A hoarder’s house is a labyrinth of accumulated items. It might have started as a thing here and a thing there. It might have started as storing things that were loved too much to be parted with, but one fine day, the person might wake up to a bunch of things that will engulf them. Depending on the hoarding behavior, the disorder may take a toll on health, relationship, and everyday activities. However, individuals with such behavior may find it distressing to discard the piled-up items even though they do not possess any actual value.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, hoarding disorder affects 2%–6% of people. If your friend or a family member displays such behavior, you will want to do hoarding cleanup to give them a fresh start. However, it can be pretty stressful. Cleaning up a hoarder’s house is one of the most time-consuming and effort-intensive processes one can take up. The emotional distress of the hoarder can affect you as well. Here are some effective tips that can come in handy when you are helping with hoarding cleanup or handling a hoarding cleanup project all by yourself.
Understand the Mindset of the Hoarder
You need to remember that you need the hoarder’s permission before starting to clean up their house. Listen to them with patience and encourage them if you see a positive change. If the person exhibits signs of distress when you help with hoarding cleanup, it is best to seek the help of mental health professionals. You will also require qualified hoarding cleanup services for situations that are too challenging for you to handle.
Understand the Level of Hoarding
Before you begin to clean a hoarder’s house, you need to understand the seriousness of the situation. According to the clutter hoarding scale developed by the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization, there are five levels of hoarding. A hoarder with a mild form of hoarding behavior lives in a cluttered house that can be considered safe and sanitary, whereas a few characteristics of a severe form of hoarding include structural damage, clutter in the bathroom and bedroom, rodent infestation, and presence of animal and human wastes in the house. Assess the level of severity before embarking on a hoarding cleanup project.
You have to protect yourself when you clean a hoarder’s house. It can be a breeding ground for bacteria. You do not know what you are going to step into. Depending on the level of hoarding, you may encounter anything from shards of broken glass to rodents and insects. You can also be exposed to biohazards. In such cases, immediately call for professional hoarding cleanup services. Face masks, eye protection, hard hats, a pair of gloves and hard boots can help you stay protected throughout the cleaning process. Keep a first aid kit, bug spray, and flashlight available at all times. You will also need cleaning supplies, a step ladder, trash bags, and a shovel that will come in handy.
Follow a Methodical Approach
When you clean up a hoarder’s house, start with small spaces like a bathroom. A usable bathroom is a must for the healthy functioning of a home. Once you empty one room, you will feel that you have accomplished something and feel energized to progress to the next room. While cleaning, it is important to clear away every item from the room, even the things that are in the drawers and cupboards.
Categorize the Items
You can create an area or space where you can sort the hoarded items into a few categories. For example, you can separate necessary or valuable items that should be retained. The second category can be trash where things that are no longer useful can be discarded. Items that can be salvaged can be donated to charities. If the trash is in overwhelming quantities, you need a dumpster. Read up on the local rules and regulations on discarding things like medications or other things that cannot be dumped in household waste.
Check for Repairs
When you have sorted through the items and the entire house is clutter-free, it is time to deep clean and sanitize the place. Before bringing in all the furniture and the things that were planned to be retained, look for damages or areas that need repair. Depending on the level and years of hoarding, the damage may vary.
Hoarders accumulate things because they are afraid of losing things that might be valuable or important to them. While hoarding is a common problem, hoarders need not live amidst the clutter day in and day out. There are professionals who are highly equipped to handle any level of hoarding. If you are in New York City and need an expert team to do hoarding cleanup services, you can contact Majik Cleaning Services. They have a team of friendly staff who can give you the fresh start you need.