How to clean a hoarder’s house? Step-by-Step Guide

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How to clean a hoarder's house? Step-by-Step Guide

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The fastest way to clean a hoarder’s house depends on the circumstances affecting each situation. The main criterion is whether the hoarder is involved in the cleaning process. Helping a person process their behavior and needs can be a long process while the actual clutter removal is a relatively short process. 

What is a “hoarder”?

A hoarder has difficulty parting with objects, typically in their living area. The negative aspect of this difficulty is that it can create unsafe living conditions for themselves and others. Hazardous conditions can include; narrow passages for movement inside the house increased rodent and insect infestations and potentially blocking access to windows and doors for escape during emergencies. 

How to clean a hoarder's house? Step-by-Step Guide

Use empathy to understand what a hoarder is experiencing

If you have seen television programs that chronicle people with this problem, you may have been surprised or repulsed by their living conditions. Common questions are, “how can someone live like this?”. It is fascinating to ponder the human condition. A hoarder is internalizing stress, anxiety, or expressing behavior linked to a different mental or behavioral disorder such as; depression, paranoia, attention deficit disorder, or substance abuse. Hoarding manifests in 2-5% of the population. This condition usually starts in childhood and progresses with age. 

Cognitive Bias

There is a human bias called “bikeshedding.” “Bikeshedding” bias is what humans sometimes do when faced with significant, overwhelming problems. In the “bikeshedding” example, if there is a nuclear meltdown in a nearby reactor, people may focus on the more straightforward problem of creating a nice bike shed for the reactor employees. Hoarders concentrate on collecting items potentially necessary for a perceived time of need in the future. Collecting unnecessary things is probably because of internal anxiety or other fears. 

Hoarding can be mild or severe and doesn’t always adversely affect people’s lives. People often do not feel it is a problem or an issue. The lack of understanding can make treatment difficult. However, intensive treatment aids hoarders in realizing that their behaviors and beliefs are unhealthy and potentially unsafe. Understanding the issue can help these people live safer and healthier lives. 

How to clean a hoarder’s house

When you have addressed the hoarder’s emotional attachment to the items to be thrown out, cleaning a hoarder’s house is a straightforward process. You will need to decide if you will take a hands-on approach. You can leverage your time and money by searching for contractors that can “trash out” a residence or specialize in cleaning a hoarder’s house. You must plan extensively to save money and take a hands-on approach. 

Organization of critically important items

A person will benefit from someone that can help guide them in organizing their truly valuable and sentimental items. If a family member isn’t available for the task, others offer their services for hire. Boxes and containers are helpful items for this process. People can calmly identify the truly important items and store them neatly before a crew of people comes to the site to empty the house. 

Choose a person or service before the trash-out process. Poor organization of valuable items will sabotage a contractor’s efforts when it’s time to get the stuff out. 

How to clean a hoarder's house? Step-by-Step Guide

“Trashing out” a property.

This term is shorthand for the cleaning services that you need. Search online for cleaning services and mention that you need a house to be “trashed out.” Larger companies that advertise these services will usually charge a premium for this dirty work. Be detailed when interviewing contractors about what level of cleanliness when they are complete. Confirm that they will take the trash with them after completing the job. 

There is no need to hire a contractor specializing in “hoarder cleaning services” unless you have specific needs because the hoarder is still involved in the cleaning for some reason. If a cleaning company comes while the hoarder is still present or involved, time and expense will increase. Cleaning before the individual is considered will be a mistake. Address emotional issues before a cleaner/contractor comes. 

DIY (Do it yourself)

If you have a small budget, you must be involved in the clean-out process; you will need manpower (family, maybe?) and a trash container delivered to the site. You will need to source manpower and supply protective equipment ( breathing respirators, gloves, and protective coveralls), heavy-duty trash bags, and tools such as large scooping-type shovels and a wheelbarrow. Supply lunch, drinks, and snacks, and your team will thank you. 

An extreme hoarder’s house will need a few days of intensive cleaning. A dumpster will be delivered. Now, let the games begin! An extreme hoarder’s house is going to be gross. Just get to work slopping the thing out. Don’t worry about categorizing anything; concentrate on your gross motor skills; scoop it, bag it, and throw it in the trash container. Your protective wear will guard you against any sharp objects or rancid smells. Throw the furniture in the container as well. Just get it out of there. There is no nuance to this process. 

What comes next?

After the “trash out.” When the hoarder’s house is empty, the next level of cleaning comes into play. Assessing any permanent damage to the walls or floors is the next task. Standard-type cleaning is another process; your cleaning contractor will only address these issues if some flooring or wall material needs to be removed and replaced. If this were unknown at the beginning of the project, there would be additional expenses. 

Your cleaning crew will scrub, wipe, and mop. Bleach is a great product to eliminate smells and other funky stuff. After the place is mucked out, this process will need another day to complete. If this cleaning process doesn’t get all the smell out, there are machines called “ozone generators” that can produce gas ozone that reduces pollutants. Take precautions with this machine; you must ventilate the place after use. 

In conclusion, you must consider a hoarder’s emotional and mental issues before cleaning a “hoarder home” or “hoarder house.” After the proper consideration is given to the individual’s needs, you can work on removing unnecessary items from the home. Pricing and scope will depend on the level of hoarding. Further renovations may be necessary to restore the house to livable condition. 

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