Clutter & Hoarding Clean Up Do’s and Don’t

The DO’S

  1. Connect with the Hoarder– Place yourself in the Hoarder’s mind and connect with their emotions. They need to know that you will be there for them after the cleanup.
  2. Seek Professional Help– Weather you are a hoarder or a loved one of a hoarder, there are many therapists that specialize in hoarding. Don’t just go to a general therapist.
  3. Continue to talk with the hoarder about the hoarding situation.- This is not going away as much as the hoarder will promise to clean up.
  4. Talk about safety– Safety is a key concept that the hoarder is also concerned about. Talk about how reorganizing the home at first will assist in a safe situation. After that discussion you can begin the talk about removing items
  5. Agree that the items are important– Everything in the home down to the old toilet paper rolls and cigarette boxes have emotional connections to the hoarder. Baffled? What about something that you saved in your home that would seem odd to others? Look around your home and you will be surprised.
  6. Talk about keeping everything confidential– Hoarders realize to some degree that this is not normal to the average society. The goal to keep the hoarder on your side is to promise not to talk about anything related to their situation to anyone without their permission. You can however contact a certified hoarding clean up company that has been
  7. Ask the question of WHY? Why are they keeping these items, many hoarders have had a dramatic experience such as a death in the family, a loved one leaving them, or an abusive past which has led to this hoarding situation.
  8. Promote the Donate– Everyone loves to help the needy, so let the hoarder know their stuff will go to better use with someone who needs it rather than sitting in their house under other items.
  9. Getting Impatient– Don’t get impatient with them, it has to be taken one step at a time. The hoarder needs to realize first that their living condition is below standard. After this is realized, the hardest part of getting rid of certain items has come.
  10. Hire a Professional– Hiring a professional service will not only help with the relationship between you and the hoarder but it will allow someone (if hiring the right company) who knows items of value and can help to organize the house in a way that will help the hoarder coup with their feelings and loss of connect with the items.




  1. Make a fun with the hoarder’s situation– You’d be amazed what comes of people’s mouths. Prepare all who enter a hoarding home that this is a serious mental issue and that the hoarder is feeling very low and embarrassed when you enter the home.
  2. Say let’s get rid of all this “stuff “- To you the mountains of hoarded items may be useless “stuff”, but to a hoarder there is sentimental emotional connections to the “stuff “. For example they may have saved a menu from a restaurant that is still in business today. But the menu may remind them of a dinner with their late father.
  3. Get Angry– If you’re a loved one your first reaction will be to start getting upset. This emotion will get you nowhere and will actual scare the hoarder who is very sensitive a the time to close up with your request to take care of the situation.
  4. Try to reason with the hoarder right away- Remember they have been living like this for years and have created a sense of normalcy at the moment. The first thing you want to say is that you are not judging the person and be as compassionate as possible.
  5. Touch the hoarder’s items at first– Research has shown that some piles are considered ” dirty ” while some piles are not. Working with the hoarder will determine what you can assist now and what may need to be negotiated later.
  6. Treat the hoarder like a child– Hoarder’s are very intelligent and educated and can tell when you are talking down to them. Treat them as the adults that they are.
  7. Treat hoarders like criminals– There are times when the authorities get involved. Authority organizations tend to create a greater anxiety that is not necessary and make the hoarder feel like they have broken a major crime. With reasonable level tone, giving the hoarder a reasonable amount of time to take care of the situation will be better situation.
  8. Make a list of all of the tasks to the hoarder at once– As a non-hoarder we understand your need to create a plan of attack and begin immediately. Knowing hoarders as we do, we find that separating out the tasks and talking about the tasks individually make the project go smoother. For example we explain to the client that there first concern is finding “homes” for the hoarded items is the first and only thing to think about now. Once that task has been completed can we talk about cleaning, sanitizing, deodorizing and repairs to the home.
  9. Ask why they hoard– In most cases they don’t know why themselves. If you are interested in knowing read hoarding books by Randy Frost and Gail Stekenkede.
  10. Let this hoarding situation stress you out.-Hoarding is usually a result of a traumatic situation in the hoarders life. Better hoarding than the hoarder going to drugs and alcohol. Although there is no positive treatment or solution creating a livable condition and periodic monitoring of the hoarding situation will make life enjoyable for both you and the hoarder.

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