What many people may not know, is that hoarding is an incredibly touchy subject. Hoarding is a disorder that causes someone to add emotional/intrinsic value to objects of little to no need. Often the reason for this is that the individual believes the object may be of some use in the future, and does not want to get rid of the object for fear of needing it again later.
This behavior is dangerous to the individual and to any inhabitants of the home. Additionally, this type of behavior can commonly drive away family and loved ones. While we've covered the dangers of hoarding in previous blogs, here we want to spend some time discussing how to instigate the change, and the necessary steps to take to help someone with a hoarding disorder to live a better, safer life.
Cleaning up the home of a hoarder is much more intensive than it sounds, and precautions must be made before any moves are made. Additionally, cleaning up a hoarder's home is not going to be a cure-all for their behaviors. However, it is the first step towards recovery.
The process of cleaning can be dangerous and difficult. The individual who's home is being cleaned and restored will likely be upset with the process, which will require compassion, patience, and support from family and friends. Remember, this is a disorder based on fear, so it is important to try and understand they are scared to lose their belongings, but to comfort them and let them know they are loved and that things will turn out ok.
This is not the type of cleaning job that will take a day to complete. Cleaning the house of a hoarder can take up to weeks, and that may be just the object removal process.
It is likely that most things, including furniture, will have to be disposed of. A hoarder's home can be chock full of bacteria and mold, which can incapacitate many of the items within the home. Additionally, it is important to protect yourself while cleaning. Mold spores can be released into the air when they are disturbed, and are hazardous when breathed in. Additionally, mold can cause the decomposition of things, including the structural integrity of the home itself. This can potentially cause certain structures to collapse, causing a cleaner to either trip over items or get trapped under collapsed clutter.
Call In the Pros
For this kind of cleaning it is definitely best to call in the professionals. Experts in the hoarding cleanup field have the necessary tools and cleaning supplies to safely and effectively restore a home back to its former glory. Typically, this is what a cleanup process will look like.
1. Develop a Plan
The first thing is to assess the damage and develop a game plan of how to most efficiently and safely clean out the home. Sometime it might be necessary to team up with a pest control agency if there are any rodent infestations in the home. The restoration company will also include the individual and family on this plan, to keep them updated with every step of the process.
2. Develop Trust
This is a huge change for the affected individual, and can be very frustrating and scary for them. This is why it is crucial that the team helping with the cleanup earns the trust of the homeowner. Here at Clean Earth, we know this can be a difficult time. This is why our agents are highly trained in cleaning, as well as being compassionate and considerate individuals. They help the affected individual realize how dangerous their home or living environment has become, and do their best to make them feel better and more comfortable with the cleaning process.
3. Safety First
We ensure safety as our number one priority, along with efficiency. Our cleaners wear top shelf protective gear such as goggles, dust masks, and gloves before going into the home. They are also equipped with flashlights, sprays to repel insects and rodents, first-aid kits, fire extinguishers, and a number of cleaning supplies, including disinfectants, cleaners, air cleaners, mops, sponges, wet/dry vacuums, brushes, buckets, boxes, industrial trash bags, and more.
4. Prepare for Staging and Dumping
It is important to have an area outside the home with plenty of space to place things being moved out of the home. Additionally it will be important to rent a large dumpster for contaminated items and additional garbage that is ready for immediate disposal.
When dealing with a cleanup as large as this, you'll want to make things as easy as possible on yourself. This includes removing any obstacles from exits and entryways, including doors. This also ensures a swift exit in the case on an emergency.
6. Dealing with the Clutter
Much of the cleaning will involve small meticulous items, commonly referred to as clutter. These are the items all over the ground and throughout the house. The most efficient way to clean out clutter is to start close to the exit. Our techs with start with the room closest to the exit, and move throughout the home from there. Clutter is removed from top to bottom, making sure that no piles fall on any of the cleaners as things are being removed. Trash and garbage are put in the dumpster, and items that can be salvaged and put into the staging area outside the home.
7. Sorting Out Items
Once the majority of the property is cleaned out it is time to go through the salvageable items. Our specialists will help sort through the contents and help the affected individual and their family decide what would be best to keep, donate, and discard. Items that can be kept and salvaged are cleaned and sanitized thoroughly, and restored back to their original conditions. They are then either returned to the family or taken to a center where they can be donated.
8. Restoration of the Home
Hoarding can cause a lot of damage to a property, so it is important to host a thorough inspection of the premises and and restore any property damage that has occurred. Restoration can include mold remediation, re-carpeting, repainting, deodorizing, and anything else necessary to bring the property back into shape. The premises will also need a thorough cleaning and disinfecting, including any furniture being salvaged, as well as appliances and other items being put back into use.
9. Organizing and Keeping Things That Way
After the home is cleaned and restored, it is important to groom the affected individual to organize their remaining items. Our experts can help will organizational tips, as well as develop a maintenance plan for the person to keep their home clean and clear of clutter. Short-term follow ups help ensure the place is staying clean, and can provide further assistance if more cleaning or help may be needed. Therapy can also be a good way for the individual to stay on track.
10. Dealing with the Formalities
Once the technicians are finished with their work, make sure to take care of any required paperwork from government agencies, lawyers, or trusts.
Here at Clean Earth Restorations, we know you care about your loved ones and their health. Hoarding can be a difficult problem to deal with, but with the right tools and with the proper professional help, the cleaning process can become easier than you thought. For more information on the hoarding cleanup process, or if you or someone you know is suffering from a hoarding disorder, give us a call at 619-284-4239, or contact us at cleanearthrestorations.com.