Before we start the process keep in mind these 6 Easy Steps For Cleaning A Hoarder House, Make sure to take lots of heavy-duty trash bags with you, as well as some empty boxes, buckets, universal cleaning agents and disinfectants, mops, sponges, wet wipes, brooms, a dustpan, a step ladder, a vacuum cleaner, a shovel, paint and Lysol, a set of hand tools and anything else you find useful under the circumstances

  • STEP 1: Clear out the Trash. … 
  • STEP 2: Clean and sanitize your floors. … 
  • STEP 3: Disinfect everything. … 
  • STEP 4: Scrub down the bathroom. … 
  • STEP 5: Deodorize. …
  • STEP 6: Don’t forget the small stuff.

Dealing with hoarding is difficult for everyone involved. If a person has started to hoard belongings in their home, they may be unwilling to accept they have a problem, even if their possessions are taking over their life and making their living area unsafe. This delicate situation requires sensitive treatment and the right approach to avoid causing more harm than good.

The first step is realizing when hoarding has become a problem. Many people have clutter in their homes and hang on to possessions longer than necessary. However sometimes that sentimental attachment to an old toy or item of clothing, or sense of “I might need it one day,” can get out of control, and suddenly everything seems important and worth keeping.

Generally speaking, if your home is a bit messy but you can tidy it up when visitors arrive, it might be time to declutter and reevaluate your relationship with your possessions, but it doesn’t fall into the category of hoarding.

Clutter vs Hoarding



Some surfaces are full or messy, but possessions can be put away and rooms are still usable.

Possessions cover every surface, and large items of furniture are inaccessible.

There is a “junk drawer” full of old remotes, cables that don’t fit appliances, instruction manuals, and takeout menus.

Nothing is thrown away, and piles or boxes of papers, cables, and junk mail accumulate.

Last night’s dishes are in the sink, and the countertop is partially filled with glasses, spice jars, and small kitchen appliances.

Rotten food overflows the garbage can or is left on the counter, the sink is inaccessible, there may be fruit flies, rodents, or other pests present.

There are a few items of clothing and some household supplies on the stairs to be taken up.

The stairs are only passable through a narrow path between piles of books, boxes, papers, clothes, and other possessions.

What are the reasons for hoarding?

Hoarding is a type of anxiety disorder that was named a distinct mental illness in 2013. Despite its prevalence in common culture on TV shows such as Hoarders, only about 2 to 5 percent of the population have been diagnosed with a hoarding disorder.

What causes hoarding can be anything from generalized anxiety to a traumatic event. Hoarders keep possessions for the same reasons we all do—because they have a sentimental attachment, or because they’re considered useful or necessary. With hoarders, however, that attachment or feeling of need can become misplaced.

The fear of not having something when it’s needed can also trigger hoarding behavior. This can be caused by something in the person’s past, such as not having enough food or possessions in the past or experiencing a single trauma such as a house fire. Sometimes, however, there is no inciting incident or event that causes hoarding behavior.

The 5 levels of hoarding

Hoarding is often classified in five levels, or stages, depending on how extreme it is. These are:

Stage 1: Homes are often considered heavily cluttered rather than symptomatic of hoarding. All rooms and areas are passable, and the house is still clean and safe.

Stage 2: Possessions are starting to take over the home. One or two rooms might be difficult to navigate, and there may be bad odors present. Mildew may be observed in the kitchen and bathroom, pet waste may be present, and there is evidence of poor housekeeping. One exit may be unusable.

Stage 3: Only one bedroom and/or bathroom is usable, and limited living area. Dust and spoiled food have accumulated, and the home has a strong odor. Clutter may be visible from outside the home.

Stage 4: Infestations of fleas and lice may be present, along with sewage backup and other unsafe conditions. Rotten food and pet damage are common.

Stage 5: This is the most severe level of hoarding. The home has rodent infestations, and the kitchen and bathroom are unusable, leading to accumulation of human and pet excrement. Utility services might not be functional. Many areas of the home are completely inaccessible.

When to have a hoarding intervention

If you have a friend or relative you suspect is hoarding, it’s better to address the problem sooner rather than later. However, because hoarding is a disorder and can be a symptom of other mental health problems, it’s important to approach the subject with sensitivity.

Encourage the hoarder to see a mental health professional to get to the root cause of their behavior and avoid the temptation to surprise them by throwing possessions away. This is more likely to increase hoarding compulsions and make the problem worse, not better. Hoarder house cleaning is often the final step of intervention, not the first.

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