Step-by-Step Guide: Cleaning and Organizing a Hoarder House

How to Clean a Hoarder House

How to Clean a Hoarder House

Hoarding is a serious mental illness. It is not just that a person does not want to get rid of things, it is that they do not know how to. Hoarding can put a person at risk in several ways. They are putting their mental health at risk by holding on to everything. They are putting their physical health at risk too. Often, the home is cluttered and dirty. Below are some tips for cleaning up a hoarding house.

Develop a Plan for Cleaning Any Hoarder House

A person cannot just go into a hoarder's house and begin cleaning. They need to look at the home as a whole and develop a plan for cleaning. They need to look at the rooms, the location of each room, and the amount of garbage in the area. This will help them develop a plan when it comes to cleaning the home of the hoarder. A plan will allow them to stay organized and make sure that the home will be clean and organized.

When it comes to cleaning out the home of a hoarder, there are some things that will be needed to make sure the process is safe and effective. all of these measures need to be taken seriously so everyone stays safe.

Related: Our Printable Hoarder Cleaning Checklist

Personal Protective Equipment for Hoarder House Cleanup

The home has years and years of dirt and clutter around. There can be a buildup of bugs, mold, and other things that can be harmful to their health. It is essential to have protective equipment for the cleaning process to begin. A person should have gloves that will protect their hands. They may want to have shoe covers too so they do not take dirt and other debris from room to room. A person may want to put a plastic gown on so they do not get grime on their clothing. A mask is needed to protect the face and keep from breathing in toxins such as mold spores.

Suitable Staging Area

There needs to be a central area to keep cleaning supplies and other items. This will help make sure everyone has what they need to participate in the cleaning process. This will also help make sure everyone is on the same page when they are completing this task.

Dumpster Rental for Waste

The hoarding home is going to have a lot of trash that will need to be thrown out. There is too much for a regular trash pickup. A dumpster will have room to make sure all of the trash is removed.  Having a large waste bin will be needed to get rid of years of collection and clutter, so it is important to get one that is a good size. Keep in mind that furniture may be in bad shape and may need to be thrown out too.

Starting Out Small Helps to Avoid Getting Overwhelmed

When a person looks at a hoarder's home, they may not know where to begin. There is just so much clutter that it can seem like an endless task. This is why it is important to break the cleaning project into smaller steps. Take it one room at a time. A person should look for the room that they want back the most and begin the cleaning project with that room.

While there are a lot of items in the room, it is best to take smaller steps. A person should begin by throwing out all of the trash and things that are no longer needed. The room should then be given a deep cleaning. Every surface should be wiped down, and the floors need to be cleaned too. A professional cleaning service may need to be called in for this portion based on how dirty the room is.

Start With the First Room by the Main Door

The room by the main door is the room that people will come in and out of when they are cleaning. It is also the room that is used the most and will be seen when people enter the home. When this room is clean, the hoarder will be able to see what their home can look like. They will then want to help continue the process and allow the rest of the home to be cleaned.

Begin Sorting

There are some items that the hoarder will be able to keep. These items need to be in good condition and have a functional purpose in the home. There are going to be a lot of objects and materials around. When entering the home to begin cleaning, it is important to have plenty of supplies. Cleaning supplies including wipes will be needed to remove dirt and dust from these items. There should also be plenty of storage boxes brought into the home. This will help keep things organized.

The cleaning supplies will be used to clean the items as they are organized. The boxes will hold these items until the room is cleared out. Some of the functional items can be placed on display. Other items, such as sentimental belongings or keepsakes, can be placed in the boxes. They can be organized and then put into storage. If there are some larger items or furniture that needs to be thrown out, a dumpster may need to be rented for this occasion. This will help make sure the larger items are properly disposed of and are not kept around the home.

Sort out the Salvageable Items

There may be some items in the home that are worth saving. A person may have valuables and they may have some real sentimental items that they want to keep. It is important to look through these and decide what is still good and what can be used. Once again, look at the usefulness of the item, and this will help you decide if the item is still good or if it needs to be tossed into the dumpster.

