Everything You Need to Know About Cleaning a Hoarder’s House
If you have a loved one who has a hoarding tendency, it’s important to have a plan of approach when it comes to cleaning their house or helping them get rid of items. In this article, we will share everything you need to know about cleaning a hoarder’s house.
So, what are some things you need to know when cleaning a hoarder’s house? Here is a list of things to remember when approaching a hoarding cleanup:
- Clean one room at a time
- Come prepared with cleaning and storage supplies
- Sort items into designated piles
- Deep clean once everything is out of the room
- Take proper precautions if you find mold or house damage
- Have a team to help clean up
It’s important to keep in mind that you won’t be able to clean a hoarder’s house within a day; this is a process that will take time. This process can be emotionally draining for the person with hoarding tendencies, so keep this in mind when communicating with them. To get a more in-depth look at the points above, keep reading.
Focus on One Room at a Time When Cleaning a Hoarder’s House
When you first walk into a hoarder’s home, you may be overwhelmed at the stacks and piles of boxes and items. If you were to have no focus on where to clean, at the end of the day it may feel as if you haven’t even made a dent. By cleaning one room at a time, you can focus on removing everything in that area. This way, it will be much easier to track your progress.
Many say that it’s easiest to start with the main room of the house when cleaning up a hoarder’s home. The main room of the house is usually the biggest room and will also make the biggest difference when cleaned. If you start here, you’ll immediately be able to see a cleaned room when you walk through the door.
You should focus on removing all the items from one specific room at a time. Once you get rid of the clutter, you will be able to thoroughly clean and decontaminate the room. Having a clean space will give you a way to track your progress.
When Cleaning a Hoarder’s House, Come Prepared With Cleaning and Storage Supplies
Cleaning a hoarder’s house will be different from anything you have done before. It’s important to have adequate storage and cleaning supplies to help complete the job. Without these supplies, the job may seem impossible.
Here is a list of supplies you should have on-hand when cleaning a hoarder’s house:
- large trash bags
- cleaning gloves
- cleaning mask
- surface cleaner
- step ladder
- vacuum cleaner
- shop vac
You can expect to have many bags and boxes full of items that you will need to throw away. Renting out a dumpster to keep on the property during the cleaning process can save you from having to stuff bags in your car and taking endless trips to the landfill
Be sure to bring the appropriate cleaning gear for your team to wear. Having masks and gloves on hand can protect from bacteria, mold, and dust particles. Be sure to wear long sleeves and long pants to protect yourself against anything else that may pose a threat. If a house has been used for hoarding, there may be pest infestations you want to protect yourself from. You also don’t know what could be in the boxes and items that you are moving.
You can learn more about some cleaning products to have on hand here.
As you clean a hoarder’s house, you’ll likely find items that are in great shape while other items may be ready to fall apart. Creating designated piles can help move the process along; you can have a trash pile, a donate pile and a keep pile. The items from the house must go in one of these piles; this will help to streamline decisions on what stays and what goes.
Have a designated area for each pile. Try and make the trash pile the dumpster outside or the curb where the garbage truck stops. By immediately removing these items from the house and putting them outside in the trash pile, you’ll be able to clear away things much faster. You’ll also eliminate the risk of someone seeing something in the trash pile that they decide they want to keep.
Deep Clean Each Room When Cleaning a Hoarder’s House
As items are cleared out of the house and rooms are emptied, it’s important to deep clean each room for the safety of the inhabitants and the maintenance of the home. When things are hoarded, messes and damages can easily be hidden and forgotten about. Once you start removing items from the home, you will probably find that there are many repairs that the house will need.
You can deep clean the house room by room to help restore the home to a livable space. This includes dusting, vacuuming, sanitizing, and washing walls, floors, and ceilings. When you deep clean, your goal is to thoroughly clean and sanitize every livable space.
To ensure that everything is getting cleaned thoroughly, create a cleaning checklist to follow as you go through each room. You can check off steps as you clean. Many hotels have a structure like this to ensure that they are thoroughly cleaning each hotel room.
