When a person feels a strong urge to save a large number of items of no or little value and experiences stress when attempting to get rid of them is known as a hoarding disorder. This is a mental health condition where hoarders usually keep newspapers, magazines, clothing, or household items stacked in their homes. Their behavior leads to the clutter that becomes difficult to clean, and you may need ProAir air duct cleaning equipment to do the job.

Difference between a hoarder and a collector

A collector collects certain types of items like books, currency, toys, or stamps. He chooses these items carefully and organizes them in groups that do not impact his day-to-day life. A hoarder keeps things that do not have value and do not organize things to be used again. These items harm their lives and make it hard for them to live in their own house due to excessive clutter. 

Most hoarders do not see their behavior as a problem and do not realize how their behavior is affecting them and the people in their lives. Some of them realize their problems but are too shy to ask for help to avoid humiliation. 

The symptoms and causes of hoarding disorder

Hoarding disorder usually starts around adolescence and worsens as a person grows old. People with anxiety and depression may experience hoarding disorder. A traumatic event like divorce or the death of someone close can trigger hoarding symptoms. 

People with a hoarding disorder:

  • Find it difficult to remove their possessions due to extreme stress about thinking of getting rid of them. 
  • They feel they might need these items in the future. 
  • They are not able to find the right place to put the things they have
  • They lack trust and do not allow others to touch their possessions. 
  • They withdraw from their family and do not like to socialize
  • They feel emotionally attached to each item they hoard. 

Cause of hoarding disorder

The reasons for hoarding disorder are still unknown, although it can be a symptom of other mental health conditions. It could also be related to depression, schizophrenia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Treatment of hoarding disorder

Treating a person with hoarding disorder is not easy, even if he asks for help, but it can be managed. The best treatment for a hoarder can be cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). They can be prescribed antidepressant medicines called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which have been helpful in many cases. 

Tips on cleaning a hoarder’s house 

Cleaning a hoarder’s house can be overwhelming, but it is not impossible. The following tips will help you clean, sanitize and turn the house into a safe living home again. 

Evaluate the situation and create a strategy 

A person with hoarder disorder is not able to differentiate between valuable and invaluable things, which leads them into storing everything they find until the house turns into a pile of items. Their house starts to harbor dust, mold, and insects. When thinking of cleaning their home, you need to have them there to avoid any resentment from their side. You will need to create a cleaning plan to identify the supplies and types of equipment you need to clean the house. You will also have to decide the rooms you want to clean first to make it easier for you to move to the next room.

Protect yourself

It is next to impossible to know what you may find in the piles. Therefore, wear disposable gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask, especially if you are allergic to dust and mold. Wear shoes or boots and a hard hat to protect your head. Keep a fire extinguisher, bug spray, a flashlight, and a first-aid kit near you in case of emergency. Remember to have a professional restoration company’s number handy in case you encounter biohazardous materials as these items can’t be disposed of with the trash. 

Have various cleaning supplies ready

You will need a ton of cleaning supplies to clean a hoarder’s house. Some of the things you will need are:

  • Heavy-duty trash bags;
  • Empty boxes;
  • Buckets and mops;
  • All-purpose cleaners/disinfectants;
  • Sponges/wipes/cleaning cloths;
  • Broom/dustpan;
  • Vacuum cleaner and extra bags if necessary;
  • Step ladder;
  • Shovel;
  • A set of hand tools.

You will also need to have different areas outside to sort through items. Calling the city’s sanitation department for their rates and pickup services can be very useful when cleaning the house. 

Empty all the rooms completely

Once you have strategized the process, start with emptying the rooms, top to bottom. Try to remove the furniture as well, if possible, to make more room for you to deep clean. Check the shelves, closets, drawers, and purses for any valuables. 

Organize the items before discarding them

Create specific spaces for items that need to be discarded, kept, donated, or recycled. Things to be kept need to be cleaned and disinfected before moving inside. The removable items should be removed immediately before the person changes their mind. You can call charities to pick up the donation items to make it easier for you. 

Start deep cleaning and repairing the house 

Once you have distinguished the items that need to stay, you can start cleaning and sanitizing the house. You can also check for repairs like cracked walls or floors as well as pieces of furniture. 

Make cleaning an enjoyable task

Cleaning a hoarder’s house can be tedious. So, turn on some music to avoid feeling bored or tired. Good music brings positive energy and will make the work enjoyable. 

Professional hoarding cleanup services 

If you feel that the task you have taken upon is too much for you, you can always contact professionals to do it for you. These experts are trained and experienced in cleaning homes of any size. They are trained to come up with a plan that won’t trigger a person’s anxiety. These companies charge depending on the size of the house and the clutter in hand. 

Final note

Helping clean a hoarder’s house is a tough job. If you have set your heart on doing it, then using the tips given above can help you make a difference in their lives.