Hoarder Home Cleaners Answer Your Common Questions

Gabby MartinHoarding

Addressing Common Questions and Misconceptions on Hoarder Homes

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Definition of a Hoarder?

  • Clutter vs. Hoarding: Is There a Difference?

  • Are There Different Types?

  • What is the Average Cost of a Cleanup?

  • Are There Extreme Stages?

  • What Can I Do to Help a Loved One?

  • What Can I Do If I'm Living In This Situation?

  • How to Anonymously Report Incidents

What is a hoarder?

We all hoard to some degree, which lends to a lot of confusion and misconception towards the topic. It’s perfectly natural to wonder and have questions, we get them all the time. With our 20 years experience in hoarding cleaning services, we hope to provide answers for friends and communities on these frequently asked questions.

What is the definition of a hoarder?

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, the exact definition of a hoarder is “someone who collects large amounts of something and keeps it for [themselves].”  We’ve all heard and used the term colloquially, so when should the term be used seriously? 

The term is serious when it refers to keeping items of dire importance to them. It's not a collector, like a rock or vinyl collector. It's a serious problem when someone forms attachments to items that cannot be let go without serious psychological distress. Discarding any items becomes a hoarder's biggest fear.

It almost sounds like an obsession, right? That’s why, for a long time, hoarding was thought to be a sign of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). However, research has shown hoarding is more compulsive, meaning that the behavior happens without consciously being able to control it. Since there are no intrusive thought symptoms, a hallmark trait in obsessive disorders, hoarding disorders are now considered their own disorder.

Clutter vs. hoarding situations: is there a difference?

Sometimes, we get very busy and have stacks of papers that get overwhelming. Maybe they no longer take up less than a quarter of the desk, now they take up half the desk, but you do eventually reorganize or discard them without any distress. That's clutter. Clutter is also when you have more items than what you have space for, so it noticeably takes up areas of the house.

A hoarding situation is when you can't psychologically bring yourself to organize or throw out any of those papers, to the point it takes over the room. Without intervention, it will take over the entire house.

Are there different types of hoarding?

Great question. There are many different types, from animal hoarding to shopping hoarding. You may have heard of some of these already with the impact of the COVID-19, when masses caused a shortage in toilet paper, paper towels, and more. However, it is important to note that what news outlets call "shopping hoarding" is actually "panic buying".

The main types that are common, regardless of public crisis include:

  • food and garbage hoarding, the most dangerous because it attracts harmful bacteria and pests, 
  • shopping hoarding, when you can't part with things that you've accumulated from shopping, 
  • animal hoarding, when the amount of pets you own exceeds the space they have and becomes overwhelming to manage, which sadly leads to biohazardous pet waste
  • and more

What is the average cost to clean a hoarder house?

Our prices to fully clean and disinfect a house start at $2,200-3,850, depending on a few factors, mostly the biohazards involved. However, it's important to keep in mind that most property owners do not pay for the clean up out of pocket. These services are generally covered by home insurance.

Are there extreme stages of hoarding?

There's different stages, sometimes called levels, to every situation. Extreme situations affect your health and (presumably) pet's health to the point you can't see or move around in your own home. In these situations the weight and mountains of items can attract pests, cause structural damage to the home, and block ventilation. A biohazard team like us can assist safely with specially approved PPE. 

Remember, a little clutter doesn't necessarily mean there's a problem. Likewise, if things are messy but somewhere in the middle, it may not mean cause for concern. These must be assessed case by case on a spectrum. Life With Dignity published an excellent resource on this spectrum here.

What can I do to help a hoarder parent, family member, or loved one?

Most of the time you don't know. The person is aware their behavior is unusual and highly self conscious and secretive as a result. It's rare they'll let you in their home. They'll keep their home very private as a result. If you are already know or recognize signs with your parent or family member, they'll need to agree to intervention. The best thing you do to help a hoarder is to support and encourage them, remind them you are there to help them.

What can I do if I'm living with a hoarder?

Assuming that the situation is serious, hoarding trash attracts harmful bacteria, so special teams like our's must come in with biohazard PPE must come in to assess and remediate the situation. It's your best bet to call a professional and experienced biohazard remediation company like Bio Recovery to restore the home back to the way it was.

How can I anonymously report a hoarder?

If you notice your neighbor's yard shows signs of hoarding, or if you have reason to believe there are individuals that are getting seriously ill as a result of exposure, it may be your best interest to report them. You can do this by contacting your local department of health or by calling 311 (additional charges may apply).

Alternatively, if you have reason to believe your tenant is a hoarder, you can file a report, but you can't technically evict them. Since it's not illegal, and they are protected under the Fair Housing Act, it will require proving they've violated your contract.

What is a typical hoarder house cleaning like?

We assess the property, the equipment/PPE needed, and work with you the entire process. Unless it is a top level hazard, you will be advised every step of the way. For more information, please see our services. Curious on what the process is like for the cleaner? Check out our very own crew member's recollection over his first house cleaning.

As a hoarder, where do I start?

This is an answer that really depends on the situation. We are here 24/7 and will work with you
to protect your privacy and ensure your peace of mind is properly restored. Please call us below.

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