Clutter is a problem that can easily build up over time and become out of control. Without realising it, your belongings could one day consume your entire home if it’s not managed.
A recent survey from HIPPO found that over half of UK adults have rooms in their homes that are unusable because of clutter! Another quarter of respondents said they didn’t declutter because they had no idea where to start.
As this is a common issue, many people have turned to experts to tackle their clutter and disorganisation, with #professionalorganiser currently having 133,000 posts on Instagram along with 64,500 posts for #declutteringtips.
However, clutter can cause more difficulties than just unpleasant mess. In serious cases, it can be a symptom of hoarding which can impact a person’s living quality drastically. Hoarders also face many health and safety concerns, including anxiety, poor indoor air quality and even fire risks.
Clutter is present all across the country, but where is it most prevalent? To reveal which areas struggle the most with clutter, we analysed search data for various terms related to decluttering, storage, tidying and hoarding in the 20 most populated English counties. To find out which are the 10 most cluttered counties, continue reading.
Our research found that Lancashire was the tenth most cluttered English county, with 12% of the total searches being for decluttering tips and 8% looking for home cleaning services. Yet, the largest portion of searches was for storage solutions.
Instead of holding onto unused and unwanted items, letting them go can help make extra room, give you peace of mind and even earn some extra cash. Lancashire was previously included in a list of the top five UK counties for car boot sellers — reaching a rating of 6.34. The research ranked car boots by average review, seller time, seller fee, number of months they run for, search volume and the weather.
The search total also includes 39 searches per month related to hoarding, including “how to stop hoarding” and “signs of hoarding”. In May 2023, the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service issued home safety advice for the National Hoarding Awareness Week campaign. The information included warnings on the dangers of hoarding, such as how it can cause an accumulation of combustible materials that can fuel a fire and block exits.
Hertfordshire may be the ninth most cluttered English county, but it has the second most professional organisers registered at the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO) out of the counties on this list. It also has the second-most searches for tidying tips and the second-least for hoarding-related terms, suggesting that most clutter is manageable, which may be due to the available services.
However, there are still cases of residents living in dangerous conditions due to hoarding. In St Albans, a house fire took 11 hours to tackle due to heavy hoarding restricting the firefighters’ access.
Additionally, in ratio to its population, Hertfordshire actually has the second-highest number of monthly searches related to clutter in England.
A previous report from the Daily Mail cited Merseyside as the English region with the most hoarders — the local fire service had logged a staggering 6,333 home addresses with dangerous amounts of clutter. Our findings also discovered that 10% of the 383 monthly searches from the clutter-related terms in this county were hoarding-related.
George Mensah, owner of the Merseyside House Clearance company, has had numerous features in the national news talking about his findings when decluttering hoarders’ homes. Some of his discoveries included rubbish coming up to chest height in a three-bedroom home in Liverpool that was declared a ‘biohazard’.
Liverpool, the biggest city in Merseyside, has also been named the dirtiest English city in research from Build World. The findings discovered that per 10,000 people, there were 116 fly-tipping incidents near homes during 2019-20. It also found that the city had the most complaints of dirty, derelict or verminous properties from 2016 to 2020.
Kent was also included in the Daily Mail’s top 20 regions with the most hoarder houses on record. The report cited that numerous fire brigades only keep a record of houses that scored higher than a 7 in the ranking of 1-9 used by social workers. Yet, homes ranked 4 and above can still indicate a hoarding problem, according to the International OCD Foundation. So, there are likely many more than the 197 recorded.
It isn’t just clutter inside the home that Kent struggles with. In 2022, Canterbury City Council threatened student housing landlords with potential penalties, prosecutions and licence reviews following complaints of mess left by tenants. The rubbish, which included old clothes, was frequently left on the streets.
Problems of mess on the street have even landed two Kent locations in iLiveHere’s 2023 list of 50 worst places to live in the UK, with Chatham at 39 and Canterbury at 47.
The lowest search terms from Kent in our research were around home organisation, suggesting that there aren’t many residents looking to sort through their clutter.
Essex was cited as having the fifth-highest number of hoarder houses in England, with 670 being recorded as dangerously cluttered. Additionally, we found that over 10% of the 477 searches for phrases we looked into in Essex were hoarding-related, including “how can I stop hoarding” and “what causes hoarding”.
Despite this, our data also found that the county had the second-highest searches for professional declutterers, suggesting that Essex residents are more likely to pay for someone to sort through and help them remove their unwanted items.
