In a world filled with constant stimulation, information overload, and never-ending to-do lists, it’s no wonder many of us struggle with stress and anxiety. Our physical environments often mirror our mental states, and for many people, a cluttered home or office can exacerbate feelings of overwhelm. On the flip side, a clean, organized space has been shown to have significant psychological benefits. Research by the Princeton Neuroscience Institute revealed that tidying up can boost productivity and well-being by reducing visual stressors and creating a sense of control.

In this post, we’ll explore the connection between decluttering and mental health and offer practical tips on how to create a tidy space that promotes well-being.

The Science Behind Decluttering and Mental Health

Visual Stress Reduction

A study conducted by UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF) found a direct correlation between clutter and stress levels. Participants who described their homes as cluttered showed elevated levels of cortisol, a stress hormone associated with anxiety. According to the research, “the visual chaos of clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli, leading to stress and anxiety.” The constant visual reminders of unorganized items create a sense of overwhelming unfinished tasks, which results in higher stress levels, particularly in mothers. The study also discovered that mothers use terms like “mess,” “chaotic,” and “not fun” to describe their cluttered homes, highlighting the psychological burden of clutter.

Elevated cortisol levels directly correlate with clutter because visual chaos triggers a stress response due to overstimulation. When the brain is constantly exposed to disorganized environments filled with excessive stimuli, it becomes overwhelmed, leading to the activation of the body’s stress response system. This overstimulation creates a sense of mental overload, as the brain tries to process and make sense of every object in the cluttered space. As a result, cortisol levels increase, perpetuating a state of anxiety and tension.

Why This Happens

  1. Overstimulation of the Senses

    • Visual Overload: Clutter visually bombards our senses with a multitude of stimuli, forcing our brain to constantly process and filter through the visual chaos. This overstimulation leads to cognitive fatigue, similar to decision fatigue, and contributes to rising stress levels.
  2. Perception of Unfinished Tasks:

    • Constant Reminder: Each piece of clutter represents unfinished tasks or responsibilities that need attention. This continuous reminder can cause feelings of guilt and anxiety, which in turn stimulate the release of cortisol.
  3. Lack of Control:

    • Sense of Helplessness: A cluttered environment often makes people feel like their space is out of control. This lack of control triggers a stress response as the brain perceives the inability to manage one’s environment as a threat.
  4. Mental Energy Drain:

    • Decision Fatigue: The brain must make numerous micro-decisions about what to focus on or ignore, draining mental energy and increasing cortisol levels.


Sense of Control and Mastery

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that tidying up provides individuals with a sense of control and mastery over their environment. The study, titled “No Place Like Home: Home Tours Correlate With Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol,” noted that “women who felt their home environment was restful had lower levels of stress.” The sense of accomplishment gained from tidying up helps reduce anxiety and improve mood by providing psychological relief and reinforcing the idea of control over one’s environment.

Tidying up creates a sense of control and mastery, which psychologically counters feelings of chaos, thus improving mood and providing relief from stress. When people tidy up their living or working spaces, they reclaim control over their environment. This process provides a psychological sense of accomplishment and order, helping to counter the overwhelming feelings that often accompany clutter.

Why This Happens:

  1. Sense of Accomplishment:

    • Completion of Tasks: Tidying up allows individuals to check off a task from their mental to-do list, providing a sense of achievement and mastery.
  2. Restores Control:

    • Environment Management: By organizing and decluttering, people can manage their surroundings, reducing feelings of helplessness and chaos.
  3. Creates Mental Clarity:

    • Less Visual Noise: An organized space reduces visual distractions, freeing up mental energy and creating a sense of calm.
  4. Positive Feedback Loop:

    • Mood Boost: The positive feelings from tidying up reinforce the behavior, leading to further organization and consistent mood improvement.


Productivity Boost:

A Princeton University study by the Neuroscience Institute revealed that a clutter-free environment can boost productivity by reducing visual competition for our attention. The study stated, “Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation.” When our surroundings are cluttered, it becomes difficult to focus on tasks due to the constant distractions, leading to decreased productivity. Conversely, an organized space allows for improved concentration and focus, ultimately increasing productivity.

