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Dangers Of Cleaning A Hoarder's House

Updated: Apr 10

Dangers Of Cleaning A Hoarder's House Graphic

Cleaning a hoarder's house is no easy undertaking, and not just because of the sheer volume of possessions to sort through.

Hidden beneath the stacks of newspapers and boxes are hazardous materials, grime, mold, and sharp objects. Piles of belongings can topple over onto you, or the property could've deteriorated to such a state that it is structurally unsafe.

This article will cover the nine biggest dangers you're exposed to when cleaning a hoarder's home, as well as when experts are needed for the task.

9 Dangers of Cleaning a Hoarder's House

Below are the nine most common dangers of hoarding cleanup.

1. Falling possessions

Many people with hoarding disorder stack all the clutter in their homes into massive piles. When you're trying to sort through all the junk during the cleanup process, one of these stacks may fall over on top of you.

Even empty boxes can hurt when the corner hits you in the wrong way, so it is important to stay vigilant and work from the top of the piles, down.

2. Structural hazards

Hoarding does not just pose health hazards - a lack of maintenance to the property, along with hazardous materials and water damage, can cause structural damage. Even the weight of the junk can cause support beams and floors to buckle.

Pests that have chewed through walls, mold, and unmaintained older buildings can all pose structural threats to those cleaning the home.

3. Mold resulting in health problems

Most hoarder's homes offer the ideal environment for mold to grow:

  • Untreated water damage

  • Windows that remain closed, resulting in higher humidity in the home

  • Decaying food and other organic matter

Mold releases spores and allergens, which can cause coughing, sneezing, and other allergic reactions.

When you're exposed to mold for a continuous time, more severe health risks may arise, like insomnia or memory problems.

To prevent mold toxicity while cleaning, you should always wear personal protective equipment like a face mask and goggles.

4. Exposure to pests

Those with animal hoarding tendencies will have lots of waste in the home. And with waste and forgotten animal feed comes rodents and vermin.

But it is not just animal hoarding scenarios where pests are present. Most hoarder's houses have some kind of pest infestation, whether it be cockroaches, ants, maggots, mice, or rats. Each of these poses its own health risks.

For example, mice droppings could contain salmonella or listeria, and special precautions will have to be taken during the cleanup process.

5. Dealing with biohazardous materials

It is highly likely that you'll come across biohazardous waste during the cleaning process.

With a lack of routine maintenance, plumbing, and sewage issues are common. Animal feces, bodily fluids, rotten food, and even carcasses may also be found in the house.

Without the proper safety measures, you will expose yourself to airborne pathogens when cleaning these biohazards. Bacteria and viruses lurk in animal waste, feces, urine, and blood, and you could come into contact with these harmful microorganisms.

Wearing protective gear is the first step; however, it is recommended you contact a professional biohazard decontamination company to tackle the cleaning process. They know exactly how to treat, clean, and safely dispose of biohazardous materials.

6. Tripping and injuries

Hoarding cleanup is already tough enough when you constantly have to keep an eye on the towering piles of possessions. But you should also look down while cleaning.

The floorboards could have buckled, there could be objects littered across the floor, and liquids could form slippery puddles. Tripping is a real hazard while cleaning a hoarder's house.

And, with so many sharp objects, boxes, piles, and junk around the home, tripping can become really dangerous. You might fall into a stash of glass figurines or a pile of animal waste.

7. Fire hazards

Areas full of clutter have a higher fire risk, especially if there are lots of paper products in the hoarder's home. Chemicals and poorly maintained electric wiring also increase the chances of a fire occurring.

But, it is not just the objects themselves that pose a fire hazard. The volume of belongings could block exits and prevent you from getting to the necessary safety equipment should a fire break out.

8. Chemical hazards

You should expect to come across chemical substances during the clean-up process. Forgotten cleaning agents, pesticides, bleach, and expired chemicals are all commonly found in a hoarder's home.

Without the proper precautions, these chemicals can cause burns, irritation, nausea, and skin reactions to both the hoarder and the cleaner.

9. Respiratory problems

It should come as no surprise that respiratory problems are to be expected when cleaning a hoarder's house.

Dust, mold, feces, and chemicals can all become airborne, affecting your ability to breathe. Most hoarding houses also lack proper airflow, which increases respiratory dangers.

When To Call Professional Cleaners

Hoarding clean-up poses many dangers, as discussed above. While you can take the necessary precautions when cleaning, like wearing personal protective equipment and having a cleaning plan, you're still putting yourself in danger.

When it comes to dealing with biohazards and chemicals, it is best to contact a professional hoarding cleaning company like Chore-ology. They have the needed skills and equipment to clean a hoarder's home - without judgment - to make the space habitable once again.

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