Hoarding affects somewhere between 2 and 6 percent of the U.S. population. With shows like “Hoarders” focusing on individuals with high-level hoarding disorders, you may be familiar with the symptom of hoarding: individuals who collect lots of items, even things that seem of little to no use, and experience extreme distress when asked to throw away items.
Whether you own a hoarding house or inherited one from a loved one, it can be very difficult to attract buyers to a hoarder house, since you can’t take good photos or hold an open house without cleaning first. In this post, we will provide you with a quick hoarder house cleaning checklist and discuss tips that will help you get started restoring your home.
Hoarder Cleaning Tips
You’ll have an easier time cleaning a hoarder house if the hoarder isn’t involved, but that is not always possible. When cleaning out a hoarder home where the hoarder must be involved, start with a conversation. If you clean without getting their consent, the hoarder can experience emotional distress.
Some hoarders will want to be part of the cleaning process, but since they’re likely to object each time you toss an item, you will progress faster if they aren’t at home. Connect the hoarder with a therapist or a coach, who can provide support throughout the home cleaning process.
Survey the level of clutter in the home. If you feel like it’s something you can take on, use the hoarder cleaning checklist to make headway. Advanced hoarding can be difficult for a single person to clean, so if you feel like you can’t do the work on your own, bring in a cleaning professional who can assist.
You don’t know what’s under the layers of objects in a hoarder house. Even if the surface-level clutter is clothing or paper, which doesn’t seem hazardous, you may find health hazards (such as moldy food) as you dig through the items.
Hoarder houses tend to be very dirty and could contain feces, pests, or mold. Select clothing you don’t care about to clean the home. Long pants and long sleeves protect you from coming into contact with health hazards, but you should also take a face mask and gloves. Wear sturdy shoes (since you don’t know what’s hiding under all that stuff) and keep a first-aid kit nearby, in case you cut yourself on something.
Hoarder House Cleaning Checklist
1. Get the Right Supplies
So you can make as much headway on every visit, get the right supplies before you start. It’s helpful to bring a dumpster onsite, rather than attempt to bag and dispose of everything in the municipal trash.
Have empty boxes on hand, so you can put the hoarder’s possessions in there before sending them to the new house. Pick up heavy-duty trash bags, where you’ll put small items. While some items may be in condition for donation, for example, old clothing, the unfortunate reality is that most items in a hoarder house are of little to no value to anyone other than the hoarder themselves. During a move, your best bet is to throw these items away so bag them up and move full bags to the dumpster.
Keep cleaning supplies, disinfectants, on hand as well as sponges, rags, wet wipes, and paper towels. You may need a stepladder to access high shelves and you will want to have a vacuum cleaner, broom, and dustpan for when you get down to ground level.
2. Work Your Way In
Work room by room to make progress in the whole house. Start with the entryway, since you will need to pass through it each time you go to the dumpster. When the entrance to the house is clear, you will feel less trapped, and the hard work of moving things to the dumpster becomes easier.
As you clear an area, sort items into piles to keep, donate, or throw away. Once you have piles, box or bag the items. Move donated items to your car and take a trip once your car is full. With items that will be kept, consider storing them in the garage or renting an onsite storage pod, which can be moved to the new house when it’s full.
3. Deep Clean and Repair
Keep your focus on removing objects until rooms are in a reasonably empty state and can be cleaned. Clean the rooms yourself or hire a cleaning professional to come in at this stage. Start cleaning by dusting ceilings and lights and move down to walls and floors.
Only after you clear possessions from a hoarder house can you see the actual state of the house. Many hoarder homes are badly in need of repairs, which may have been put off because the hoarder was ashamed to let service professionals in their house.
Bring in professionals who can give estimates for the work. Some projects may be worth pursuing if it will make the house more attractive on the market, but other projects may simply not return enough money to be worth the investment of time and capital. When that happens, it’s best to price the hoarder house to sell and put it on the market.
Skip the Cleaning and Move Out Quickly
Chances are, cleaning a hoarder house will be more labor-intensive, more time-consuming, and more physically dangerous than you thought. If you or a loved one is a hoarder, the process can be emotionally draining too. For the hoarder, your cleaning efforts can make them feel ashamed of their compulsion. Even if they know the house needs to be cleaned pending a move, they may not be able to emotionally process the painful experience of having their treasures tossed.
Rather than put yourself and your loved ones through that, there is another way. HomeGo accepts homes for sale in as-is condition, which means no cleaning, no upgrades, no repairs. HomeGo agents buy one house every 20 minutes, and make a fair offer, usually on the same day they see the house. To learn more about selling to HomeGo, contact us today.