Everyone knows a hoarder – someone who can’t resist a bargain, who stocks their house with pointless finds and refuses to throw anything away. Hoarding can lead to money trouble, bad hygiene, health risks, stress and anxiety, and a recent study has proven that it is having a negative effect on Irish people’s relationships.

The study, which was commissioned by self-storage provider NESTA, found that more than one third of Irish adults feel that their relationship has been impacted by the hoarding habits displayed by themselves or their partner.

The research showed that well over half of respondents found it hard to get rid of their possessions, while almost two-fifths considered themselves to be a hoarder.

Celebrity agent-turned-decorating-expert Melanie Cantor has come up with four different types of hoarder personalities:

1) Magpie hoarders: those who like shiny things and don’t want to part with them
2) Bargain basement hoarders: those who have a house full of “great deals” that they don’t need but that are “too good to miss”
3) Stockpiling squirrels: those who stock up on provisions “just in case”
4) Fearful ostriches: those who push their heads into the sand because they’re too terrified to let go of anything. 

Hoarding could be the result of a mental illness (compulsive hoarding disorder), sentimentality or bereavement. After the loss of a loved one, many people find it difficult to throw their possessions away, and keep them for years even when there is no space for them. Whatever the reason for hoarding, there are solutions.

Cantor, who presents the Channel 4 programme Making Space, offered some tips, "When people live with so much stuff for so long, they stop seeing it. Try to look at your house in a new light. People say ‘Oh, but I might need that.’ You don’t, and you won’t."

Cantor also suggested storing goods in labelled boxes and sorting through one box at a time, to make the de-cluttering process easier.

For those of us who live with hoarders, she added, "Tell them that their hoarding is cluttering up your lives, that it is difficult to live around. Or start ferreting around and throw out or give things away, and see if they miss them. Don't let them become human fly paper."

Kayla Walsh