Bio-One of Poway decontamination and biohazard cleaning services

Are you just disorganized, or is it something more? Understanding the hoarding spectrum.

The word “hoarding” probably evokes a particular image, made more common by shows like Hoarders that highlight extreme examples. In reality, not all hoarders have rooms full of items piled high to the ceiling.

The Institute for Challenging Disorganization (now, there’s a relatable title!) has classified hoarding behavior into five levels on their Clutter-Hoarding Scale.Level 1 Hoarding

At Level 1, a home is not pristine, but the space is still easily accessible and sanitary. There is clutter, but no concern for safety. Most, if not all of us, have been in Level 1. Many people spend most of their time in this stage.

Here are the defining characteristics of this level:

  • All stairways, doors, and windows are accessible, not blocked by clutter.
  • The home has good ventilation and is free of bad odors.
  • The number of pets in the home is appropriate and compliant with zoning regulations.
  • Pet hair and waste is cleaned up and disposed of properly.
  • There are no visible pests like insects or rodents.
  • Appropriate alarms like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed.

At Level 2, the home is still very livable, but there’s more evidence of disarray. The home is in need of cleaning and may be starting to overwhelm the residents. The hygiene level isn’t optimal.

Most of us bounce between Level 1 and Level 2. However, here are the more defining characteristics of Level 2:

  • One important exit is blocked with clutter.
  • Pet waste and hair can be found in the home.
  • Electrical and/or plumbing issues are present. There may be a major appliance that has been broken for more than one season.
  • Garbage containers are overflowing.
  • Some mild odors are present, related to overflowing dishes, laundry, uncleaned bathrooms, etc.
  • Occasional presence of household pests in the home are quickly dealt with

Level 3 is considered the turning point between manageable household disorganization and a more serious issue. Level 3 homes show extreme disorganization and indicate hoarding behavior.

Here are the defining characteristics of this level:

  • Mild insect infestations from pests like lice, cockroaches, ants, or bedbugs are present.
  • Piles of objects are obstructing key living areas.
  • Multiple appliances in the home are broken and unusable.
  • Spills may be left uncleaned for several days. Food preparation and eating areas are left visibly dirty.
  • One room is no longer being used for its intended purpose, like bedrooms being used exclusively for storage.
  • Noticeable unpleasant odors are present in the home.
  • Dirty laundry is left throughout the home.

Level 3 households should consider hiring outside help. Although, it’s still possible to get it under control with a concerted effort from the whole family

At Level 4, the home shows excessive clutter.Those living in Level 4 conditions need professional help. At this level, part of getting help includes professional cleaning to transform the house into a safe, hygienic space where people can thrive. Mental health counselors and social workers may also step in to help residents change their habits.

Here are the defining characteristics of this level:

  • Structural damage is present, such as water damage, broken doors, and plumbing issues.
  • Excessive pets and pet waste may be present.
  • Clutter is blocking access to stairs, rooms, and exits.
  • Expired and rotting food is present in the home and contributes to odors.
  • Multiple rooms are cluttered to the extent that they cannot be used for their intended purposes.
  • A medium level of insect infestation is present. There may be bats, squirrels, and/ or rodents in the attic or
  • basement.
  • Sewage is backed up

Level 5 is the highest level of hoarding behavior. Level 5 homes are alarmingly hazardous.

They require professionals with safety equipment and training to clean.

Here are the defining characteristics of this level:

  • Extreme indoor clutter makes important living spaces unusable.
  • There is no ventilation in the home.
  • Structural damage is irreparable.
  • Water and/or electrical services have been disconnected.
  • Pets living in the home are at risk due to living conditions.
  • Occupants of the home in danger due to pet behaviors, numbers, and/or health conditions.
  • Household appliances are unusable due to disrepair or being blocked by clutter.

If you or someone you know is struggling with these levels of hoarding we are here to help. 

You can find more information at or contact us at (858) 261-4527

Breaking the Cycle: Practical Help for Hoarders and Families

Hoarding can affect all types of people, regardless of their background or circumstances. It’s a condition where individuals have difficulty letting go of items, leading to the accumulation of excessive clutter in their living spaces. Hoarding can result in hazardous living conditions, personal and social isolation, and a decline in overall health and functioning. The behaviors associated with hoarding can also have a significant impact on family members and loved ones. It's essential to understand the condition and know that there is help for hoarders.

This blog post will provide practical guidance on how to break the cycle of hoarding and move toward recovery.

You Need to Be Able to Recognize the Problem

The first step in breaking the cycle of hoarding is recognizing that there is a problem. Living spaces that are cluttered with excessive amounts of items can quickly become hazardous, resulting in risks such as fire, insect or pest infestations, and structural damage. Hoarding is also often linked to other mental health issues, like depression and anxiety. It can have a significant impact on the quality of life, personal relationships, and overall well-being.

