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But but but... you're missing the best one of them all - TLC's Clean Sweep. Oh, how I adore it. It has less sort of faux-drama than Clean House (will the make enough at the garage sale or... not....) and seems sort of, almost, sensible. Though when Peter puts his hand on a homeowner's shoulder and says in a low voice "But why, why do you feel the need to keep all your high school football gear?" and teases out of him that the homeowner is afraid of growing old and his new responsibilities as head of the household you feel sort of sleezy. Overall, I just find Clean Sweep to be superior and more fun to watch (though equally as predicable as Clean House).

I'm a sucker for hoarders. Probably because I also like to acquire stuff and were it not also for my passions for weeding and organizing I would be in the same shoes as some of these people. Also? Animal hoarders! ADORE!


I too am fascinated by all of this because I am the exact opposite of the people typically depicted in these stories and shows -- I am a purger. I'm always poking through closets and drawers thinking, "What can I get rid of?" I'm not hyperorganized, so I don't think it's about perfection or control; I'm generally a big ol' sap, so it's not that I don't assign sentimentality to any of my belongings. Can it just be that I value the calm serenity of a spare living space more than the seldom-used items that would otherwise be filling it?


Alissa, I'm also a purger (hire me for all your premarital garage-sale and posthumous house-cleaning needs!) which is another reason I am riveted by people who love to collect and store stuff they don't use. I do know that what you or I might consider a calm, serene space where you have room to breathe ... is what other people consider a sterile nightmare. (And I suspect that even our living space, with its many bookcases, would be considered Too Much by some folks.)

MaryLynn, I just can't get behind TLC's Clean Sweep. Perhaps it's because that show is sensible, and I am more entertained by the drah-mah of Clean House and the didactic disapproval in Clean This House. Sensible ruins the reality-trainwreck fun!


I'm definitely on the Clean House bandwagon. If only my mother lived in their radius. I think she's a packrat because she was a military brat and wasn't allowed to keep many posessions as a child. I love watching how crazy people are and how grateful they are in the end. And Niecy is so charming, I almost didn't recognize her from Reno 911!


I wish my mother would go on any one of these shows. The woman won't throw out a single piece of paper, and pays something like $200/month for a storage unit she's had since maybe the 80's or 90's, which she won't go through. ARGH.


As a former accumulator, I freely admit that it's all tied to issues of emotional security. I wasn't getting what I needed from people, so I hoarded food and collected objects. Also looking back with new information about a strong family history of bipolar disorder, a lot of the collecting in retrospect looks a bit like mania. Combine this with being so visually oriented that if I can't see it it doesn't exist, and boom! disorganized clutter craziness.

drunken monkey

I like stuff. It's probably not fair to say that I am a minimalist; I like to have lots of things around me. It drives my mother crazy, though I suppose less so now than when I lived at home. When I was in high school I had my bedroom walls papered with pages I ripped from magazines -- pictures of hot rock stars, ads I liked, etc. -- and all the visual stimuli drove her nuts whenever she was in there.

But with 550 square feet, one can only have so much clutter. I would love for somebody to come in and be a bit mean about what I need to get rid of, then rig me up with shelves for the rest.


Have you ever read any of the FlyLady's stuff? She comes at things from a very different angle, and pretty much preaces that hoarding *looks*like loving yourself when it is, in fact, the opposite.

Just google Flylady...

anyway, things happen so fast nowadays, and everything feels so disposable. I like having things that are, in fact, irreplaceable. It is hard to determine what these things are sometimes...


Who hasn't heard of FlyLady?

I am impressed by the brand name Marla Cilley's built for herself. I consider her one of the pioneers of parlaying Internet community into a profitable business franchise. And when I was trying to line her up for a piece I was writing, I was impressed by her focus and accessibility.

Cynthia Friedlob

Your comment below is particularly significant:

"I find clutter and declutter stories so fascinating because the material mess is the secondary narrative. What drives the narrative is emotional -- it's the value these people are assigning to objects above and beyond their economic worth, the secret stories of their selves . . . it seems like maybe I shouldn't be saying, 'Holy cats, declutter already!' so much as I should be asking, 'How did you get here to begin with? And what can we do to make sure you're not coming here again?'"

Most of us fall somewhere in the tolerable middle on the "clutter curve," not flawlessly organized but not so overwhelmed that we need the "Clean House" crew to save us. And, yes, we all hang onto things for emotional rather than practical reasons. But there are some people who have crossed into an area far beyond where the very best organizing-and-redecorating shows can be of help. Those people are clinically classified as hoarders. I'm not talking about someone who just likes to collect a lot of stuff; I'm talking about someone who is paralyzed when faced with the decision to toss out a ten-year-old newspaper or the remains of a shattered dinner plate. If you are one of them or know someone who is, there is help available at www.ocfoundation.org/hoarding -- that's the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation website which has a section devoted to the problem of hoarding. It's worth a look to help get a little perspective, especially if you're frustrated by a friend or relative who just can't seem to let go of anything.

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