According to the American Psychiatric Organization, people with a hoarding disorder will pervasively and consistently save items that other people may conclude are worthless. There will be a persistent difficulty in parting with their many possessions, and the person will experience severe stress and anxiety when even thinking about getting rid of something. The end result of all of this stockpiling compulsion is a living or work space filled with so much clutter that the mess will disrupt the hoarder’s ability to use their living space as they once could before the place became so messy.

Why Hoarding Is Not the Same as Collecting

There is a huge difference between serious collecting behaviors and that of compulsive hoarding behavioral traits. Someone who likes to collect things will search for the specific items that they need to complete their collection. For example, many people like to collect dolls, stamps, coins or baseball cards. On the other hand, the hoarder is not really looking for a specific thing. They tend to collect things at random, and hoarders usually don’t display their collected items like the average collector would do.

The hoarder will lack basic organizational skills, and the things that they collect can become sentimental to them. Some hoarders indicate that they feel safer being surrounded by their many possessions even if space is a total disaster.

Experts estimate that approximately 2 to 6 percent of the population are hoarders. Many will eventually develop serious problems in how they function on a day-to-day basis. While many women might appear to have this disorder, some recent studies on hoarding seem to signify that this disorder is slightly more common in men. Hoarding is also showing to be more prevalent in older adults from age 55 to age 94+.

What Is the Harm in Hoarding Items?

Studies have clearly shown that individuals with a hoarding disorder will face some adverse consequences in their daily lives. Hoarding can help cause difficulties with relationships, ability to work and can seriously hinder the person’s social life as well.

Other issues that hoarding can cause include an increased chance for falls or other injuries due to the lack of clear walkway paths through the house. The person is more apt to trip and they often neglect their personal hygiene if they are unable to get into their bathroom. There is also an increased risk of fire due to the sheer amount of combustible material laying all around. Cooking in such a mess can truly become a huge hazard.

Are There Any Dangers When Cleaning up a Property Where a Hoarder Resides:

Usually, by the time that a hoarder is forced to clean up their mess, there has usually been some type of intervention or the hoarder is facing consequences of the state of their home living conditions with an eviction notice, citations from the city, homeowner’s association or other governing body or other serious consequence.

Along with the obvious safety risks when traipsing through the disorganized and severely overcrowded home, there is also the real danger of encountering unseen pathogens and other hazards somewhere on the property. Some dangers that might indicate that biohazard substances and materials are present includes:

  • Rotting Food & Spoiled Dairy Products
  • Garbage Strewn About
  • Mold Growth on Surfaces that Can’t Be Reached or on Dirty Dishes
  • Built Up Grime, Dust & Other Filth
  • Person Might Be Dirty Due to Not Being Able to Use Shower or Even the Toilet
  • Pet Urine & Fecal Matter or Child’s if One is Living There
  • Presence of Insects or Rodents

How to Motivate a Hoarder to Remove Clutter From the Home

Most mental health experts believe that hoarding is more than just the act of saving things. Individuals with hoarding problem typically become very attached to ordinary things as a way to feel comforted. Perhaps they remember a time when they felt lonely or scared when young. If they had something during that time that brought them a measure of comfort, that item might become something to keep forever.

It is hard to help a hoarder once the clutter has built up to an overwhelming amount. Avoid shaming individuals. As this disorder can be based on inner feelings of self-shame or feelings of low self-worth, that type of negative commentary will never help. It is best to try to understand why a person likes an object. Start very small and progress slowly for the best results. Use positive reinforcement, and try to focus on one small area at a time. Most hoarders have severe difficulties in organizational skills.

The Perils of Cleaning a Home That an Animal Hoarder Lived In

There is a condition that some individuals with a hoarder disorder might fall into. An animal hoarder believes that they are rescuing abandoned, stray or otherwise unwanted animals. In their need to rescue someone, an animal is less demanding than dealing with people. Unfortunately, some animal hoarders take this behavior to the extreme. There have been cases where 15 animals and up to 100 animals were all living in one fairly small residence.

This type of scenario can be horrendous to clean up. These animals are often kept in filth and frequently have many ailments like worms, fleas, ticks, and other conditions. This kind of situation should be handled by a hoarder property cleanup and restoration specialist like Eco Bear for the best chance at salvaging the home and eliminating all of the dangerous pathogens. A cleanup job of this magnitude often requires a full suit-up of protective gear before even entering the interior spaces of the home.

The real risks of cleaning up a property after or while a hoarder have lived there cannot be overstated. Eco Bear stands ready to assist. Read more at