The time has come. You’re looking at finally cleaning up a hoarder property. You know that there are a lot of challenges involved, but you’re ready to take them on. Inside a hoarder house is no place for anyone to live, and you’re ready to restore the home back to its original condition.

If you’re ready to take the next step regarding cleaning up a hoarder house, you probably have a lot of questions, especially if you’re not the actual hoarder but you simply bought a hoarder home. Many people wonder exactly what happens to make someone become a hoarder.

What exactly is hoarding?

Hoarding is a mental disorder that compels someone to feel that they have to hold onto everything that they own or that comes into their possession. Much more extreme in their behavior than pack rats, hoarders don’t want to let anything go. Separating them from their belongings, no matter how useless those belonging seem to everyone else, can cause hoarders extreme stress. Hoarding disorder is a mental illness that takes intensive therapy and sometimes medication to get under control. If you watch the television show Hoarders, you may notice that many of the people profiled on the show have homes filled with junk that doesn’t seem to follow any particular pattern. While that definitely is the case, there are actually several different types of hoarding.

Types of hoarding

Regular, typical hoarding

The regular or “typical” hoarder is the hoarder that most people think of when they think of hoarders. These are the people who bring tons of useless items into their homes and refuse to let go of any bit of it. They stop cleaning their homes after a while because they literally don’t have the space anymore to do so. Rooms have become storage facilities. No room in the house is exempt, with many other items flowing into kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. These people tend to have some sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder, necessitating mental health care intervention.


Some people have the most amazing collections. They may collect special types of dolls, or they have special coin collections. Some people collect coffee table books, while others collect first-edition poetry books. When a collection is portrayed in a beautiful, organized way, it can be really stunning to look at. It can be enjoyable even for someone who may not share the collector’s passion for that particular item. 

Where collecting gets tricky is when the collector is no longer able to determine what a valuable item is and what a useless item is. Someone who loves to collect books may have gone from only picking 17th-century novels to picking every book ever made since the 1600s. They may have gone from collecting vintage Dresden dolls to collecting every doll they find in the street. They are no longer able to determine what a valuable collectors’ piece looks like. Since this is a situation where a collector develops hoarding disorder, it can be really hard to convince these types of people to let go of their items. Not only are they dealing with hoarding disorder but they’re also dealing with trying to hold onto their passions.

The Anti-Waste Crew

Many of us have those people in our lives that are all about not wasting things. It could be a grandmother who saves aluminum foil that’s already been used because she “can get a few more uses out of it.” It could be someone who saves newspapers no matter how old they are because they could “use it as wrapping one day.”

Pretty soon the stacks of paper reach all the way up to the ceiling, or they fill entire basements. Some hoarders feel this way about collecting food. Many people, especially those who come from backgrounds where they dealt with food insecurity, hoard food as much as possible. They want to be absolutely sure that they’ll be able to feed themselves in case they run into a financial crisis down the road. Doing a little pantry prep makes a lot of sense for most people. But for people who hoard food, it goes beyond that. They buy food that would last them years into the future. Eventually the food goes past its expiration date, but they still hold onto it.

Animal Hoarding

Some people may think that animal hoarding means that you simply have a ton of animals on your property. While too many animals can become an issue, some people are able to fully take care of a relatively large number of animals. The animals don’t disrupt their lifestyles, and they’re able to keep their homes clean and the animals healthy. 

Animal hoarding usually refers to people who have animals on their property that they are unable to take care of in a sanitary and healthy way. Biohazardous waste will build up as the hoarder, unable to keep up with all of the waste, simply gives up bothering to clean the house at all. This is why you’ll see evidence of animal fecal matter and urine in many hoarder houses. Animal carcasses are also pretty commonly found in animal hoarder houses since the animals may simply have died because they were hidden or buried behind massive piles of junk.

Hoarding is a very difficult mental illness to untangle. Cleaning up a hoarder house is much easier when you understand the reason behind hoarders doing what they do. Give us a call if you’re ready to begin the process of clearing out a hoarder house in San Juan Capistrano. It can be a very challenging process, but we are used to it, and we can help you get the ball rolling.