International clutter survey


People often ask me, what percentage of people have clutter? Which country has the most clutter? Do men have more clutter than women?

I haven’t found a comprehensive survey that answers these questions so have decided to set up my own. If you can spare a couple of minutes to complete the anonymous survey below, I’d really appreciate it. There’s no need to give any contact information so you won’t receive any unwanted marketing emails if you take part.

I’ll publish the results on my blog after the first 10,000 people have responded.

Like to know the results of the survey?
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International Clutter Survey

About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fourth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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23 Responses to International clutter survey

  1. Karen, I have read your books over and over and I get so excited when your newsletter hits my mailbox. It’s literally the only email I’m ever excited to receive. I have de-cluttered and cluttered all my life to no avail. It’s a vicious cycle I have not been able to break and I still don’t know why. I’m 52 now and you would think I would have a handle on it by now but I don’t. Been following and reading your stuff for 10+years now. I have lived in my house for 24 years and will be empty nester in about 1 1/2 years. I just would like to leave it all behind and start afresh.

    1. I’m glad to hear you enjoy my books and newsletters. There are more books and plenty more newsletters on the way!

      However please don’t wait any longer to get the help you need. My blogs and books are listed as the first two ways to get help, but if you have been reading these for 10 years and still haven’t made the progress you wish for, my best advice is to move on to one of the other ways I suggest, such as taking an online course or booking a private consultation with one of the professional practitioners I’ve trained. You can find more information about all these types of help here

      Sometimes it can take a person many years to feel ready to start the decluttering process in depth, and it sounds as if you are now well and truly ready for this. I encourage you to dip your toe in the water by taking my Fast Track Clutter Clearing online course, and then see what develops from there.

  2. I used to be VERY neat as a young person- everything had its place, and the look of my room was tidy (influence from my mother who died when I was 9.) This is before I moved out of my childhood house and got an apartment. Somehow along the way over many years, I have become a messy person accumulating all kinds of clutter. Most of it is paper and electronic clutter, and small things. The small things can be anywhere from pencils/pens, nail clippers, paper clips, and a variety of ‘useful’ things that I like to be able to see. If it’s out of sight, I end up getting more of an item because I don’t literally see it, or forget where I’ve put it. I WANT to have a very clean and minimal household. I even have a very small house compared to a lot of people here in the U.S. Not a “tiny house” but a small house around 1087 sq ft. I want to bulldoze it all and start over. I’ve read Clear Your Clutter twice over the years…first in the mid-90s and again a few years ago. I also read that book by Marie Kondo, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, about two years ago. When I read Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui (CYC), I got rid of 7 large garbage bags of stuff. I felt like it got rid of a lot of underlying bulk, but did not make my space look tidy and sparse like I wanted. So, I needed to do a lot more and didn’t. When I read M. Kondo’s book, I got rid of a bunch of clothes I didn’t need and did the folding so my dresser drawers were super tidy. My closet had a lot more room too. Well, let’s just say the clothes were not stuffed together in there so tight that I could barely see anything. They hung loosely and I was able to see and choose things easily. The drawers are still neat and tidy – for what’s in them – but I don’t always put the clothing items in there. They are dumped on top of my dresser a lot of times. (Yes it does feel chaotic, but still I do it.) I felt M. Kondo’s book to be similar in some aspects to CYC, and does not have the energetic information CYC does, nor the bagua. They both helped me, CYC more than the other, but I have yet to make a complete transformation. I’m holding onto stuff, I’ve got a bad case of ‘I might need this some day’ (and usually do end up needing it right after I’ve gotten rid of the something) but in my mind I feel that I don’t want to hold onto stuff. I admire my sister’s neat house, and wish mine were neat too. I need to read CYC again and get down to serious work.

    Karen, I’m sure the results of the survey will show that we have tons of clutter here in the U.S.! I’m a study of one! :/

  3. I have what some people might consider a lot of clothes: some 60 dresses (about half of them vintage from the 40s or 50s), 12 skirts, 10-12 blouses and sweaters, 6 (vintage) suits, 6 separate (suit-type, vintage) jackets, and 6 pairs of jeans and trousers. I also have some 20 or so complete sets of lingerie (a complete set means one bra + 2-3 pairs of knickers to go with it) a drawer of T-shirts and rather a lot of stockings and tights. This is not a problem for me and I do not consider it clutter, since a/ I love my clothes and use all of them, and b/ they are neatly stored – stockings, socks, T-shirts and underwear neatly folded in a chest of drawers and the big items in three wardrobes, where they are sorted according to season, level of formality and colour and hang on coordinated hangers.

    I don’t consider my books clutter, either, although I have rather a lot of them too (they fill seven big bookcases which cover two walls) for the same reasons: I love them, I read them, and they are neatly sorted so that I can find anything I want instantly. And they are nice to look at – I like a book-filled wall.

    But paperwork. Oh dear, oh dear. Whether it is work-related, or magazines and newspapers, or cuttings from magazines and newspapers, it seems to multiply on its own, it piles up in large heaps, which sooner or later fall over, it fills my desk so that I can’t use it for actual work and have to work at the dining table… and it makes me feel helpless and frustrated and at times panick-stricken. I suppose a Freudian would say this shows that I just want to wear pretty dresses and read good books and never work or do household chores – and come to think of it, that wouldn’t be too far from the truth.

