Distinguishing Between Hoarding & Clutter

Key Difference – Hoarding vs Clutter

Hoarding refers to gathering, collecting and holding on to things that are not needed at the present, while clutter refers to a collection of things that are not arranged in a neat or orderly way. The key difference between hoarding and clutter is that hoarding refers to a type of behavior, whereas clutter refers to a state of a place. Clutter can sometimes be associated with hoarding, but it is not associated exclusively with hoarding.

Key Takeaways

  • Hoarding refers to a behavior of collecting unneeded items due to emotional attachment.
  • Clutter is a state of a place where things are not arranged in a neat or orderly way.
  • Compulsive hoarding is considered a mental disorder and requires medical help.

What is Hoarding?

Hoarding refers to gathering, collecting and holding on to things. Hoarding can refer to gathering food items and other essential items to use during periods of scarcity. This behavior can be seen in both humans and animals. People may hoard food, water, and essential items during occasions such as civil unrest or natural disasters.

However, hoarding also describes the behavior of collecting unneeded items because of a feeling of attachment to these items. People who display this behavior are called hoarders. Hoarders show a strong reluctance to throw away things that they do not need. They may have an intense emotional attachment to things others see as useless and feel that items have an instinct value. Some hoard things based on the assumption that an item may be useful one day.

Houses belonging to hoarders may be cluttered with unwanted items and have the risk of becoming health hazards or fire hazards. Compulsive hoarding is considered as a mental disorder and needs medical help.

What is Clutter?

Clutter refers to a collection of things that are lying around in a disorderly state. Clutter can also be a symptom of hoarding. When hoarders collect a lot of useless things, these things are usually not arranged tidily, they are just left in a confused mass. But clutter is not exclusively associated with hoarding. The things that are cluttered around a place may be useful and valuable things or things that are used in day-to-day life. They don’t have to be unneeded things or things that the owner has an emotional attachment to.

Clutter in a house or room may indicate that the occupant is an untidy and disorganized person. It makes a place look unpleasant, untidy and chaotic. In addition, it also takes more time to find something when everything is cluttered around. So you should always try to arrange your things in an orderly and neat manner.

What is the difference between Hoarding and Clutter?

Hoarding: Hoarding refers to gathering, collecting and holding on to things that are not needed at the present.
Clutter: Clutter refers to things or a collection of items that are not arranged in a neat or orderly way.
Hoarding: Clutter can be a symptom of hoarding.
Clutter: Clutter is not exclusively associated with hoarding.
Nature of Things:
Hoarding: Hoarding includes unneeded things, at least things that have no use at present.
Clutter: Clutter may include both useful and useless items.
Nature of the Person who shows this Behavior:
Hoarding: Hoarding may be a mental disorder.
Clutter: Clutter implies that occupant of that space is untidy. 
Image Courtesy:
“227971” by Hans (Public Domain) via Pixabay
“Compulsive hoarding Apartment” By Grap – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia 

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Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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