10 Symptoms Of Hoarding: Are You A Hoarder?

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Hoarding, the habit of storing excessive amounts of food, clothing, toys, papers and other miscellaneous items in your home, is often hidden from the public, allowing massive amounts of clutter to pile up inside a home. While many people struggle with keeping their home clean, hoarding increases the probability of pest infestation and disease, making a clean home not only desirable, but necessary for the safety of the home’s occupants. Review the following checklist to determine if you, or someone you know, may be a hoarder.

You Won't Throw Anything Away

Clothes, shoes, receipts, junk mail, sheets, towels, delivery boxes, and anything anyone ever gave you. If you can't toss it, you may be a hoarder. Hoarders find meaning in things most people don't, and this over sentimentality creates a tendency to keep trash and random objects stored in the home. The inability to let go of things is the cornerstone behavior of a hoarder. Just as some people have a "junk drawer" for knick-knacks and random things, hoarders use the whole living space as this drawer.

You Can’t Use Areas In Your Home

If your bedroom or kitchen is so full of items you can't even get into it, or your bathroom is so overloaded with stuff you can't use the shower, sink, or toilet, you’re likely a hoarder. Hoarders are unable to use various home spaces for their intended use due to excessive amounts of clutter blocking doorways, beds, couches, appliances, etc. While clutter frequently builds up in the average home, blocked access to essential home functions and spaces is dangerous, and a sign you or someone in your home may be a hoarder.

You Don't Allow People Inside Your Home

Due to the condition of their space, and often times due to a sense of shame, hoarders tend to keep to themselves and not allow people into their home. There may not even be space for guests to sit, eat, sleep, or shower without clutter in the way, so hoarders usually keep others out of their space. Hoarders may not even allow repair workers that would otherwise fix common household problems, leading to many more issues. Leaking pipes, broken appliances and damaged roofs, floors and walls may go unattended for years.

symptoms of hoarding symptoms of hoarding


You Keep Everything

Maybe they aren't sentimental items you are holding onto, maybe they are broken, outdated, rotted or unclean items that you keep. From paper towel rolls, restaurant menus and old Windex containers to used shampoo bottles and old newspapers, you keep everything. If this sounds familiar, you are probably a hoarder. Stuffing your house with things you can't even use, or that have no meaning or reason to take up living space, is a major sign you are a hoarder. The inability to know something has no use and move on is a key struggle for hoarders, making the act of throwing away or parting with items a major issue.

The Thought Of Throwing Anything Away Upsets You

If the thought of getting rid of items, including trash, causes you to have a panic attack or suffer anxiety, you are likely a hoarder. This anxiety and emotional reaction to throwing out items is extreme, and is often the sole cause of a hoarder’s habits. While keeping old, sentimental items is common, and throwing out your old college sweatshirt may be hard, feeling an emotional attachment to rotten, broken and otherwise unusable items is a serious sign you may be a hoarder.

You Collect Animals

Having some pets is common, but having 20, 50 or even 100 or more pets in your home is a sign you are a hoarder. Hoarding animals is unhealthy and likely cruel to the animals themselves, as they’re likely left to live in an unsanitary environment without proper care and attention. Hosting that many pets inside your house also makes your own living environment unhealthy, potentially causing sickness and disease in the human residents of the home as well.

You Do Not Return Borrowed Items

Hoarding items that are not your own is common for people with this issue, whether they are things you neglect to return or that you outright steal. An extreme attachment to physical items is the issue for hoarders, sometimes whether the items are yours or not. If you find yourself constantly holding on to items you’ve borrowed from friends and friendly, this may be a sign you are a hoarder.


You can't move, whether across the room, or even into rooms, because they are jam packed with stuff. If you can’t freely walk around rooms within your home due to the clutter, you are likely a hoarder. This lack of motion often leads to poor health issues, including obesity.

You Neglect Routine Chores

If your home keeps you from doing simple tasks like cleaning dishes, taking a shower, doing laundry, etc. because clutter blocks you from accessing the required space, it’s a serious sign of hoarding. Not being able to keep both yourself and your home clean will lead to health issues, and risks the safety of everyone in the home.

You Are Distressed, Anxious, Depressed, etc.

Unfortunately, the very issues that can cause hoarding may also be symptoms of hoarding, creating a vicious cycle. Hoarders often suffer from depression, which only worsens as their home descends into uncontrollable clutter.It’s common for hoarders to feel hopeless about their situation and feel as though they can't fix it. If you find yourself in an extremely cluttered home, overwhelmed and tempted to simply leave the mess to pile up further, you may be a hoarder.

Help is available if you are a hoarder or you exhibit some of the behaviors to a degree that causes you alarm. From Therapists to support groups, help for hoarding is widely available. To take the first steps to cleaning your home, see:

Last Updated: February 14, 2012
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About Leah Gillis Leah Gillis has worked for several major news outlets, as well as a television series on home buying and decor. Having grown up in New England, she has lived in New York City, Los Angeles and Milan. When not trying to get a great deal, she is often found reading something, writing something or talking to someone.

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