  4. Following most of Karen’s online courses changed my husband indirectly, from nearly a hoarder when we got married to quite a clutter free person now, that he even suggested we start from zero when we make our next move in the next few months! I am thrilled! I am more than GRATEFUL for all the teachings. Amazing results.

  5. I’ve read your books and emails since about 2000, or earlier. They really helped me when my husband and I consolidated two households, then moved onto a sailboat. I learned that things weren’t as important as people, especially when we lost it all when the boat capsized. Being clutter free has helped two of my three daughters and their families. (I don’t know what happened to number 3.) Everything you’ve said has helped me and proven to be true, including how it has rubbed off on my husband. He could never dispose of anything when I first met him, but is happy in our minimal “stuff” life. I am loving my life with out all of the entanglements that “stuff” entails.

  6. Karen, I wonder if you are aware of Clutterers Anonymous, or CLA, which is a 12-step program. I have been attending their meetings for a few years now and have a better grip on my clutter than I used to have. I don’t know if they are international. If you’d like to see their material, which I have found to be largely very well thought, let me know. I can send you a set of their pamphlets.

    Personally, I imagine Americans to be some of the worst clutterers in the world. I doubt that CLA has any serious data on this, though.

    1. Hi Jude, I’ve heard of this group. It’s only in California, as far as I know. Glad to hear it’s been helpful to you. No need to send me their pamphlets, though. They have information online.

      1. Hi, Karen. CLA is all over the US, if not international. I live near Chicago where there is a very active, established group. Just fyi.

  7. As I completed this survey I kept wondering about the definition of clutter. I realise that I don’t really think of myself having clothing clutter even though there are so many items I never wear and would not miss in the slightest. I think that is because my walk-in robe accommodates them all easily and so they are not a problem to me!

    Now paper clutter is a different thing. I have so much and feel like I am drowning in it. At the moment I am working on eliminating at least half of it and finding a home for what I need to keep. This is a slow process but I am still extremely pleased with my progress.. I am setting up ‘systems’ whereby I can keep in an accessible place what is necessary and am making sure I allocate time each week to deal with new paperwork.

    It feels important to me to figure this out for myself but I also look forward to taking Karen’s course on paper clutter at some stage to learn better how to deal with and not be overwhelmed by the ‘paper monster’!

    1. I did both Clear Your Paper Clutter and Fast Track Clutter Clearing courses and those helped me enormously. I really do have very little in the way of clutter and, where there is, it’s recent clutter rather than stuff that’s been in drawers and cupboards for years. Photos I’m still going through and getting around to either sending them onwards to relatives or digitally storing them.

      By the way, I did the Fast Track Clutter Clearing course just as I was doing a big house move…it was pretty timely and having lots of movers boxes around it was great to “dump” stuff straight away!

  8. I’m aware that some of my attachment to things relates back to having lost my home to fire, even though that was 26 years ago. That loss included my professional work as a writer/teacher. But now, at age 78, on fixed-low income, I want to live in a serene, manageable home and not leave my family with a snarled mess to clean up. I’m making progress slowly, but wish I could get a bigger handle on THINGS (including professional papers!)

  9. I have tried to respond honestly to this survey, but I’m afraid that the vast majority of household/paper/clothing/hobby clutter here belongs to my husband. He has criticised me for not clearing enough of my belongings out in order to give him more space for his, and frequently accuses me of moving, stealing or destroying items, simply because he has lost them in the mess!

    We’re constantly arguing over his need to put shelving in every available space – including in front of cupboards… My two sons have noted that, if their Dad moves out and takes his ‘stuff’, the house will pretty much empty.

    Ultimately, Karen, how does one tackle this?

  10. Inherited geneology research, correspondence, albums and related memorabilia have seemingly overwhelmed my home

  11. I have so little clutter because I was lucky enough to find Karen Kingston, read her book, take in-person and on-line courses with her and what she said resonated deeply, so I kept following her wisdom. I am by nature not a hoarder, but under the influence of Karen Kingston’s work, I looked at my possessions differently and released whole other levels of “stuff”. Very grateful.

  12. Karen Kingston is contributing in a MAJOR way to the health of society through her clothing clearing work. Because at some point psychological factors may be at play in cases of extreme clutter or hoarding, it is important to understand that her work is not sufficient to understand and remedy extremes in behavior. To her credit, she recognizes that. What I welcome from her, and her certified practitioners, is that she motivates me to think and to consider my own situation.

  13. Remembrance items (things I’ve collected in travels) bring much pleasure as I remember the trips I’ve taken, yet they are probably unnecessary to my overall happiness.

    Inherited furniture, photos, & books are difficult to dispense with.

    Photos of children (living elsewhere) & deceased parents give me comfort.

    Artwork! I have so many paintings — several by my father, hard to part with, although I have done so here and there, over time . . . donating to non-profit orgs.’ auctions

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