We live here with 2 people, so it is very important to keep decluttering and be careful about what I buy. Your article is very helpful.

  23. We live in the UK and houses are a lot smaller here and often cluttered as a result. After my Nan passed I realised everything we own will someday belong to someone else we’re just custodians of our items for a while. It was a long and sad process rehoming my nans things and it made me reassess our home, what we were holding onto and why. We’ve been decluttering at our own pace for years and are now maintaining / looking with fresh eyes periodically to ensure our home works well for us and is a space we enjoy being in. The biggest gain we had was realising our garage was full of stuff we weren’t using but storing for ‘what if/someday/ might be useful/ paid a lot for that’ so we cleared it all. It was too snug for our cars which are always parked on the driveway. So we converted it into a large accessible ground floor ensuite bedroom. However it could easily be used as another lounge/ dining room/ office etc. Getting rid of our clutter literally gave us another room to our home and we have saved hours and hours in tidying / cleaning time by having less stuff to manage. It didn’t happen over night , it started with one drawer whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. We got better at it too and some areas we needed to make a second pass at but it was worth it and we now enjoy our home more and spend more time as a family making memories rather than being stressed by managing belongings constantly.

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