7 Shocking Effects of Living in a Messy Home

You’ve seen the social media memes and quotes that suggest clutter is good because it’s a sign of creativity or a lifestyle choice. 

“My room is not dirty.  I just have everything on display… like a museum.”

For a few minutes, the memes make you smile and let you know that you aren’t the only person with a clutter problem. However, the truth is that clutter is not a sign of creativity or of productivity. 

It’s a sign of disorganization, procrastination, lack of control, and sometimes a lack of value or respect. A messy home can even cause problems you may not be aware of.

Woman sitting on her couch in the middle of a messy room with her head cradled in her hands.

Maybe you think it’s just not that bad, it’s just a little clutter, and a little messy but it’s not hurting anything. The fact is that clutter can destroy your physical, mental, and financial health.

1. Increases Mental Problems

The clutter and disorganization around you can ruin your focus. It becomes hard to concentrate due to having to deal with the mess and thoughts that are continually popping up and interrupting your flow.  

Anxiety Inducing

A negative effect of clutter is it can also cause anxiety. You may be worried about someone coming over, wondering how you’ll get everything done, or concerned that you can’t find an important document. 

We’ve all been there… panic strikes, a neighbor knocks on your door and you’re still in your pajamas, dirty dishes are piled up in the sink and you have to kick the shoes and backpacks aside while holding on to your barking dog’s collar just to get the door open.  

You may have many other things going through your mind that can be classified as mind clutter. Worry, anxiety, circular thoughts are all increased when surrounded by clutter.

7-step Credit Card Debt Slasher
Picture of a yellow head labeled brain with the words anxiety, confusion, and chaos surrounding it.

Obsessions with The Past

The other thing clutter is closely tied to is an inability to let go of the past. 

If you’re finding that you’re obsessive about the past, it can manifest in the inability to get rid of things. If you look at the past as the “best of times,” this may explain your inability to get rid of clutter.

Risk of Becoming a Hoarder

While not all people who have cluttered homes become hoarders, it can happen. 

If you have clutter but it’s not blocking your walkway, and you still have some clean surfaces, and you can take a bath without removing the garbage you may be safe from being a hoarder. 

However, if you are starting to cross the line, it may be time to get some professional help.

Chicken or Egg

People with messy homes also have lots of clutter mentally that makes life, in general, feel messy and out of control. 

Usually when the clutter is cleared their outlook improves, and their mind becomes clearer. 

That kind of blows the idea that mental illness causes clutter – it’s really the other way around in a lot of cases. The fact is that mold is a common culprit in many mental illness diagnoses involving clutter. Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of mold than others.

When you have too much clutter, you may not even notice that you have mold or that you had water damage because it’s all hidden behind the clutter. You may not see the dust mites, the vermin, or anything else unless you start to clean it up. 

The only way you can know that something is wrong is, to be honest with yourself about how you feel mentally and physically in your current living situation.

2. Ruins Your Diet

When the house is dirty, the car is a wreck, and you’re running on fumes, it’s not shocking that you’re not making good food choices. 

It seems too hard to plan grocery shopping, cooking time, and so forth when it’s all so cluttered that you can’t find your kitchen table and your oven is full of books.

Junk & Fast Food Seems Easy to Grab

Eating in a disorganized environment will make it more likely you’ll grab the easiest things without a lot of thought. 

I even found a resource called “Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight: The Six-Week Total-Life Slim Down” by Peter Walsh. This book backs up this concept with scientific findings.  

Stress Hormones Make You Hungry

When you have more stress, hormones are released into your blood.  This can cause you to gain weight, especially around the tummy even without eating more. 

However, you’re also likely to eat more when you’re stressed. 

This is due to the rise in cortisol levels. The cortisol levels rise with stress, which also causes you to be hungrier and have more cravings due to your imbalanced sugar levels. 

If you’re eating fast food more than once a week and grabbing food from your kitchen without planning, you may need to look at your clutter situation. 

3. Messy Homes Cause Respiratory Issues

Whether you care at all about clutter, dust mites should help you understand that clutter carries a grave danger to the health of most individuals. 

Dust mites cause allergies and illness. 

Some people end up feeling as if they have the flu or chronic fatigue syndrome and all they really needed to do was organize and declutter their home.

Dust Mites

One of the health dangers of having clutter is the problem with dust mites. Dust mites are microscopic bugs that eat dead skin. 


If you have too many dust mites in your home, you can end up being diagnosed with asthma and other health problems.

Other Vermin

Disorganized papers and junk attract dust and vermin. Together, these things provide good hiding places and snacks for invaders. The pages in books, the documents in folders, as well as old newspapers and magazines attract many types of insects. 

If you don’t want critters infesting your home, declutter it regularly.

You may not notice how much dust, dander, and dirt you have until you start cleaning. If it’s been a few months (or years) since you’ve cleaned your home or office thoroughly, you may want to tackle this. 

