The Insider: How to have a good clear-out

By Kate Burt
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:57

I recently moved from a rented office to one at home – and so daunting was the proliferation of stuff I had accumulated that I just bundled the lot, unfiltered, into the garage. I now flinch at the thought of it. Clutter already impinges on the harmonious interior of my dreams. But how does a hardcore hoarder start to sift?

Face up to the truth

"Picture a small child in the throes of a tantrum, screaming: 'It's MINE!'" says junk-buster Romaine Lowery of "And realise that, if you're a hoarder, that's you." Yuck. Feeling appalled at oneself is a good motivator.

Clear the air

"People hold on to things for negative reasons," adds Lowery. Guilt is common – the never-worn expensive shirt, the once-used pasta maker given as a present. "Yet seeing it only increases the guilt," she points out, sensibly.

Outside help

That said, disposal difficulties are a barrier in the age of recycling: will you really ever flog it on eBay? Be realistic, Lowery says, and try, which will do it for you for a fee, or, which collects/recycles cast-offs. And Gumtree is ace for eBay-phobics – I even shifted a pile of rocks via the "freebies" page.

Be true to yourself

Clear-out over, how do you break your hoarding habits? Identify clutter hotspots and devise strategies for each, says Lowery. "Some people, say, keep torn-out recipes for decades but never use them, going online instead. Start by being honest."

Clean and serene

Terence Conran has a great catch-all for too-much-stuff-syndrome: take everything out of a room, then put back only what you need. Use William Morris's mantra: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." Kate Burt

Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments