Spring Cleaning May Save Your Mind — 82% Feeling ‘Mental Load’ Of Clutter

NEW YORK — Feeling overwhelmed by clutter chaos? You’re not alone. A new survey reveals that a whopping 40 percent of homeowners fear the mountains of stuff piling up in their homes.

The poll of 2,000 homeowners with garages finds that nearly a third (29%) struggle to keep things organized. Although 82 percent consider themselves to be well-organized, they’re feeling the mental load of keeping their home in check. Nearly half of respondents say the organization of their home impacts their mental health (48%), and four in five people feel more motivated when their home isn’t cluttered.

Similarly, 73 percent express feelings of being overwhelmed when their home is untidy. Many try to get ahead of this feeling, as 35 percent of those surveyed claim to enjoy organizing “very much,” although a quarter feel the exact opposite (24%).

Conducted by OnePoll for The Container Store, the survey shows that one in seven homeowners admit that their home is currently disorganized.

infographic on the different spaces that are cluttered in people's homes

Why Is Clutter So Bad For Your Health?

As StudyFinds’ Dr. Faith Coleman has documented, clutter can have a major impact on mental health. According to Dr. Coleman, clutter can impair memory, lead to poor eating habits, and lower someone’s impulse control.


People also end up wasting lots of time and money searching for things lost in their piles of clutter. Coleman also warns that not dealing with clutter could possibly damage or destroy relationships.

On average, homeowners have 25 things that are out of place in their homes, and half of these respondents are putting off finding a place for those items.

Where does the clutter live? According to respondents, the most difficult storage areas of the home to keep organized are the garage (46%), closet (24%), and drawers (20%).

The top items currently taking up the most space in Americans’ storage spaces are home and holiday decor (41%), old documents (34%), and clothes or shoes (29%).

With the abundance of “junk” in their home, 46 percent would feel embarrassed if guests saw the current state of their clutter. Unsurprisingly, those surveyed also name these spaces in the home as the most common places for “junk” to be stored (garage 52%, drawers 34%, and closets 32%).

Thirty-five percent say it’s been at least a few months since they’ve organized the “junk” areas within their home, and another 23 percent have attempted to organize their garage at least a year ago.

Messy house: Couch filled with junk
Although 82% consider themselves to be well-organized, they’re feeling the mental load of keeping their home in check. (© Zarya Maxim – stock.adobe.com)

“For many homeowners, the garage — like other classic ‘storage areas’ — can be an afterthought,” says Gretchen Ganc, executive vice president of strategy and analytics at The Container Store, in a statement. “There’s a world of potential within these spaces that can surprise you in terms of just how useful they can be. While you would ideally keep a handle on organizing the storage areas in your home before they get to the point of clutter that will only overwhelm you more, sometimes you have to tackle a space in your home where clutter has already taken over.”

Respondents are particularly concerned about the garage. Thirty-seven percent say their garage currently looks like a nightmare, and 21 percent of homeowners completely avoid going into it.

Even though respondents use their garage as storage for necessary items (60%) or random things (58%), 43 percent say their garage storage system does not accommodate all of their needs.

“Garages are not ‘one size fits all,’” says Ganc. “To help figure out what kind of organizational system will work best for you, we suggest outlining your goals for the space: what do you need to store, what are you hoping to do with the space you free up and how can you maximize the space with which you have to work?”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 American homeowners with garages was commissioned by The Container Store between March 12 and March 19, 2024. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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