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How to Help a Hoarder Declutter

April 18, 2017.

We’ve all held onto something longer than we should. Clothing that doesn’t fit, but reminds us of one particular birthday. Movie tickets and concert stubs that take us back to our first date. Hoarders, unfortunately, never let anything go. Their house becomes a storage facility for every physical detail of their lives. Ironically, hoarding also prevents people from living.

Helping a hoarder with a home cleanout can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. When approached in an organized and thoughtful manner, the process can be straightforward and therapeutic. Below are a few tips to consider when tackling the task.

Be Prepared

It’s not uncommon for a hoarder’s home to have pests and bacteria hiding among the piles. Arrive prepared with proper equipment, such as gloves, face masks and flashlights so that you’ll be ready to start moving items. Once the cleaning begins, the process moves much quicker if you’re adequately prepared in the beginning.

Designate Areas

Before anything is actually removed from the home, it helps to have designated areas assigned for certain categories. Doing so will make quick work of sorting belongings and unnecessary trash as they’re pulled from the home. The four categories below seem to be the most logical.

Keep – For any items that are used regularly or sentimental/valuable items that the owner doesn’t wish to part with. This area needs to be monitored heavily as most hoarders classify everything worthy of keeping.

Donate – For any items that are still in useable condition but can be discarded from the home. This is also a good pile to put the “maybe” items in, as this group will more than likely be sorted through again once the job is completed.

Recycle – For any items that aren’t salvageable enough to be donated, but contain materials worth recycling. Hopefully, when the home is completely cleaned out, this pile will be the largest.

Trash – For items that cannot be saved in any way and do not fit into the other three groups. Everything included in this pile should be removed from the home and hauled away.

Where to Start

It helps to clear a path for a defined entrance/exit into the home. Once a traffic pattern has been established, it’s best to clear out one room at a time starting with the nearest bathroom. Bathrooms are often the easiest to clear as almost everything can be placed in the trash pile and the surfaces wiped clean fairly quickly. It will also help to have a semi-clean bathroom to use throughout the rest of the process.

Where to End

Once the home has been completely emptied and the items have been sorted, a deep cleaning of the residence is necessary. Every room, every surface, every corner should be wiped down and wiped out. Only then can belongings from the keep pile return and be organized in logical places.

Ideally, the homeowner would commit to maintaining the new space without continued hoarding but should be open to ongoing help, ideally from a licensed therapist.

Jiffy Junk has extensive experience with the sensitive task of cleaning out a hoarder’s home. If you’re in the Queens area or near Nassau and Suffolk Counties and need help, give us a call today at 888-543-3966 or click the Get Price button below.

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