When you need to clean up a hoarder’s home, how do you deal with the person’s mess? Cleaning up a home is laborious and tedious, and cleaning up a hoarder’s mess could require double or triple the effort. It might be dangerous because you have no idea what kinds of materials are included in the accumulated junk. So, where do you start? Here are some tips.
Cleaning up a hoarder’s home
You should be ready for the challenge because the cleanup can be time-consuming, as you will be doing more than just sorting and organizing. The pile of junk in the house is a fertile breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and pests, including roaches, mice, and rats.
- Before you start the cleanup, prepare face masks and sturdy gloves to prevent exposure to germs and other biohazards.
- Have containers ready so you can separate the items into categories: trash, donate, and keep. In the trash category, include all those broken items and those not used in a year or more.
- Keep in mind that hoarding can be associated with a mental disorder, such as depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD).
- When undertaking a hoarding cleanup, bring an expert with you. Having someone with you does not mean that you will have help in moving heavy objects; it could also mean having someone who knows how to deal with biohazards or pests and pets requiring a different handling tactic.
- It is a good idea to have the home assessed by a healthcare practitioner before accepting the project or tackling the cleanup. Since hoarding can be linked to a mental disorder, having a professional assessment will help you handle the situation. You will know if the cleaning process will be a standard task or need expert help to assist you and support the hoarder.
Learn to identify and assess the conditions for hoarding
Here are some ideas to help you determine if the hoarding is a compulsive behavior or due to some other issues that prevent the person from parting with junk.
The hoarding is due to a compulsive behavior when the person displays these characteristics:
- Avoids throwing items that have no value to anyone
- Has anxiety attacks (mild to severe) when getting rid of any item
- Repeatedly adding items to the hoard and failing to recognize that it is a problem
- Possessions have negative effects on their hygiene, health, and safety
- They cannot use the rooms in the house for their specific purpose
You can help a compulsive hoarder by bringing in professional help to understand the compulsion’s underlying issues.
In other situations, the homeowner may actually be a failure in home organization, which means what you need, is a professional organizer. If this is the case, the expert will provide organizing and sorting techniques to maintain a clean and orderly home.
Discussing the cause and effect of hoarding with the homeowner is one of the initial steps you should do before the actual cleanup. Follow that up with an action plan on how to clear the house of junk, one room at a time.