Cory Chalmers has tips that can help you clear clutter from your home. After all, he was involved in creating the TV show Hoarders and was featured in dozens of episodes, talking people out of their extreme messy habits in front of the camera.
“A lot of hoarders see use in everything. An old mayonnaise jar is a new storage container,” said Cory, a retired paramedic and fire captain who has been helping hoarders clean up for 18 years through his company Steri-Clean. Often he finds people in this state have suffered a personal loss that sparked their habits.
Holding on to extra stuff diminishes quality of life for people who see throwing unneeded items away as wasteful, especially if they are unwilling to shift them to the garage or storage. Most of us don’t have items piled from floor to ceiling or need semi trucks to remove what needs to go, as some of Cory’s most memorable cases have. But we could all improve with some expert tips on how to reduce clutter.
Cory said his first step is always to ask his clients what they want their lives to be like, what they want their homes to be like. Would they host Thanksgiving if their house were cleaner? Whatever your goal, use it to motivate. Or check out the above image of Cory’s tidy garage for inspiration.
- Take stock. Decide how much stuff you need to remove from your house in order to reach your goals.
- If the task is stressful, set a kitchen timer and work in limited spurts of as little as 15 minutes.
- Don’t work too long. Stop before you get negative, before you get frustrated.
- “The important thing is to keep plugging away.”
- Play music you love while you work to motivate and keep a pleasant mood.
- If you don’t know where to start, start small and with the easiest items to sort.
- Don’t start with the room containing items you are most nostalgic for. Maybe start with the garage.
- Don’t throw important items you love in drawers.
- “Display what gives you meaning and joy. It should not be in a box or at the bottom of a pile.”
- Get rid of what you can and store the rest neatly in labeled boxes. Everything should be off the floor.
- Cory likes to use clear boxes and bins so items are visible and easy to find.
- “If it’s worth keeping, it’s worth knowing where it is.”
- Once you clean up the clutter, “defend your space” by continually tidying in short spurts.
- Clutter is always something you are going to have to work on, if you’ve had problems with it in the past.
For his clients, Cory has support groups to keep people motivated and to get them to commit to goals.“We talk about their interests: music, crafts, sewing, something they can do in their home instead of acquiring stuff to fill the false void,” Cory said.