Odds are, you know someone who exhibits the traits of a hoarder. Many people enjoy collecting as a hobby, and it’s common to be unwilling to let go of sentimental items. But for individuals who struggle with hoarding, the problem can evolve into something much more serious.
Someone who is psychologically debilitated by the act of hoarding may compulsively keep everything they bring into their home. Their living space, which is supposed to be a place of relaxation, can become so stacked with clutter that they cannot move from room to room, significantly reducing their quality of life.
If you know someone who is hoarding, six tips can help you successfully take on cleaning their home and start them on a journey to creating a safe, comfortable home once again.
1. Make a Plan
There are important considerations when figuring out how you will take on cleaning a hoarder’s home. For example, how long has the current situation been going on? Will you be looking at a couple of months’ worth of clutter, or has the person hoarded over several years?
If you go in expecting to solve everything at once, you will likely get overwhelmed. This is where a comprehensive plan comes in handy.
When cleaning out a serial hoarder’s home, remember that it is all right to compartmentalize. Don’t worry if the resolution spans multiple days — you are at least cleaning the space and getting rid of the mess in the meantime.
An underlying psychological reason is likely contributing to a person’s hoarding tendencies. The more you understand the structure of the psychology behind hoarding, the more you will be able to approach the problem from a place of empathy and understanding.
This will help you to be an effective partner in cleaning up the problem.
3. Make a List of Supplies
Even if the room you’re cleaning doesn’t require much effort, making a list of necessary supplies will ensure that everything looks and smells brand-new. An underwhelming tool kit will make cleaning more difficult and yield lackluster results. Some fundamental supplies that will make the task much easier include:
- Trash bags
- Perishable boxes
- Storage bins
- Broom and dustpan
- All-purpose cleaners
Remember that the required supplies could change depending on the particulars of your situation. This is why it’s always good to make a plan before proceeding with the cleanup.
4. Know When to Donate and When to Sell
Knowing what items to donate, what to sell, and what to throw away can save you a considerable amount of time and spare you from the prolonged difficulty of trying to make decisions on the spot.
Remember, the psychological component of hoarding is the hardest to break, so spending too much time deliberating could trigger fatigue and cause the whole project to fall apart.
Have bins ready and some items in mind, then immediately move those categories of items to a specific bin as soon as you unearth them. From there, take the bin to the appropriate destination.
If you plan on donating clothing or other items, know where to find your nearest donation center or thrift store beforehand.
5. Remove Waste Safely
No matter how long the hoarding has been going on, there will likely be some waste that requires removal. To keep things moving, you should have an expedient strategy for dealing with waste.
One option is to rent a dumpster for the specific task of decluttering the home. This is a great investment because you can simply have it removed once the cleaning has concluded. Additionally, if you schedule the cleaning around the time your city holds its curbside pickup, you could simply take the waste to the street and let them remove it.
There may be some especially hazardous waste. In these instances, staying safe and putting your health first is important. If you come across potentially hazardous waste, consider hiring a professional.
6. Know When It’s Time to Ask for Help
Hoarding is a sensitive topic. Solving the problem takes a lot of courage and effort. This is why some people never ask for help until the problem has become almost insurmountable. Fortunately, bioremediation services under CDC guidelines can help.