They may seem small, but these little mistakes can add up to a cluttered home.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated January 03, 2019
Credit: Sidekick/Getty Images

Little mistakes of any sort may seem like no big deal in the moment, but minor gaffes like forgetting to change your car’s oil or common laundry mistakes can add up to a major problem.

The same goes for clutter accumulation. Even people with excellent daily decluttering habits can make little organizing mistakes. Some may be unavoidable in the moment, but acknowledging that these little lapses are contributing to an overall clutter fiasco is the first step to finding a simple, manageable solution. Plus, once the problems are obvious, dealing with clutter build-ups on a more regular basis (say, weekly, instead of when the problem reaches an unbearable tipping point) can contribute to household peace and sanity.

Watch for these little clutter mistakes and prepare to be amazed by what a few little shifts can do to stop clutter build-up.

Credit: Sidekick/Getty Images


The accumulation of clothes—clean or dirty—outside closets and dressers is a leading cause of bedroom clutter. Sometimes, putting clothes in their correct place or washing them right away isn’t always possible, but not folding these in-the-open clothes makes the problem look much worse than it is. A pile of clothes on the floor sends a chaotic message; a neatly folded stack in a corner or on a chair says you’re a tidy person (even if you’re actually not) who’s currently pressed for time. The next step, of course, is to put clothes where they belong right away.


Anyone without a dishwasher or with a large assortment of delicate dinnerware knows drying dishes is a pain. Enter the drying mat or rack: a clean place for dishes to air dry, no dishcloths required. Of course, if those clean dishes don’t get put away once they’re dry, there will soon be a clutter problem, especially if those dishes sit out on the kitchen counter for days on end. Drying every dish may be a tall order, but putting away dry dishes the next morning or before your next meal is an easy, quick fix.

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Planning ahead is usually a clutter-buster, but when it comes to surplus toiletries, cleaning supplies, and more, planning too far ahead can actually encourage clutter. Having an extra roll of paper towels on hand in case of a major spill is smart; having 18 extra rolls is a little excessive and can strain storage space.

Avoid buying more toothpaste, toilet paper, and other household essentials until just a few days before they’re actually needed. If buying in bulk is a necessity, set aside a specified storage spot for overflow.


This one goes for magazines, newspapers, and other disposable paper-based reading materials. Setting aside bills, greeting cards, and other important pieces of mail for the weekend or a slow night is to be expected; letting these to-be-dealt-with items pile up for weeks or even months at a time with the promise to read them eventually encourages a mess. Set aside time each week to flip through the mail and cut down on subscriptions that aren’t being read.

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Taking off shoes at the door is smart. Leaving a pair or two at the door for quick trips to grab the mail or walk the dog is even smarter. But letting the entirety of your shoe collection pile up in the entryway, garage, mudroom, or kitchen is a habit to kick. Make a household rule that only one or two pairs per person is allowed in the space, and encourage everyone (yourself included) to take extra pairs to their permanent spaces, even if that’s at the bottom of the closet, at the end of every day.