The disarray in a hoarder’s home might be overwhelming at first. But you can get things in order with the right strategy.
Getting organized can be an extremely difficult task for most hoarders. That’s because they struggle to make healthy decisions when it comes to their personal belongings.
A hoarding situation is not as simple to deal with as a home that’s a bit cluttered.
For one thing, the items that hoarders accumulate can pile so high that access to certain parts of the home can be compromised. This makes it much harder to come in and clean things up.
There’s also the fact that hoarding is usually the result of other mental health issues.
So, you need to do more than just tidy up if you’re going to see lasting results. It’s crucial that you provide the right care.
Cleaning up a hoarder’s home may be a lot more work than you’re expecting.
But with the right plan, and a little patience, you can help your loved one recover.
Identifying Hoarding Disorder
Learning to recognize the signs of hoarding can help you make decisions as you work towards your goals. Make sure you do your research before getting into any cleaning.
Hoarding is a serious mental health concern. It is much deeper than most people think.
A healthy person might accumulate clutter from time to time, and some people are more diligent than others when it comes to keeping a tidy home.
But a hoarder will allow things to spiral out of control, endangering their health in the process.
Here are some symptoms of hoarding to look out for:
- Severe difficulty discarding personal possessions, resulting in extreme distress
- Unrelenting urges to keep or collect things without regard for their value
- An irrational fear towards not having a certain item when it’s needed.
- Struggling with decision-making or problem-solving
A hoarder’s home might be in a state of chaos. Appliances or entire rooms may be unusable, depending on how bad the situation is.
There could even be mice, bed bugs, and other pests lurking about in the clutter.
In the worst of cases, the unsanitary conditions could become a threat to your health. Structural damage can make the home too risky to enter.
Depending on the type of hoarder you are dealing with, you might be facing a wide array of unique issues as well.
For these reasons and more, helping a hoarder get organized is no easy feat.
But with the right help, anything is possible.
Types of hoarders
There are many types of hoarders out there. Each comes with their own set of unique challenges. Make sure you work this into your plan.
Here are a few types of hoarders and their behaviors:
- Animal hoarders may be overrun with pets, taking on more than they can handle
- Compulsive shoppers may go into debt chasing the thrill of finding a good deal
- Food hoarders can maintain huge stockpiles of food well past their expiration date
- Mail hoarders tend to hold on to important documents until they become a fire hazard
The type of hoarder that you are helping can impact the way you go about cleaning up.
For example, the expired food in a hoarder’s home can generate a lot of filth. You might have to come prepared to do some heavy duty cleaning.
Some hoarders might be hanging on to a lot of clothes, or filling their homes with piles of trash.
Don’t assume that organizing will be as simple as coming in and putting some things away.
How Can Hoarders Get Organized?
If you know someone suffering with a hoarding disorder, there is hope for recovery.
The key to getting organized is having everything figured out ahead of time. It’s going to be a while until you get the results that you’re hoping for. So make sure you can stick to a routine.
10 steps for organizing a hoarder’s home:
- Stop collecting. It will be impossible to clean up the clutter if you keep adding to it. Commit to not bringing anything else into the home until cleanup is done.
- Take a look around. Get a feel for the severity of the situation so that you can develop a solid plan of action.
- Set goals. Cleaning up a hoarding situation takes time. Having goals in place will help you track progress and stay on target.
- Designate a home-base. You’re going to need an area where you can sort through things. Pick somewhere that has a decent amount of space.
- Create a system. Get some bins and label them “keep”, “discard”, or “donate”. This will make it easier to make quick decisions when you get started.
- Take it slow. Go one room at a time to improve your focus. This will also help to reduce the chances that you get overwhelmed.
- Pest control. Keep an eye out for pests that may be hiding in the clutter. You may want to have a bed bug spray on hand just in case.
- Take out the trash. Once you have gathered all your unwanted items into one area, it’s time to haul away all the junk!
- Deep cleaning. Now that the clutter is clear, you will need to scrub every inch of the home until it’s clean. Expect to have to do some minor repairs
- Everything in its place. Make sure that the items you decide to keep have a purpose, and a place to be put away. If something doesn’t, get rid of it.
Never throw anything away in a hoarder’s home without the consent of the person you are trying to help. Attempting to force them to discard something can trigger more hoarding behavior.
Remember to be patient. You are there to help, not to judge.
Maintaining Cleanliness in a Hoarder's House
Even a healthy person may struggle to keep their home clean from time to time. But for a hoarder this becomes exponentially difficult.
Hoarding has been linked to mental illnesses like anxiety, OCD, and PTSD.
This means that there is a lot more to a hoarding issue than having poor housekeeping capabilities. If not monitored, they can fall back into their old, unhealthy habits.
Make sure you follow up with them after the cleanup.
It may take some time for your loved one to develop the skills they need to keep things organized. You might have to help them clean up more than once.
But in time it will be possible for them to learn to care for themselves.
When to Call the Professionals
Since hoarding is a serious mental health condition, we don’t recommend trying to take matters into your own hands. An inexperienced person can simply make things worse.
Seeking professional help is the best way to get your loved ones the help they need.
A trained professional will be able to assess the situation and help you address some of the more difficult aspects of dealing with a hoarding disorder.
They will also provide a means for you to get organized safely and effectively.
We Can Help
Don’t burn yourself out trying to get everything done alone. Our 7-Step hoarding solution is everything you need to transform a home even in extreme conditions.
We handle everything from heavy duty cleaning to junk removal – and yes, we will help you get organized, too. There is nothing we won’t do to help you get back on track.
If your loved one is struggling with hoarding, then you can’t afford to waste time.
That’s why Hoarders911 offers hoarding cleaning around the clock, providing you with the best service possible when you need it most.
If you know someone who needs help recovering from hoarding give us a call.
Schedule a free consultation with one of our experts.
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