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.
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