The Challenges of Hoarding Cleaning
Chaos ensues in the homes of people who hoard. Junk that piles high to the ceiling, animal waste and multiple unopened boxes of identical kitchen gadgets that serve no useful purpose are just a handful of types of items often found in the home of someone with hoarding tendencies.
Biohazards run rampant in the hoarded environment. Decayed meat, hypodermic needles and even decomposing animals swarm with dangerous pathogens that can be deadly to humans. Since harmful bacteria teem in hoarded homes, skilled cleanup measures by experienced professionals are warranted.
The challenges of cleaning a hoarded house are numerous. Given both the concealed and clear dangers that lurk, family members of the people who hoard should leave cleanup to the professionals. Cleaning crews are equipped with the necessary gear to securely enter and clean a hoarded home.
Safely cleaning a hoarded home takes experience, manpower and proper equipment; however, cleanup measures also require sensitive communications with the person who hoards. Following are common challenges that accompany cleaning up a hoarded home.
What are the emotional challenges to cleanup?
Qualified cleanup crews are experienced in compassionately interacting with individuals who hoard. As a disorder that is fully recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, hoarding can arise from any number of causes, such as psychological factors, genetics or life experiences.
Depression, loss of loved ones, obsessive-compulsive disorder and dementia can contribute to the compulsion to hoard. Even perfectionists are known to resort to hoarding. Other emotional triggers include making extreme efforts to recall memories, pushing others away and fear of poverty.
Given the endless reasons that people may find comfort in hoarding, approaching the person who hoards requires exceptional sensitivity. Cleanup specialists aim to establish respect and trust in persons who hoard. The goal is to convince those who hoard that discarding waste is beneficial.
Possessions that look like garbage to an outsider are likely to have incredible sentimental value for the one who hoards. Without developing respect and establishing trust, cleanup technicians will have difficulty gaining access to these hoarded goods and pursuing cleanup measures.
What are the physical challenges to cleanup?
The conglomeration of biohazards in a relatively small space, such as a kitchen or bathroom, is incredibly dangerous. Hoarded environments often contain mass amounts of rotting food, decomposing animals, waste from both humans and animals and needles or other sharp objects.
When animals are hoarded, such as in 40 percent of those with hoarding disorders, the environment becomes toxic. In hoarded homes filled with animals, 80 percent of the animals succumb to disease, are dying or have perished. Cleaning noxious environments like these is akin to cleaning infected blood.
Biohazards also include animal fecal and urine waste. Unkempt animals are likely to carry fleas or a transmittable disease, making it especially dangerous for cleanup technicians to handle the rabid cats and dogs. Rats, mice and maggots also thrive in the amply stocked haven of hoarded homes.
Plus, navigating the hoarded home is like walking through a minefield riddled with explosives. A single, uncalculated move can result in the toppling of piles of junk—a head injury or twisted ankle is the unfortunate consequence for an unwitting cleanup technician.
What are the structural challenges to cleanup?
A homeowner who hoards is more than likely to live in a neglected property. This means that plumbing fixtures may leak; water damage may have weakened the flooring or walls; and HVAC systems may blow polluted air through the unmaintained air ducts and vents.
Mold growth occurs when spores are nourished by standing water. In a home with extensive mold growth, the air is sufficiently polluted to cause serious health problems. Mold infestations also weaken building structures, making it dangerous to inhabit and maneuver through the home.
The toxic home environment of the person with a hoarding disorder necessitates safety gear during professional cleanup. Since the indoor air quality will be poor, cleanup crews will have to wear purifying full-face respirators or disposable masks. Biohazard suits are needed to prevent transmission of disease.
Sharp objects, like hypodermic needles and broken glass, can easily puncture the skin of a cleanup technician, making heavy, puncture-resistance gloves mandatory during the cleanup stage. Cleaning specialists also must be prepared to evade falling objects and keep from being trapped under debris.
Multiple fire hazards make the hoarded home risky to clean. Technicians are especially exposed to threats of fire since most items in a hoarded property are flammable. Additionally, hoarded objects cover heating vents or contain frayed wires, which can spark an uncontrollable blaze inside.
Since building structures are compromised by lack of maintenance, cleanup crews risk their safety by working within the home. Floors can give in due to the enormous weight of hoarded objects. Walls may cave inward as a result of water damage. Situations like these are hazardous for all involved.
In order to work safely in a hoarded environment, cleanup technicians carry fire extinguishers, first aid kits and repellant spray. Specialists begin work in rooms closest to an exit so that escape is possible in an emergency. Powerful cleaning agents and disinfectants help cleaning crews complete their task.
When you witness a loved one or neighbor engaging in hoarding practices, make a call to ServiceMaster Professional Services. As a professional, experienced hoarding cleanup service, we approach the individual suffering from a hoarding disorder with compassion and sensitivity. Once trust is established, our technicians consult the individual during every phase of the cleanup.
A well-coordinated process, including the distribution of goods to family members plus assistance with paperwork issued by government agencies, results in a fully cleaned and restored property. The three-phase process starts with establishing connection with the individual with a hoarding disorder, cleaning the clutter and following up after the completion of cleaning.
ServiceMaster Professional Services works with families in the Minneapolis, Minnesota, communities. Our experienced technicians, sensitive approach and thorough hoarding cleanup processes position us as the area’s most reputable cleanup service. Specialists are available any time of day to respond to a hoarding situation or crises.