How To Declutter A Hoarder's House

Tuesday 16th January 2024

Ellen Warren

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Hoarding in a garage


The reality of a hoarder's home is often overwhelming and unhygienic. Tackling such clutter is an emotional journey for everyone involved, so you will learn how to approach this with sensitivity and structure.

Our hoarder cleaning services at ICE Cleaning prioritise cleanliness and sensitivity. We work closely with all parties involved to ensure everyone feels supported and safe when in the presence of our specialised cleaners.

Read on to learn some practical techniques for sorting, addressing health hazards head-on, and setting up systems to keep spaces clear long-term.

Understanding hoarding disorder

Hoarding disorder is a complex condition where individuals struggle to part with possessions, regardless of their value. This can create cramped living conditions and cause distress or impairment.

The psychological roots are deep-seated, and often linked to trauma, anxiety or depression. Recognising the difference between hoarding and disorganisation is vital for providing appropriate support.

A sensitive approach is key; those dealing with hoarders must be patient and empathetic as they navigate through the emotional ties that bind people to their belongings. Clear understanding paves the way for effective decluttering strategies tailored to individual needs.

Establishing trust with the individual

Building a foundation of trust is vital when helping someone with a hoarding disorder. You must understand their connection to each item and acknowledge their feelings throughout this challenging journey.

Gaining trust starts by showing genuine concern for their well-being, not just the state of their home. Engage in open dialogue that encourages sharing stories behind cherished possessions — this shows respect for what those items represent. 

Patient listening can make all the difference in making them feel heard and validated. This empathy lays down bricks of trust that ultimately form a path towards decluttering together.

Creating a personalised decluttering plan

Every decluttering journey is unique: the first step in creating a personalised plan is assessing the situation — understanding the extent of clutter and its emotional ties to the individual.

It is vital to recognise what can be achieved within given timeframes to set realistic goals. By setting attainable milestones, you show that you respect personal limits and celebrate progress.

A step-by-step approach breaks down overwhelming tasks into manageable actions. It involves categorising items methodically, from those with sentimental value to others ready for new homes or recycling centres.

Respecting emotional attachments means some possessions will stay while others may part ways respectfully.

Implementing sorting and organising techniques

Effective sorting is the backbone of decluttering a hoarder's space. It calls for clear-cut categories: keep, discard, or donate. To ensure items find their place, use the Four-Box Method: label four boxes with 'Keep', 'Donate/Sell', 'Discard', and 'Undecided'. 

This technique helps in making quick decisions without emotional overwhelm. Another strategy involves breaking down tasks into manageable chunks — focus on one area at a time to avoid burnout.

Tackling smaller zones gives you results faster, encouraging continued effort and preventing fatigue from setting in too soon.

Addressing health and safety concerns

When decluttering a hoarder's home, it is crucial to identify potential hazards. A cluttered space can hide risks like mould, structural damage, or fire hazards.

Firstly, look for signs of dampness or decay, as these can indicate serious issues beneath the surface. Then, it is necessary to tackle any tripping dangers by clearing paths to ensure safe movement around the house.

In addition to physical safety, it is also important to consider air quality. Stagnant spaces can breed contaminants that could harm respiratory health. Therefore, it is essential to take steps towards a healthier living environment.

Maintaining momentum and coping with setbacks

Decluttering for someone with a hoarding disorder is a long journey with common roadblocks, so staying on track requires flexibility and resilience.

Break down tasks into manageable chunks and celebrate small victories to boost morale to maintain this. This approach can transform an overwhelming challenge into a series of achievable steps.

When setbacks occur, it is crucial to address them immediately: reassess goals if necessary and adjust plans accordingly. Support from friends or professionals might be essential here; do not hesitate to reach out when needed.

Involving professional services when necessary

There comes a point in tackling hoarding where the scale or risk involved calls for professional intervention. Specialist cleaners step in when personal efforts hit their limits. With expertise in hoarder decluttering, they approach each case with sensitivity and precision.

Cleaners know how to sort through years of accumulation without overwhelming the individual affected. They use cleaning tools and understand mental health aspects often intertwined with hoarding situations.

If safety hazards emerge, like structural damage or biohazards, these professionals can handle them efficiently and safely. Bringing onboard services like ICE Cleaning could be pivotal in ensuring the environment becomes liveable once more.

Encouraging long-term behavioural change

It is vital to know that hoarding is a complex issue to foster lasting change after decluttering. It requires changing habits and mindsets: people often slip back into old ways because the underlying issues are unaddressed.

A practical step is setting small, achievable goals for daily organisation. For instance, dedicating fifteen minutes each day to sort mail prevents paper clutter from piling up again. Another key aspect is building a support network, which can be as simple as regular check-ins with friends or family.

This journey is not always smooth sailing — setbacks will happen. When they do, remember it is part of the process and use them as learning opportunities rather than failures.

Frequently asked questions

What are the stages of hoarding?

The stages range from cluttered with no blocked areas to severe, where rooms become unusable and extreme health hazards emerge.

Why is it hard for hoarders to declutter?

Hoarders often feel intense attachments to items and fear losing them. Tossing things out can trigger stress and anxiety.

What is the fastest way to clean a hoarder's house?

To speed up cleaning, sort items into keep, donate, recycle or trash categories; tackle one room at a time.

What is the root cause of hoarding?

The root cause varies but often includes trauma, depression or other mental health issues that fuel collecting behaviours.

Get in touch

At ICE Cleaning, our hoarder clean-up services specialise in dealing with biohazards, decluttering, and sanitisation. For cases that require professional intervention, our cleaners can conduct cleaning in a sensitive way that ensures the safety and well-being of all involved.

To learn about our other biohazard cleaning services, call our team at 0208 066 0360 or send an enquiry to We operate nationwide, 24/7, all year round, and can be on-site the same day in an emergency.

Melissa Harrison

Melissa Harrison

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