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Safely Discarding Hoarded Junk

March 4, 2024

Safely Discarding Hoarded Junk

Understanding Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding disorder is a complex condition characterized by persistent difficulty discarding possessions, regardless of their actual value or usefulness. This leads to excessive clutter and the inability to use living spaces as intended.

Common reasons for hoarding include:

  • Strong emotional attachment to possessions
  • Fear of losing important information
  • Desire to avoid waste
  • Indecisiveness

For individuals with hoarding disorder, letting go of items can cause significant anxiety and emotional turmoil. As a result, clutter builds up over time, creating health and safety hazards.

Dangers of Hoarding

Living in a hoarded home comes with many risks:

  • Fire hazards from blocked exits, combustibles near ignition sources
  • Falls and injuries from cluttered walkways
  • Poor sanitation leading to infestations, infections
  • Social isolation and family conflict

Additionally, the volume of possessions can cause structural damage and collapse floors. Hoarding puts not just residents but also neighbors at risk.

Getting Help with Discarding

For people struggling with hoarding, tackling clutter alone can be extremely overwhelming. Professional assistance is strongly recommended for safe and effective decluttering.

Professional Organizers

Specialty organizers can provide:

  • Non-judgmental emotional support
  • Strategies to sort, organize and downsize
  • Efficient clearing and waste removal

Their expertise streamlines the process while respecting clients’ emotional needs.


Mental health professionals help address the root causes of hoarding through:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to change thoughts/behaviors
  • Exposure therapy to reduce anxiety around discarding
  • Skills training for decision-making and organization

With a tailored treatment plan, therapists equip clients to declutter and prevent future buildup.

Cleaning Services

For homes with extreme clutter, hoarding cleanup crews can:

  • Remove large volumes of possessions
  • Thoroughly clean the space
  • Use protective gear against biohazards
  • Ensure proper waste disposal

This intensive service quickly restores living conditions to a clean, safe state.

Creating a Decluttering Plan

When preparing to tackle hoarded clutter, key steps include:

Set Goals

  • Focus on safety first, then function
  • Prioritize areas like exits, kitchen, and bedroom
  • Establish emotional readiness for letting go

Get Support

  • Inform family/friends about your plans
  • Hire a professional organizer and/or therapist
  • Request help packing, moving, and discarding items

Schedule in Phases

  • Budget plenty of time for the process
  • Break into manageable segments by area
  • Build in rest periods to avoid burnout

Anticipate Challenges

  • Prepare for emotional difficulty discarding items
  • Have strategies to combat clutter accumulation
  • Consider offsite storage if needed as a transitional step

With the right plan and support team, decluttering can be manageable, empowering, and sustainable. The benefits for health and safety make the effort worthwhile.

Safely Disposing of Hoarded Items

For large-scale decluttering, work crews can efficiently remove possessions and waste. However, take care to:

  • Photograph & document valuable items if uncertain about discarding
  • Donate & recycle usable goods to avoid waste
  • Use reputable haulers to ensure proper item disposal
  • Clear plumbing drains before discarding large quantities
  • Have a dumpster rental for easy bulk waste removal

With sensitivity and care, professionals can help clear clutter while honoring clients’ emotional connection to possessions. This thoughtful approach makes the process smoother for all involved.

Maintaining Progress Long-Term

To achieve lasting change after decluttering, it’s essential to:

  • Continue therapy to manage underlying issues
  • Establish home organization routines
  • Learn to let go of unneeded items entering the home
  • Reward progress however small
  • Seek support at the first sign of clutter accumulation

With ongoing commitment, recovered living spaces can be maintained, allowing individuals to enjoy their homes once again. There is hope for building fulfilling and clutter-free lives.

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