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Hoarder Cleaning Services: The Best Methods

Posted on 07/07/2017 by Advanced Bio in Blog

hoarder cleaning services

When cleaning the home of a hoarder, cleaning services should be understanding, respectful, and informed. Discover the best methods for cleaning a hoarder’s home.

Hoarder Cleaning Services Do’s and Don’ts

About 1% of the United States population have a hoarding disorder. Hoarding disorder is a pattern of compulsive behavior in which a person collects and accumulates possessions that have little or no value to others. Depending on the item, the severity of the obsessiveness, and the home of the sufferer, the effects hoarding disorder can range from inconvenient, unsanitary, to life-threatening.

Hoarding disorder can be seen through:

  • Emotional distress over having to let go of possessions
  • The collection of items interfering with everyday life, social connections, and work
  • Consistent difficulty getting rid of possessions, no matter how valuable those items may be
  • Items congesting living spacing
  • The amount of items creating unsafe, unhealthy, and unclean living conditions

The cause of hoarding disorder is not certain. Genetics seems to play a role, but many cases seem to stem from severe and/or sustained emotional trauma. Regardless of the root cause, hoarder can take on many forms.

  • Collectors feel a compulsive need to constantly acquire new items for their collection. Healthy collecting of rare, valuable, or interesting items become unhealthy hoarding when they lose their ability to distinguish between valuable pieces and trash.
  • Researchers begin with a genuine interest, causing them to collect books, magazines, and newspapers. Eventually, the valuable information is mixed and worthless pieces of printed material.
  • Non-wasters refuse to let anything become trash, either for the sake of frugality or environmentalism.
  • Animal hoarders love the animals in their home, but have too many to give them adequate care or a healthy living space.
  • Over-sentimental hoarders are triggered by an emotional trauma, have a crippling difficulty letting go of items connected with the traumatic incident.

When assisting with the clean-up of the home of a hoarder, it is important to understand the deep emotional and psychological significance of every item in the home.

The Do’s of Cleaning a Hoarder’s Home


  • Understand the disorder. Be aware the hoarder cannot simply “snap out of it” and throw away the items. You don’t need to have an advance degree in psychology, but be sure to research the disorder before interacting with the client.
  • Have empathy. Cleaning services for a hoarder’s home may take more time, patience, and empathy than other more straightforward jobs. And it may be difficult to understand the inability to throw seemingly worthless items away. But, it is very important to place yourself in the position of the client as much as possible.
  • Know the items. The items you’ll be disposing will have special meaning to the client. You should be able to distinguish between which items the client values and which they consider trash.
  • Clean effectively. Once you have a sufficient understand of the client and their items, you’ll be able to do what you do best.

The Don’ts of Cleaning a Hoarder’s Home


  • Judge. You will not be able to clean effectively if the client feels judged or condescended to.
  • Discard meaningful items. Treat what you perceive as trash as treasure until the client is ready to throw it away. When in doubt, ask.
  • Be rude or short. Delve deeply into your well of patience as you clean. A successful job will depend on empathy, understanding, and kindness.