In 2021, the BBC reported on a woman whose hoarding condition had turned her Harwich house into a “virtually no-go area”. The organisation, Your Living Room, helped to clear most of the home and said that the pandemic had triggered a rise in hoarding problems.
Goodmove previously conducted a survey to find the dirtiest UK cities based on the cleaning habits of Brits. This research ranked Southampton in the top spot, with 43% of residents admitting their cleaning routine only consists of hoovering, wiping surfaces and cleaning the bathroom.
Not only does a lack of cleaning and tidying impact your quality of life, but it can also lower a property’s worth. Clutter makes it difficult for potential buyers to clearly inspect a messy house, and it could give off an impression of uncleanliness. In a previous survey from HIPPO, 66% of people wouldn’t even look at a home on the market if it looked cluttered.
A couple who featured on Nick Knowles’ Big House Clear Out demonstrated the financial benefits of decluttering as they managed to add £40,000 to their property’s value after removing 50% of their belongings.
Nearly 30% of the clutter-related searches we analysed in Hampshire were for storage solutions. Finding new ways to maximise your available space will make your home much more inviting, livable and practical. Some examples of nifty storage solutions include wall storage, storage benches, and foldaway furniture.
4) West Yorkshire
Leeds, the largest settlement of West Yorkshire, was crowned the dirtiest Yorkshire city by a GoodMove survey. The findings, which ranked cities based on how often residents clean their homes, discovered that a fifth of locals only pick up their cleaning equipment once a month or less!
Bradford was also previously listed as one of the filthiest areas in the UK, with 78 fly-tipping incidents near homes per 10,000 people during 2019 and 2020.
Our analysis found that some of the lowest searches in this region were for terms such as professional decluttering and home organising services, suggesting residents would rather tackle clutter themselves than hire a professional. Yet, 10% of the 607 searches were from people looking to rent a storage unit. So, while people don’t want to pay for their homes to be tidied, many will foot the bill to store the items they have no space for.
3) Greater Manchester
As discussed, clutter can impact your property value, but sometimes this can be drastic. Earlier this year, an extremely cluttered house in Oldham went on the market for the shockingly low price of £20,000 — £264,746 cheaper than the average Greater Manchester house!
Another house in Oldham was branded as one of Britain’s ‘filthiest homes’ after a horrified landlord faced a cleaning cost of £15,000 to clear up trash and faeces left by his tenants.
However, sometimes decluttering can come with monetary rewards. Earlier this year, The MEN revealed a local man had made over £1,000 within a month from selling his unwanted and unused goods on eBay.
When it comes to clutter, you often need to spend money to make money or even just to save it. In our findings, 21% of the 710 searches related to paying for a service to help solve the problem, including renting a storage unit or hiring a professional to declutter, organise or clean.
2) West Midlands
Despite having the second most online searches for clutter-related queries, West Midlands only has four professional organisers registered at the APDO. These limited resources may be due to the lack of demand, as the county’s lowest search volume in our findings was for professional declutterers and organisers.
However, 10% of searches were for professional cleaners, which suggests residents prioritise cleaning over tidying. But can your home really be clean while still being cluttered?
Clutter can create dust, dirt, and mould, which can impact air quality and cause more colds and cases of flu. Even hidden clutter in junk drawers, storage cupboards, or wardrobes can worsen your home’s hygiene level.
The HIPPO survey found that the spare bedroom is the room with the most clutter, followed by the garage and then the loft. Further findings also revealed that 54% of young people throw everything into a junk drawer.
1) Greater London
As the most populated English county that is also known for its cramped living spaces, it’s no surprise that Greater London is the most cluttered.
Due to the sky-high living costs, many Londoners opt for a smaller home or only rent rooms. As either option doesn’t provide much living space, some people have a major clearout to eliminate items or keep their belongings in a storage unit until their living situation changes. Alternatively, Londoners face living among piles of clutter.
Previous research cited Greater London as the region with the second most dangerously cluttered houses — 1,675 recorded in 2021. We also found that this county had 383 searches for hoarding terms such as “am I a hoarder” and “hoarding disorder support”.
However, there are nearly double the number of searches for storage solutions and another 644 for renting storage units. There were also nearly 500 monthly searches from people looking for decluttering tips, advice or professionals. This data suggests that while clutter is a problem for Londoners, many are looking for suitable solutions.
It can feel daunting to declutter and sort through your belongings, but it’s likely to bring much more joy, comfort and relaxation to your home than letting the problem worsen. To better manage clutter, look into smart storage solutions and organisational systems for your home. However, if your clutter has become overwhelming or your living situation has changed, consider renting a storage unit or hiring a professional to tackle the job.