Allergies, asthma, and other illnesses like this are prevalent in homes full of clutter.

4. Weakens Relationships

If you don’t feel good or seem to have a constant cold, it’s hard to develop good relationships. The clutter, whether it’s mental clutter or physical clutter can get in the way of experiencing true downtime and relaxation with the people in your life.

Less Intimacy with Your Spouse

If it takes all your energy to clear off the bed of junk just to go to sleep, you probably won’t feel much like doing anything else.

In addition, sleeping in a bedroom with tons of stuff all around will not be conducive to rest. Your bedroom should be a place of relaxation not a place of chaos.

Your Relationship with Your Children Can Suffer

As to the rest of your family, since most days are spent locating items and/or are tripping over stuff, and generally living in chaos the mood level in the home will not be positive. 

The negativity will cause every relationship to suffer.

If you haven’t ever lived in an organized home, it may not be as obvious to you. 

If it’s been some time since your environment was not cluttered, have you noticed a downward spiral of the mood and relationships in your household? 

Is it time for a family meeting?

5. A Cluttered Home Decreases Productivity

If you have to do an hour of reorganizing just to get something done the clutter will contribute to procrastination.  

The time that is lost trying to “get ready” or prepare for anything is frustrating and causes your productivity level to dwindle to nothing.

More Procrastination

When you don’t feel that you can succeed, it’s easy to procrastinate. 

If you know that your work won’t be the best, your mind will force you to put things off. It’s the classic case of the fear of failure. 

If you think you’ll fail, you don’t want to do anything.

Inability to Meet Deadlines

If you can’t find things, your work is unorganized, you didn’t name files right, you didn’t file things right, and you misplaced important paperwork, and so forth it can be hard to meet your deadlines. 

If you can’t meet deadlines, it can have a negative effect on your career.

Picture of a messy desk with laptop, papers, post-it noes, glasses, and mug.

Lack of Motivation

Even just walking in a room and seeing the clutter can be demotivating. You see all the stuff even if you don’t realize it. 

All the things bombard your mind and cause confusion. 

The papers, the dirt, the things stacked on top of other stuff are not conducive to success.

Serious Distraction

Every time you blow your nose due to the dust, and every time you have to toss things from one spot to another so you can do something, you’re going to end up distracted and not working at your best.

Can’t Find Stuff

One of the most significant factors in reduced productivity is just not being able to find what you need when you need it.  If you can’t find your assignment, important research documents, your frying pan – whatever it is that you needed to complete a task it causes costly delays and reduces your productivity.

Everyone has the same hours in a day, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’ve allowed your home and or office to get piled up with clutter. 

A messy home can really slow you down and make you feel like giving up.

6. Encourages Bad Money Management

Clutter can cause so much destruction if you’re not careful including bad money management.

You will end up spending more money on replacing “lost” items or buying something you already own because you forgot that you own it since you cannot find it.  

Surprise Bills

In most cases, a surprise bill will be something like an unexpected expense because something broke down, or because you got sick not because you simply forgot to pay the water bill. 

If you’re always forgetting that certain bills are due, it can be very costly to you.

Rebuying Things You Already Own

This is something a lot of people who have a messy home end up doing. 

They either forget they own something and buy another one because they like it, or they go out and buy another one because they can’t find the one they know they own.

As you can see, being cluttered can impact your financial health in a big way. Living in a cluttered home can lead to poor money management. You may not have any idea how much money you have or use in any given week or month if you aren’t organized.

7. A Cluttered Home is Bad for The Environment

One of the main culprits of clutter is overconsumption. People have garages so full of stuff that they can’t even put their cars inside. 

This type of clutter is not only making you sick it’s making the earth sick. 

Everything we make, especially the things found in a cluttered home such as unworn clothing, magazines, and furniture pollute the environment when they are created.

Cutting down on clutter not only helps you improve every aspect of your life, but it enables you to improve the environment. 

Choose to bring only essential things into your home and only keep things that you use. 

If you aren’t using something on a semi-regular basis, consider selling or giving it to someone who will get more use out of the item.   

As you can see, clutter has several adverse effects on EVERY aspect of your life. It affects your mental and physical health when it decreases productivity, stresses relationships, and has a negative impact on your financial future. 

It even affects the physical environment due to poor or inaccurate decision-making and overconsumption.

Which one or all of these adverse effects has affected you personally?  Are you ready to make a change for the positive and get your life back under control?  

If you answered yes, to either one of those questions I would love to walk beside you in your journey of decluttering.  

Stop tripping over dozens of shoes lying all over your entryway and download my FREE Decluttering with Ease guide.  The guide will go through the 3 most important questions to ask yourself when you’re trying to decide if something is worth keeping or not.  

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  1. Heather Pflugrath says:

    This is so helpful, relatable and inspiring. Thank you, Tera!

    1. Tera Wheatley says:

      Thank you Heather! Your sweet comment made my day 🙂

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