The Big Clean-Out: When a Deceased Loved One Was a Hoarder

Posted on: 13 May 2019


Compulsive hoarding is more of a problem than you might think. It's estimated that up to 6% of the population suffer from some form of hoarding disorder, and it goes beyond neglecting to give your home a thorough clearing out and all the way to being psychologically unable to dispose of items which have no intrinsic value in a person's daily life. And yet, the condition is often served up as entertainment in reality shows and comedy shows. It's such an insular condition that you might be unaware of the severity of a loved one's hoarding tendencies until they've passed away, leaving you to sort through the vast number of accumulated items they've been unable to part with. What is the most effective way in which to clean up the home of a hoarder who has passed away?

Fight the Initial Impulse

When walking through the rooms of the home, you might need to fight your initial impulse, which can be to simply throw everything away. You might not attach the same value to these items as your loved one did, and yet this is not to say that there is nothing of value amongst the clutter. Some of the items might have financial value, and many of them might have sentimental value to you or other family members and friends of your loved one. Whatever the next step for the property, whether it's to go on the market or be rented out to another party, it will require a thorough cleaning out, and yet this process needs to be fairly methodical. An extreme hoarder might assign the same value to a pile of old newspapers as they would a potentially valuable antique, and a thorough inventory can be needed for you to make the distinction.


Taking inventory of so many items can be a daunting, almost overwhelming prospect, but it's not a solo job. Friends and family members can help, although it can be more efficient to invest in the services of a deceased estate cleaning company. You could even look for a company that specialises in hoarder cleaning.

Determining Value

Identifying items of value can sometimes be difficult, although a company with experience can be helpful. If there's a particular item that you're unsure about, do some online research. Check various online retail websites to determine if there is a demand for the item in question (as in, check to see if other people are selling comparable items), and if so, what a realistic price might be.

Clearing out a deceased estate can be a distressing time, and the effort involved when your loved one was a hoarder can amplify the situation. With a measured approach and some professional assistance, you can treat your loved one's plentiful possessions with the respect that their memory deserves.