Restoring a hoarder’s house is a challenging task. Going through their stuff is like a scavenger hunt which is not fun. A hoarder is a person who suffers from anxiety and may have difficulty in making informed decisions and having a comfortable lifestyle. The cleaning process will be time-consuming, emotional, and difficult. There are a few steps one should follow while dealing with a hoarder’s house. These include:
- Assessing the situation
- Form a cleaning strategy
- Gather the required supplies
- Sort out the items
- Cleaning and restoring the house
A hoarder holds on to everything and has a hard time letting go. They tend to stack up everything including food even if it has gone bad and rotting away. This can have a serious effect on their health.
Tips on restoring a house of a hoarder
- Assessing the situation and protecting yourself
Hoarders lack the ability to classify things according to their value and they end up storing a lot of useless things. They fear throwing them out since they have a fear that they may be losing something important. The accumulating stuff tends to harbor pests, support the growth of bacteria and pose fire hazards. Decluttering and sanitizing such a home requires one to be compassionate so that the results will be satisfying in the end. The process of cleaning a hoarder’s house is laborious. This includes removing large piles of trash, repairing damages in the property, intensive cleaning, sorting out items in the house, and deciding the fate of some sentimental items and documents. Hence, you need to get professional help to ensure the house is cleaned well. However, keep in mind that the house of a hoarder may have biological contaminants, flammable and explosive materials, pest infestations. A biohazard cleanup would be highly recommended in such cases. You would need protective wear such as gloves to protect you from mold and animal waste. You will also need:
- Fire extinguisher
- Flashlight to help you see in the dark
- Repellent spray
- First aid kit and OTC pain and allergy meds
- Form a cleaning strategy and gather supplies
Identify the work to be done first and allocate time for it. You will need cleaning supplies to clean and disinfect the house. Gather large trash bags, boxes, step ladder, dustpans, brooms, and hammers to disassemble some items.
- Prepare a staging area and secure all exits
You will need an outside area, back or front yard, as a temporary storage area to be used to declutter and sort out all the items in the house.
The doors might be partially or fully blocked due to the stacking of things. Clear all the exit areas by removing debris, trash or furniture in the course. It would be risky In case of an emergency.
- Cleaning the hoarder’s house
After securing the exits, start with the bathroom and kitchen since they pose a threat to health. Scrub and clean thoroughly, disinfect to kill any bacteria and mold in the area. This gives you a clean supply of water. You can now move to a bigger room. Remove all the trash in the room, all the furniture including wardrobes and beds to create space. Check again for anything that may have been forgotten in the room and take it to the staging area so that they can be sorted. Go through clothes, check for any jewelry or money in the pockets. When you get rid of all the useless stuff, check for any salvageable items in the piles, the ones which can be kept or donated. When going through old papers, check for life insurance policies, receipts, bank account numbers and family photos to be returned to the family. Preserve family heirlooms, artwork, and anything of sentimental value. Before donating anything ensure it’s thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, ready to be used.
When the house is free of litter, clean the floor and walls, if there is any damage to the structure contact a construction company to repair it. If there is a severe case of mold, the place needs to be dehumidified and deodorized. Consider painting walls and ceilings, re-polishing, and re-carpeting of floors to make the house more comfortable for the family to move back in. Disinfect the entire house and anything else before it is returned back to the house including furniture. Place them in their rightful place and in a neat manner before the family moved back in.