Your Guide to Cleaning a Hoarders House Before Selling

A hoarder’s house cluttered with junk. An unlivable space.

Cleaning a hoarder’s house before selling can be overwhelming, and knowing where to start can be challenging. Not only do you need to clean as you typically would, but you’ll also need to sort through piles of trash and possibly deal with human or animal waste.

The good news is as long as you have a solid plan, you can get the house cleaned up and ready to put on the market. 

How To Clean a Hoarder’s House

Cleaning a hoarder’s house is unlike cleaning a messy home. You will often be met with potentially hazardous waste, pests, and old or rotten food. Take a look at the home inspection checklist to ensure you tackle everything that needs completing to sell. 

Understand the Disorder

When cleaning a hoarder’s house, it can be easy to get frustrated along the way. However, if you understand how the individual got to that place, it can be easier to clean and have a better mindset.

Hoarding disorder is a mental health condition diagnosable by a doctor. Rather than disposing of items that are no longer in use, a hoarder will hold onto them. As time goes on, things can begin to crowd out the room.

You may not understand why someone would keep trash or other seemingly invaluable items. However, to a hoarder, these objects or garbage may be unique or of use in the future. There is an emotional connection the hoarder has for everything they have in their home.

Set Manageable Goals

Cleaning a hoarder’s house is a time-consuming project that may take days or weeks to completely finish. If it’s really bad, hiring cleaning services may be beneficial. Be realistic about how much you or your team can do on any given day. For example, your first goal may be “removing all of the obvious trash.” 

Make a plan and create a cleaning checklist with cleaning supplies you’ll need ahead of time so you know exactly what you’re there to do before you arrive. You can clean the house more effectively and efficiently by managing your expectations and having goals in mind.

Remove the Trash

Clearing out the garbage is the first step to finishing the house. You’ll need a team of people, empty boxes and heavy-duty trash bags, gloves, cleaning products, and a dumping station to remove the garbage efficiently.

First, ensure you have enough workforce to get the job done. Depending on the project, you may need two-three strong individuals to help carry things out. Frequently, the furniture is damaged and will need disposing of.

Before you start, have a dumping location for removing the trash from the property. The dump may be unable to handle this enormous task, so be sure to prepare them. Call a waste disposal company or the city dump before you begin to let them know what you’re doing.

At a minimum, ensure everyone helping to clean has a set of gloves. In some cases, you may need other forms of protective clothing. Even if there is no hazardous waste, you’re more likely to encounter disgusting substances. You’ll probably need quite a bit of disinfecting and sanitizing products; the entire house will need scrubbing once the trash is gone.

Deep Clean and Sanitize Floors

After years and years of hoarding, the piles of trash likely sat in the same spot throughout the house. If it’s on the carpet, it will lock a lot of nasty debris into the fibers. The tile and hardwood will, at the very least, have some staining.

Depending on the severity, you may need to hire a professional to clean the carpet or wax the floors to give them a good deep cleaning.

When mopping tile or hardwood, use a heavy-duty cleaner and ensure that you get underneath counters and in the corners. After years of hoarding, you may need to mop a few times to get the buildup off the floor.

Carpets need a deep steam cleaning to remove stains, smells, and any leftover debris that a vacuum cleaner can’t suck up. In extreme cases, you may need to rip up the flooring and start fresh with new carpeting or tile.


When we buy houses Pennsylvania is a popular location, but even the cleanest surfaces may have microscopic germs on them. You will need to cover every inch of the home with disinfectant to eliminate any bacteria. It may be helpful to hire a professional cleaning company for bad cases.

Pick up some Lysol or a similar spray to disinfect any hard surfaces to do the job yourself. Wipe down counters, appliances, and even furniture.

Get in All the Nooks and Crannies

With so many tasks in mind for a hoarder cleanup job, it’s easy to gloss over smaller areas. Use a step ladder to pay close attention to ceiling corners or other out-of-sight areas for any spiderwebs. Dust the tops of ceiling fans and clean underneath any furniture.


Once the house looks good, you only have one easy step ahead of you: deodorize. Get some air freshener and spray it throughout the house. Additionally, you may want a couple of cans before house cleaning to help with the initial smell. You may need additional tools for getting smoke smell out of the house.

Removing Waste

In some hoarding situations, there may be human waste throughout the home. Their house may make it challenging to get to the bathroom, or they may have a compulsion to hoard their feces. In any case, you’ll need to take precautions.

Hoarders accumulate food that rots, which is a hazard and can lead to rodent problems. The surplus of food attracts the rats and mice, and they will make their nests in items around the home. Rodent droppings can carry deadly diseases, so be careful when going through things. You’re likely to come across animal feces as well.

Required Equipment

You’ll need the proper equipment to tackle a hoarding cleanup plan. Have high-efficiency particle arresting (HEPA) vacuum cleaners to vacuum up any rodent or animal waste. HEPA vacuums have the highest efficiency filters, preventing bacteria from entering the air.

Use protective clothing and disposal bags when disposing of biohazards like human or animal waste. Use tightly sealed plastic bags for solid materials before taking them to the waste facility. Wear air filtration masks to keep from inhaling airborne bacteria.

Goggles and gloves can also help prevent any biohazardous waste from coming in contact with your skin or eyes.

Prioritizing Valuables in the House

Most people believe that hoarders only hoard junk. While it’s true that they do hoard trash, many hoarders will collect valuables—additionally necessary paperwork or items, like a photo album, maybe meaningful keepsakes.

Some items may include:

  • Jewelry
  • Keys
  • Cash or items of monetary value
  • Photo albums
  • Documents
  • Collectibles

Suppose you find something you think could be valuable while you declutter; check with the hoarder to see if it’s something they genuinely need. Although it may be tempting to tackle the job as quickly as possible, it’s essential to have empathy for the person who may have left behind treasures that are important to them.

Making Space Where Possible

As you work your way into the home, do what you can to remove trash and other items to create walkways. Trying to climb over piles of rubbish or other items can be dangerous, so you’ll want a few clear paths. Renting a dumpster before you begin the clean-out process can be helpful.

You’ll likely need a dumpster to make junk removal more efficient. Take more significant items outside to give you some room to work with as you go through everything else within the house.

It may seem daunting at first, but by creating space first, you can maneuver more freely – especially if multiple people are doing the job.

What To Do With All the Stuff

A couple arguing concerned about all the stuff they found in their new place previously owned by a hoarder.

Have a plan before you start removing anything. Realistically, you’ll probably have several loads of different items from the hoarder’s property before cash home buyers in Springfield will look at the property. 

Although much of what you find will not be salvageable, you’ll likely come across a few things that someone else can enjoy. If you locate any salvageable items, set them aside to take to a donation center.

You may start by loading up all trash to dispose of and then save the next load for donatable items.

Before donating anything, do a thorough check to ensure nothing is invested. Don’t donate anything that can be potentially harmful to someone else. If a family member or loved one picks up the items, keep their safety in mind. While empathy is essential, you don’t want to give them anything that could be dangerous.


Hoarding is a mental health disorder that can cause individuals to hold onto items, trash, and even animals. Although cleaning a hoarder’s home before selling is a big job, you want to have empathy throughout the process.

Safety is the primary concern to keep in mind. Wear protective clothing like filtration masks, goggles, and gloves to avoid contact with anything biohazardous. Take the tasks one step at a time and keep manageable goals.

After removing trash and disposing of unsalvageable items, don’t forget to deep clean and sanitize everything. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to sell a house fast in Philadelphia

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