Mental issues caused by trauma or genetics are often draining on the caretaker, but the level of support needed for people battling hoarding in Altadena, California is extremely difficult. Oftentimes, people who battle hoarding cannot even see the magnitude of the problem and they become combative when you try to assist. It is even harder when you walk in and are not even sure where to start.
Evaluate and Strategize
The first step in cleaning a hoarding situation is to evaluate the situation and create a strategy to declutter. People who suffer from hoarding disorder are generally attached to everything they have and are not aware of the health risks they live in. When you start with a plan, it is easier to not feel extremely overwhelmed and you can keep everyone on task.
The primary problem with hoarding is determining the trigger that started the collecting. You will need the person to help with the clean-up and you will want to watch what triggers them the most as you clean. It is also vital for them to see the damage that has been caused due to bugs, vermin, feces, dust, or even mold. They will also need to feel like they are a part of cleaning, or the problem will repeat itself after the primary clean.
Finally, when you are preparing a cleaning strategy, you will want to communicate with a professional cleaning company. They will know how to dispose of contaminated waste, as well as disinfecting the house so it is livable again. When you communicate with professionals, it is also wise to have a therapist on hand to help the hoarder deal with the anxiety that comes with getting rid of possessions.
Once you have a plan and a schedule, you will want to gather the supplies to start the cleaning process. Protecting yourself should be at the top of the list. You have no idea what you will encounter, so make sure you wear gloves, safety glasses, and a mask to prevent inhaling toxins in the air. Depending on the state of the house, you may want to consider wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) over your clothes. It is also vital to make sure you have closed toe work boots and, in some cases, a hard hat. The final items you will want on hand as a precaution, fire extinguisher, flashlight, first aid kits, and bug spray.
You will also want cleaning supplies in bulk, and communicate with a hauling service that can handle the trash. Finally, make sure you communicate with companies that can help clean the biohazard you will come across, to make sure you are able to dispose of items properly. Items that you will want to stock up on prior to beginning include, trash bags, bleach, sponges, disinfectants, cleaning clothes, and extra bags for your vacuum. Make sure you have extra mop heads so you do not have to constantly stop to clean the head while disinfecting. In addition, if you have several people helping with the clean, consider possessing multiple vacuums, brooms, and mops so the cleaning can be divided up and save time. Finally, it may be wise to purchase a shovel to move large debris without having to touch it, and large trash bins that can be dumped directly into the dumpster.
Create a Staging Area
The best way to prevent being overwhelmed when cleaning a hoarder’s house is to create a staging area in the yard to place items and empty the house out complete. This also gives the homeowner a place to go through items while the house is being cleaned and sanitized for re-entry. Staging areas should have an area that divides items into trash and keep. Finally, it creates a visual picture of exactly how many items a person is trying to hold onto.
Start in Vital Areas
When you begin, you will want to start in areas that are vital. The bathroom is the best place because it is small and something that will be needed as you clean. Small areas will give the team a quick progress, so bathrooms, closets, and kitchens are the best places to start. You will find people gain motivation to continue as they see improvements, so look for areas that have fewer items when you begin.
The best approach to cleaning any situation also applies to a hoarding situation. You will want to completely empty a room, take salvageable items to the staging area, and the rest to the trash. Everything should be cleaned out, including drawers, bags, boxes, and even pockets of clothing. This will make sure nothing is missed, but also will allow you to properly dispose anything that may be biohazards. When going through the salvageable items, consider the space you have to put things back into. Have every item checked for damage, and then consider what the owner really wants to keep and what can be donated to charities or thrift stores. It is important that if an item is being donated that it is taken away from the property immediately so the owner does not have a change of heart regarding the decision.
Begin the Deep Clean
As soon as you have everything out of a room, you will want a team to start cleaning and assessing the structure of the home. Many times, you will uncover water damage and cracked drywall that will need to be repaired before things are put back into the home. This is where it is important to have code enforcement or other professionals that can make sure the home is safe to return. Professional cleaning services know the best way to remove any biohazards from the home and disinfect it completely. Allowing the homeowner a safe place to call home and move back into.
The task may seem overwhelming at the beginning, but when you take baby steps it is possible to return to a livable situation. With a team of friends, loved ones, and a professional cleaning company in Altadena, California, you can create a comprehensive plan that will help handle the anxiety, declutter the home, and properly sanitize the home.