As you deep clean, you may find pests in the home. Hoarders’ homes can have pest infections that go undiagnosed until once everything is cleaned. The first step to getting rid of pests is to locate where they are coming from. Read more about how to locate where bugs are coming from here.
When Cleaning a Hoarder’s House, Take Proper Precautions if You Find Mold or Home Damage
When boxes, trash, and items have built up over the years, mold and damage can go unseen and untreated. As soon as things are cleared out of the home, this damage will come to light. It’s important to take the proper precautions around mold or house damage to ensure the safety of you, the inhabitants, and your cleaning team.
If you find mold in the home, don’t try to remove it right away. Mold can be dangerous both untouched and activated. It’s important to proceed cautiously to ensure the health of the inhabitants of the home. If you find mold in the home, make sure that people in the home are wearing ventilator masks so that they don’t breathe in any air contamination.
Next, call a mold remediation company to come and assess the mold. Chances are if you are seeing mold on walls and ceilings, there may be mold in other areas hiding from the naked eye, like in the walls and attic. A mold remediation company will be able to see the extent of the damage and remove the mold safely.
Some of our experts do have experience in removing mold from homes. You can learn more about this process by reading our Mold Removal Guide.
Build a Team to Help Clean a Hoarder’s House
Cleaning a hoarder’s house isn’t a one-person job. Try and put together a team of family members or friends to help clean the house. Together, you can lift heavy boxes and form an assembly line. This will create a system that is more efficient and effective.
Make sure your cleaning team understands the situation beforehand, and explain to them how removing items from the home can be emotionally stressful for someone who hoards.
Organize your team so that you can be effective. You can organize an assembly line, where a few people move items in the room, another team member takes the items outside, and the last member sorts the items into designated piles. You can also rotate days so that the job continues but each team member gets a break.
While cleaning a hoarder’s house by yourself could be frustrating and time-consuming, having a hoarding clean up team can make the process easier as you have support and structure. If you can’t find a team, many organizations and non-profits may provide volunteers that help clean hoarders’ houses. When you contact these teams, many of the volunteers are have experience working in these situations.
Cleaning a Hoarder’s Room
A hoarder room, also called a hoarder closet or hoarder space, is a cluttered room filled with unorganized items and materials. A hoarder room tends to have limited floor space in favor of vertical storage. Often all available wall and shelf space will be used, sometimes even having objects protruding out from the ceiling.
Items in hoarder rooms range from unused decorations to items that could be useful but have not been used for a long period of time. Hoarders will often acquire new items when old ones wear out or break, and hoarder rooms are sometimes the place where hoarders keep their unneeded junk. Often hoarder rooms get clogged with clothes that hoarders cannot bear to throw away. At times hoarder rooms may contain smaller hoarder spaces, where the hoarder has devoted an area of a room to a specific topic or category of items .
How to Clean a Hoarder Room
Hoarding hoarder rooms can be more difficult to clean and organize because hoarders tend to hang on to items that they do not need or have no use for. The first step is to schedule an initial cleanup of all the hoarder room’s contents. Anything broken, dirty, expired, or not in working order should be thrown away or donated, and any items that hoarders have no use for should be removed. Since hoarders often have a hard time parting with their belongings, hoarder rooms can take longer to clean than other types of rooms.
Hoarder cleanout is an overwhelming task that requires a lot of time, energy, and patience. The first step is to develop a plan of action, including setting goals and timelines. It is essential to approach the situation with empathy and understanding, as hoarding disorder is a mental illness that requires professional help. Hiring a hoarder cleanout service is highly recommended, as they have the necessary experience and equipment to remove clutter and debris safely. It is also essential to address the underlying issues that led to the hoarding behavior, such as anxiety or trauma, through therapy and support groups. With a dedicated effort and support system, hoarders can overcome their disorder and reclaim their living space.
We hope this article will help you in preparing to clean a hoarder’s house. As you clean up the home, you may find water and plumbing damage that was previously hidden. Water damage can pose serious threats to the structure of the home; however, it can be difficult to determine the severity of the problem. We have compiled a convenient list with tips on recognizing common plumbing emergencies.