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5 Tips For Clearing Out A Hoarder's House

Around 19 million Americans suffer from compulsive hoarding tendencies, and oftentimes non-hoarders end up faced with the task of cleaning out their homes. Whether you inherited the home of a loved one with hoarding tendencies or bought a fix-and-flip foreclosure home that is full to the brim with belongings, cleaning out a hoarder's home is overwhelming. When a house is jam-packed with stuff, possibly including garbage, it's difficult to know where to start. These five tips for clearing out a hoarder's house break this large task into smaller, more manageable steps:

Rent Portable Dumpsters

Sometimes just the act of renting portable dumpsters is enough to jump-start your clean-out efforts, since you will suddenly have a place to put the piles of garbage and unwanted belongings you need to get rid of. Most portable dumpster companies will deliver your dumpster, place it wherever is convenient (making it easy to get trash from the house to the dumpster), and then pick it up and empty it once it's full. You can then have them bring it back empty if you still have more stuff to clear away.

Wear Protective Gear at All Times

You never know exactly what you will find in a hoarder's home, and this goes for health hazards as well as those rare treasures you may find buried inside old boxes. There may be bacteria-laden garbage, mold, broken glass, pet waste, dead mice or squirrels, or stray nails strewn on the ground. For this reason, it's important that you, your family members, and any contractors you hire wear protective gear during each stage of the clean-out process. Specifically, you will want to wear masks, work gloves, and heavy-duty work boots.

Identify Items of Potential Value

Before you begin hauling items to your portable dumpsters, you may want to do a thorough walk-through and investigation of the home's belongings in order to identify and set aside items of potential value. If the home belonged to a family member, you may want to set aside photo albums, jewelry, and anything of sentimental or heirloom value. You may also want to hold onto vintage furniture that's in good condition, electronics, or other items that can be sold for a profit.

If you have no idea where to start, you may want to hire an estate sale expert to inventory the items worth keeping, and then either have them appraised for you if you plan to hold onto them, or arrange for them to be sold in an estate sale.

Add Home Security

During the clearing-out process and later when you are performing demolition and renovations (if it's a fix-and-flip home), the hoarder's home will be vulnerable to break-ins. If a would-be thief sees roll-off dumpsters and many belongings being removed from the home, they may wonder if there are items of monetary value worth breaking in to steal when you're not around.

For this reason, it's always a smart idea to invest in a home security system, ideally with at least one exterior camera. This will be enough to deter many criminals and will provide evidence if someone does manage to break in.

Hire Professional Cleaners

At some point, you will need to hire professional cleaners to help you. Ideally, you should try to find a company that specializes in "extreme cleaning" and has experience cleaning out the homes of hoarders. They may help empty all the stuff you decide to throw out into the portable dumpsters. In other cases, you may decide to tackle that stage yourself but have cleaners come in to clean and sanitize the home once it's been emptied out.

Cleaning out a hoarder's home isn't easy, but it can be done. By following these tips, you will soon be able to tackle the daunting task of clearing out a hoarder's house—possibly more quickly than you imagined.