Decluttering wars: Two thirds of people admit secretly binning their partners' hoarded treasures

Marie Claire Dorking
·3-min read
Two thirds of Brits admit to secretly throwing away their partner's stuff. (Getty Images)
Two thirds of Brits admit to secretly throwing away their partner's stuff. (Getty Images)

The UK is in the grips of a secret decluttering war as almost two thirds of cohabiting people admit to ditching their partner's hoarded treasures behind their back. 

Decluttering is likely to be high on many people's list of chores they're hoping to get round to this bank holiday, and some will be using the long weekend as an opportunity to clear-out their other half's worldly goods. 

New research, by Material Focus, the not for profit behind Recycle your Electricals, has uncovered just how frustrating people find it when their partner refuses to clear out old or redundant items cluttering and lying around at home.

A whopping 59% of those polled admitted they are guilty of being a “secret thrower”, with 54% claiming to have chucked out old tech including cables, games consoles, laptops and tablets.

While 32% have thrown out their other half’s old shoes and almost a quarter (24%)don't think twice about binning their partner's old DVDs.

Read more: What is döstädning, or Swedish Death Cleaning, and why is it causing such a decluttering buzz?

Gifts from old flames, dated photographs and wedding outfits are just some of the other items Brits have admitted to having secretly thrown away behind their other half's back. 

Other unusual secretly binned items include collectable glasses, tickets, stubs and wristbands from gigs, and old teddy bears.

Watch: The pandemic tactics parents are using to keep kids from cluttering their homes. 

But, unsurprisingly, it turns out chucking your partner's stuff could be the cause of relationship disharmony, as 47% of those questioned admitted arguing with their partner about hoarded clutter.

Not everyone was that concerned about the outcome of their clutter clearing, however, with 40% saying they were unsentimental about their partner's old photographs. 

Interestingly, while 56% of hoarders said they are happy to be in a relationship with clutter clearers, by comparison only one in ten clutter clearers (11%) could bear being coupled with a hoarder.

Read more: Simple ways to declutter your life

Clutter clearers shouldn't feel too smug about their secret binning habit as the research also found that many items which could be recycled are also being tossed, with only around a fifth of secret clearers recycling their partners' old electrical items.  

The top small electrical items being binned by the “secret throwers” are: cables (33%), electric toothbrushes (25%), remote controls (20%), electric shavers (19%) and old phones (16%). 

However, clutter clearers did have some eco credentials, opting to donate other items including old books (40%) and cookery books (33%) to charity shops.

Decluttering is causing relationship tension in some households. (Getty Images)
Decluttering is causing relationship tension in some households. (Getty Images)

Read more: How to declutter your wardrobe the Marie Kondo way

“Waste electricals are the fastest waste stream in the world, and we are losing some of the most precious materials on our planet - gold, silver and aluminium," says Scott Butler, executive director at Material Focus, who commissioned the study to mark the launch of their Little Spring Clean campaign. 

"Our research has shown that spring cleaning has increased by 20% compared to last year, so now is a great time to dig out your unwanted electricals, pop them in a bag and take them down to your nearest recycling drop off point. You can find your nearest recycling point by searching for Recycle Your Electricals and using our postcode locator.”

To make recycling of hoarded and unwanted electrics much easier for UK householders, Recycle Your Electricals have produced a printed, ethically sourced organic canvas tote bag, created by designer and zero-waste fashion campaigner Dame Zandra Rhodes.  

Watch: Avoid these dangerous mistakes while spring cleaning.