Your Guide to Cleaning a Hoarder’s Home

A Hoarder's house in Houston, TX.

Cleaning a hoarder’s home can feel overwhelming, but the right approach can make the process easier. Besides being physically taxing, cleaning a hoarder’s home can be emotionally exhausting. When helping a family member or loved one with a hoarding disorder, house cleaning becomes tougher. You need to sort through items, discard anything you can, and make the home clean and safe. 

You must understand why someone hoards before you start cleaning their home. Hoarding is a complex mental illness that occurs when someone gets distressed at the thought of discarding possessions of all types. The disorder leads to issues in the hoarder’s social and physical life. A hoarding environment can lead to health issues.

By knowing how hoarding works, you can approach the project with sensitivity and efficiency. There are a few steps to make the process simple for everyone involved. Read on to learn how you can clean a hoarder’s home effectively. 

How to Clean a Hoarder’s House

Every hoarding situation is slightly different. However, a few general steps help to successfully clean a hoarder’s home. Starting with the planning stage and ending with a deep cleaning, here is how you clean a hoarder’s house. 

Start With a Plan

The first step to cleaning a hoarder’s house is to have a plan of action. Get an idea of how many items you will go through and create rough categories for sorting. The categories will vary depending on the situation. Plan on categories such as trash, keep, and donate. 

Part of your plan should be a schedule of how much you will go through each day. If possible, try to break up the work by room or day. While you should try to stick to a schedule, allow some flexibility, in case unforeseen circumstances arise. 

During the planning process, be sure you know why the hoarding occurred and why the cleaning is happening now. Talking with the hoarder about this topic will make the process more efficient and targeted.

Do the Work

Start the work by clearing a staging area that can be your base. Within that space, designate areas for different activities or multiple item types. Bring the belongings from various parts of the house into your base area and sort through items until you have gone through everything.  

From there, determine what should be kept, donated, or discarded. Work closely with everyone helping so you all know what should go where. Consider the hoarder’s feelings and be sure they know you are on their team. 

Figure Out Removal

In many cases, cleaning a hoarder’s house yields a large amount of trash. If that sounds like your circumstance, you may want to rent a dumpster and need specific permits based on where you live. There are plenty of junk removal services with whom you can partner.

Throwing away a large portion of their hoard can be upsetting for hoarders. So, it is essential to work through filling the dumpster carefully and with consideration. Knowing when to put your foot down and when to make allowances can take practice.  

Get the Right Tools

To clean a hoarder’s home, you will need cleaning equipment. You will need heavy-duty trash bags for waste and empty boxes to help you with storage. 

Essential cleaning supplies include all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaners, vinegar, disinfectants, scrubbing cleaners, rags, sturdy shoes, a step ladder, sponges, a hard hat, a broom, a dust pan, mops, biohazard supplies, a vacuum cleaner, paper towels, bleach wipes, gloves, goggles, a first aid kit, and anti-fungal products. You may need to get supplies to get rid of pests.   

Deep Clean

Once you remove all the excess items from the living space, you can clean more thoroughly than you could before. Hoarder’s homes can have a build-up of grime that requires thorough removal for physical and mental health. Make any necessary repairs, scrub walls, and floors, soak any necessary surfaces, and deep-clean carpets.

In some cases, you may want to re-paint walls after cleaning them. If smokers live in the home, you will need to try getting rid of the smoke smell in your house

Cleaning Tips for Cleaning a Hoarders House

Having a few tricks up your sleeve can make cleaning a hoarder’s home easier. From thinking ahead to adjusting your expectations, there are plenty of small actions you can take to make the experience easier for everyone. Here are a few tips to help you have an easier time when cleaning a hoarder’s house. 

Be Prepared

It is tough to prepare for everything, but you can take a big step by having all the supplies you need and making a good plan. To prepare physically, bring plenty of cleaning and sorting supplies. As for mental preparedness, know that the experience will likely take longer than expected. It also does not hurt to expect the unexpected. 

Divide and Conquer

Cleaning a hoarding house can be an overwhelming experience. Try dividing up everything you need to do and approaching each step bit by bit. This action will make the process more approachable and less overwhelming. You will finish before you know it.

Showing that cleaning their house can be a digestible task may also make it easier for the hoarder to keep their home clean in the future. 

Create a Long-term Plan

The most essential step you can take when cleaning a hoarder’s home is coming up with a long-term plan for how to maintain a clean home. Help the hoarder organize their home and find a designated spot for everything they own. Create a functional space where the hoarder can live without having the space to hoard objects. 

In addition to making a well-thought-out setup, work with the hoarder to create a realistic cleaning schedule. Help them feel secure about daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning by making lists for each type and ensuring they feel confident cleaning. You may need to go over specific cleaning methods or try ways to modify cleaning tasks to suit their ability. 

Be Patient

If you are not a hoarder, it can be difficult to put yourself in a hoarder’s shoes. You may be tempted to throw everything out without thinking about it. Doing so can be emotional for a hoarder, which may leave them more likely to relapse. Be patient with the hoarder and work with them to ensure the process goes smoothly and they feel comfortable keeping up with cleaning.  

Know When To Ask For Help

It is perfectly normal to set off to clean a hoarder’s house and realize that you can not complete the task on your own. There are professional cleaning services to assist with cleaning the home. If you can not handle cleaning the home anymore and have the resources to hire help, doing so can be worth it.

You can hire help for the whole job, or someone to help just with cleaning after you declutter the belongings. A professional cleaning company or hoarding cleanup services can also come in handy if you encounter issues such as water damage. 

A Hoarder's house in Houston, TX.

What Should You Keep When Cleaning a Hoarders House

It can be tempting to just get rid of everything when cleaning a hoarder’s house. While that is certainly one approach, you can also be strategic about keeping certain items. It can take a lot of sorting and cleaning before you find items you want to keep.

Functional Items

The most essential items to keep are those that provide a specific function. There may be hoarded items that could theoretically serve a purpose, but they never get any use. Those belongings should be donated or thrown out. Only keep functional items that the occupants of the house use regularly.  


Photographs are a meaningful way to treasure life’s memories. Save photographs since you can scan them and put them on a hard drive. That way, everyone can enjoy the memories easily without taking up too much physical space. Encourage scanning of similar memory totems, such as birthday cards or concert tickets. 

Objects of Monetary Value

Put aside items with known monetary value and either keep, gift, or sell them. If the plan is to sell those items, get that process underway so the hoarder can not put off that action as a way of rebuilding their collection. 

Objects with Sentimental Value

This type of object can be tricky since hoarders often ascribe emotional value to many items regardless of monetary value or overall functionality. You should figure out these items last since it can take the longest amount of time to sort these. Encourage the hoarder to only hang on to items that connect to a specific vital memory or person. 


If you are trying to sell a house fast in Texas, you may think hoarding will get in your way. However, you can increase your home value, and present great home buyers will love with a few easy steps. Create a plan to address a hoarding home and work to follow it.   

We buy houses in Fort Worth no matter what condition they are in. Our company prioritizes treating every party with compassion. So, you can expect a high-quality selling experience. This team is proud to be one of the greatest cash home buyers in Arlington.

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