If you’re working on getting a hoarder property cleaned out in Rancho Santa Margarita, you probably already know that you got your hands full. Hoarder properties are some of the most difficult types of homes to clean, and they require more professional help the worse they are. You’ve probably already realized that you’ll need to work with a hoarder property cleaning company in order to make real progress. There are things you can do to help the hoarder prepare for cleanup as well.

What is hoarding?

A person with hoarding disorder has an inability to throw away the things that other people would simply discard. This could mean clothes that no longer fit or ordinary boxes that held groceries. The hoarder will simply declare that they have a use for an item or will have a use for an item in the future. As the hoarding disorder gets worse, the hoarder eventually gets to the point where they are unable to determine what is useless and what is useful.

This type of mental disorder requires a lot of mental health therapy in order for the person to overcome their compulsion. Sometimes the disorder is so extreme that people need to take medication. Whatever the reason, you made the decision that you’re going to help this person restore a hoarder home to its former glory.

Following is a checklist of things that you can do with a hoarder to make sure that they are ready for the cleanup.

Make sure that the hoarder is truly ready to begin.

One thing about hoarders is that they are extremely stubborn and resilient when it comes to protecting their hoard. Arguing with them can get very frustrating. Don’t get involved with cleaning and moving forward until the hoarder is truly on board.

Take an assessment of the space.

Take an assessment of the space with the hoarder by doing a walkthrough if it’s at all possible. This will allow you to get a good idea of what the scope of the cleanup will be. It will also be good information to pass on to the cleaning company so that they have an idea of what to expect. The cleaning company will do their own assessment, but sharing your first-hand information prior to their arrival could be helpful.

Explain why cleaning has to be done.

There could be many different reasons that cleaning has to go forward. The obvious is that the house is essentially uninhabitable. What the hoarder may not understand is why it’s so dangerous for the house to be so dirty. Hoarder houses are filled with biohazardous waste, the type of waste that contains pathogens that causes disease in humans. Everything from mold to bacteria to viruses can cause diseases in humans that are debilitating at best and deadly at worst. 

In addition to the biohazardous waste at the site, hoarder homes are extreme fire hazards. A small fire can quickly light up a hoarder house within seconds due to the sheer amount of paper and junk it contains.

Let the hoarder know that keeping the home unclean could put ownership of the home in jeopardy.

What many hoarders fail to realize or refuse to believe is that their homes can be taken away from them if those homes fall into extreme disrepair. There have been situations where hoarder houses have been condemned, and the hoarders have been evicted. Let the hoarder know that you understand the difficulty that it takes dealing with the situation, but it will be more difficult for them to lose their home.

Help them seek emotional and mental health care.

The compulsion to hoard is overwhelming, and the hoarder may not know how to fight it. By speaking with a mental health professional, they can get the help they need to control their impulses. Let them know that you support them, and you’ll be there for them. Consider having the mental health professional there during the first day of cleaning if the hoarder will be on site.

Determine how much the hoarder will be involved when the cleaning company arrives.

One of the trickiest parts of the hoarder cleanup process is when an unyielding hoarder is on site. That can make the cleanup difficult for the remediation team, and it will make overall costs for cleaning more expensive because the team will have to be on site for more days in order to get the job done.

Make a definitive list of what will be kept and what will be thrown away.

In order for the process to move forward, the hoarder has to understand that some things will have to go, and some things will get to remain. You will also need to have them agree to a place where the items that will remain will be stored until cleaning is over. This is another one of those times when it may help to have mental health professionals weigh in on the conversation as well. 

Choose off-site storage.

One way that hoarders may be able to transition from having tons of items to having fewer items is to have some cherished items stored in a storage facility. The storage facility can act as a sort of bridge between the items that the hoarder wants to keep and the hoarder’s home. This is not an opportunity for them to make the storage facility a new hoarding destination, but instead it’s an opportunity for them to understand that things can be kept without overwhelming the home.

We understand everything that’s involved with cleaning up a hoarder home. Give us a call if you’d like to chat or set up an appointment.