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How To Clean A Hoarder House

Updated: Apr 9

How To Clean A Hoarder House Graphic

When it comes to a hoarder's house, cleaning is a daunting task. While you could hire a professional cleaning company that provides hoarder cleaning services, that will incur cleanup costs this may not be an option due to time and financial constraints. Thus, you may be left to deal with the cleaning of the hoarders property yourself. Don't worry, though, because we have some cleaning tips to help you manage this task like a pro.

In this step-by-step guide, we will explore how to clean a hoarder house, noting that the cleaning process may differ if the hoarder has passed away. We will also briefly examine the causes behind the state of a hoarder's home.

Quick Tips

  • Preparation is key: Plan ahead for hoarder house cleaning and have a game plan ready so that you can work through the house quickly and efficiently.

  • Communication with the hoarder is essential: They need to know what you are doing and how you will approach the cleanup.

  • Safety first: Use protective equipment to ensure your safety at all times.

  • Start by clearing walkways: It will make it easier to move around and give you access to an exit point if necessary when you start by clearing the walkways.

  • Work room by room: It is easier to work through the main areas first, like the kitchen, bathroom, and main bedroom.

  • Have containers marked for items that will be kept, donated, or discarded.

  • Be respectful in the hoarder's home: You are there to get the house clean, not to judge the person with a hoarding disorder.

  • Get professional help for biohazard decontamination.

Tips On How To Clean A Hoarder's House


Before you start the hoarding cleanup, remember that safety must always come first. You will need the following items:

  • Heavy-duty trash bags

  • Empty boxes

  • Protective gear (gloves, a face mask, sturdy shoes, and protective eyewear)

  • First aid kit

  • Cleaning supplies (cleaning rags, detergents, and disinfectants)

  • Cleaning equipment (vacuum cleaner, broom, and mop)

  • A bright light if there is dim lighting

  • General tools like a hammer, nails, or paint


Pre-plan the cleanup. You can discuss a cleaning plan with the hoarder so that they feel like they are part of the process.

Break up the project into smaller tasks to make it less overwhelming. Know what you have to do ahead of time so that you don't waste time. The project will be emotionally exhausting for both you and the hoarder, so it's important to be mentally prepared.

You may need to check with local ordinances concerning the disposal of certain items, like paint or old medication.

Safety is a priority

Remember that you may be dealing with issues like mold, mildew, or strong cleaning chemicals in a hoarding house. Ensure that there is proper ventilation as you work.

Other dangers to consider is any electrical or gas issues that could be caused by the clutter in the hoarders' house. A hoarding cleanup needs to be taken seriously, and safety must be the priority at all times.

The setup

Set up your boxes or bags to indicate where items will be going. For example, if there are old newspapers or food containers, you will want to add those to the pile of discarded items.

Have separate boxes and bags for items that will be recycled or discarded. Items that will be donated need to be separated, and items that will be kept need to be organized and packed away.

Clear a pathway

You need to ensure a clear pathway for an easy entrance and exit in case of an emergency. This should not be just a narrow path that you can squeeze through. It should be wide enough so that you can move freely and safely through the house. Your movements through the passageways should not be restricted and you want to avoid getting hurt by the clutter.

Work through the clutter

Before you begin cleaning, you need to work through the accumulated junk. With less clutter, there will be more room to move, and surfaces will become visible again.

Get rid of the obvious trash first. Rotten food, old newspapers and magazines, and food wrappers should be discarded.

Dirty dishes should be placed in the washer for washing, and dirty clothes should be placed in laundry baskets.

Get rid of clothing that can rather be used as rags, and anything that is broken or cannot be used again. Use your boxes for storage, donation, or discarding. You need to work through the whole house but start with a small room first, perhaps a kitchen or bathroom.


Once the clutter has been cleared, it is time to start cleaning.

  • Tackle one room at a time. This will help you see small victories as you go and make the entire process less tedious.

  • Clear everything out of the room, including all furniture. Make sure that you have someone to assist you with any heavy lifting. Check that there are no hoarded items lying around and that any litter or animal feces are placed in securely tied plastic bags for disposal. This is why you need to be wearing protective gear.

  • If there are old photos lying around, suggest putting them in a memory box for storage.

  • If there are serious biohazard concerns, call in professional biohazard decontamination specialists.

  • Wipe down everything, including windows, walls, ceiling fans, floors, and furniture. Use disposable paper towels where possible. Remember that dust mites love to breed, so deep cleaning is essential.

  • Use all-purpose cleaners.

  • Once everything is wiped down, deodorize the air.

  • Watch out for rats, mice, cockroaches, and other infestations. If these are present, you may need to call in professional help to exterminate these pests.

  • Sweep, vacuum, and mop as appropriate to ensure the floors are all clean. If there are carpets, they might need a deep clean.

  • Put all the furniture back in its place, and don't add more clutter to the area. Keep only a few items that are essential for that living space.


Once you have removed items that should be discarded, the hoarder cleanup may reveal some structural damage. If there is any major damage, like water leaks, wiring problems, or gas issues, call in the professionals to assist.

How To Deal With A Hoarder

A hoarder's home may be filled with items that hold sentimental value - or it could be filled with items that have little or no value at all. The hoarder has probably been collecting items for a long time and the hoarder may have thought of these items as necessary.

You don't want to hurt the hoarder's feelings or point fingers at their behavior. Be compassionate and kind in your dealings with them. Also, be respectful, no matter what your personal opinion may be.

Why Hoarding Is A Problem

A person with a hoarding disorder may have mental health issues. They could even have an obsessive-compulsive disorder. At times, there can be serious consequences, as their hoarding behavior can potentially affect their physical and mental health.

If they are not currently seeing a mental health professional, encourage a family member or friend to assist them in finding help. Sometimes, hoarding is a symptom of a bigger problem, but with the correct guidance and care, they can get help for the disorder.

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