When cleaning out the home, it is going to be a challenge to sort out the items that are necessities and in good condition from the items that are broken or are junk. Hoarders often do not want to part with the stuff they collected and they have a hard time throwing things out. There should be someone in charge to help with the sorting process. It will require patience and understanding. A person will need to make the hoarder throw things out they no longer need. This is when it is important to look at the usefulness of the items and if they are needed.


There may be some items that are in good condition, but they are no longer needed. For example, a person may have children’s toys that are still good but no longer have children in the home. These items can be wiped down and donated. There is no reason they need to be thrown out, but there is no reason to hold onto them. Items that are donated will be kept out of landfills and they will do some good for others. They will also be out of the home and clutter will not be a problem.

Empty the Rooms of Everything

Before putting items back into the home, all of the rooms should be empty. Cleaning will ensue before the furniture and belongings are placed back into the home. This will keep dust and dirt from spreading. It will also show a person what condition the home is in and the amount of work that may need to be done. At this point, you can determine if it can be done alone or if the professionals should be called.

This will also allow a person to develop a plan for the organization. They will look at the room and they will determine the purpose of the room and which items are going to be placed where in each room. Once again, this will help them address and access any damage so it can be repaired before putting everything back in the room.

Repeat the Entire Process

Once a room is emptied and cleaned and all of the items are organized, this should be done with every other room. This is going to take time and be a large project, but in the end, it will be worth it. The home will be cleaned and the hoarder will no longer have to live in filth.

Repair and Deep Clean the Property

With all of the clutter around the home, a person needs to be aware of the dangers of mold. There may be mold and other toxins that have grown and that are hidden behind objects. It is important to use caution when cleaning the home. A person should have a face mask and gloves on when they are cleaning so that they will be protected from any hazards.

If there is mold present, a person should not touch it with their hands. If the mold is really bad, a mold removal company may need to be called. If the mold in the room is overwhelming and there is too much of it to deal with, the room should be sealed off until the professionals are able to come.

Even if there is no mold, the property will need a good cleaning. All of the dirt and other debris will need to be removed. The home will need a complete scrub from the top to the bottom before it is safe to live in once again.

Things to Consider When Cleaning Any Hoarder House     

A person will not be able to take on the home of the hoarder alone. There is too much work to be done and too much clutter and dirt to deal with. It is important to have a team. People can be assigned to various tasks. Some people can remove items from the home while someone may be the designated duster. With all of this mess, it will take several people even to clean one room at a time.

While it may be hard to find a team, the first place that a person should start is with friends and family. They are more likely to help. If a person really does not have anyone around that can provide the support and assistance, they may need to hire some professionals to come and assist them. A person should not try to move heavy items alone as they may get hurt.

Costs to Clean and Repair Will Vary Greatly

The costs to fix up hoarder houses can change dramatically depending on several factors.  Knowing some of the things that affect theses costs can help you decide if its right for you. Maybe you want to take on the challenge of fixing it up so you can sell the house for more money, or maybe  selling as is makes more sense for you.

Help for the Hoarder

The hoarder may need some professional help to allow them to get past the need to hold onto items. Often the hoarder has some emotional or behavioral issues they may need to deal with. It is important to get them help during the cleaning process. This will help them realize that it is okay to throw things out and help them make sure the clutter does not build up again.

Hoarding does not happen overnight. It took years to make this mess, and it will not be cleaned up in a day. A person is going to need to know they are getting into a major project and that there is going to be resistance along the way. This is where a person will need to have patience. They will need to empty out one room at a time. Once the room is clean, they will need to go through all of the items. Most of it will be thrown out, but some can be reused or donated. The entire home must be emptied and a good cleaning will be needed. Once the home is cleaned and repairs are made, the organization process can begin.

The hoarder may need to learn some basic life skills and they may need help along the way to keep the home clean and organized.  

Conclusion: Be Persistent to Help Clean the Hoarder's House

Cleaning a hoarder's home is not going to be an easy task. The biggest difficulty will be working with the hoarder. With some determination, the home can be clean and organized, and with some help, it can stay that way.

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