When we think of hoarding, we often imagine stacks of clutter piled high in homes or apartments. While hoarding disorder can manifest in many ways, it's often associated with this particular image. It is a mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Though it may seem daunting, there are strategies and techniques that one can use to clean up hoarding and achieve a cleaner, more organized space.
In this blog post, we will explore these strategies and offer tips for homeowners, business owners, property managers, and anyone dealing with hoarding disorder and homes.
Understand Hoarding Disorder and Its Warning Signs
It's essential to understand that hoarding disorder is not the result of laziness or a lack of motivation. Rather, it's a mental health condition that requires specialized treatment. Common hoarding signs may include:
- Difficulty throwing away items, even those that are no longer useful or necessary.
- Accumulating large amounts of clutter and difficulty organizing things.
- Clutter that makes it difficult to use rooms as intended (e.g., keeping the bedroom a sleeping space rather than storing unrelated items).
- Experiencing emotional distress or anxiety when attempting to discard items.
- Avoiding inviting guests into the home due to the clutter or inability to clean it.
- Having difficulty making decisions about what items should be kept or discarded.
If you or someone you know is struggling with hoarding, it's essential to seek professional help to address the underlying issues.
Starting Small and Setting Achievable Goals is Important when Approaching Hoarding Situations
It can feel overwhelming to clean up hoarding when there’s not a clear path The best way to work through this is to start small. Set achievable goals, such as cleaning out one room at a time or sorting through one box of clutter per day. This approach will help build momentum and make the task feel less daunting. Here are some key tips when starting a hoarding cleanup process:
- Focus on the most common areas of the house: kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living room.
- Identify items that can be donated or recycled and set them aside to donate.
- Create a plan for sorting the remaining items and cleaning up the home.
- Enlist help from family members and friends if possible.
- Be aware of safety issues such as mold, pest infestations, trip hazards, and blocked exits.
- Allow yourself time to process emotions that may arise while cleaning up the home.
Encourage professional help for the person struggling with hoarding and make sure they're comfortable as the process moves forward.
The Rule of Keeping, Donating, and Throwing Away
The Rule of Keeping, Donating, and Throwing Away is a great tool to clean up hoarding. This rule helps decide what items should be kept, donated, or thrown away after assessing their value and usefulness.
When sorting through belongings in a hoarded house, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have a need or use for this item?
- Do I have the space to store it in an organized manner?
- Would someone else benefit more from having this item than me?
- Is the possession in good condition and safe to use?
Once all the questions above are answered, items can be categorized as “keep”, “donate”, or “toss”. Keeping items should be limited to those possessions that are truly necessary and have an established place in the home. Donations can go to second-hand stores, shelters, churches, and other organizations that accept used goods. Finally, throw away any items that are broken beyond repair or no longer serve a purpose.
Create a Maintenance Plan
Cleaning up a hoarded home is not a one-time event. It requires an ongoing commitment to prevent clutter from building again. Creating a maintenance plan that includes regular cleaning and decluttering can help you maintain your newly organized space. Be sure to set achievable goals and stay focused on preventing clutter from creeping back into your home!
Consider Professional Help to Clean Up Hoarding!
Professional cleaners are equipped with specialized equipment and cleaners to handle the dirt, grime, and clutter in hoarded homes. They can also work with you to create a tailored plan that meets your unique needs and goals, something that could come in handy when you're dealing with an often challenging condition like hoarding.
Breaking free from hoarding requires specialized treatment, but there are strategies and techniques you can use to achieve a cleaner, more organized space. By starting small, sorting your belongings, utilizing professional cleaning services, and creating a maintenance plan, you can overcome hoarding and enjoy a clutter-free life. Remember, you're not alone, and there is help available to support you on your journey to a cleaner, healthier home.
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