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Discovering a hoarding situation in your family can be emotionally difficult and logistically overwhelming. However, with compassion and professional support, it is possible to restore your home environment and your loved one’s well-being.

Hoarding disorder is characterized by persistent difficulty discarding possessions, resulting in clutter so excessive it congests living spaces and impairs functionality. The sheer volume of items, plus deep emotional attachments to them, create significant distress when attempts are made to declutter. This often leads to denial of the problem and secrecy about the extent of the situation.

There are several indicators that excessive clutter may be due to hoarding disorder. These include the accumulation of items throughout the home, severe anxiety when discarding items, urges to save seemingly unnecessary possessions, and impaired daily activities due to congestion. The disorder worsens over time without treatment.

Our hoarding cleaning service understands this is much more than just clearing clutter—it is an emotional journey. We aim to provide empathetic support and practical decluttering strategies tailored to your family member’s needs.

In the following sections, we delve into constructive ways to recognize and approach hoarding behaviors with care. We also explain our discreet, efficient cleanout process, and commitment to providing emotional support and resources throughout your healing process. Together, recovery is possible.

Recognizing the Signs of a Hoarding Situation

hoarding cleaning service

Common indicators of hoarding behavior

Excessive clutter and the accumulation of items throughout the home are one of the most apparent red flags of a hoarding situation. Hoarders struggle to discard possessions, even those without much practical value or usefulness. This leads to a continuous buildup of clutter that can overtake living spaces. 

Other signs include an inability to utilize rooms as intended due to congestion, expired or rotten food items mixed among belongings, and isolation or shame about others seeing the state of the home. Take note if these indicators persist over prolonged periods of time.

Understanding the emotional aspects 

It’s important to recognize hoarding is not simply about collecting unnecessary items. There are often deep emotional attachments and psychological factors underlying the behavior. Many hoarders experience severe anxiety when faced with discarding items due to a perceived need to save possessions.

Underlying issues like grief, trauma, or generalized anxiety can contribute to and reinforce hoarding behaviors. Acknowledging and addressing these root causes with compassion is key rather than solely focusing on the clutter itself.

The importance of a sensitive approach

When confronting a hoarding situation, it is vital to approach it with patience, care, and compassion. Hoarders often feel deep shame about the state of their home and struggle to accept they have a problem. Harsh judgments or demands to clean up can further isolate them. 

Instead, lead with empathy, active listening, and validation of their feelings. Offer reassurance that support and help is available. This non-judgmental approach helps build trust and increases the chances that the hoarder will open up about their struggles.

Showing sensitivity and compassion, while firmly yet gradually guiding them to accept help, can facilitate the recovery process. Our professional team strives to provide this balanced approach.

The Challenges of Dealing with a Hoarding Situation

Hoarding situations present unique challenges that can impact the hoarder, their family, and the overall living environment. Understanding these challenges is essential for effectively addressing and resolving hoarding behavior.

Safety concerns and health risks associated with hoarding

Hoarding can pose significant safety hazards both to the hoarder and others in the household. The excessive clutter can obstruct pathways, increase the risk of falls or accidents, and hinder emergency exits. It can also create fire hazards, such as blocked ventilation or flammable materials. 

Additionally, hoarded items can attract pests, mold, and bacteria, leading to unsanitary conditions that pose health risks to everyone involved. Addressing these safety concerns is crucial for creating a healthier and safer living environment.

Difficulty in organizing and decluttering a hoarder’s home

Organizing and decluttering a hoarder’s home can be an overwhelming task. The sheer volume of items, coupled with the emotional attachment that hoarders have toward their possessions, makes the process challenging. 

Deciding what to keep, what to discard, and what to donate requires careful consideration and a systematic approach. It often necessitates patience, understanding, and the expertise of professionals trained in hoarding cleaning techniques.

Addressing the underlying causes and potential mental health issues

Hoarding behavior is often a manifestation of deeper emotional and psychological issues. These underlying causes can include trauma, anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

Merely addressing the physical clutter without addressing the root causes may lead to relapses or the development of new hoarding patterns. It is crucial to encourage the hoarder to seek therapy or counseling to address the emotional aspects and potential mental health issues contributing to their hoarding behavior.

Navigating these challenges requires a comprehensive and compassionate approach. By acknowledging and addressing the safety concerns, employing effective decluttering strategies, and considering the underlying psychological factors, you can make significant progress in resolving the hoarding situation. 

Our professional hoarding cleaning service in Chicago is equipped with the expertise and experience to tackle these challenges head-on, ensuring a thorough and sensitive approach to hoarding cleanup.

