How to Clean Out a House Owned by a Hoarder: A Step-by-Step Guide

Dealing with a house owned by a hoarder can be a challenging and overwhelming task. Hoarding disorder often leads to excessive accumulation of possessions, making the cleaning process more complex. In this guide, we’ll provide a comprehensive step-by-step approach to effectively clean out a house owned by a hoarder.

1. Understanding Hoarding Disorder

Before starting the cleaning process, it’s essential to understand hoarding disorder. Recognize that hoarding is a mental health condition, and the individual may have emotional attachments to their belongings. Approach the cleanup with empathy and compassion.

2. Establish a Plan and Set Realistic Goals

Cleaning out a hoarded house requires careful planning. Break down the process into manageable tasks and set realistic goals for each day. Prioritize areas based on the severity of hoarding, starting with less cluttered spaces to build momentum.

3. Safety First

Safety should be the top priority during a hoarder house cleanup. Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, gloves, and sturdy clothing. Ensure that the cleaning team is aware of potential hazards such as sharp objects, biohazards, or structural issues.

4. Assemble a Supportive Team

Cleaning out a hoarded house is a substantial undertaking, and it’s crucial to have a supportive team. Enlist the help of friends, family, or professional cleaning services experienced in hoarding situations. Having a team ensures a more efficient and organized cleanup process.

5. Sort and Categorize Items

Begin by sorting through items in each room. Categorize belongings into three groups: keep, donate/sell, and discard. Encourage the individual to make decisions about each item, but be understanding and patient, as this process can be emotionally challenging for them.

6. Dispose of Unwanted Items Responsibly

Dispose of items marked for discard responsibly. This may involve renting a dumpster or coordinating with local waste management services. Consider recycling options for items that can be recycled and donating usable items to charitable organizations.

7. Deep Cleaning and Sanitization

Once clutter is removed, focus on deep cleaning and sanitizing the space. Hoarded houses may have accumulated dust, mold, and other contaminants. Thoroughly clean surfaces, floors, and walls. Consider hiring professional cleaning services for specialized tasks.

8. Address Structural and Safety Issues

Inspect the house for structural issues that may have been obscured by the clutter. Address any safety concerns, such as repairing damaged flooring, fixing leaks, or securing loose wiring. Ensure the house is safe for habitation once the cleanup is complete.

9. Seek Professional Help if Necessary

If the hoarder house cleanup is particularly challenging or if the individual is resistant to the process, consider involving mental health professionals, social workers, or hoarding cleanup specialists. Their expertise can provide additional support and guidance.

10. Create a Maintenance Plan

After the initial cleanup, work with the individual to create a maintenance plan to prevent future hoarding. Encourage regular cleaning routines and offer ongoing support to ensure the house remains clutter-free.


Cleaning out a house owned by a hoarder requires sensitivity, planning, and a systematic approach. By understanding the challenges associated with hoarding disorder and following these steps, you can facilitate a more effective and compassionate cleanup process. Remember to prioritize the individual’s well-being and mental health throughout the journey.


  1. Q: Can I clean out a hoarded house on my own? A: While it’s possible, it’s advisable to assemble a supportive team and, if needed, seek professional assistance for a more efficient and safe cleanup.
  2. Q: How do I approach someone with hoarding disorder about cleaning their house? A: Approach the individual with empathy and understanding. Express concern for their well-being and offer support. If resistance persists, involve mental health professionals or social workers.
  3. Q: Are there specialized cleaning services for hoarder houses? A: Yes, there are professional cleaning services experienced in hoarding situations. They can provide expertise in managing the unique challenges associated with hoarder house cleanups.
  4. Q: How long does it take to clean out a hoarded house? A: The duration varies depending on the severity of hoarding. It can take days to weeks or even longer. Setting realistic goals and having a supportive team can expedite the process.
  5. Q: What resources are available for hoarding disorder support? A: Reach out to mental health organizations, support groups, or hoarding task forces in your area for resources and guidance on hoarding disorder support and treatment.