A clutter-free environment reduces visual distractions, allowing the brain to focus on tasks more efficiently, which boosts productivity. When there are fewer items vying for attention, our cognitive resources can be fully dedicated to the task at hand. This mental clarity leads to improved concentration and workflow.

Why This Happens:

  1. Reduced Cognitive Load:

    • Less Visual Competition: With fewer stimuli in the visual field, the brain can focus on important tasks rather than filtering out distractions.
  2. Streamlined Workflow:

    • Easier Access to Tools: An organized workspace makes it easier to locate documents, tools, or information, leading to more efficient task completion.
  3. Improved Decision-Making:

    • Minimizes Decision Fatigue: With a clutter-free space, there are fewer decisions to make regarding what to focus on, reducing mental fatigue.
  4. Enhanced Creativity:

    • Mental Space for Ideas: Less clutter provides more mental space for creative thinking and innovative problem-solving.


Decluttering Techniques for Mental Well-Being

1. The KonMari Method:

  • Marie Kondo’s method emphasizes keeping only items that “spark joy.”
  • Take one category at a time (e.g., clothes) and keep only what you truly value.

2. The Four-Box Method:

  • Use four boxes labeled Keep, Donate, Sell, and Trash.
  • Tackle one room at a time, making quick decisions for each item.

3. The One-In-One-Out Rule:

  • For every new item brought into your space, remove one existing item.

4. 10-Minute Tidy-Ups:

  • Dedicate 10 minutes each day to tidying up a specific area.
  • Consistent, small efforts can prevent clutter from accumulating.

Decluttering and Productivity

An organized environment is conducive to improved productivity. Here’s how:

Reduced Decision Fatigue:

  • Clutter increases the number of minor decisions we have to make daily.
  • By minimizing distractions, you free up mental energy for important tasks.

Streamlined Workflows:

  • An organized workspace makes it easier to locate tools and documents.
  • This saves time and reduces frustration.

Enhanced Focus:

  • A clutter-free space minimizes distractions, allowing you to concentrate.

Decluttering and Relationships

Improved Communication:

  • Clutter can be a source of conflict, especially in shared spaces.
  • A tidy environment reduces arguments and encourages positive communication.

Increased Hospitality:

  • Decluttering makes it easier to host guests and strengthens social connections.

Shared Responsibility:

  • Collaborating on decluttering projects fosters teamwork and understanding.

Maintaining a Clutter-Free Space

Establish Daily Routines:

  • Implement daily habits like making the bed, washing dishes, and putting things back where they belong.

Regular Purges:

  • Schedule quarterly purges to eliminate items that no longer serve you.

Create Storage Solutions:

  • Use baskets, shelves, and boxes to organize frequently used items.

Digital Declutter:

  • Organize your digital files, emails, and desktop to reduce visual noise.

The Role of Cleaning Services in Decluttering

Good Cleaner Co’s Personalized Approach:

  • Non-Judgmental Service: We understand that life can get hectic, and we’re here to help without judgment.
  • Efficiency and Affordability: Our team offers high-quality cleaning services tailored to your specific needs.
  • Honesty and Integrity: We believe in building long-lasting relationships through honesty and reliability.

How We Can Help:

  • Deep Cleaning: Our deep cleaning service will reset your space, removing hidden dust and grime.
  • Regular Maintenance: Scheduled cleanings keep your home or office consistently tidy.
  • Organizational Assistance: We provide practical organization tips and solutions to maintain your space.

Decluttering is more than just a trendy buzzword; it’s a powerful tool for improving mental health and overall well-being. A tidy space can reduce stress, enhance focus, and foster better relationships. Whether you’re tackling clutter on your own or need assistance, embracing a clutter-free lifestyle can bring peace and productivity into your life.

For those seeking support in their decluttering journey, Good Cleaner Co is here to help. Our personalized, efficient, and affordable cleaning services can make a world of difference. Contact us today to find out how we can assist you in creating a tidy, tranquil space.


  1. UCLA Center on Everyday Lives and Families.
  2. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
  3. Princeton University Neuroscience Institute.