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Updated: Nov 23, 2022

Is it normal for a teenager to have a messy room?

Experts share their thoughts – and 6 steps to motivate them to tidy

If your teenager's bedroom is becoming just a bit too cluttered for your liking, these experts have the perfect tidying solutions

Chiana Dickson, Junior Writer

Although it is a bit of a stereotype that all teenagers have messy rooms, we're betting that every parent (or teen) reading this will find the theme familiar. Several of our team at H&G have teenagers with messy rooms, so we wondered: is it normal for a teenager to have a messy room? And how can we help them to be motivated to tidy it?

When we plan out bedroom ideas for teenagers the focus is usually on creating a cool, personalized space where they can express their individuality. Storage and organization, are usually high up on our list, not so much on theirs. What's more, teenage bedrooms often still house childhood toys and games that we are not quite ready to let go of, making organizing a bedroom more difficult.

Here, organization experts have offered their thoughts on whether or not it is normal for teenagers to be messy, and how they help families organize these spaces.


While it is normal for teenagers to have a messier room, not all teenagers are the same. In fact, some teenage girl bedrooms and teenage boy bedrooms can be tidier than the rest of the house!

'As a mom with one tidy and one super messy daughter, I’d say it is normal for some teens to be messy, says Mimi Bogelund, home organizer and member of The Spark Joy Collective(opens in new tab). 'No amount of nagging made any difference to get my messy daughter to tidy up so I’d collect any rubbish, plates, or cups daily and she’d do it occasionally of her own accord.

'A weekly or fortnightly reset, so her room could be properly cleaned, was done by me and sometimes unprompted by her. Nagging and arguments do not work. But equally, keep encouraging and requesting the teen to bring food, plates, and glasses out and laundry in the basket. Choose what’s important to fight over, in our case, food and laundry, and try to remain relaxed about the rest.'

'Having a messy teen is perfectly normal, a messy room is part of the remit of being a teenager!' Victoria Bance, APDO(opens in new tab) member and creator of Declutter & Organise with Victoria(opens in new tab) concurs. 'A teenager’s bedroom is their personal space and therefore it has to be a place they feel comfortable being in whether that be in a messy or tidy room.'

'Believe it or not, some teens (like me growing up for example!) like to keep their rooms neat and tidy but the phenomenon is that you might see teens with messy rooms,' Jamie Hord, CEO and founder of Horderly Professional Organizing(opens in new tab) continues. 'Some mess can be normal and usually a way to show a teenager's independence and claim their space but it's important to step in when you need to and never let it get to the point of being unhealthy.'

Lola Houlton, psychology student and one of H&G's regular contributors, has only just left her teens. Her teen bedroom was famously untidy. She says teenagers have good reasons for having messy bedrooms:

'Back then, my reason for having an untidy room was to do with time and effort. I reasoned that if I were to spend time tidying, I'd only mess it up again later, and it was far better, in my mind, to spend the time sleeping or making a great lunch for myself. Doing so put me in a good mood, while tidying had the opposite effect back then.

'However, it is about assertion of independence, too. As part of my studies, I read Carl E Pickhardt's article The Messy Room: Symbol of the Adolescent Age(opens in new tab) in which he suggests that a messy room may be to do with independence, individuality and opposition to parental rules. A parent coming in and putting their stamp on the space undermines this.'


If, however, you can't just let them be, there are plenty of home organizing ideas that are simple to implement and easy to make into buildable habits when introduced into a teenager's bedroom in the right way. Here, professional organizers suggest six ways you can encourage your teenager to keep a tidier space.


If you are trying to avoid having a messy teenager altogether, it is easier to start when they are children, encouraging them to take part in organizing small spaces, for example, Jamie Hord of Horderly Professional Organizing(opens in new tab) suggests.

'To keep a messy room under control is to first implement routine habits of cleanliness and organization as early as you can in childhood and be sure to set a good example for them by keeping your spaces and the rest of the house neat and clean,' Jamie explains. 'It's always easier to keep a space clean when it's organized so ensuring that you have the right systems in place so that everything has a proper home will make putting away and cleaning so much easier.'