Extreme Cleaners: My First Hoarding Cleanup

Gabby MartinCleanup, Hoarding

As a biohazard remediation company, we’re used to working against harmful living matter that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Over the course of a year, we encounter thousands of harmful strains of bacteria, disease, and without fail, many species of pests.

Did you know there are major home hazards that go unnoticed because they were kept hidden from the world? You might be surprised to hear we’re referring to extreme hoarding disorder cases. How does a home barricaded with walls of garbage and junk go unnoticed for so long? Well, most hoarding cases aren’t discovered until the property becomes suddenly vacant, or the tenant passes away. That’s because hoarders tend to keep their accumulations private over time, even by going so far to only allow themselves into their home.


What happens after an extreme hoarder dies?

As devastating as it can be to deal with the death of a loved one, it is, after all, a natural part of life. When one experiences the death of a loved one or family member, our thought processes tend to overload with emotions and irrational decisions during our time of mourning. I know this from personal experience when my Uncle Joe passed away in October of 2013.

My Uncle was a great loving individual, and all around great person. Although he had his problems like the rest of us, he always hid them behind a humorous personality. When he suffered a fatal heart attack in his home, he had lay there for hours face down on the carpet. My Aunt Anne found him that evening and could do nothing but wait for paramedics to arrive to remove his body.

Even though he had been dead for hours, technically making this an unattended death, my Aunt didn’t know. Once paramedics arrived they looked for a non-existent pulse and performed CPR. He was then moved into the ambulance and taken to the hospital. When I showed up to my Aunt’s house I was just as distraught to hear the news and offered whatever I could do to help. I never frequented my Aunt’s house since she was far out east Long Island and never wanted company into her home. While odd, her and my uncle traveled out to see us often enough that we never really questioned it.

When I arrived, I was immediately taken back by the amount of garbage that was strewn around the house and the horrible smell. I realized my Aunt and Uncle had been living in pure filth.

A kitchen strewn with hoards of boxes, papers, newspapers, bottles, and filth.I offered my help in cleaning up the small two bedroom house they shared and returned the next day to clear out the garbage that littered the floors. Where my Uncle died was a pool of blood and vomit where he fell face first. I put on latex gloves and set to work. I filled at least 15 garbage bags with old newspapers, soda cans, wrappers, empty boxes, etc. I couldn’t understand how someone could live like this day to day and not do anything about it. I love my Aunt and Uncle unconditionally but this was certainly a shock for me.

Once all the garbage was out of the house I could finally see the floor. The carpet below was caked with feline urine and fecal stains, hair, and mud. I ripped out all the carpeting in the house and when I got to the spot where my uncle passed I was surprised to see the pet urine had seeped down into the sub-floor and made it’s way down to the support beams below. I inspected the support beams from the basement to find blood/bio soaked wood. After I finished, my relatives helped me contact a contractor, who ended up having to redo sections of the sub-flooring.


Use This Experience As Your Example

Biohazard cleaners dressed in full PPE and respirators prepare for cleaning an extreme hoarding case.I wanted to make a difference to families of hoarders, so other families would not have to undergo this experience. Companies like Bio Recovery exist for this very reason. If I had known about this beforehand, I would’ve contacted them from the beginning. I would of preferred that to seeing what my Uncle actually lived in.

Plus, it would have been a lot safer. With proper training, I now realize hoarding situations, like that of my Aunt and Uncle’s, attract pests and harmful bacteria and really should be handled with PPE. It would of been better for my own peace of mind all around. I also would of been more comfortable with his death and not have to have seen what he had passed away in. It wouldn’t have been such an eye opener.

I didn’t expect such a heavy cleanup for such a simple death, nor did I expect to see my Uncle living his final days in absolute filth. I’ll always remember my Uncle Joe for the good times of course, but I can’t help but wonder who else may be living like he did, putting on a positive face with all of his problems concealed within.

If you or somebody you know is dealing with a similar issue and are in need of hoarding help, contact Bio Recovery today. My team and I would love to ease the burden of your hoarding cleanup so you don’t have to experience these kind of situations yourself.