5 Reasons People Don’t Pick Up After Themselves

5 Reasons People Don’t Pick Up After Themselves

(and what you can do about it)

It’s SO discouraging to spend time straightening up the house only to have it destroyed within minutes by your family!  Has that ever happened to you?  It happens to me all the time and I’m guessing I’m not alone.

I never want to lie to you so I’m going to tell you straight up that there’s no way to permanently solve this problem unless you get rid of your entire family and your pets.  I don’t know about you, but even though I want a clean house, I’m not willing to go that far.  So if you’re going to keep your family and pets, you’re going to have to live with a certain level of messiness.

However, there are things that can be done to make it better.  But first you’ll have to spend some time problem solving.

So let’s get started. Here are five reasons stuff doesn’t get put away.


Items don’t have a home.

It’s much easier to put things away if they have a home.  When I pick up a dog toy, I know it goes in the dog toy basket.  When I see a pair of scissors, I know they go in the kitchen, my sewing basket or my desk.  You get the idea.  If items have a home, they’ll be more likely to end up back in their home.

SOLUTION:  Be sure all items have a home.


Family members don’t know where things go.

This is a really simple issue to solve – you simply show them. I always assumed everyone in my family knew where stuff went but something happened one day that made me realize that wasn’t true.

SOLUTION: Make sure everyone knows where stuff goes.


Items are too hard to put away.

If you have to move a box to get to a box behind it and then have to open that box to put something away and then put it all back, you’re probably not going to be inclined to do it.

SOLUTION:  Make it as easy as possible to put things away.


Family members are in too big of a hurry.

This is my problem.  I’m usually going from thing to thing to thing so fast that I don’t take the time to stop and put things away.  Did you notice that I said “I don’t take the time to put things away?”  It’s not that I don’t have time – it’s that I don’t take the time.  I’m in such a hurry that it seems like putting something away is too time consuming. But the truth is – it doesn’t take that long and it saves time in the long run.

SOLUTION:  Slow down and finish what you’re doing before moving on the next thing.  Require that of your children, too.


Family members simply don’t care.

This is the biggest reason why stuff doesn’t get put away – especially if they know someone will come along behind them and put it away for them.  If the messy family member is your spouse, there’s not a lot you can do.  But if it’s your kids, you have lots of options.  Here are a few:

  • If they get an allowance, they get docked for leaving things out.
  • If they leave things out, they lose privileges.
  • If they leave things out, you confiscate them and make them pay to get them back.


These are just a few examples.  But if you have kids, you should NOT be picking up their stuff. Nor should you have to nag them to get them to do it.  Make rules and enforce them.  Then the rules are the bad guy – not you!

These five items are the most common reasons people clutter the house you just cleaned.  And using these solutions will definitely help.  But there are things you can do to take this to the next level.


Laundry on the Floor

Here’s what I’m talking about.  Let’s say your husband throws dirty clothes on the floor.  Ask him why he does that?  Ask him if there’s something you could do to make it easier for him to put them in a hamper.  There might be a really easy solution.  When my husband and I first got married, he threw his stuff on the floor NEXT to the hamper.  I asked him about it and he said it was too much trouble to raise the lid.  So I got a hamper without a lid.  Problem solved.  Maybe your husband throws his clothes on the floor because there isn’t a hamper near where he changes clothes.  The point is – try to find a solution.


Empty Toilet Paper Roll

How about this one – no one in the family replaces the empty toilet paper roll.  If you asked, I bet they would all say that it’s too much trouble to go get the toilet paper and put it on.  The solution to that is to keep the toilet paper really close to the toilet (if you can) and possibly get a toilet paper holder like this one:

5 Reasons People Don’t Pick Up After Themselves

I have to admit that sometimes I don’t replace the roll in the master bathroom because it has a traditional holder that’s a pain.  But I always replace it in the main bathroom because it’s so easy.


Papers Everywhere

Do your kids come home from school and dump papers everywhere? Does the mail get thrown here and there? Set up a box in a convenient location for all papers.  My daughter-in-law has a basket on her table.  All papers go in the basket.  It may not be organized, but if she needs something, she knows it’s probably there.

So to solve the clutter problem at your house, figure out what clutter/messes you’re dealing with and see if you can come up with a solution.  Your house will never be perfect, but you can at least make it a little better!!!

What are some of your organizing strategies for family-made clutter?

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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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3 thoughts on “5 Reasons People Don’t Pick Up After Themselves

  1. homey – good post! again reinforces, for every problem there’s a solution. good point about time and what we tell ourselves “i don’t have time” costing more time in the long run. will link

    1. Isn’t that the truth! My husband is extremely organized and he always cleans up after himself rather than saying he doesn’t have time now. I’m trying to follow his example.

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