Hoarding: What are the Risks and Cleanup Procedures

NCR Alexandria and Washington DC Hoarding HELP

Massive stockpiles of faded newspapers conceal the bathroom. A once functional kitchen sink is overloaded with crumpled trash bags. Hallways are littered with decades’ worth of fast food receipts, new packages and innumerable bottles and cans of expired food. In pet hoarding scenarios, dozens of cats scramble across filthy, urine stained floors. Animal waste produces foul odors. Dead rats are found in the home’s every nook and cranny.

Help a hoarder
Help a hoarder

This living environment is the stark reality of a person with a hoarding disorder. Normal life is hijacked. The home is far from being a safe, cozy haven. Instead, a hoarder’s abode is utter chaos. “Messy” barely illustrates the home of a person living with a hoarding disorder. Rather, constant risks transform the home into a life-threatening, hazardous coop.

Hoarding is a manifestation of an underlying mental illness. Closely resembling obsessive compulsive disorder, hoarding disorders are characterized by the inability to throw out objects without experiencing deep-seated feelings of stress and anxiety. Those affected by hoarding issues avoid the negative emotions by amassing every single item that comes into their possession.

Dangers lurk inside a hoarder’s abode. Health risks, fire hazards and the risk for falls are a handful of the ongoing perils hoarders face daily:

Emotional Turmoil

Individuals with a hoarding disorder are likely to face financial difficulties. People with hoarding issues randomly buy surplus goods, depleting their financial stores in the process. Social avoidance results from the embarrassment of the hoarder’s living situation. Ties with family and friends are cut. Those suffering from a hoarding disorder are so emotionally fused with their collections that they prefer to retain their stash rather than risk exposing their extreme disarray to loved ones.


Hoarding case study - ServiceMaster NCRA hoarder’s home is a fire deathtrap. Flames can ensue at any moment due to the accumulation of flammable materials, including clothing and paper. One spark from the stove is enough to ignite mammoth flames that can engulf the home in seconds.

Treacherous levels of waste block doorways and fire exits. Given the obstacles that line every path, individuals living in the home will struggle to escape the fire. Firefighters who respond to the flames are unlikely to wade through the upheaval and reach the home’s occupants in time to save their lives. Emergency personnel are at a dire risk when inside a hoarder’s house, because clear exit paths are no longer visible behind stashes of debris.

Bodily Harm

People who live with hoarding issues are surrounded by daily threats to their physical safety. Piles of disintegrating rubbish are bound to topple onto those ambling about the home. Individuals are likely to trip over strewn garbage. Falling trash and trips are clear channels for physical harm. Guests and visitors are subject to accidental injury or becoming trapped underneath the rubble when inside a hoarder’s home.

Health Perils

Those living in a hoarder’s home are exposed to innumerable health risks. The extreme levels of germs and pathogens incubated in the uncleanliness of the waste in the home cause infections. Decomposing waste harbors a storehouse of disease-causing agents, leading to chronic ailments and contaminating food.

The indoor air quality suffers. Breathing difficulties arise as the ammonia from rotting goods continually unleashes into the environment. Respiratory problems, like chronic coughing, lung inflammation and wheezing, are common in occupants living in the unsanitary grips of a hoarder’s home.

Salmonella and E. coli are easily transmitted through vermin droppings. Disease-carrying rats and mice that take up residence inside a hoarder’s home bite, inflicting serious harm.

Cleanup Procedures

Hoarding Cleaning in Tysons Corner, VAA hoarder’s home can be salvaged. Cleaning up clutter teetering in every room is a daring proposal but can be accomplished with sensitivity and compassion toward the individual with a hoarding disorder.

Gentle persuasion helps alleviate the trepidations a hoarder feels upon being confronted. People with hoarding issues develop their extreme tendencies over decades—not overnight. Patience toward the situation eases the difficulty of parting with goods accumulated through the years.

Once the green light is given to clean up the home, strict safety precautions are to be followed. Water damage in the home may have weakened the building’s structure; mold spores may be released; or, laypersons engaged in the cleanup may succumb to toppling piles.

Prudent measures include hiring a professional hoarding cleanup service to remove the unwanted stockpiles. Professional cleaners are experienced in not only the physical cleanup, but in building trust with the individual suffering from the hoarding disorder—a critical step that lessens the emotional upset the hoarder experiences when faced with throwing out his or her amassed possessions.

When a friend or loved one is affected by a hoarding disorder, contact a reputed hoarding cleanup company. ServiceMaster National Capital Restoration specializes in decluttering and sanitizing a hoarded home. Included in our hoarding cleaning services are bulk debris removal, content and structural cleaning and thorough disinfection of the property.

ServiceMaster NCR technicians are trained to show compassion toward the individuals suffering from a hoarding issue. Our approach considers the individual behind the hoarding disorder. We utilize sensitive methods that include discussing exactly what items are to be retained and what goods will be discarded. We empathize with the individual with the hoarding disorder and bring in his or her family to serve as a liaison between the technicians in order to achieve the cleanup goal.

Hoarding is detrimental to the person suffering from the condition as well as to their neighbors, friends and family. The hoarder can be evicted from the home. Dangerous microorganisms can spread to the surrounding homes, leading to an outbreak of disease. Prevent unnecessary danger by contacting Virginia’s top rated hoarding cleanup professional, ServiceMaster NCR. Doing business since 1986, we dependably serve the Alexandria, Virginia and Washington, D.C., residential communities.