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Many people live with a dirty secret – they live in shame under a mountain of clutter that has taken over their homes. They live among us, hiding in plain sight and more often than not, it’s someone you love dearly. But really you wouldn’t easily spot a hoarder in a crowd, only when you come over for a visit at their house does all the rubbish reveal itself. So what can you do to help a hoarder overcome their tendency to collect rubbish?
What is Hoarding?
Hoarding is a complex mental illness that should be approached with utmost compassion. It can affect anyone. Hoarding behaviour causes an intense attachment to sentimental things or even random objects. Hoarders have a way of attaching certain meaning to things that’s not obvious to other family members. Their brain’s decision-making centres are compromised so that they are unable to let go of things. For hoarders, it takes a great deal of effort for them to make any crucial life decisions, and the sad part is they can’t see their self-worth beyond the clutter.
Did You Know?
According to the findings of the health non-profit group SANE Australia, it’s estimated that 2-5% of Australian adults have a hoarding disorder.
Helping a Hoarder
Before any rubbish removal can happen, you have to sit down with your loved one about their hoarding problem and have a real talk about the situation. Cleaning is the easy part compared to convincing a hoarder that their house needs cleaning. Helping a hoarder can be truly a difficult and emotionally intense time for the whole family. Often they are in denial about their situation, or would refuse to accept this as a problem that needs sorting. But don’t give up, tell them you’re here to help!
First, tell your family member that this concern to help them is coming from a place of love. You are not here because you want their stuff or that you are judging the way they live. You cannot stress enough that the hoarding situation is very dire, and their safety is at stake. Also let them know that the local council or neighbours can take steps to have them evicted or penalised with heavy fines for their hoarding problem. It would also be best to address the issue with the help of a therapist. You have to stand your ground to help this clean-up get going, and take decisive action for you loved one.
If you’ve taken on the task of doing the rubbish removal on your own here are some steps to help you clean out the entire hoard safely and efficiently:
Prepare a staging area outside the home
Ideally, a covered area like a garage, or you can set up a canopy or pop-up tent to make sure the items don’t get soaked in the rain. Place everything you find in the house on this open area, and start sorting each thing. You can sort items that are still usable or functional, and dispose of the broken ones. The functional pile can be further sorted down to items that can be donated, sold or kept. Though we would advise that a good percentage of what you recover should be donated or sold rather than keep. This is to really feel the big difference after the rubbish removal. The goal is to massively lessen the piles of clutter. The only items that should be left behind are really a few important things that the family can’t live without.
Have a skip bin delivered on your rubbish removal day
Having a skip bin ready will ease the transition of disposing things as you clean. Wheelie bins won’t cut it when helping a hoarder out. You’d be amazed at just how much stuff can come out of the house. The sheer volume once laid out on the lawn will surprise you. Skip bins are sturdy and large containers that can hold a huge amounts of rubbish. By the end of your clean-up, a skip bin hire company will come over and haul off the rubbish load.
But how big should my skip bin be? If you need help on estimating the size of your skip bin, contact your local skip bin company. Many are happy to visit the home to help you determine the best size skip bin for your situation.
Start removing items closest to the entry points
A hoarder’s house is often blocked with stuff. You have to create pathways for you to easily reach other areas of the house. This will create a wider route for you or the rubbish removal team to get in and out of the house. Once you’ve established a clear route, the next area for you to clean-up should be the bathroom. For practical reasons, if you need to go pee or wash your hands, having the bathroom clean is a great comfort during long stretches of rubbish removal. Plus cleaning out personal care items and the toilet is easy compared to taking on the living room in one go. After the bathroom is sanitised, you can start swooping in from one room to the next.
Safety first comes first and regular gloves won’t cut it. Use thick and sturdy safety gloves, safety glasses and a face mask, especially if you’re sorting elbow deep into a pile. Hoarding piles may contain nasty things that can injure you such as broken glass or rusty metal. You must protect your body from getting any cuts as such injuries can lead to infection.
Assess the rubbish pile and work from top to bottom
The heavy items can easily cause whole piles to fall down, so remove heavy things first like chairs, full boxes, pots and pans.
Stinks and smells
To make cleaning efficient, when faced with a tremendous hoarding pile, clean out the stuff that’s obviously rubbish and rotten- if it stinks to high heavens it should go. These include smelly food waste, dead pets or animals, water-damaged items, mold and mildew, stained items. Items such as broken glass, and sharp metals as well as termite-eaten objects should be removed as soon as possible.
Have a fire extinguisher handy
It simply defies belief, but a hoarder’s rubbish pile can easily catch fire. You don’t know what’s in the mix to begin with; it could be something flammable, chemical or electrical. Mix in items like paper, cloth and other dried things and it is a disaster waiting to happen.
Closets are overflowing monsters, so battle them last
Opening a closet can reveal a lot of disorganised little things which will eat up your time. You can micro manage full closet clean-ups after an overall sweep of the large areas.
When the house is free of the rubbish, you can finally begin the laborious process of hand scrubbing or sanitising with deep cleaners. Open all windows and doors to air the rooms out, yes the fresh air will do the house good and lessen the bad odours. Here you can now assess what areas of the house are really damaged and would benefit from a proper renovation. If there is no structural damage or mold damage, you can repaint the walls and change carpets or other flooring. Don’t hold back on the Lysol or lemon sprays, disinfect everything.
When you’re done cleaning the house, its back to the staging area to sanitise each of the salvageable things before bringing them back inside. This all sounds like an insurmountable task right? If you feel unsure that you can really help out a hoarder at this capacity, you can call professional rubbish removal services or skip bin hire to take care of things for you.
Most people are hesitant to call in help. The stigma of a hoarding situation can be stressful for families and we understand that. We at 1300 Skip Bins are always open, discreet and we treat our clients with utmost respect and keep our customer’s comfort in mind. Professionally assisting you in the loading of the rubbish with our skip bin hire services or we can come over, do an estimate of what will be required and go over the specifics needed for a complete rubbish removal. We will work with you every step of the way and find you the right-sized skip bin for your rubbish removal day.
With our rubbish removal and skip bin services, your loved one can have a fresh start in life. Call 1300 Skip Bins today!