How Can You Help A Hoarder Clean Their Home?

Thursday 2nd December 2021

Alice Redshaw

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CONTENTS

Helping a loved one or someone you know who struggles with hoarding is difficult, but the key is to be understanding and patient. 

Hoarding can result in a number of health risks developing in a person's home. This could be because of possessions blocking emergency doors, items falling from a high level causing injury, or pests that are present due to unhygienic conditions.

Finding the right balance to help a hoarder is important, and there are several things you can do to help them create a safe home for them to live in.

What is hoarding?

Hoarding is an illness which affects approximately 1 or 2 out of 100 people in the UK, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Those who hoard are likely to get stressed at the thought of their possessions being thrown away, or have an attachment to their belongings that has an impact on their everyday lives.

The NHS states that hoarders will have an excessive amount of belongings that become unmanageable. 

This illness is also often associated with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), where someone feels compelled to keep large volumes of possessions for long periods of time. According to the charity OCD-UK, in Europe and the United States, 2-6% could have symptoms associated with this disorder.

Mind Charity explains how hoarding is a very difficult thing for those affected by to deal with, as well as their loved ones. Hoarding can affect people of all ages, from children to elderly people.

Many may think that hoarding is the same as being a collector, but this is not true. The difference between the two is the level of organisation hat a hoarder has with their belongings. Collections tend to be very neatly arranged, whereas items that are being hoarded may be untidy and disorganised.

Treat the hoarder with compassion and understanding

It is important when discussing their living arrangements with a hoarder that you are careful of the language you choose. Describing their possessions in a negative manner will not help and may lead them to become upset.

When broaching the subject of cleaning their house, be patient and understanding, as this will be difficult for them to hear and to take in. Gently encouraging them to seek the help of a professional is also a step that requires a careful approach.

Lastly, reiterate to the hoarder that they are not alone and have your full support throughout the process.

Devise a strategy before commencing the clean

When undertaking a hoarder clean up, it would be advised to break it down into manageable chunks and take each room at a time.

Do not push the hoarder to complete the project quicker than they are ready for, as this could hinder the progress they have already made. Instead, remind them of how far they have come and celebrate progress that is made.

We would recommend taking time when deciding what should be kept as this is likely to be a a challenging task for the hoarder. 

Work through the property a room at a time

Setting realistic expectations about the amount of progress you should make with the  cleaning is a good idea. Remember to only go at a pace that they are comfortable with.

Working room by room makes the process easier to manage for everyone involved and is a  way of remaining organised with the clean.

Additionally, reminding the hoarder that they are overseeing the situation is crucial. It is their home and environment that you are cleaning, and they deserve to feel comfortable in their living space.

Employing professional services

Due to the health risks that could be present in the hoarder’s home, some situations will require a professional hoarder cleaning company to become involved.

Here at ICE Cleaning, we provide a discreet service and hoarder cleaning plan that is suited to their personal situation. Our friendly customer service team will answer any questions and queries that you or they may have throughout the process.

Our hoarding clean up team will discuss with them what items they want to keep and what to throw away. We are fully qualified to dispose of any hazardous possessions and will ensure this is done in safe way. Our staff also understand the importance of following strict health and safety procedures during their work.

The decontamination process

A professional hoarder cleaning company will conduct a thorough decontamination of the premises, including eliminating biohazard materials and pests. They will also get rid of any lingering odours from the belongings and leave the property in a safe condition.

Once work is completed, the home will be left in a safe way and be fully free of bacteria and viruses.

Hiring a cleaning team to help you create a healthy environment for the hoarder eliminates some of the stress of the situation, but it must also be done with their consent.

How to get a hoarder help

Encouraging a hoarder to seek professional help for their illness can be a delicate situation. Many people may be in denial about their hoarding and will not want to seek out support. If this is the case, the best thing you can do is not force the subject and just remind them that you are there for support every step of the way.

There are many charities out there that can help hoarders get support or even just be someone for them to talk to. For example, Hoarding UK is a UK charity which helps hoarders, with Mind also providing information on who can be contacted for supported.

Also gently recommend them contacting their GP for help. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may be suggested as part of their treatment for hoarding; this aims to change the way hoarder thinks of their belongings, and how to adopt new behaviours.

Get in touch

If you or someone you know has been affected by hoarding, please know that you are not alone.

Our discreet and professional team can provide thorough cleaning services to help you ensure a safe environment to live in and for people to visit. For more information, please contact us on 0333 577 5805 or enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk.

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