Steps to Take When Discovering a Hoarding Situation

When you discover a hoarding situation within your family, it’s important to take proactive steps to address and resolve the issue. Here are some key steps to consider:

Assessing the severity of the hoarding problem

Begin by evaluating the extent of the hoarding behavior and the impact it has on the living space and the well-being of the hoarder and their family members. This assessment will help determine the level of intervention and support required. In one of our previous blogs, we discussed in detail the levels of hoarding.

Seeking professional help from a hoarding cleaning service

Engaging the services of a professional hoarding cleaning service can greatly assist in managing the cleanup process. These experts have the necessary knowledge, experience, and resources to handle hoarding situations with sensitivity and efficiency. 

When dealing with a hoarding situation, professional hoarding cleaning services offer several advantages. They bring efficiency and expertise to the cleanup process, saving you time and energy. Their knowledge of proper disposal methods ensures compliance with local regulations and environmental standards. 

Additionally, professional services can handle the emotional challenges involved, providing a supportive and understanding approach throughout the entire process.

At Junk Relief, we recognize that hoarding disorder is a complex mental health issue requiring specialized support. However, our team of experts receives extensive training in hoarding psychology and clutter reduction techniques tailored to this population. 

To start fighting against hoarder disorder and benefit from increased space in homes, you can call us and we’ll take care of it for you. We have detailed this process in one of our previous blogs, which you can read here.

We aim to provide both practical and emotional support throughout the decluttering process. Our approach begins with a compassionate consultation to understand your family member’s unique challenges and goals. We then develop a customized cleanout plan aligned with their needs, while also maintaining safety. If you know anyone who needs help removing accumulated junk, please take a look over our offerings.

During the decluttering process, we utilize proven organizing methods suitable for the symptoms of hoarding. This includes categorizing possessions, establishing decision-making skills, and providing cognitive strategies to make letting go more manageable. We declutter in a discreet, systematic manner, with your loved one’s collaboration and consent. 

Maintenance plans are also provided to help prevent reoccurrence. We understand recovery can be a long journey and are committed to providing judgment-free support each step of the way. Our ultimate goal is to create an improved home environment while also nurturing your family member’s emotional health.

Supporting The Hoarder and Their Family

Navigating a hoarding disorder in the family can be an emotional rollercoaster. We recognize the importance of providing support and resources to both the individual struggling with hoarding and their loved ones.

Open, Compassionate Communication

We encourage open, non-judgmental communication to foster an understanding of the hoarder’s perspective and experiences. Active listening and validating emotions are key. This compassionate approach can pave the way for the hoarder to accept help.

Recommending Therapy

Counseling with a therapist specializing in hoarding disorder can help address the underlying issues perpetuating the hoarding behavior. We are happy to provide referrals to psychologists or mental health professionals experienced in this field. Therapy provides valuable coping strategies.

Support Groups

Connecting with support groups tailored to hoarders and families impacted by hoarding tendencies can provide enormous comfort. Being able to share stories and solutions with others facing similar struggles helps strengthen coping abilities and emotional resilience. We can suggest local community support options.

With professional help and an empathetic support network, families can find light at the end of the tunnel. We are here to help every step of the way.


Discovering a hoarding disorder in your family can seem daunting, but taking proactive steps to address the situation with compassion can help pave the road to recovery. Seeking professional assistance, like our specialized hoarding cleaning service, provides the knowledge and support needed to safely restore your home environment. We emphasize an empathetic, non-judgmental approach that considers both the physical and emotional aspects involved.

Additionally, providing counseling resources, a listening ear, and connections to support groups can help strengthen your loved one on their healing journey. With the proper help and ongoing support, families can overcome hoarding challenges and work towards reclaiming their space and well-being. There is hope – you do not have to navigate this alone. 

Our caring Chicago-based team is here to help your family transition into a healthier and happier future, free of clutter. To get started, visit our website or schedule an appointment today. Let us put our decades of hoarding clean-up expertise to work for you, with discretion and compassion.


Joe Weidman

Joe is a Chicago native, born and raised in Elmhurst. He founded Junk Relief more than 10 years ago and has worked with more than 20,000 homeowners and businesses throughout Chicagoland. His passion for starting a business in junk removal stemmed from seeing the need to do things differently. He prides himself on his company's model to provide unexpectedly professional service.


If you’ve got junk in Chicago or the Chicagoland Suburbs, we can help. CALL US or TEXT US at (312) 800-1940.


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