Just because someone has too much stuff, doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a hoarding disorder. This disorder includes a collection of useless and unusual items, rotten food, magazines, fingernails, and sometimes even pets, according to Ann Russo, the founder of AMR Mental Health Therapy.
People with a hoarding disorder usually have anxiety about tossing anything away. The things in a home of a hoarder might fill the hallways, stairways, and counters. They usually have rooms that can’t be used because they’re filled with clutter. Stored things might fill the garage, vehicles, or even their yard.
Typically, hoarders don’t invite people over because of their over cluttered homes. In some cases, their own space can become unsafe and unhealthy for daily activities. In this article, I will discuss hoarding and help you clean and organize a hoarder room with a few decluttering tips, so let’s get started.
Is Hoarding A Mental Illness or Laziness?
Hoarding isn’t laziness for sure! It’s a psychological disorder that makes it hard to throw anything away. If you have a loved one with this type of disorder, it’s hard to know how to help them. However, before helping a hoarder throw away things, it’s crucial to seek professional help together.
Note that hoarding doesn’t mean a person is messy, indecisive, or lazy. It’s a mental health disorder that makes people struggle when throwing things away. When faced with giving away or throwing their stuff away, hoarders often experience anxiety and great distress, so they need professional help.
Once you’ve linked your loved one with a professional who can help them address underlying problems behind their hoarding tendencies, you can focus on finding different manners to declutter their house or a specific room. The 15 decluttering tips below can help you organize a hoarder room easily.
What’s The Fastest Way To Clean A Hoarder’s Room?
First and foremost, establish the severity of the situation and determine how many people can help you clean the area. However, don’t forget about your loved one’s personal progress.
Make sure that you can help them clean the space without a professional. If you can, just apply these 15 decluttering tips and you will get things done in a timely manner.
It’s a project!
First of all, organizing a whole room is definitely a project, so breaking down the job into small steps can help you get things done faster. For instance, determine what parts of your house need to be organized. Therefore, imagine every surface, shelf, and drawer as a separate task that you need to be done.
Obtain a lot of boxes
Once you start seeing this as a project that needs to be completed, get empty boxes. They’re amazing for organizing small things, giving you a dedicated area to move stuff so you can sort it out later.
I highly recommend getting larger plastic boxes instead of cardboard boxes. You can put more stuff into a large plastic box without stressing about the box breaking as soon as you lift or move it around.
I would also suggest that you obtain empty boxes with lids because they’re better for storing things. The lid will keep your things secure and tucked away without the risk of getting dusty or spilling out over time.
A final tip I have for you is throwing in an air freshener when closing the lids to keep your things smelling lovely, ready for when you need them in the future. A nice smell will also make you feel a lot better.
In my experience, decluttering a room is best done in short bursts. It’s just less overwhelming and feels a lot better because your brain is more engaged as you clean. Meaning, you will do a better job!
Start with the floor
No matter what you’re organizing, safety should be your first priority. Therefore, when cleaning a room, start with the floor. Meaning, if it’s covered with different things, you would do well by clearing up these things so you don’t trip and fall. Therefore, create a pathway so you can move and start cleaning!
Take out the trash
I don’t mean just emptying trash cans. I’m talking about removing the obvious trash from your room. It’s a good start that will make you feel like you’re in charge.
You can just carry trash bags with you as you move around the area and toss away anything that’s not of value such as old to-do lists, plastic/paper dirty dishes, old magazines, food wrappers, etc.
If you’re into recycling, you can also sort things out and recycle later. Have bags for recyclable things and bags for trash. It’s very amazing how much of a difference taking out the trash can make.
Note that when you’re helping a hoarder clean their area, you will probably end up with accumulated stuff to toss away. So, to keep the cleanup going forward smoothly, have a simple and easy solution for taking out the trash. I also suggest renting a dumpster for larger projects. It’s super convenient!
Other good waste removal options include waiting for the town’s curbside bulk pickup or hiring a junk removal service. These options can add significant time to the process but they also cost.
Keep in mind that a hoarder can be tempted to take away stuff from your garbage can if left unattended and hide them away, so get rid of the garbage very quickly.
Take baby steps
When a person has been piling up things for months or years, the thought of going through all that stuff can be a daunting task. However, it’s nothing impossible or something you can’t do!
Keep in mind that you don’t have to get things done all at once or all in just a day or week. So, take your time by breaking down the project into smaller, more manageable, and simple tasks.
In other words, take baby steps because decluttering a whole room all at once can be overwhelming or make you change your mind about the whole thing. Thus, don’t overwhelm yourself.
Start with sorting out a few things like shelves, drawers, or counters. I promise that smaller efforts will have a good effect on you and your loved one.
You will both feel successful and more confident about organizing the whole thing up. And that feeling of success will increase with each small task you complete.
Start with larger things
Sometimes, cleaning a single drawer can take hours in a hoarder’s home.
Therefore, I highly suggest organizing larger things such as furniture. Determine what you want to throw out, what could be moved to other rooms, and what you want to keep in the room.
For instance, if you’re transforming a trash space into a workspace, you may want to leave the futon for afternoons when you’re going through your documents or taking a small break or nap.
In a bedroom, on the other hand, you can remove underused drawers or other storage units. That could help balance out the room, so start with larger items you can easily spot and remove.
You will immediately feel like you’ve done something big and gained space.
Reduce piles of clothes if any
If you’re handling rooms or closets packed with clothes, start with those things that aren’t sentimental. If you come across things that aren’t old but don’t fit your loved one anymore, take them to Goodwill. Examine all the things carefully and ask your loved one for an opinion.
