Hoarding Trash: 3 Things to Know Before Cleaning It Out
A hoarded home full of trash is a health issue for both those who live in the home and those who live nearby. Full of rotten food, paper, unused items, and other biohazards, such a house runs the risk of being deemed uninhabitable by the local government. Once condemned, the people who lived there are left without a home and, with the likelihood of lost relationships due to the hoarding trash, without a place to go to.
Cleaning the home, whether to help the person currently living there or to save the property after they have passed away or been evicted, is a needed step to take for the health of all involved. Before stepping in with trash cans or a dumpster, though, there are three important things to know to make the cleanout successful.
1. Hoarded trash should not be cleaned out by people untrained on proper hoarding remediation
Without being properly trained on how to protect oneself and others from dangerous substances in the hoarded trash, you put yourself and others in danger. When cleaning out a hoarded home, there are multiple hazards that can cause diseases. These can include:
- Rotten food
- Animal feces and urine
- Human feces and urine
- Pests and insects such as roaches, flies, rats, mice, etc.
- Dead animals
With these materials left to fester inside and outside the home, the solids and liquids seep into the surrounding structure, damaging the floors, walls, and the roof structure. These problems then compound one upon another. If something breaks such as the electrical or plumbing, the person can be so ashamed of the interior, they don’t allow someone else inside the home to repair the item and instead do without. For example, if the toilet breaks inside of a hoarder’s home, they might use plastic bags to go to the bathroom and toss the bags to rot in a corner.
Anyone untrained in how to clean up a hoarder home should not attempt to do it. Without proper protocols and precautions, a person can breathe in polluted air, become infected with a huge number of bacteria and viruses, and be traumatized from the experience. Professional biohazard cleaners know what it takes to clean out a hoarded home, protect themselves from becoming infected, and when it is no longer safe to be in the home due to structural issues. Don’t put yourself at risk by doing it yourself.
2. There are treasures and important items among the trash that should be sorted out and salvaged if possible
Even in the most hoarded home, there are treasures among the trash such as important papers, family heirlooms, and photographs. These are usually hidden away and put in unexpected places. Though there are exceptions to this rule, you shouldn’t indiscriminately throw things away unless the items are unsalvageable. Infected with bodily fluids, pests, and odor, each item then needs to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to be kept. With thorough training, a professional biohazard cleaning company knows where to look for such items, which ones are salvageable, and how to thoroughly clean them so they can be returned to the owners in a clean condition.
3. Hoarding trash is more than a physical problem
Unless the person was hoarding trash has died and the property simply needs to be cleaned up, the issue isn’t a physical cleanout alone. It is also a mental issue that needs attention otherwise the hoarder will continue to hoard and the house is going to return to the way it was. To truly solve the issue, the person’s mental issues need to be addressed as well.
Without treatment, a person who hoards thinks the items in the house are still good, still usable. The fact the items can’t be used and won’t ever be used isn’t a connection the hoarder makes inside their brain. Such a person may look at their hoard and only see the items they’ve saved that are important to them, not the mounds of trash around the important object. In other cases, they see the trash as precious and something to be saved in order to not be wasteful. Through counseling and careful monitoring, a person who hoards can be helped and a safe living environment restored.
Get professional help as soon as possible
When a person hoards trash, it can literally destroy a house. Ceilings can fall down, walls can separate and the foundation can be fundamentally damaged due to the weight of the hoard. More importantly, the quality of life for a hoarder is seriously restricted and it is a danger to the whole neighborhood. To save those you care for or to protect your property investment, make sure to get professional hoarding cleaning help as soon as possible.