Due to the very nature of hoarding, you must have a comprehensive hoarding cleanup strategy. The hoarding checklist presented to you here is not only comprehensive, but it also provides you with a coordinated strategy to ensure that the task of restoring a residence to a livable condition is accomplished in a thorough and safe manner. The steps associated with comprehensive hoarding cleanup are:
- Assess the situation
- Create a strategy
- Protect yourself
- Gather supplies
- Prepare a staging area
- Cleaning process
- Repair the property
- Deep clean the property
Assess the Situation
One of the underlying difficulties experienced by a hoarder is an inability to classify items according to their actual value. As a result, a hoarder accumulates tremendous amounts of items, some which have absolutely no value. In addition, many times a hoarder will also accumulate at least some items that do have value.
The issue becomes the fact that valueless items, including trash, becomes mixed together with items that do have at least some value or worth. When assessing the situation in advance of beginning a hoarder cleanup endeavor, you must undertake at least a tentative determination of what types of items are mixed in the hoard.
If pets or animals are being hoarded, that adds an even more challenging dimension to the hoarder cleanup project. You need to keep in mind the ASPCA estimates that 250,000 animals are victims of hoarding annually in the United States.
In considering the overall situation regarding a hoarder, safety is a primary consideration. The reality is that a hoard may foster dangerous pathogens that can be hazardous to human beings. This is yet another reality that needs to be taken into consideration when making an overall assessment.
Create a Strategy
A major component of a hoarding cleanup strategy is convincing a hoarder that steps must be taken to restore order and healthy living conditions to the individual’s residence. You need to strive to win the trust, confidence, and respect of the hoarder. You need to get the hoarder to become an active participant in the cleanup process.
The strategy likely will necessitate easing a hoarder into the process one small step at a time. This very well may include making initial decisions about small amounts of the items contained in the residence. In addition, it may also require an agreement on your part to remove some items from the residence and into a temporary storage place. This gives a hoarder a level of comfort in knowing that his or her items will not be thrown away in an indiscriminate fashion.
The strategy also needs to incorporate the assistance of others. For example, you need to fully understand how dangerous and challenging cleaning up a hoard can be in most cases. Therefore, one type of assistance you seriously must consider reaching out to is a hoarding cleanup professional.
In addition, cleaning up a hoard is only part of the battle. Absent appropriate professional mental health assistance, the vast majority of hoarders relapse and start the hoarding process all over again. In addition, a hoarder should obtain professional assistance in such areas as an organization.
If you make the decision to clean up a hoard yourself, you need to understand the type of personal protective equipment you’ll require for the job. The personal protective equipment needed to clean up a hoard includes:
- Smock, apron, or uniform
These must be designed specifically to protect you from biohazardous materials that can be found in a hoard. Keep in mind that hoard cleanup professionals have this type of equipment and are able to commence a remediation and restoration process immediately upon being retained by you.
The next step that must be taken in the process of hoarding cleanup is to gather necessary supplies. The nature of the supplies you must have to effectively, safely, and thoroughly clean a hoard underscores the necessity for seeking a professional biohazard remediation service. The supplies you likely will need include:
- Medical grade sanitization chemicals
- Commercial grade deodorization chemicals
- Biohazardous waste containers
Prepare a Staging Area
Prepare a staging area at which materials taken from the residence can be temporarily stored. It is in this care that the final process of sorting through items contained in the hoard can be undertaken. As was mentioned, items of some value are likely to be found in a hoard and need to be dealt with differently than items to be discarded.
Consider starting in a smaller room. Keep in mind that because of the nature of a hoard, you are likely to encounter hazardous waste material throughout the premises. Your ultimate goal is to eliminate everything that had been hoarded in each room of the house.
Sanitize the Premises
Once the items in the hoard have been removed, the sanitization process commences. This is vital because even though items on which hazardous materials may have existed are removed, dangerous pathogens will remain at the premises and need to be eliminated thoroughly and in a safe manner.
Repair the Property
Once the items in a hoard are eliminated, the extent of damage to the property will be fully realized. The final phase in restoring a home to habitable standards is making all necessary repairs.