Hoarder disorder: 18 signs you’ve got it, or getting it.

Hoarding is a great way to lose your friends, family and your sanity.

Hoarders start small
A hoarder disorder can mess you up badly.

There are hoarders who have to get into bed through the ceiling because the bedroom is too full to walk in through the door. And that’s probably not you. There are hoarders whose yards are piled high with old washing machines, car parts, photocopiers, toilet pans and the ten lost tribes of Israel. They are mentally and or emotionally ill. And that’s probably not you either.

You probably don’t think you’re a hoarder, and maybe you’re not. Yet!

The hoarding disorder has been listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. You’ve seen it demonstrated on TV shows.Perhaps you are not yet TV show material.

You might be a hoarder regardless of scale

I’m not talking to the people who are unwell. I’m talking to you to see if you have the disorder on a smaller scale. Here’s why:

  • It starts small and can build to become a serious disorder. None of the notorious hoarders went out one day and bought 9 tonnes of assorted junk to bring home. They built up their disorder over years, probably starting with a wardrobe of clothes or a ball of rubber bands.
  • An attachment to stuff renders you inflexible. You become less willing to move house, office or take up new job or relationship options.
  • It is harder and slower and less efficient to locate items you need when you have to hunt for them like a hungry chook.
  • Being confronted with your own untidiness is depressing and distressing.
  • You are less likely to welcome other humans into your hoard-filled personal space and when you do you have to be embarrassed by their disdain.
  • It symbolises that you are stuck in lots of life’s segments.
  • You are expressing a sense of personal inadequacy or lack, whereby you’re saying your life will be incomplete without all your things.

18 dead set indications you’re a hoarder and may be heading for a serious case of it.

    1. You have to prise your clothes apart to fit another hanger in your wardrobe.
    2. You say if you had more drawers, a bigger cupboard, more wardrobe space, or a bigger bedroom, office or shed you’d be able to store everything neatly. You really would.
    3. You are keeping clothes you bought fifteen years ago that don’t fit anymore, just in case you lose weight.
    4. You are keeping clothes that went out of fashion more than two years ago because everyone knows fashions come around again (even though they never have).
    5. You can’t get into a room or you can’t close a cupboard door or drawer because there’s stuff in the way.
    6. You’d like to start hoarding but you need to clean out the garage first.
    7. You get uppity if someone tells you, you’re a hoarder.
    8. You keep telling critics that it might be a mess but it’s not a problem because you know where everything is. (you’re somewhat of a liar about other things too!)
    9. You haven’t seen the inside bottom of your handbag or briefcase for years.
    10. Your car looks like the locker room of a high school soccer team.
    11. You can’t throw out ticket stubs or printed programmes from shows or movies you saw decades ago.
    12. Your kitchen cupboards are full of Tupperware and picnic plates that might come in handy one day but they never have and never will.
    13. You have stacks of lumber or iron or tiles or plaster or bricks because they are bound to come in handy the day you throw them away.
    14. Your toilet and bath/shower are heavily stained. What? Are you hoarding mould and p*#?
    15. You keep piles and piles of newspapers and magazines, just in case you need to start a fire, wrap something …
    16. You have more pets than the average.
    17. You keep your children’s furniture and baby things as emotional keepsakes long after their saleable date.
    18. When a visitor comes, you locate the easiest chair to clean up and you have to move a stack of magazines, the washing, gran’s knitting, the dog’s flea cream, a dinner plate from last week and a half eaten bag of Doritos onto the floor – and an old Game Boy cartridge you lost a year ago.

How can you stop hoarding before it’s too late?


Give stuff away.

People are going barefoot and coatless while you are waiting for your shoes and coats to come back into fashion. I just now set aside ten unread books that I will never read. I will do more over the coming weeks. (I’ve hoarded hundreds, not because it’s a carefully curated collection – although it actually is very well classified by the Dewey system – but because I think you will think I am an intellectual if you see my library.) They are going to the local pre-loved-books shop. I have many of them in iBooks and Kindle anyway.

Have a yard or garage sale

You will see what small value other people put on your treasures. They won’t buy them and you’ll still have to dump them – or re-hoard them.

Throw stuff away.

Sometimes it’s the only answer. Call the hard rubbish collector and be done with it. It only hurts for two minutes. A week later you will have forgotten you ever owned it.

