NEW YORK — No matter how tidy your home is, there’s usually one spot that just attracts chaos. A new survey finds eight in 10 Americans admit to having at least one “cleaning black hole” — an area that seems impossible to keep clean or organized on a consistent basis.
Moreover, the average American can identify about three different “cleaning black holes” that currently exist in their home.
In a survey of 2,000 people, respondents say their commonly messy areas include closets, garages, and basements. Other Americans added in more unusual spots like “the Man Cave” and, according to one respondent, “anywhere my son touches.”
Not surprisingly, 88 percent also have at least one “junk drawer” full of knick-knacks. You’ll typically find the messiest of these drawers in the kitchen (37%).
The junk drawer phenomenon
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of ClosetMaid, the results also revealed that over a third of the survey (35%) find a specific drawer that they officially name the “junk drawer” when moving into a new place. Meanwhile, 33 percent don’t actively pick a drawer, but find that one “materializes anyway” as they accumulate more clutter in a new residence.
The junk drawer isn’t the only universal mess to appear in homes across the country. There’s also “the laundry chair,” a chair or other surface that serves as an unofficial landing spot for dirty clothes). Half the poll (49%) say they have one in their homes.
Another 38 percent report having some kind of yet-to-be-sorted “paper pile” and 24 percent have a “junk bowl” or dish for extra sets of keys and other clutter. Among the 82 percent who have a dedicated cabinet for food storage containers, only 28 percent believe theirs is well-organized. One in five say theirs is an unorganized disaster.
More than three in five people (62%) hang a plastic bag filled with other plastic bags somewhere in their home. This phenomenon is much more popular with older respondents, as 82 percent of baby boomers (age 57+) have a “bag bag.” Just 70 percent of Generation X (age 41-56) and 63 percent of Millennials (age 25-40) do the same with their old bags.
“In a way, it’s comforting to see that Americans have common struggles when it comes to reappearing messes,” says Valerie Cavallaro, Chief Digital Officer of The AMES Companies in a statement. “These ‘cleaning black holes’ are very easy to solve with the right systems and organizational solutions in place.”
Why won’t these messes go away?
When asked to identify the reasons that these cleaning black holes exist, 34 percent of respondents say they feel too overwhelmed or distracted to tackle them. In fact, three out of four people (75%) have organized a junk drawer or other messy part of their home only to realize that all they did was move the mess somewhere else.
Others blamed their organization problems on their space being too small (32%) or on someone in their household causing too many messes (19%) — including slightly more women (23%) than men (13%).
“The best way to make sure everyone follows an organization system that works is to tailor it to meet the needs of the person who has the most trouble with it,” Cavallaro adds. “Create a system that’s easy to follow and is intuitive, so the junk drawer doesn’t continue to bring stress.”
Then again, it couldn’t hurt to get some tips from the five percent of survey-takers who believe their junk drawers are never messy and the 12 percent who claim not to have any junk drawers at all.