Other people's stuff: HELP!


I am seeking counsel in outright manipulation of my spouse’s packrat behavior. He’s one step away from saving dryer lint. I was cleaning his medicine chest the other day and found stuff in there that had expired in 1991!

The attic, garage, and basement are jammed to the doors with junk. The main body of the house is fairly decent but in the dining room there is junk in front of junk (fine crystal and porcelain) on the breakfront and sideboards. The big armoire has old LPs that haven’t been played in years. Every table and bed with floor space under it harbors books and more “stuff.”

He keeps stuff other people unload because he doesn’t want to hurt their feelings (Heck! they only gave us those 8 half-empty bottles of Cherry Heering and Creme de Menthe and other gag-worthy potions because THEY didn’t want 'em! And how about that portable TV from 1979 wrapped in garbage bags? Over 100 shirts (I might want to wear one some day)? Shoes from 1976?


How can I coax him to let go? (Please, no jokes, guys! I KNOW the only reason he keeps me around is because he never gets rid of ANYTHING!)

I’m beginning to think that in his case the initials OCD might not stand for Order of Discalced Carmelites!

Anybody else live with this? How do you cope? If the fire marshall ever comes to my garage, he’ll condemn it.


I struggle with keeping way too much stuff myself. I know it’s a control issue but maybe a packrat simply has to reach the point of being disgusted with the clutter.


This seems like a mental health issue (on his part). Like with any other medical issue, you should seek help from a trained professional…


Are you married? When your spouse throws something away, do you reclaim it from the trash and hide it?

I have to pack up MY throw-aways and walk 'em down the block to a neighbor’s house on trash night if I don’t want the stuff coming back into the house.


I would just let him know that you HAVE to spring clean some of this stuff. Let him know it’s an oppressive environment for you and not fair for the both of you to live like this.

You most likely will need to have him go away on a fishing weekend so he won’t be able to see your spring cleaning. It will be less painful for him. Obviously much of it will go in the trash, and the better items that are useful will go to charity. BUT you might also consider eBaying off some stuff for those that are interested in portable TV’s from the 70’s.

You could make up a little tally of the stuff you sell and how much you got for it and maybe he will get caught up in the spirit of turning this trash in to treasure.

Maybe you could put all that eBay profits into a little account set aside for a nice little dinner for the both of you to celebrate, or a cool gadget for him. Something that he would like to look forward into getting.

Heck, if you have a TON of stuff to sell of to eBay, then don’t be hesitant to have those eBay profits pay for half of a ginormous plasma flatscreen man drooling machine. It will be totally worth it to take that hit and clean out the whole house at the same time.


This is from Squalor Survivors: It’s not me. There are a variety of links for you, too. It sounds like it could be a hoarding issue.


I like that e-Bay idea! In fact, we have discussed it since we shipped a lot of “good” junk when my FIL moved away and parked stuff he didn’t want in our garage. He thought it was a wonderful benefaction. :rolleyes:

Maybe if we turn a $$ or two from stuff HE doesn’t want, he’ll get the bug to purge some of the pricesless stuff he DOES think he wants.

My dream: Being able to walk up the attic stairs without having to move all the stuff parked there.


Back umpty years ago, when we were getting our first dryer, my friend Elba & I cleaned out the cellar, to make room for it. (I had 12 bushels of recycling that week; my stepfather had saved every detergent bottle he had ever had in his life, :rolleyes: “just in case [he] ever needed them”.
She said to me, “He’s going to go right out there tonight & bring things back in, isn’t he?..Let’s take your junk all over to my house, & put it out in our trash!”…
She called me about 9:30 that same night, and said,:eek: “Guess where my husband is!”…
Yeah, he was…He was outside sorting through OUR garbage, out in front of their house.
After dark.
With a big, big flashlight.
And an auto troublelight, on three extension cords, from the plug on the back porch.

He saved the things. He kept them in their barn for years…“Just in case [he] ever needed them for anything”.
We threw them out a couple years ago. He was in the hospital, & I went over there, & we picked the stuff up, & brought it back here, & and put it out with the garbage.
:eek: Fifteen years after it went for trash in the first place.

:shrug: What can I tell you??:shrug: My garbage can is your garbage can, any time you want to use it…


Yes, I am. We both have a tendency to hoard. And we both sort of do that with each other’s stuff, but not from the actual outside trash—only from the ‘giveaway’ pile.

I think we’ve donated about ten pallets worh of stuff to Vietnam Vets, including about six moving-size cartons of books. This must mean we’ve gotten better.

I wish you good luck. And if you discover anything that really works, let me know.


You win!


A co-worker turned the corner on her block one night coming home from work and discovered that her house was in ashes. Nothing left. All that could be salvaged was a box of silver flatware (some of which was still useable). Of course, she was shattered.

When I visited her office about 18 months later and asked how she was handling the aftermath, she said: “This should happen to everybody every three years!”


Uhhhm… :eek:

Methinks I’d ruther get rid of the stuff on my own.