And one more for laughs. Give your stuff to another hoarder

You’ll always be able to go get it back if your life collapses because you haven’t got it anymore.

Come on hoarders

Tell me what you’re hoarding and how far gone you are. Can you suggest other reasons why someone you know has become a hoarder? Scroll down and leave a comment. I’d love to add another few signs to the list.

PS If you are really stuck and want help, call The Lovely Christine or complete one of her auto emails and see if she can help you to get unstuck.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, off-topic or comprise 'ambush marketing' and/or SPAM.

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10 thoughts on “Hoarder disorder: 18 signs you’ve got it, or getting it.

  1. A wise woman once told me you spend half your life collecting things you deem important to have and the other half of your life trying to get rid of it all. This statement causes me to pause and think before purchasing anything new on a whim. I have enough tupperware to start a shop, so I am slowly taking bits I no longer need to the animal welfare store. I’ve stopped buying magazines, the library has them to browse. I gave myself permission to toss randomly collected recipes, Taste.com has over 33,000 recipes to choose from. It is a slow process and I am making progress. I do not want to leave my kids a mess to sort through when I’m gone.

    • Brilliant Julie. You’ve got the right ideas there I am certain. So many good ways to stop cluttering and so many easy ways to get rid of it. I like the two halves of life too.

  2. Will you stop writing about me!
    Seriously – we had said, after 30+ years in one place, that we need at least a year warning before any move. Recently we have revised that to about 5+ years. I have started on the double garage – it has a narrow walkway down the middle – chucking heaps of things in the recycling or general bins which I try to fill each time they go out. She Who Must Be Obeyed has been ruthless throwing out hundreds of her cooking and craft magazines, rarely pulling out more than a page or two and filing them in folders. I must do the same with magazines and books – my son believes that I will die with several large heaps of unread books by our bed. Trouble is – I’ve started collecting them on my eReader now. (Sigh)
    All is not lost. Only this week we took delivery of a 12-metre container (we have a 5-acre block so plenty of room). So over the next ten weeks, we will be busy sorting through and packing up our daughter’s home and filling up the container. She is going with SIM to teach in Ethiopia for 2 years. She also has many books. All this packing up, throwing out and recycling will give us the incentive to keep going with our own sorting and “downsizing”. I live in hope.

    • Hillarious! You are a funny guy Trevor. You should be a writer with that hoard of words and stories in your head. Great to hear your daughter is off and flourishing, but the container must be a worry. Sounds like you will fill it with books! Good thing about e-reader hoarding is that the device runs out of memory eventually – and no-one sees your hoard.

  3. Definitely not a “Hoarder”, whereas my ex-wife was indeed a huge hoarder……………waoooohhhhh!!!!! triplicate in same clothes, bric a brac, you name it, the dear soul had it. Our place looked like an Op shop or one of the collection branches of “The Salvation Army”. I have to admit though that everything was set out neat and tidy.

  4. Hi Col, many hoarders are somewhere on autistic spectrum disorder and there’s not much you can do about it. I have a colleague in Rotary who was cleaning up in a hall after an event and stacking rubbish in side the hall in an orderly and neat fashion. I know he has the old term – Asperger’s syndrome and told him that I knew it was going to break his heart as I picked it all up and turfed it in a bin outside. He all but grabbed me around the ankles. My dad was a hoarder and he had 1.5 hectares of space to fill. When he passed away we brought in 3 large bins and filled them. He once brought home part of a Post Office that was being demolished. He did bugger all with it, so that went into the bin 25 years later. No one could stop my dad collecting stuff that might come in handy, or buying bolts and screws that were on special.

    • Great stories, Mark. You crack me up. I had a Grand dad like your dad. He loved the Mitcham dump! Until I started to get a cure my wife used to say, ‘You can take the boy out of the Mitcham dump but you can’t take the Mitcham dump out of the boy.’

  5. You forgot to mention those who store copies of articles electronically so that they can read them later on. Very good, so true, if it wasn’t so sad it would be funny!

    • Agreed. Junk ’em or if important for later, file them. Must confess, Steve I’ve laughed at the ‘shock shows’ about hoarders on TV and then walked into my office and seen my ‘collections’ and had a few moments of truth, or gone for a cuppa to be confronted by 20 cups. We’ve only got two mouths between us and we never have that many visitors. If we do, we get out the best china. So why so many cups?