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HOARDING:

Recognizing the Signs
and Seeking Help

Finding hope and motivation to clean up your home.

Introduction

When the reality television show Hoarders went on air in 2009, it resonated with audiences. Hoarders gave a name to something most of us had seen before but never truly identified—the common practice of hanging on to things we don’t need.

Collab with Bio-One

They wanted to shed light on hoarding disorders and we wanted to help. That’s why we partnered with them in the beginning. You can see us on Season 11 Episode 1.

However, the show also heaped drama and shame on something that, honestly, is much more normal than we’d like to admit.

Having experienced firsthand how they treated their clientele and how unrealistic their depiction of hoarding was, we dropped out.

We wanted to end the stigma around hoarding and shed light on just how common it is.

Everybody knows someone who is impacted by it.

Hoarders

Marie Kondo

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Author

Marie Condo
You may have a family member who calls themselves a “pack rat.” Maybe your kids have so many toys you can’t keep the floor clean.

Maybe you know someone who has a home that has gotten out of control. Maybe it’s you!

It’s certainly possible that so much stuff has accumulated over time you can no longer use the space or keep it safe and clean.
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Regardless of where you find yourself on the hoarding scale, you are not alone.
Even Marie Kondo, best-selling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, recently told the Washington Post that she’s “kind of given up” on her own tidying methods after having three kids.
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Messes are just a part of normal life, and clearing out can be overwhelming. Most of us hoard to some extent at some point in our lives.

Our Goal

We want to help you cope with clutter in your home, no matter the extent. We aim to:
House
Show just how normal clutter is.
Proven
Give you proven, simple strategies to help with decluttering and cleaning.
Clean
Help you understand how to keep your home clean and safe.
Call
Help you know when (and who) to call for backup.
Many of us have experienced feelings of shame and being overwhelmed when it comes to the state of our homes at least once.
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In reality, nearly everyone deals with at least low-level hoarding in their lives.

Our Hope

Regardless of the state of your home, you will find resources to support you in making your space comfortable and safe.
CHAPTER 1

The Five Levels of Hoarding

The word “hoarding” probably evokes a particular image, made more common by shows like Hoarders that highlight extreme examples.
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It's normal to experience hoarding behavior.
There are many resources to help that you can find in this guide.
In reality, not all hoarders have rooms full of items piled high to the ceiling. Hoarding is a spectrum of behavior that has been outlined by the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD):
Hoarding Level

Level 1

There is clutter, but no concern for safety

Level 2

The home is livable, but is in need of cleaning and may start to overwhelm residents

Level 3

Home shows extreme disorganization

Level 4

Home shows excessive clutter as well as extreme disorganization

Level 5

Homes are hazardous and require professional help

We have all fallen on this scale at some point in our lives and could quite possibly be there now, especially for households that have small children living at home.

Clutter Icon

Clutter-Hoarding Scale

The Institute for Challenging Disorganization (there’s a relatable title!) has classified hoarding behavior into five levels on their Clutter-Hoarding Scale.

Level 1

LOW
There is clutter, but no concern for safety. Most, if not all of us, have been here.

All stairways, doors, and windows are accessible, not blocked by clutter.

The home has good ventilation and is free of bad odors.

The number of pets in the home is appropriate and compliant with zoning regulations.

Pet hair and waste is cleaned up and disposed of properly.

There are no visible pests like insects or rodents.

Level 2

GUARDED
The home is livable but in need of cleaning and may be starting to overwhelm the residents. Most of us bounce between Level 1 and Level 2.

One important exit is blocked with clutter.

Pet waste and hair can be found in the home.

Electrical and/or plumbing issues are present.

There may be a major appliance that has been broken for more than one season.

Garbage containers are overflowing.

Some mild odors are present, related to overflowing dishes, laundry, uncleaned bathrooms, etc.

Occasional presence of household pests in the home are quickly dealt with.

Level 3

ELEVATED
The home is livable but in need of cleaning and may be starting to overwhelm the residents. Most of us bounce between Level 1 and Level 2.

One important exit is blocked with clutter.

Pet waste and hair can be found in the home.

Electrical and/or plumbing issues are present.

There may be a major appliance that has been broken for more than one season.

Garbage containers are overflowing.

Some mild odors are present, related to overflowing dishes, laundry, uncleaned bathrooms, etc.

Occasional presence of household pests in the home are quickly dealt with.

Level 4

HIGH
The home shows excessive clutter. Those living in Level 4 conditions require professional help to bring the home to a comfortable, hygienic space where they can thrive.

Structural damage is present, such as water damage, broken doors, and plumbing issues.

Excessive pets and pet waste may be present.

Clutter is blocking access to stairs, rooms, and exits.

Expired and rotting food is present in the home and contributes to odors.

Multiple rooms are cluttered to the extent that they cannot be used for their intended purposes.

A medium level of insect infestation is present.

Bats, squirrels, and/or rodents may be in attic or basement.

Sewage is backed up.

Level 5

SEVERE
The home is hazardous and requires professionals with safety equipment and training to clean.

Extreme indoor clutter makes important living spaces unusable.

There is no ventilation in the home.

Structural damage is irreparable.

Water and/or electrical services have been disconnected.

Mold and/or mildew is pervasive throughout the home.

Pets living in the home are at risk due to living conditions.

