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Are the Messes in your Home Making you Sick - How Clutter is Affecting your Health

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

You're a healthy individual....or at least you strive to be. You eat your veggies and go to the gym. You meditate and drink green smoothies. You go to therapy.

Don't get me wrong, all of these things are great for your overall health and wellbeing, but why are you forgetting your home?

Your home impacts your health in so many ways. From paint color to layout, your external world directly influences your internal one. And while there are many ways to improve your home to better your health, one of the biggest ways is to address your home's messes.

I'm talking about clutter.

Clutter impacts so many areas of your life, your health, and your wellbeing. It's more than just a mess on the floor or a crowded countertop. Clutter impacts your mental, physical, and emotional health.

Read on to find all the ways in which clutter affects your health.


Physical Health

Poor Sleep

A lack of a peaceful night's rest can be a serious health issue. We now know that sleep is the cornerstone of health, equally as important as diet and exercise. According to research done by New York's St. Lawrence University, people with a messy bedroom have worse sleep than those that have a tidy space. The study found that people with messy bedrooms take a longer time to fall asleep, leading to an increase in tiredness.

When you're trying to fall asleep, you need to turn off your mind. Yet this is difficult to do when you see the piles of clothes, the closet full of boxes, and the heap of clutter on the nightstands. Having a cleaner bedroom can lead to a more peaceful night's rest and better health overall.

Type 2 Diabetes

A stressful home can lead to overeating, especially sweets and comfort foods that can spike insulin and lead to Type 2 Diabetes. In 2016, a study done by the journal of Environment and Behavior found that a cluttered kitchen may contribute to overeating, specifically sweets. The out of control feeling clutter brings can lead people to coap in unhealthy ways, such as emotional eating. Left unchecked, this can turn into other physical health concerns, such as heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Heart Disease

The stress that a messy home can cause doesn't just affect the mind, but the body. When you are stressed, your body goes into fight/flight mode. The physiological changes that are triggered by that response can not only weaken your immune system, they can also negatively impact digestion and increase the risk of heart disease.


Yes, there is science out there to show that clutter does cause obesity, but having a lot of stuff simply won't pack on the pounds. Stress is the link that bridges this relationship, as high stress releases cortisol, which produces extra insulin that our bodies store in our fat cells when constantly stressed. So if you're wanting to lose some extra weight and are having trouble, you might want to look at your living situation.

The 2012 UCLA study showed that people also living in messier homes are more likely to resort to convenient meals for them and their family, such as fast food and overly processed meals, which also doesn't do any favors in health and weight gain.

Mental Health

Lack of Focus

A messy home = a messy mind. The visual clutter in your home does impact the mental clutter that goes on in your head, making it harder to stay focused. A study conducted in 2011 found that clearing away clutter at home and work improved processing and focus capability as well as productivity.

Low Productivity

Your time is precious, but your home's messes could be causing you to lose some serious hours from your life. The average American loses one year of their life looking for missing items. This is about a weekend wasted every year. This is time you could be spending doing things you enjoy, and instead, many people are wasting time trying to locate items.

For those who also work from home, clutter can also impact your work productivity. According to Forbes ASAP, the typical executive wastes 150 hours a year (almost one month) searching for lost information. This can cost on average of 12% of company earnings (so if you run your own business from home, this matters).

Lack of Motivation

54% of Americans say that they are overwhelmed with the amount of clutter in their homes, and out of that, 78% have no idea where to even begin. Considering that many people live in homes that have basements, attics, and garages, this can mean a lot of clutter can accumulate, leading to a mountain of stuff that feels impossible to get rid of. This lack of motivation clutter brings isn't just for the clutter itself. One can experience a lack of motivation in a variety of other areas of life, including exercise, socialization, and personal goals.


Over the past ten years, there have been many studies showing the link between a messy home and a depressive state. It's almost like the age old dilemma of the chicken and the egg: a messy home causes you to be more depressed, and when you're more depressed, you're less likely to clean and tidy up. It's a vicious cycle, and it can feel overwhelming to the point of defeat. Keeping cleaner home is directly connected to your mood and is a big aspect of holistic homes and a healthier and happier life.

Less Social

Clutter is something most people aren't proud of. However, this issue has been shown to decrease one's socialization, both in the family and with friends and others no living in the home. Living in a messy home can often bring about shame, yet the thought of decluttering can be so overwhelming, that most people choose to do nothing to solve the problem. Instead of feeling overwhelmed to tidy up the house for a party, someone might choose to opt to not have the event at all. They will not have guests and company over, thus becoming more and more isolated from friends, family, and peers.

Family Relationship

In 2012, the UCLA did a study and found that women who lived in a messy home had higher levels of stress and cortisol. The study focused on typical two-income families and also showed how the results of a stressed mother could impact the whole family. The study also reported that in messy homes, children were less likely to go outside, families typically ate meals at various times and in different rooms not together, and that families would rely heavily on convenient fast food for meals.

Clutter can have a huge impact on family relationships, from causing more overall stress, to arguments, fights, and less socialization in general, weakening family ties and dynamics.

As you can see, clutter is way more than just a messy pile of clothes. It is an issue that impacts so many areas of your health.

If you're ready to take control of your health and take control of your clutter, then check out my course, A Holistic Decluttering Experience - a 4 week course in creating a tidy and clutter-free home. Learn the tips and tricks of decluttering, understand the emotional and psychological reasons for clutter, get motivated, gain the systems for organization, and develop the healthy home habits to keep clutter away.

Your Holistic Home Helper,



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