Reasons not to store other people’s clutter in your home

Think twice before you agree to store other people’s things anywhere in your home. The stagnant energies that accumulate around clutter can affect you in ways you may not realize.

Clutter in the attic

I always remember the shocked look on the face of the landlord Richard and I were about to rent a house from a few years ago. Our one-year contract was all but signed when he mentioned he’d be leaving some of his things in the attic, thinking that would be OK.

‘That would be a deal-breaker,’ I told him immediately, without missing a beat.

He couldn’t believe we could possibly take objection. What would be the harm in that? Surely it wouldn’t be in our way?

How clutter affects you energetically

‘It wouldn’t physically be in our way,’ I said, ‘because we’re not planning to use the attic. But I write books explaining to people how keeping clutter anywhere in their home affects them energetically and holds them back.’

‘But the attic? You won’t even know it’s up there!’

‘It doesn’t matter if we know it’s up there or not. Any kind of clutter causes stagnant energy to accumulate around it, which will have a corresponding stagnating effect of some kind in our life. It has to go.’

This was a wealthy man who wasn’t used to being spoken to by anyone like this, let alone a woman. But I stuck to my guns, Richard was adamant too, so he reluctantly agreed.

Of course, someone with so much clutter doesn’t usually spring into action very quickly. So when it was all still there six weeks later, we brought it all down from the attic for him, load by load, stacked it in our entrance foyer, and kept calling until he finally came to take it away. It amounted to an entire truckload of stuff, including leftover stock from the sexy lingerie online business that had made him his fortune. It made an entertaining feature for any visitors who dropped by, but we were happy to see it all go.

Other people’s clutter

Having clutter of your own is bad enough but giving houseroom to someone else’s stuff is worse because you have less control over whether it stays or goes. Once you’ve agreed to take it, you can be stuck with it for a while.

In my Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui book, I explain,

Sometimes people don’t have much clutter of their own but they agree to look after things for other people. ‘Please look after this ugly sofa for me while I visit New Zealand.’ Two years later you are still waiting for your friend to come back and the sofa has started to grow roots.

Think carefully before you agree to clutter your own space with someone else’s stuff and if you do decide to do it, at least set a time limit: ‘OK, I’ll look after your ugly sofa, but if you’re not back for it within X months, it’s firewood/will be used to stuff a thousand cushions for charity, or whatever.’ Make a clear agreement what will happen to the sofa and when, and that way your friendship won’t deteriorate if things don’t go according to plan.

The truth is that if you have a lot of clutter of your own, your life will probably feel so stuck that you’ll hardly notice the effect of adding a few more boxes belonging to a friend.

But if you live pretty clutter-free, the effect will be much more noticeable. A few days won’t matter. A few weeks might. Months, definitely. Years – don’t even think about it.

Adult children’s clutter

The most challenging type of other people’s clutter is often childhood belongings left behind by adult children who now have a home of their own. They don’t want it cluttering up their own space, but they also don’t want to let all their memorabilia go.

So there it sits indefinitely in the family home, usually stashed in an attic, a basement, a garage, or a shed. The stagnant energy that accumulates around it affects the person it belongs to because they are still connected to it. And it affects the parents who are looking after it even more because it’s in their home.

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2018, updated 2023

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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 fifth 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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9 Responses to Reasons not to store other people’s clutter in your home

  1. Many thanks, Karen. I will get a copy of your new book ‘Space Clearing volume 1’ when it comes out in April ’24.

  2. Hi Karen, thank you for this important article. The question of stagnant energy created by clutter fascinates me. Is it possible for you to put into a few words the mechanism for this, or perhaps point me towards the specific pages or chapters in your books ‘Creating Sacred space’ or ‘Clear your clutter with Feng Shui’, both of which I have. Is it psychological in our own minds, or can you as a sensitive actual ‘see’ the stagnant energy around it which would make it more likely to affect almost anybody.

    1. Hi Peter – In Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui I explain the many ways that stagnant energies in our homes can affect us. They are certainly not psychological. They can be very accurately perceived using a technique called hand sensing, and revitalizing them is a primary use of space clearing. In our new book, Space Clearing, Volume 1, we have included detailed information about all the types of energies that can be found in buildings, which I think you’ll find very interesting 🙂

  3. We had these people store their junk on our property since 2008 rent-free and is still sitting here. It’s an old 1973 U-Truck with a 28′ ft box. I went in there a few years ago and started throwing their stuff in the garbage and keeping stuff of value to sell at our yard sale to try and recoup some of the back rent that they never paid us for storage. I heard somewhere if it’s on your property longer then 4 years, it’s considered abandoned and the property owner can legally sell or throw it into the garbage. Supposedly they moved to Montana and were supposed to come and get this truck after they took the first load over. They never came back to Washington State to get the rest of their stuff, it’s legally our now.

  4. We have some paintings and art by other people – friends and so – I don’t really like at all and would be happy to pass on but my husband is keen to hold onto them in case these artists become famous one day. I can see the logic but still don’t like them.

  5. Hi Karen,
    We are in the difficult situation of storing random things for a family member. It’s desperately sad, because she’s had her children taken into care, unlikely to return (not through her neglect but due to her violent partner). She is now homeless and staying with a friend. She’s already lost the main contents of her old home because she couldn’t pay for the storage. It really is a litany of misery. All she has left in the world is now in our loft room and much of it is from her children. I have no idea how long we are going to have to store it and I don’t want it there, but the poor woman has no other choice at the moment. Could you suggest any ‘cures’ we can use to prevent it from affecting us, while we store it? Thank you.

    1. Hi Amanda – There is no “cure” for the energetic effects of storing someone else’s clutter, although it may help you to know that it will affect you less is your home is huge and uncluttered, the quantity of stuff you are storing is small, and it is neatly organized. The solution I would personally choose in this situation, finances permitting, is to give the family member the compassionate gift of paying to put it all in a storage unit for an agreed period of time.

      It sounds like you have not yet had the conversation with her about how long you will keep the items and what will happen to them at the end of that time if her situation is unchanged, so it would be good to have it. Bear in mind, too, that since many of the items belong to her children, they may indeed be precious to them, or as time passes, they may have less and less relevance to them. You may end up storing a museum of unwanted momentoes, as described in this article: Adult children’s clutter stored in the family home.

  6. We have a rental apartment in the barn on our property. Sadly, many of our renters over the years have been people with clutter. So every time a renter moves out we have to be forceful in asking them to take all their stuff. Still we always plan at least a week between tenants because it doesn’t all get removed! We haul their old junk to the dump and space clear the apartment. Which reminds me, we’ve never space cleared the basement of the barn, maybe it’s time!

    Thanks for this article. I did wonder about the photo at the top, love how it tied in!

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