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

Tips for Helping a Loved One Dealing With Hoarding Disorder - Bio-One of Poway

Let's explore the basics of Hoarding, its symptoms and possible risk factors, and what you can do to help with hoarding disorder. If you are interested in seeking help for yourself, a friend, or a family member, remember our hoarding professional cleaners are available 24/7 to provide you with the most efficient and superior service possible.

Hoarding can be a challenging problem to overcome on one's own. The excessive hoarding of possessions, even when seeming useless or unnecessary, can lead to cluttered living spaces and difficulty moving around inside the home.

Because of these difficulties, it is essential to seek professional help if you or someone you know is struggling with hoarding. A professional hoarding cleanup company can help remove the excess clutter and trash from a person's home. They can also provide resources and support to help people overcome their condition.

Let's start with the basics: What is Hoarding Disorder?

Hoarding is characterized by the excessive accumulation of possessions, even when they are no longer needed or valuable. Hoarding can cause social isolation, financial problems, and health and safety hazards.

What Are the Common Symptoms of Hoarding?

There are a few key symptoms that are generally associated with hoarding, which include:

  • An excessive need to acquire new possessions, even if they are not needed or will never be used.
  • Severe anxiety or distress when attempting to get rid of possessions.
  • Piles of clutter and junk in living spaces make it challenging to move around or use the room for its intended purpose.
  • Isolation from family members, friends, and the community.

What Are Some Possible Risk Factors for Hoarding?

A few risk factors may increase an individual's chances of developing hoarding. Some of these risk factors include:

Family History of Hoarding & Other Conditions

Though the cause of hoarding remains unknown, people who have a family history of hoarding are more likely to develop the condition themselves.  Families with a history of hoarding often live in cluttered and chaotic homes.

Hoarding is also associated with other conditions like anxiety, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and Depression.

Suffering from Anxiety, Depression & Other Conditions

People who suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions are also more likely to develop hoarding. These conditions usually lead individuals to think about perfectionism and struggle to make decisions constantly.

Experiencing Stressful Life Events

Stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or job loss, can also trigger hoarding. Most of the time, these events lead to feelings of grief, guilt, and anxiety, contributing indirectly to developing hoarder behavior.

How can you help with Hoarding Disorder?

If you think someone you know may be dealing with hoarding, you can do a few things to help. Keep in mind that help from professionals is necessary to enable the individual to understand this condition and receive treatment based on their specific needs and reality.

Educate Yourself About the Condition Before Approaching the Hoarder

The first step is to educate yourself about hoarding. This will help you understand the condition and how best to approach the person you think may be affected. It's also important to remember that hoarding is a very personal condition, and not everyone who hoards will respond the same way to efforts to help.

Approach the Hoarder With Compassion and Understanding

When you're ready to talk to the person you think is hoarding, try to talk with them about their behavior. It can be a difficult conversation to have, but it is essential to try to understand why they are hoarding and what may be causing it. It is also essential to let hoarders know that you are concerned about the dangerous environment and its impact on their life.

Hoarders' homes are highly infectious and hazardous scenarios. The piles of clutter and trash typically result in mold growth, rodents, cockroaches, and other pests, foul odors from rotten food and dead animals, and the risk of accidents from garbage blocking hallways and key areas of the property.

If the individual is receptive, you can offer them help with hoarding disorder. This may involve the hoarder in the cleanup process to declutter their house, clearing and organizing their possessions in a more manageable way.

You can also help the hoarder to find resources and support for the condition. Do not hesitate to turn to professionals for help. At the end of the day, you want to let them know that you're concerned about their wellbeing and offer them peace of mind in any way you can.

Contact a Mental Health Professional

If you think someone you know may be dealing with hoarding, the best thing to do is contact a professional. This professional can help to assess the situation and provide resources and support, not only for the hoarder but for their family members and anyone interested in helping. There are also hoarding support groups available that can provide help and advice.

Learn more about Diagnose and Treatment for Hoarding by visiting American Psychiatric Association's website.

While a hoarding situation may be difficult to overcome, there are resources available to help. Contact a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist if you think someone you know may be dealing with hoarding.

How Bio-One can help with Hoarding Disorder

If you are concerned that someone you know may be struggling with a hoarding situation, you can do a few things to address the situation. The most important thing is to encourage them to seek professional help. We know this can be difficult, as hoarders often feel embarrassed or ashamed of their condition. However, with the help of a professional cleaning company like Bio-One, they can get the support they need to overcome hoarding.

Bio-One is a company with years of experience helping people with hoarding. We have a team of highly trained professionals who can help clean up and organize the hoarder's home so they can start to live a healthier life. We also offer counseling and support to help the person overcome their condition in the most effective manner.

If you are concerned about someone you know, please call Bio-One today for a free hoarding cleanup consultation. We can help you get your loved one on the road to recovery.

Helping a loved one with hoarding cleanup - Before and after. Bio-One.
Helping a loved one with hoarding cleanup - Before and after. Bio-One.

Help First, Business Second! 

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:

Recovery Services 

  • Crime and trauma 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
  • Emergency vehicle decontamination
  • Sewage backup cleanup
  • Medical Waste disposal

Hoarding Cleanup Services

  • Hoarding cleanup services
  • 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 finest choice for assisting victims and their families if a suicide, homicide, unattended death, crime scene, or traumatic situation occurs. In addition to emergency services, Bio-One, a locally-owned company, also offers biohazard cleanup services for commercial and residential properties.

We understand that biohazardous material can be a great source of stress for property owners, so we work quickly and efficiently to minimize the disruption it causes.

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, Escondido, Julian, La Jolla, Lakeside, Mount Laguna, Poway, Ramona, Rancho Santa Fe, San Diego, Santee, and Solana Beach.

Bio-One of Poway is a proud member of the Poway Chamber of Commerce. We have the expertise to remove and safely dispose of clutter and debris from your home or office. Give us a call at 858-261-4527.