Are you a clutterbug or a hoarder? Storenextdoor seeks help from the experts

Out with the old and in with the new? Isn’t that what January is all about? How about freeing up a spare room so that you can start renting it out to other people who want to ‘store next door’?

Sounds like a great idea, however –  if, like me – you’re a fan of TV programmes like ‘The Hoarder Next Door’, ‘Storage Hoarders’  and “Britain’s Biggest Hoarders”, you’ll know that for some people this is easier said than done. Sure.. these programmes tend to focus on extreme cases, but what does this say about folks like me who have quite a lot of stuff (that I probably don’t really need!). Is there a actually a difference between being someone who has a chockablock loft and a hoarder..?

This also got me wondering what Aggie Mackensie, Stelios Kiosses or the De-clutter Divas  would think about Storenextdoor – does self-storage defeat the object of the ‘de-cluttering’ exercise? With both of these issues in mind I got in touch with Cherry Rudge, from  apdo-uk (The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers UK) and founder of Rainbow Red, a professional decluttering, organising and project management services company. 

MissMO: What’s the difference between being a ‘clutterbug’ and a ‘hoarder’

Cherry: To many people, decluttering and organising is merely a frustrating nuisance – a chore they might procrastinate about doing for days, weeks, months or even years. For others, it can be a significant problem as a result of a diagnosable medical condition, age, lack of mobility, being a carer or a caree, or because of mental health or emotional reasons; these cases often require intervention by social workers or medical, counselling or other professionals.

MissMo: Phew – it sounds like I just need to do some sorting out! So – how could apdo-uk help me? 

Cherry: apdo-uk  is a not-for-profit Membership association founded in 2004. apdo-uk currently has around 100 Members across the UK, offering a wide variety of decluttering, organising and recycling services designed to reduce the organisational stress in people’s lives.

Whilst there is no such thing as a typical decluttering or organising session, since every client – and every client’s needs – are different, the general role of an apdo-uk Member is to act as a practical enabler or coach to improve the safety and wellbeing of our clients by organising their homes and offices, expediting the removal of unwanted items, and maximising a property’s functionality through the use of effective storage and organising solutions.

MissMo: As an organisation what are your views on storing vs. getting rid of stuff you don’t currently need?

Cherry: Decluttering, getting organised and getting rid of stuff we don’t need is all about change – something many people find difficult to cope with. Change can mean having to alter habits formed over a lifetime, and the thought of parting with possessions we’re attached to or we’ve worked hard to surround ourselves with can seem frightening.

Some articles that we may not actually need, may still be things we want to keep, as there are always likely be circumstances beyond our control – such as sudden bereavement – when we just aren’t quite ready to see some special items disappear from our lives completely, and when we can’t see the wood from the trees to make important decisions on things like what to do with family heirlooms.

This is just one example of when putting things into storage can be a good temporary solution.

Then, when the time is right for you, letting go of unwanted items from the past can make you feel liberated, free you to face the future and make you feel more energised.

MissMo: What are your top tips for people that want to de-clutter but don’t know where to start? 

Cherry: The most difficult step is making the decision to have a go and make a start, so it’s best to do it gradually, and set realistic and achievable goals so you feel proud of what you’ve done, and gain more confidence as you go along.

  • Do it with someone else if you can (especially if there are physical limitations to what you can do for yourself), preferably someone impartial who you trust that doesn’t have their own agenda for you or your stuff, and will help you stay motivated.
  • Audit everything in storage to see what you have (group like-for-like items together, so you can see exactly what you have), and then get rid of unwanted possessions completely (by recycling, Freecycling, sending them to charity shops, selling them, etc). Doing it a little at a time will take the pressure off you, and help you avoid feeling anxious or guilty.
  • But remember, hanging onto unwanted things for too long can cost you money unnecessarily through storage charges, and hold you back from moving on – both emotionally and spiritually.

MissMo: What do you see as being the types of circumstances when people might legitimately make use of self-storage?