The Warning Signs of Hoarding Behavior

  • Difficulty discarding items, even when they are of no value or use
  • Spending an excessive amount of time collecting items or hoarding them
  • Clutter that has spread to other areas of the home and is now blocking walkways or restricting access to certain rooms
  • Social isolation from family members and friends due to shame or embarrassment about the state of one's home
  • Refusing help from family members or outsiders to reduce clutter in the home
  • Anxiety or depression related to the difficulty of discarding items

How to Take Action Against Hoarding

Hoarding can be an overwhelming problem, and many people might not know where to begin. Experts recommend starting with small steps like setting achievable goals and working with a partner or support group. Decluttering can be a slow and steady process but is crucial in breaking the hoarding cycle. It’s also important to identify and address any underlying mental health concerns or traumas that may be exacerbating the hoarding behaviors.

Do Hoarding Interventions Really Help?

Yes, research shows that hoarding interventions can be effective in addressing and reducing clutter. Research also indicates that psychological therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy can help hoarders learn to better manage their thoughts and behaviors related to hoarding, as well as help them develop healthier habits. 

It is important to recognize, however, that while interventions may reduce the amount of clutter in a home, it does not necessarily “cure” the hoarding behavior. A sustained effort and support is needed in order to maintain positive change.

The Importance of Seeking Professional Help and Support

Professional support can be a crucial component in breaking the hoarding cycle. Bio-One specializes in hoarding cleanup and provides compassionate, confidential, and discreet hoarding cleanup services to individuals and their families. It’s essential to have trained professionals handle the cleanup process to ensure the safe and thorough removal of clutter while working with clients to identify the root cause of the hoarding behaviors.

Tips for Maintaining a Clutter-Free Lifestyle

Breaking the cycle of hoarding is an ongoing process and requires a commitment to maintaining a clutter-free lifestyle. Many experts recommend setting up systems for decluttering and organizing and regularly checking in on progress. It's also essential to practice healthy self-care habits, like:

  • Exercising
  • Getting enough sleep,
  • Eating nutritious meals
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Limiting exposure to stressful triggers.

It can be challenging to watch someone struggle with hoarding behaviors. Helping to support and educate them is crucial in providing the necessary tools and resources to overcome the problem. Support groups and professional assistance like Bio-One can help bridge the communication gap between family members and individuals struggling with hoarding.

Bio-One specializes in Help for Hoarders... We are always ready to help!

Breaking the cycle of hoarding is a challenging process, but it is possible with the right support and guidance. Recognizing and addressing the problem, taking action, seeking professional support, maintaining a clutter-free lifestyle, and educating and supporting loved ones are key when looking for help for hoarders. At Bio-One of Poway, we’re committed to providing compassionate, confidential, and discreet hoarding cleanup services to individuals and their families, and we’re here to help if you need us!

Example of help for hoarders with Bio-One of Poway.

Answering the call.

Bio-One is always ready to react to unanticipated events like death, significant accidents, and hazardous situations. In the following areas of San Diego County, we provide cleaning and restoration services:

Crime Scene Cleanup and Biohazard Decontamination
  • Crime scene cleanup
  • Blood and bodily fluids cleanup
  • Suicide cleanup
  • Homicide cleanup
  • Unattended death cleanup
  • Biohazard cleanup
  • Feces and bodily fluids cleanup
  • Mold Remediation
  • Odor removal
  • Virus Disinfection
  • Fentanyl cleanup
  • Tear gas cleanup
  • Emergency vehicle decontamination
  • Sewage backup cleanup
  • Medical Waste disposal
Hoarding Cleaning Services
  • Hoarding cleanup
  • Animal hoarding cleanup
  • Junk removal
  • Deep cleaning 
  • Gross filth cleanup
  • Hazardous waste removal
  • Homeless encampment cleanup

Your Local Last Responder for Life's Most Difficult Situations

Bio-One is the best choice for helping and supporting victims and their families if a suicide, homicide, unattended death, crime scene, or trauma takes place. In addition to emergency services, Bio-One, a locally-owned company, also offers biohazard cleanup services for commercial and residential properties.

We collaborate with local law enforcement, neighborhoods, emergency services personnel, victim support organizations, hoarding task forces, apartment complexes, insurance company carriers, and others to provide the best service possible. 

Proudly Serving San Diego County & Surrounding Communities

We proudly serve the following San Diego County, CA cities and surrounding communities: Cardiff, Del Mar, Descanso, El Cajon, Encinitas, Mount Laguna, Poway, Ramona, Rancho Santa Fe, San Diego, Santee, and Solana Beach, among others.

As proud members of the Poway Chamber of Commerce, our biohazard remediation and cleanup services are available 24/7, 365 days a year. Check out our business on Google, and do not hesitate to get in touch for immediate assistance!