You can also sort through clothes by categories such as t-shirts, jeans, socks, underwear, etc. Keep the stuff that fits comfortably and that your loved one likes. Throw away anything old with rips or holes, as well as clothes that don’t fit anymore. This can really help the decluttering process.
A big clutter issue is usually caused by having too many things but sometimes the lack of organization is a major contributing factor.
So, if you don’t organize the things you own, it doesn’t matter how much cleaning and decluttering you do because you will always face a clutter problem.
I highly suggest obtaining a heavy-duty wire shelf, storage bins, chisel-tip markers for labeling your bins, printable sticker paper, and a couple of drawer dividers.
These things can help you get things organized quicker and better. I also suggest you try the “love it, use it, or lose it” technique when organizing a hoarder room.
For instance, choose one surface, one shelf, or one drawer. Then, look at each thing in that place. Ask if you really need those things in your life. Do they need you?
According to experts, asking if something you just can’t throw away is a friend, stranger, or acquaintance can help people toss away things.
Minimize the sense of loss
You can donate things your loved one doesn’t use or give them to a friend or family member who would appreciate and actually use the things. Think of this as blessing loved ones or complete strangers with your things. That way, you will minimize the sense of loss.
The hardest part of organizing a hoarder’s home is determining what stays and what goes. So, be extra careful not to throw anything with emotions involved.
Start by organizing things into keep, store, throw away, and donate piles. Keep the stuff that you plan to reintroduce to the area after you’re done cleaning.
Store away anything you want to keep but don’t have space at the time and donate the rest of the items to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or similar places.
Anything that can’t be recycled, stored, or donated can go straight in the trash. With disposable things, make sure you dispose of them the right way.
Keep up the good spirit!
Organizing a hoarder room isn’t easy. It’s basically a job. However, that doesn’t mean it must be boring. Therefore, keep up the good spirit and make it fun!
Make your short decluttering tasks fun by playing some music or doing something else that will help you and your loved one go through the whole process easier.
Stay motivated so you can motivate your loved one too! Working with friends or family members offers moral support, objective perspectives, and sharper focus.
Let your loved one hold up things that, if you touched them, might revoke emotional bonds. Also, don’t have a “just throw it all out” mentality when cleaning.
Once you’re done for the day or done with everything, end your cleaning with a final clean-up. Put away your card table or folding tray. Bring back any furniture that has been moved for cleaning purposes. End with some dusting, wiping down surfaces, spot cleaning, and vacuuming.
Rent a storage unit
Remember those things that you put away because you didn’t have enough space for them in your room anymore? Well, a storage unit can come in handy in situations like these, so consider renting one in your area. It’s a great solution, providing a neutral place for things you can still use.
For instance, if you have furniture that you still like but don’t have space for it or kitchen appliances, you can safely store them in a storage unit and figure out what to do with them later.
I prefer storage units for bulkier things that I can’t fit in my home at the moment. Hoarders can also use a storage unit for those things they have a hard time letting go of. However, keep in mind that renting a storage unit costs money, so make sure your loved one can afford this solution.
Finally, I would highly suggest that you hire professionals if the hoarding issue has existed for years, or if you can’t handle working with someone who has a hoarding disorder.
Hiring experts can ease any tensions and make the whole process easier. Maybe your loved one will feel more comfortable and less embarrassed working with a professional organizer.
Also, if your loved one’s home is in bad condition due to the hoarding problem, it could be impossible or unsafe for a regular person to clean it. Therefore, if you spot rotting food, blocked windows, pets’ waste, mold, or something far worse, call a junk removal company or cleaning service.
If you’re the one with a hoarding problem, before you start cleaning up your home, I highly suggest that you book a meeting with a professional and address underlying issues.
Address underlying issues
Just cleaning and organizing a room won’t solve a hoarding problem.
You need to understand that the main problem isn’t the clutter. It’s usually underlying issues associated with some type of trauma or loss of control that need to be addressed, experts say.
Therefore, if you want to help a loved one with hoarding tendencies get better or you’re the one with a hoarding disorder, get professional assistance and address the underlying issues.
Cleaning and organizing thoughts can help solve the issue permanently.
Decluttering Isn’t a One-Time Thing!
Organizing a hoarder room can be a time-consuming and emotional process, especially in serious cases. Therefore, having some organizational skills can be beneficial for many reasons.
When you help someone with a hoarding disorder clean their house or even a room, you will give them a sense of control and success and improve their overall quality of life, which is amazing!
However, when you want to clean a room full of things, even if you have the intention of doing it all in a day, it’s easier to break down the process into smaller tasks and make it a longer project.
I suggest spacing your cleaning sessions out over a few weekends, so you don’t get overwhelmed, tired, or bored. Perhaps, plan to spend morning hours organizing things that can be donated and then moving them to the appropriate places. Or maybe pack up things for a storage unit and rent one.
Also, reserve hours for moving furniture around, organizing the room, and deciding what you’re keeping in the home. Dividing your time and tasks will make organizing less challenging.
Organizing a room full of things can be completed with ease if you have a good plan. However, keeping it clean and organized in the future should be your main goal.
Regular cleaning is the key to a well-organized home. Therefore, check for clutter often and throw away or donate anything you don’t need while working with a mental health professional.
Additionally, make sure your things always find a way back to their storage place. Something I regularly do that helps me keep my home clean is performing a deep clean at least once a year.
Do you have any decluttering tips and tricks? Have you ever cleaned and organized a hoarder room before? If so, drop a comment, and let’s continue the discussion below!