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I've been watching season 1 of Hoarders. You will seriously feel the need to start cleaning your living space after watching that - even if it doesn't need cleaning. Guaranteed.

Watching Hoarders made me think of how I used to live and what's changed from then to now.

Just about every single family I knew in New England could be classified as hoarders to varying degrees. The two things I noticed that people hoarded the most were clothes and furniture.

Concerning clothes, it was not uncommon at all to see closets with every rail having clothes so tightly hung together that not a single additional shirt, dress, jacket or whatever would fit in there. When that space ran out, clothes would be folded and piled waist-high or higher on the floor. If there were any shelves, every scrap of space was filled up with more clothes. Every one of these closets always had that old-clothes musty scent to it, letting you know instantly there was stuff in there that hadn't been touched in years or possibly decades.

Concerning furniture, it was either the wife who always did the "have to have it" purchase at the county fair every year for a piece of furniture that didn't fit anywhere in the house but bought it anyway - OR - it was the husband who picked up some half-busted thing at a yard sale with the standard "The wood is still good!" excuse, even though the furniture was absolute 100% junk.

My problem was destructive laziness. It used to be that I simply did not clean unless I absolutely had to, and all the clutter that piled up because of that was slowly destroying my living space just from neglect alone. My laziness pretty much lasted until I moved to Florida. Actually, that's not entirely true. I did start getting lazy again for the first year I was here, but then caught myself and thought, "I'm not doing that live-like-a-slob thing anymore. Not happening. No way." For those that knew me back in the north, if you saw how clean the apartment is I live in now, you'd probably be shocked in a really good way.

The solution to my destructive laziness which led to the clutter in the first place was to simply get off my ass and do two things. Throw out more and clean more, in that order.

Here's a few examples of things I do routinely:

If there's a pile in the sink, wash everything and put it all away.

I do not let stuff pile up in the sink. If you ever do see a pile there, it's really small and is pretty much guaranteed not to be there the next day.

If it's expired, throw it out.

Classic hoarder tendency is to keep things past their expiration date. I don't and won't. It doesn't matter if the whatever-it-is doesn't smell, look or taste bad because it's getting tossed if it's expired. For example, let's say I buy a half-gallon of milk, only use a little bit of it and then notice one day it's expired. Down the drain it goes. I don't even test to see if it's good first. Wasteful? Sure is, but I don't care because my health is more important than saving something that's probably bad anyway.

If it's a clothing item that's falling apart, it's getting tossed.

I've heard time and time again from many different people, "Don't throw that old shirt/towel/underwear out, you can use it as a rag!" No. Frickin' no. It's getting thrown out. I'm not going to repurpose something as a cleaning item that won't even clean correctly to begin with.

I've always found using old t-shirts and other clothing items as rags to be so unbelievably frickin' stupid because the material is smooth, meaning it can't pick up dirt, nor can it wash anything.

You would be, said very honestly, better off using the blue-colored shop towels. They do have texture, can clean and can even be used as a wet rag.

Don't repurpose plastic shopping bags as trash bags.

Oh, I've known a lot of people who've done this. They go to Wal-Mart or Target or wherever, take the shopping bags they used and place them in a "bag o' bags" for use as trash bags later. Then they wonder why they always break. Well, duh, it's not meant for use as a trash bag so, surprise-surprise, it will bust.

I admit I did use shopping bags as trash bags for a while, but then started using proper bags and never looked back. Even the cheapest bags-on-a-roll are better than a shopping bag.

Don't save "almost gone" stuff. Toss it.

Let's say you buy a bottle of shampoo, it's getting close to running out so you buy another bottle and start using that - but you don't throw out the first bottle because in your head you save it "just in case you need it". No. Wrong. Toss that crap out.

Something a ton of people do is save pretzels or potato chips that are literally nothing but crumbs. You know what I mean. You open up the pantry at a friends house and there's like 3 or 4 bags of chips that are rolled up, have nothing but crumbs in the bag and the food probably expired 6 weeks ago. That crap needs to go.

"Still good" is an excuse and not a reason to keep something.

I was guilty of this for a really long time.

Today I bought a bathmat. Did I need to? Not really. The old mat was still quite usable, but the problem is that you could tell it was getting a bit worn, and washing it didn't fix the problem. My solution? I bought a new mat to replace the old one. Problem solved. Looks nice and feels good under my feet.

A hoarder would not do that. They would use the same old crappy mat, wait until it was stained and literally falling apart, and might even try keeping it together with duct tape. Yes, really. Fortunately I was never that bad.

~ ~ ~

I can proudly say that I'm not embarrassed to have company over. My place is in good shape and it doesn't bother me to have people see it. Granted, my place isn't a palace by any means, but it's clean, cozy and comfortable.

Also, when people don't want to leave because what I have looks, feels and smells better than what they have, that's a huge compliment considering I have a cheap apartment. 🙂 I guess it's true that no matter how much or little you pay for rent, it's what you do with your living space that really matters. If you have an 'inviting' abode, people will want to stay.


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