How to Deal with Clutter Hotspots

Clutter hotspots are areas where junk always piles up. Learn how to get rid of them forever in 3 easy steps.

It’s Day 23 of our 30 Day Decluttering Series, and it’s time to talk about clutter hotspots.

Clutter hotspots are the surfaces in your home that ALWAYS seem to collect a bunch of papers and other random objects, no matter what you do. This will usually be a flat surface like a table or a counter—but it could be your closet floor, a couch, or even the corner of your bedroom.

In my house, the living room radiators are my hottest hotspots. Everyone just sets everything down on them because they are so conveniently located. One is right next to the front door, and the other is right next to the stairway.

Ideally, I’d deal with them on a daily basis—and I do try. It often depends on my level of busyness that day, though. On the days that I work I am much less likely to clean up the radiator mess than I am on the days I don’t work.

When my children are assigned the living room as their zone, cleaning off the radiators is part of that. Unfortunately, their usual M.O. is to take things off the radiators, walk into my office, and set them on the table in there. So, technically, the table in the office is the hottest hotspot in the entire house, I stand corrected.

It takes a bit of time and some discipline to deal with these clutter hotspots, but it can be done. Just make sure you realize that they are quite persistent and you’ll have to give them a little more attention than other areas in your home.

Flat surfaces are clutter with them on a regular basis!

3 Ways to Get Rid of Clutter Hotspots

1. Resist the urge to set things down where they do not belong.

Instead, take the extra 30 seconds to put it away. This will not only help keep your hotspots clear of stuff, but it will help you to actually find the item again when you need it.

If you’re finding that you always put your keys in the wrong place, figure out how to make the place you put them the correct place. Sometimes that is the best way to deal with these hotspots. Still, it is important to resist the urge to just offload everything on the dining room table. Learn to take those extra few seconds to get things put away properly and you’ll thank yourself later.

2. Don’t let the clutter build up—deal with it as soon as you can.

If things do start piling up on your hotspot area, clean it up immediately! Put the items away where they belong as soon as you notice there is a problem.

Flat surfaces are clutter catchers! Deal with them regularly.

3. Make clearing the hotspot part of your daily routine.

If it is a part of your regular cleaning routine to clear the hotspot, you will not need to worry about it becoming unmanageable.

A couple of other ideas:

My husband is a pile maker. I don’t feel I can put his stuff away, because I don’t usually know what is important to keep (most of the piles are papers). Early on in our marriage, I finally got him a basket to put his paper piles in. When it gets too full, it is his job to go through it and file things or throw them out or whatever. I don’t touch his papers.

In an effort to corral clutter, sometimes we make the problem worse. Be careful with using baskets to collect clutter.

It’s obviously getting to be time to clean it out.

And unfortunately, he has ANOTHER REALLY BIG basket in the dining room corner now. This one is there because he sort of started using the dining room as his home office, and more piles began to appear.

Don't let the clutter hot spots take over the house!

I want to take this basket away from him, though, and start using it for something else. And I also want him to start using the office table as his home office, since we actually have a home office, even though it’s mostly mine. I think the majority of the stuff in this gigantic basket can be taken to his office on campus, anyway.

All of the other photos in this post are of my hotspots. My two living room radiators, anyway. They aren’t the only hotspots in the house. And, unfortunately, as I’m writing this they are still looking just about the same. Why? Well, because I went to work, drove children all over the world for music lessons and such, taught a class for church, and sewed Halloween costumes instead of clearing my clutter.

But I promise that I will clean it today. Especially since we are hosting a Halloween party here on Friday night! (Ack! That’s tomorrow.)(FYI, I have a LOT more to get this house ready for guests than just cleaning off the radiators.)(Unfortunately.)

Today’s assignment:

  • Locate your hotspots.
  • Clean them off—put everything where it goes.
  • Add the hotspots to your daily routine.
A 31 Day Challenge to help you get rid of clutter and find more peace in your life.

Find all of the posts in this 31 Day Challenge here: A Place for Everything: 31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace.

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Hilda Rodgers

Great tips Lara! Hot spots are contagious I find… they start to spread when they aren't taken care of. Our worst spots are by the front door and on the kitchen table. I try to keep them cleared daily, but like you said, it depends on how busy that day is. Working on it though 🙂


Those front door spaces are the worst. And when you miss one day of cleaning them off, the mess migrates. I guess I have to reconcile myself with the fact that there will always be one hot spot,but if I deal with it promptly, it won't create more.

Hilda Rodgers

I read that on another organizing blogger's site once… she has a little table by the door for things to be dumped, but she makes sure she deals with it every day so it doesn't build up. That made me feel better… we're not denying that hot spots exist… just acknowledging that and putting a plan in place to deal with them consistently!

Trained Professional Organizer and Blogger