Pack Rat or Hoarder? Help from Professional Organizers Near Me

Pack Rat or Hoarder? Help from Professional Organizers Near Me

Honestly, we don’t like labels. we will rarely refer to someone as a hoarder, unless we observe the characteristics shown on the Clutter-Hoarding Scale developed by the Institute for Challenging Disorganization.

More often, we encounter people who are pack rats – they hold onto things for some future intended purpose that might or might not ever surface. Some people can have an amazing quantity of stuff, but still not exhibit hoarding tendencies.

Pack Rat or Hoarder? Help from Professional Organizers Near Me

pack rat or packrat


  1. Also called trade rat, wood rat. A large, bushy-tailed rodent, Neotoma cinerea, of North America, noted for carrying off small articles to store in its nest.
  2. Informal. a person who saves things that are not needed or used but that may have personal or other value.
  3. Informal. an old prospector or guide.

The above is from the entry for “pack rat” and we take issue with its second definition, because we all have some items that have sentimental or personal value that might not be needed or used. That’s the way people are, some more so than others.

If we were to write a dictionary, our definition of being a pack rat would be when many things (from a now grown child’s collection of preschool art work to a drawer stuffed with many take-out packets of plastic silverware) are kept long past when they can be appreciated or used.

Memories and Clutter

Karen’s parents were children of the Great Depression, so she grew up in a very cluttered home because they were taught that everything had value. If something broke (like a TV or radio, toaster, or other small appliance), her parents didn’t dispose of it; they put it up in the attic. When she and her brother grew out of toys or clothes (as children will), they were boxed up and stored in the attic. It was a very big attic, and it was very full when their mother died and they had to clean out the house.

While it was fun for about 5 minutes to go through some of those boxes to find her groovy 70’s clothing and toys she’d once loved, it was a major effort to clean out that attic and entire house. Her parents were packrats, not hoarders, and they left behind a very full nest.

Future Usefullness

Pack rats are very rational in their belief that something might be useful someday, or they have plans for it when _________ (fill in the blank). The problem arises when they have held onto something for so long that they forget they have it, and then go and buy another one “just in case” or when it’s actually needed and they can’t find the one they had. What’s worse, arguments break out when family members try to help a pack rat pare back on their stuff and don’t see the need to keep everything “just in case.”

When to Get Professional Help

That’s where Professional Organizers come in – because we don’t have the emotional baggage that a family member might have in dealing with the pack rat and their stuff, we can gently and unemotionally go through the stuff with the pack rat and come up with suggestions for letting some of it go.

This is especially true with seniors, who have spent a lifetime accumulating things they once enjoyed, collected, or picked up on a trip somewhere long ago. There are stories and memories tied up with the items and they want to tell the stories that go along with the items. Professional Organizers can listen to the story, thereby validating the reason the person kept the item, and then guide the person through the decision process to determine if they’re ready to let it go for someone else to enjoy.

Professional Organizer or More?

So before you call your loved one a hoarder, take a look at the Clutter-Hoarding Scale to see what hoarding really encompasses. If they exhibit any of those behaviors, then perhaps it’s time to call in some professionals trained to work with hoarding tendencies – counselors, organizers, and maybe even the local jurisdiction if it’s a bad case – so that everyone can work to help the person through the problem and live a better life.

Great Falls Organizers is here to help you or a loved one with a pack rat’s nest, especially if it’s time to find a new nest that’s a little easier to keep up.

Packrat Help Near Me

Great Falls Organizers is a veteran in the Professional Organizing industry and ready to help you.

We’ll talk with you about your plans, your timeline, and any special circumstances that you feel need to be addressed. We use a caring, hands-on approach to organizing or decluttering your environment, your relocation, your senior transition, your downsizing, and so much more. We’re also Senior Move Manager Certified by NASMM. Call us at (703) 423-0383