Cherry: There are two major reasons for a legitimate use of storage facilities in the decluttering process:

  1. On the practical side, our lives can take us anywhere: a business posting overseas; a member of the family travels on a gap year; university; relationship breakdown; the death of a parent.
  2. On the emotional side, one needs to be ready for decluttering. There are some decisions that can’t, and sometimes shouldn’t, be made instantly. If storage helps you to achieve clarity in your living space, allowing you then to gradually filter the more difficult belongings back in (or out), then there is nothing wrong with that.

MissMo: Why do you think TV programmes about hoarding are proving to be so popular? – Have your members and your organisation seen an increased interest as a result of it?

Cherry: The hoarder programmes on tv feature chronic obsessive compulsive hoarders whose lives and homes they live in are utterly incomprehensible to most of the people who watch them – and have even become a compelling voyeuristic fascination for some people!

Despite the fact that hoarding can be a symptom of anxiety or mental illness, viewer reactions range from finding it difficult to believe that people live like that, to being sympathetic about their situation, or – sadly – very abusive of the people featured in the programmes (calling them lazy, or worse..).

Fortunately, whilst the lives of the hoarders in these programmes have been changed by events that have turned their possessions into obsessions, their lives have been equally transformed through a combination of the counselling help provided by programmes like “The Hoarder Next Door” and the award-winning “Britain’s Biggest Hoarders” and the professional organisers (all Members of apdo-uk) who work with them in their homes to physically clear the clutter, and help them change the way they see themselves, and their lives, homes and possessions.

There has definitely been an increase in the amount of publicity and press articles about decluttering since the hoarder programmes have been on tv, which has also seen an increase in the amount of research being carried out into hoarding in the UK, the number of enquiries for the services of apdo-uk Members and people wanting to become professional organisers.

Mind you, apdo-uk Members don’t just work with hoarders! We work with all kinds of people who are constrained by things like time (juggling work and family commitments to ensure a work-life balance that works for them), physical ability, emotionl attachment, chronic disorganisation issues or medical problems, or simply need some advice or motivation to get them started or provide them with workable organising solutions to make their lives easier.

Forums such as Help for Hoarders and Children of Hoarders offer a place for people affected by hoarding to connect with others in a similar position, whilst AnxietyUK works to support people affected by anxiety disorders, including hoarding.

MissMo: What do you see as the benefits of using a community based, up-your-street service like Storenextdoor over renting a commercial unit (apart from price)?

Cherry: Renting space to store things in is nothing new – people have been renting lock-up garages for years – and commercial units have become extremely popular in recent years. They offer a range of options from locker-sized units to full warehouses, often with 24 hour access and security.

Renting space in someone else’s home is a more recent development in the UK, and offers community-spirited people who have spare space the opportunity to earn a little extra money, and help members of their local community wishing to store things they don’t have room for.

And who doesn’t want to make their community a friendlier and safer place to live in?!

MissMo: Who indeed? Thank you to Cherry for some a comprehensive overview. If you are interested in getting someone round to help with your de-cluttering you can contact a member of the OPDO near you. 


An introduction to OPDO (The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers UK)

apdo-uk works with a number of charities and NFP organisations, to:

  • Increase awareness of the situation faced by many with these types of sensitive issues, and keep health and care matters in the public eye and in parliament
  • Enable clients to obtain funding for our services
  • Provide information and advice based on the direct experiences of apdo-uk Members who regularly work with people affected by these difficulties
  • Arrange effective and appropriate training for our Members and others interested in these types of sensitive issues
  • Promote donations to charity-shops and recycling

apdo-uk  also collaborates with professional organising affiliate associations in the USA, Australia, The Netherlands, South Africa and Canada; all of us conform to strict Codes of Ethics, to guide professional conduct with clients, colleagues and the wider community.

For further information and to find a professional organiser near you:
Phone: 020 8123 4591
(Leave a message and someone will return your call)

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