Distinguishing between hoarding and clutter

On the face of it they can seem quite similar, but there is a big difference between hoarding and clutter. While clutter is the result of general mess or untidiness, hoarding is more serious.

Hoarding is what happens when somebody is suffering from a hoarding disorder. According to the NHS this is when, “Where someone acquires an excessive number of items and stores them in a chaotic manner, usually resulting in unmanageable amounts of clutter”. It’s a serious mental health problem that should not be ignored but at the same time requires being handled sensitively.

What causes a hoarding disorder?

Hoarding disorder could be the result of a number of different factors – the person may be suffering from loneliness, depression or OCD to name a few. The wide range of causes means that it is best for them to seek professional help.

The consequences of hoarding can be serious – it can have major consequences for the sufferer’s personal hygiene, and can also drive them further away from conventional society making it difficult for them to form personal relationships.

On a practical level, it can lead to trip hazards, present a fire risk or even things can physically fall on people if they are in tall piles. Put simply, it’s a situation that needs to be addressed.

What should you do if someone you know is hoarding?

The most important thing you can do for someone is to convince them to see a doctor. This will need to be approached carefully and sensitively, as in all likelihood the sufferer will not see the hoarding as a problem.

Once they have been diagnosed and treatment has begun, you can start thinking about finding an effective solution.

Most treatments will recommend that the sufferer is heavily involved in this process, but it is important to have people there to help and support. It will probably be the case that small steps are encouraged first, in conjunction with other treatment.

When they are ready, and it is important not to rush them with this, it could be time to call in for some professional hoarder cleanup help.

Hoarder clean-up process

Hoarder clean-up services will focus on three main areas:

  • Clean
  • Clear
  • Decontaminate

Ideal Response’s offers a complete solution, which includes the identification of items of significant value or meaning with the help of trusted experts – a key factor when discussing with the hoarding disorder sufferer about taking the next steps.

The whole process will be a difficult and stressful time, so it is important to select a cleaning provider that will handle the situation in a sensitive and professional way. With Ideal Response, you can rest assured that all necessary precautions and steps will be taken.


There is a big difference between clutter and hoarding. While clutter can be an inconvenient problem that should be addressed, hoarding is the symptom of a major issue that requires immediate attention.

If you suspect that someone you know is suffering from a hoarding disorder the three main steps are:

  • Encourage them to seek medical help from a GP
  • Support their treatment and therapy
  • Seek professional cleaning help as soon as they are ready
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If you need any advice or support, please visit our hoarder cleaning services page and fill in one of our free estimate forms below to speak to our team about how we can help.

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