Hoarding is a disordered pattern of behaviour where the hoarder obsessively keeps or is unwilling to part with a lot of items, often resulting in unsafe living conditions and mental distress. Organizing and cleaning a hoarder’s home is a difficult and time-consuming task, but there are several things you can do to start before calling in the professionals at Elite Decontamination.
Connect with and try to understand the hoarder.
Hoarding is a mental disorder, so it’s important to approach the individual with patience, understanding, and zero judgment. Try to put yourself in the hoarder’s shoes to get a sense of their situation, while also inquiring into why their situation has escalated. Remember to keep these conversations confidential, as this can be a touchy and embarrassing subject.
Professional help, such as therapy, may be helpful to help the hoarder address the underlying problem and change their habits. You want to make sure the hoarder is willing and wants to change their ways so that they don’t fall back into their old routine once the clean up is finished.
Come prepared with necessary cleaning supplies and safety measures.
A hoarder household is going to require excessive deep cleaning as it may be infested with mold or bacteria. You need the proper safety supplies before tackling it yourself. Come prepared with disposable gloves, dust masks, and goggles to avoid exposure to biohazard and other health concerns, including mold and parasites. Don’t forget to wear sturdy shoes and a hard hat.
Likewise, you’ll also need a plethora of cleaning supplies, including heavy duty trash bags, universal cleaning agents and disinfectants, and tools, like sponges, mops, and brooms. Also consider having a fire extinguisher, repellent spray, flashlights, and a first-aid kit in the event you run into some extreme situations, including flammable materials and unexpected pests.
Decide what to keep, donate, and trash
Divide items into three general categories; keep, donate, and trash. This will help make sorting through items easier and more organized. It may take talking through each item with the hoarder to help them decide if it’s a necessity. As always, be prepared for some deep conversations about why such items are so important as well as to compromise with the hoarder over the categorization of an item.
When you’re ready to start cleaning, begin with a small space. It will help the hoarder visually see their space being transformed, hopefully motivating them to keep on with the process. Likewise, it’s always easier and more motivating to accomplish small, achievable tasks first, especially when you have an entire household of clutter to go through.
When in doubt, call the professionals.
Often the process of cleaning up an entire hoarder’s home is too much for one person. This is why it’s essential to consider bringing in the professionals. Not only will there be many laborious tasks to complete (such as removing heavy items, cleaning intensively, and repairing difficult damage like mold), but it’s challenging to sort through endless items of menial to great importance. Also, many threats and hazards may lurk in a hoarder’s home that are undetectable until the cleaning process has begun.
Professionals know how to properly clean a hoarding situation, including how to sort through items, deal with all the unexpected problems that may arise, and effectively communicate with a recovering hoarder. Hiring professionals will give you the peace of mind that things are getting done right.
If you require hoarding cleaning services, call Elite Decontamination to ensure you’re taking the right steps to a cleaner, safer space.