My DH is also pack-rat central.

Junk does not bother him. It bothers me. Therefore, I don’t coax him to get rid of stuff, I get rid of it myself.

However, I do it in a respectful way. I create a pile, tell him that I need him to go through the pile and save what he wants/needs and that on X day I’m throwing the pile away. Then, I throw the pile away.

It works great for us-- he rarely takes anything out of the piile, and sometimes never even looks at the pile. I’ve pre-screened and don’t throw away anything useful, particularly sentimental, or important (bills, etc).

As for junk, I take it to Goodwill. If it hasn’t been used in X amoutn of time-- it goes.

Expired medicine & food-- I don’t even ask, that goes in the garbage automatically.

Get your DH’s agreement that you can be the one to purge things that are not needed/used.


As for old meds: I don’t feel the need to ask. Out they go. He only sqwaks a little.

Agreed: no dumping anything without having him review the matter. Right now I’m working on a chair that is hideous, hasn’t been sat in for 20 years, and is still parked in front of the library desk, which hasn’t been used as a desk for 20 years: its a piling depot for papers. He does all his desk work in the dining room and upstairs where the computer is attached to the Internet.


Two thoughts help me get rid of stuff:

For the gifts that I really don’t need or want–“It’s the thought I’ll treasure.” :slight_smile:

For the good stuff that I have lots of–“If I’m not going to use it/ wear it/etc. then it’s kind of selfish for me to keep it until no one else can use it.” :o

My grandmother is a HUGE packrat and going through her garage (of a house that she’d abandoned for 15 years because she’d seen a rat) definitely nipped any packrat tendancies in the bud for me. It just seemed so selfish…although it could very well be a mental thing…that she was holding onto everything without seeming to care that it could help others as it certainly wasn’t helping her. :shrug:


I agree. It could be rooted in anxiety. If it is and he doesn’t get help, you could get rid of the stuff but it would accumulate again.


Maybe he would respond to the truth that there is an immorality owning all that stuff, and perhaps he could be motivated to take the high road with it all. He could (with your help):

  • give it to others who can really use it

  • sell it cheap in a yard sale and make lots of people really happy. – I just had a huge yard sale selling stuff for little, and even though it was such hard work I made little money for, seeing people really happy to get a great deal on my cast off, knowing it was perfect for their need when for me it was excess, felt great! So, that porcelin piece back behind the four others might become someones very favorite thing and be given a place of honor in their home. That picture frame stacked behind the buffet could bring joy to a person whose life otherwise if filled with sorrows. Etc.!

  • sell the stuff on ebay, and pick a worthy charity to send it to. Feed the poor and support the Lord’s work.

    Getting rid of all that stuff will take a long time, but if he’s motivated he can do it.


sinse I left my husband back in july 2006, I have been hording things. I am very worried about money since I am trying to support my daughter without any financial help from her father.

during this whole time I have been living with family to save money. every week I purchase things like shampoo and toilet paper, even if I don’t need it. I have even bought extra socks, underware, soap, ect… you name it I’m stocking up. then I haul it all off to my storage unit where all my furnature is. I can’t stop myself. I keep thinking that If I don;t have any money when my daughter and I are living on our own at least I won’t have to buy soap.

I think hording is a money issue. at least mine is. I’m afraid of not being able to buy my kid the things she needs, so i’m buying it all now. I know this is silly…

I will say I am extremly organized though.


The main rooms of the house have always been within striking distance of presentable (even though we have to commandeer the guest room for holidays to use it for a holding pen – with the door locked so company can’t see the mess!) but the drawers of the sideboards, breakfront, the armoire, the secretary desk and kitchen cupboards are appalling.

Don’t even talk about the garage, attic and cellar!

I have downsized everything that belongs to “me”. I have cleared out 70% of the stuff my daughter left behind when she moved to L.A. 3 years ago to make her fortune in the movies (and she’s doing OK, so I don’t have to hold on to her high school uniforms in case she comes back home). Now I have to deal with the 90% of the “stuff” – 60% of which is superfluous – that belongs to DH.

I was meditating on the Gospel: “sell all that thou hast” a couple of years ago and realized that “all that I have” would probably fit into one low-bed U-Haul. I live surrounded by beautiful things, but almost none of it is mine.

I rarely get to use my beautiful Tiffany sterling flatware because DH has 4 sets of flatware (all lovely, mind you) that he prefers to mine.

Anybody know how I can find someone who would put stuff up on e-Bay for us on commission?


You would probably be much better off saving the cash and buying Treasury Bonds or something similar. Certainly you’ll always need soap, but you can also always find something like that on sale somewhere or at the dollar store. You might even do better to sell your furniture and either let go of your storage space (and the rent from it) or get a smaller unit.

I know that things have a sentimental value and you certainly have had your life in upheaveal enough over the past year, I’m sure. Perhaps it is time now to see a financial planner and come up with a more long-term plan.

I will be praying for you.

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