Hoarding Cleanup by ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration and Recovery

Helping Hoarders After the Holiday Season

Steve VanDenBerg Blog

People who suffer from a hoarding disorder are likely to experience greater stress once the holidays roll around and even after the merriest time of year ends. The reason is clear: The busiest gift-giving season leads to splurges on presents, gift wrap and ornaments.


Hoarding is a complex that urges sufferers to excessively accumulate goods that others would deem as worthless. People with a hoarding disorder feel turmoil when deliberating parting with their possessions. The flood of negative emotions prevents them from discarding belongings.


As a result of accumulating stockpiles of junk, the hoarder’s home becomes a dangerous war zone. Clutter piled high to the ceilings may topple over onto unwitting guests, leading to injury. The influx of flammable goods is a major fire hazard. Rotting waste is a serious health concern.


According to the American Psychiatric Association, hoarding disorders affect two to six percent of the population. Many of the affected individuals are aged 55 to 94 years old.

No matter what the age, the holidays can be an enticing time to amass goods.


Holiday bargains make it financially possible for those with a hoarding disorder to make purchases in excess. The urge to splurge is irresistible to people who hoard. Plus, a hoarding disorder  makes it difficult to spend reasonably during the holidays.



People who hoard will have gathered additional junk while holiday shopping. The sufferer will have spent hours trying to buy the perfect gift, only to find a better one later. The hoarder will neglect to return the original gift, which will sit in the hoarder’s home as junk.


Other common scenarios include people with hoarding disorders purchasing items to give as gifts, only to lose them in the overwhelming clutter of their living spaces. These individuals then feel compelled to purchase replacement gifts, or otherwise miss out on gift-giving.


The obsessive-compulsive nature of a hoarding disorder encourages such processes to repeat. While many purchases may have been intended as holiday gifts, those with a hoarding issue are less likely to have parted with the proposed surprises, allowing the excess goods to contribute to hoarding.


Now that the holidays have passed, concerned family members and friends can take steps to help their loved one with a hoarding disorder to better cope. Modifications may be made to also safeguard the hoarder’s home from the hazardous conditions caused by a hoarding disorder.


Step 1: Approach with Sensitivity

After the holidays, temporarily turn a blind eye to the hoarding dilemma. People who hoard already experience a surge of depressive feelings and painful isolation during the holidays. Attempting to convince a hoarder to part with goods at this time of year is unnecessarily stressful.


Hoarding issues may have also prevented the sufferer from inviting guests over for holiday celebrations, leading to strained relationships with friends and family. A home piled high with garbage is an embarrassment for the homeowner—even for those who suffer from hoarding.



The clutter of wrapping paper, gift boxes and bows increase after the holidays. Help the loved one suffering from hoarding to recycle the excess waste. While keeping a few attractive gift boxes is a guilty pleasure for most, be sure to help the hoarder throw out the rest.


Step 2: Convey Expectations for Next Year

Discuss next year’s holiday gift-giving season. Prepare to let the hoarder know that giving material objects is no substitute for the joy of an individual’s company. Suggest that receiving and giving experiences has far more meaning than gifting physical goods.


Examples of experiences that are often treasured include tickets to concerts, local cooking classes, a membership to a botanical garden and an annual pass to a desired attraction. Such experiences urge the hoarder to leave the confines of the hoarded home and experience the best of life.


Step 3: Encourage New Year’s Resolutions

New Year is an ideal time to gently press the loved one who hoards to start to make modifications. New Year’s resolutions may be to seek professional help to treat the hoarding issue and to consult a cleanup company to reduce and eliminate the extent of litter inside the home.


Support the hoarder’s New Year’s resolutions relevant to decluttering. Encourage the individual to clear out just one small area of the home, such as a drawer or a box. Even if it takes three hours to discard one heap of crinkled wrapping paper, consider it a victory.

Step 4: Celebrate Small Victories

Celebrate these minor triumphs. Although the hoarder might feel emotionally exhausted by throwing out a few possessions, recognizing their efforts builds their confidence and helps them to gain momentum. Hoarding sufferers will eventually begin to feel pride in their progress.


Step 5: Seek Professional Help

If the hoarder is ready, help them schedule cognitive therapy sessions, where a licensed therapist addresses the issues behind hoarding. Medication, too, helps to treat the disorder. A hoarder who joins a support group will feel less isolated when surrounded by others experiencing the same problems.


A loved one with a hoarding disorder may be willing to accept help in the new year. ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration and Recovery is a hoarding and estate cleaning company with a crew of compassionate professionals who will listen to the sufferer’s dilemmas and make a connection before removing a single piece of clutter.


ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration and Recovery cleaning professionals are trained to understand the hoarder’s viewpoint, so we approach each home with sensitivity. Upon gaining the trust of the individual with a hoarding issue, we create a practical plan for the recycling, donation and disposal of items.


Once our team has rid the home of excess clutter, we clean the premises and return the property to a safe and habitable condition. Every project we undertake is followed by a post-clean follow up. If requested, we’ll send a cleanup crew to maintain the cleanliness of the home.


ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration and Recovery is the most trusted hoarding and estate cleanup company in northern California. Our crews bring decades of experience, an understanding of the disease and proven techniques to restore a hoarded home. Whether the hoarded space is large or small, consult ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration and Recovery for comprehensive hoarding cleanup services.