7 Signs You May Be a Secret Hoarder

Your home looks neat and orderly, so you can’t possibly be a hoarder, right? Maybe there’s a little clutter here and there, but nothing too overwhelming.

Still, if you’ve watched those programs showcasing hoarders’ homes, you may wonder if you have secret stasher tendencies. Take the quiz to find out!

1. Shipping and Gift Boxes

If you have a stash of empty boxes somewhere—for shipping, gift wrapping, or “storing” things—you may be a hoarder. See if this is one of your “secret signs.”

I have:

  1. __ 1–5 boxes tucked away for future use in a single location.
  2. __ 6–12 boxes because I ship things (or give gifts) regularly.
  3. __ 13–25 boxes in multiple storage spots—because empty boxes take up some room!
  4. __ I can’t possibly count that high or find them in all the locations where they’re stashed.

2. Plastic Shopping Bags

Sure, these are handy—if you reuse them. If you return your bags to the store, recycle them, or line your bathroom garbage can with them, it makes sense to keep a small supply. But a plethora of these filmy little clutter creators may indicate that you lean toward hoarding.

I have:

  1. __ 1–10 bags, all in one tidy location.
  2. __ 11–50 bags in a tube holder specially designed to collect plastic bags.
  3. __ 51–100 bags in multiple spots because I ran out of space in the original location.
  4. __ Are you kidding me? Count my plastic bags? No thanks, I already have a full-time job.

3. Pens and Pencils

Writing tools matter, especially when you need one and can’t find it. But, when you have too many, you may feel like you are swimming in pens and pencils. Also, if you don’t have specific spots for your writing utensils, they may migrate everywhere. So, let’s find out if you have a hoarding issue in the writing implements department.

I have:

  1. __ 1–2 pens or pencils. They are always with me or within reach.
  2. __ 3–50 pens or pencils. They are corralled in a cup or secured where they are used (attached to a notepad, for example). They all work and are in perfect condition.
  3. __ 51–100 pens and pencils. They are scattered everywhere. Some write some don’t. That’s why I need so many; to get a “good” one when I need it!
  4. __ How many? I have no idea. Probably hundreds. Seriously. I have a big house, a car, an office, a purse, and other places to collect them.

4. The Rag Bag (or Box)

Rags are a practical way to repurpose items like stained clothes, worn-out linens, t-shirts, and other fabric items that have outlived their original purpose, giving them a new lease on life. So it’s recycling at its best, right? Well, that depends.

I have:

  1. __ A small collection that I use regularly. I recycle the rest or donate my excess towels and bedding to my local humane society (or similar organization).
  2. __ A stack of rags that overflows the container where I store them.
  3. __ A lot, a whole lot. But you can never have too many rags, right?
  4. __ Yeah, I have an absurd number of “rags,” plus stacks of items that I haven’t yet cut up yet, and even more in my closet that probably should be ragged, but I’ll get to them eventually. Rags don’t expire, so what’s the big rush?

5. Mugs

Mugs are popular gifts and travel souvenirs. They are funny, cute, elegant, and sometimes raunchy. Mugs are the “bumper sticker” of the kitchen and the office. They indicate your interests, your mood, and your sense of style. Unfortunately, they also tend to overflow their intended space and clutter up your countertops. They may also be a strong indicator of hoarder tendencies.

I have:

  1. __ A favorite mug. Who needs more than one?
  2. __ A couple of favorites at home, one at the office, and enough extras for a few guests.
  3. __ Dozens. I “collect” mugs. It’s my thing. Do you want to see my collection?
  4. __ A kitchen cabinet full of mugs, a few boxes of them in the attic, one or two boxes in the garage, and several more in the storage unit I rent.

6. The Junk Drawer

Junk drawers are a controversial topic. People either love them or hate them. You’ll seldom find neutral opinions on this household “catch-all” container for all the things that don’t have any other place to be. It’s contained clutter: seldom organized and often overflowing.

Like the typical junk drawer, all household clutter results from items not having a designated place or procrastination. (“I’ll just stick it here for now and decide where it belongs later.”)

Is there a “junk drawer” in your life?

  1. __ I do not have a junk drawer.
  2. __ Yes, I have one, but everything is organized into compartments, and it’s more like a household tool drawer, now that I think of it. I use it all the time.
  3. __ A junk drawer? Heck yeah, I have three of them! I love my junk drawers. It’s like treasure hunting. Every time I need something, the chances are good that I’ll find it in one of those babies.
  4. __ I’m pretty sure every drawer in my house qualifies—and I have a LOT of drawers! But, as long as you don’t open any drawers (or closets), my house LOOKS sort of neat.

7. Storage Containers

Not every hoarding situation is obvious. Even the sneakiest of hoarders (also called “hoarders in denial”) can be identified by evaluating the number of storage bins, storage shelves, and storage do-dads a person has. You see, not all hoarders are clutter bugs, nor do they stuff items into closets, under beds, or in (junk) drawers.

Sophisticated savers might be “organized hoarders.”

These folks have tons of tote bins, all appropriately labeled (of course) and stackable. They have tons of stuff, but it’s all easy to find. The 27 rolls of holiday paper are stored in a container near the 20-gallon tote full of new (and used) bows, which reside on the ribbon box of equal size and shape.

They’ve stored every size of clothing they have ever worn in the attic, separated by size in individual containers. Seven totes of holiday decorations are neatly stacked and labeled. Extra linens and all 11 huge bins are at the ready, should they ever be needed. (Tip: Organized hoarding is still hoarding, it’s just easier to deny.)

How many large storage containers do you have?

  1. __ I do not need or want storage bins.
  2. __ Yes, I have a few. One for out-of-season clothes, one for holiday decorations, and one for sentimental items.
  3. __ My attic, garage, and basement are full of them, but I’m so organized!
  4. __ I am passionate about organizing things—lots of things. And boxes, totes, and bags? I love arranging those too!

After taking the quiz, tally your answers by “mainly A answers,” or “mainly B answers,” and so on.

Here are your results:

  • Mainly A Answers: You are probably a “minimalist” instead of a “hoarder.” Buy a throw pillow, turn on your favorite soundtrack, and chill out!
  • Mainly B Answers: So sorry, you are pretty normal. You will have to find a label other than “hoarder” to describe yourself.
  • Mainly C Answers: You might be a hoarder or a hoarder in training. You are a lover of “stuff” and probably deal with lots of clutter in your life (and may spend too much time looking for things you have misplaced).
  • Mainly D Answers: We are not qualified to provide an official “hoarder” diagnosis, but you may want to consult with someone who is!

Note: This quiz was designed for entertainment value only and pokes fun at ourselves and the people we know and love. We hope you enjoyed it!