Occupants of the home in danger due to pet behaviors, numbers, and/or health conditions.

Household appliances are unusable due to disrepair or being blocked by clutter.

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This scale offers a number of characteristics for each level that can help you determine where your space ranks.
Not every characteristic needs to be present for a home to fit a specific level. This is simply a guide designed to help you get a handle on what you’re working with.
Phone Availability Icon

We can help

At this level of hoarding, many people are looking for help.
We’re available and respond 24/7.
HOARDING

Level 1

At level 1, a home is not pristine, but the space is still easily accessible and sanitary. There is clutter, but no concern for safety.
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Most, if not all of us, have been in level 1. Many people spend most of their time in this stage.
Hoarding Level1 Items
Here are the defining characteristics of this level:
Stairs
All stairways, doors, and windows are accessible, not blocked by clutter.
Ventilator
The home has good ventilation and is free of bad odors.
Dog
The number of pets in the home is appropriate and compliant with zoning regulations.
Cat
Pet hair and waste is cleaned up and disposed of properly.
Cockroach
There are no visible pests like insects or rodents.
Smoke Detector
Appropriate alarms like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed.
HOARDING

Level 2

At level 2, homes are still very livable, but there is more evidence of disarray. The home is in need of cleaning and may be starting to overwhelm the residents. The hygiene level isn’t optimal.
Here are the defining characteristics of this level:
Clutter Block Exit
One important exit is blocked with clutter.
Pet Hair
Pet waste and hair can be found in the home.
Electrical
Electrical and/or plumbing issues are present. There may be a major appliance that has been broken for more than one season.
Garbage
Garbage containers are overflowing.
Odor
Some mild odors are present, related to overflowing dishes, laundry, uncleaned bathrooms, etc.
House Pest
Occasional presence of household pests in the home are quickly dealt with.
White Bulb
Most of us bounce between Level 1 and Level 2.
Young Guy
HOARDING

Level 3

Level 3 is considered the turning point between manageable household disorganization and a more serious issue. Level 3 homes show extreme disorganization and indicate hoarding behavior.
Extreme Disorganization
Phone Availability Icon

We can help

At this level of hoarding, many people are looking for help.
We’re available and respond 24/7.
Here are the defining characteristics of this level:
Ants
Mild insect infestations from pests like lice, cockroaches, ants, or bedbugs are present.
Piles of Objects
Piles of objects are obstructing key living areas.
Appliances
Multiple appliances in the home are broken and unusable.
Spills
Spills may be left uncleaned for several days. Food preparation and eating areas are left visibly dirty.
One Room
One room is no longer being used for its intended purpose, like bedrooms being used exclusively for storage.
Unpleasant Odor
Noticeable unpleasant odors are present in the home.
Dirty Laundry
Dirty laundry is left throughout the home.
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Level 3 Households Should Consider Hiring Outside Help.

Although, it’s still possible to get it under control with a concerted effort from the whole family.

HOARDING

Level 4

At Level 4, the home shows excessive clutter. Professional cleaners, handymen, animal control, and financial counselors can help with the situation.
Mental health counselors and social workers may also step in to help residents change their habits.
Hoarding Level 4
Here are the defining characteristics of this level:
Structural Damage
Structural damage is present, such as water damage, broken doors, and plumbing issues.
Excessive Pets
Excessive pets and pet waste may be present.
Clutter
Clutter is blocking access to stairs, rooms, and exits.
Expired Foods
Expired and rotting food is present in the home and contributes to odors.
Cluttered Rooms
Multiple rooms are cluttered to the extent that they cannot be used for their intended purposes.
Rodents
A medium level of insect infestation is present. There may be bats, squirrels, and/or rodents in the attic or basement.
Sewage
Sewage is backed up.
Blue Exclamation

Those Living In Level 4 Conditions Need Professional Help.

At this level, part of getting help includes professional cleaning to transform the house into a safe, hygienic space where people can thrive. Bio-One can help.

Call: 813-345-1830.

HOARDING

Level 5

Level 5 is the highest level of hoarding behavior.
Here are the defining characteristics of this level:
Extreme Indoor
Extreme indoor clutter makes important living spaces unusable.
No Ventilation
There is no ventilation in the home.
Irreparable
Structural damage is irreparable.
Disconnected
Water and/or electrical services have been disconnected.
Pets Living Condition
Pets living in the home are at risk due to living conditions.
Danger
Occupants of the home in danger due to pet behaviors, numbers, and/or health conditions.
Broken Appliance
Household appliances are unusable due to disrepair or being blocked by clutter.
Hoarding Level 5
Phone Availability Icon

We can help

At this level of hoarding, many people are looking for help.
We’re available and respond 24/7.
Blue Exclamation

Level 5 Homes Are Alarmingly Hazardous.

They require professionals with safety equipment and training to clean.

Bio-One Video
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How We Have Helped

Nate shares his experience hiring Bio-One to help him with the cleanup process. He details his struggles with mental health that made it difficult to tackle the task alone. Discover what Nate has to say about the team members that helped him, and his advice. He shares how he found Bio-One and details their amazing work in bringing hope to his life again. From being personable and positive to ensuring everything was clean and spotless, the team at Bio-One proved to be an excellent choice for Nate.
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813-345-1830
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