How to Help A Hoarder

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Hoarding should be treated by a qualified mental health professional, below we give our advice as hoarding cleanup professionals on how to help a hoarder that is a family member, loved one, or friend to a healthier lifestyle. When talking to a hoarder one must take into consideration the emotions, state of mind, and goals of the individual to help them ultimately succeed by putting them on a path to recovery. See our dos and don’ts of talking with a hoarder below to help in your communication with the hoarder.

How to Talk with a Hoarder:

It is important to learn how to speak with a hoarder to keep a healthy line of communication open between you and the hoarder, leading them down the path to recovery.

Here are the dos and don’ts of talking with a hoarder:

(click here: for an in depth article on dos and don’ts of talking with a hoarder)


  1. Connect with the Individual
  2. Seek Professional Help
  3. Continue to Talk with the Hoarder About the Situation
  4. Talk About Safety
  5. Agree That the Items Are Important
  6. Talk About Keeping Everything Confidential
  7. Ask the question of Why – In a Respectful Tone
  8. Promote Donation
  9. Be Patient
  10. Hire a Professional Hoarding Cleanup & Organization Service (remind the hoarder of the ultimate goal, being able to see family and friends and host events at home again!)


  1. Make Fun of the Hoarder's Situation
  2. Say Let's Get Rid of All This "Stuff"
  3. Get Angry
  4. Try to Reason with the Hoarder Right Away
  5. Touch the Hoarder's Items in the Beginning
  6. Treat the Hoarder Like a Child
  7. Treat Hoarders Like Criminals
  8. Make a List of All of the Tasks to do At Once for the Hoarder
  9. Ask Why They Hoard – In a Disrespectful Tone
  10. Let this Hoarding Situation Stress You Out

When you approach the hoarder and start to communicate, politely express your concerns about their lifestyle and suggest that the hoarder see a mental health professional. See our advice on how to help the hoarder find a licensed mental health professional below.

Help the Hoarder Find a Licensed Mental Health Professional:

Address Our Mess, as part of our service, can suggest licensed mental health professionals that specialize in hoarding. See our updated list of mental health professionals to find Address Our Mess approved mental health professionals in your area! We service all 50 States and Washington D.C.

The type of therapy and the therapist you choose is not a one size fits all scenario, that is why we suggest reading Choosing Therapy's article on How to Choose a Therapist. The article, written and reviewed by mental health professionals goes in depth on the process of choosing a therapist, what a therapist is and what makes them successful, where to find therapists, deciding what is important to you in a therapist, how licenses and certifications as well as education can be used to identify the right therapist, specialty therapists, cost and insurance coverage, scheduling, personality fit, how to review a profile or website, what questions to ask during a first call, what to consider during the first appointment, what to consider after 3 to 4 weeks, and additional resources on finding a mental health professional from mental health organizations.

After you find a good solution for addressing the mental health aspect of hoarding recovery you can start approaching the hoarding cleanup project. You will have to decide between cleaning yourself and hiring a professional hoarding cleanup company. See our self cleaning tips for hoarders below.

Self Cleaning Tips for Hoarders:

  1. Invest 15 Minutes Every Day in Cleaning
  2. Start Small to Avoid Mental Overwhelm
  3. Use an Organization System (The 3 Container Method)
  4. Follow Through with Consistent Cleaning
  5. Stop Taking in New Things - “One in, two out”
  6. Donate Items to Charity! (501c3 tax deductible*)

*Check with a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) before deciding where to donate to determine if the donation will be tax deductible.

6 decluttering tips for hoarders infographic

If you would prefer to use a professional hoarding cleanup service, see our 5 step process for finding a hoarding cleanup and professional organization service company below.

Hoarding Cleanup & Professional Organization Service:

Our hoarding cleanup service and professional organizing & sorting service will help put a hoarder on the path to recovery.

1. Seeking Help (Inquiring):

The first step and for some the hardest part of the recovery process is admitting that they need help. A reputable hoarding cleanup company should respond quickly and effectively when called for a hoarding cleanup project to avoid missing the opportunity to start the project while the hoarder is motivated to clean. There will be no judgment, and everything will be kept completely confidential.

2. Setup an Estimate (Assessment):

When an estimator comes to give an estimated price for services make sure to get a customized plan of action for the project. Each hoarding cleanup project is unique, and the plan of action should reflect this to best serve the customer.

3. Hoarding Cleanup (& Sorting):

A team of specialists will help you sort through your clutter one room at a time. The company should be able to take care of the disposal of trash and some may be able to deliver items you decide to donate to your favorite charity.

4. Organizing (& Teaching Organization Habits):

Reputable hoarding cleanup companies will be able to return your home to a healthy environment by organizing your home. The company should be able to teach good cleaning and organizational habits to the hoarder so that they are better able to keep their home organized as well.

5. Deep Cleaning (& Sanitation):

Hoarding cleanup companies should be able to give you the option between sanitization, deep cleaning, and broom swept cleaning.

Hoarding Definition & Symptoms:

Medical Definition of Hoarding 

“Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs” – Mayo Clinic.(Mayo Clinic)

Hoarding Disorder Symptoms:

From Choosing Therapy's Article Hoarding Disorder: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatments, Here are 6 Symptoms of Hoarding Everyone Should Look Out For:

  • “Acquiring too many belongings
  • Incapacity to organize the items in a neat and logical manner
  • Assigning emotional importance to their possessions
  • Experiencing intense emotional pain and difficulty related to letting go of their belongings
  • These behaviors seriously interfere with the quality of the person’s life, including and not limited to, relationships, physical safety, and secure housing
  • Despite the threat to the quality of their life, the individual feels unable to change the destructive behaviors"

Please note that these symptoms are meant only to give you a better idea of whether yourself or a loved one is hoarding. You will have to go to a qualified mental health professional to get a formal diagnosis. 

Please consider our company Address Our Mess for professional hoarding cleanup service. Call 410-589-2747, email, or use our contact us page for more information. We are here to help!

Fri, 01/31/2020 - 17:42 by Raymond Featherman