7 Tips For Cleaning Out a Hoarders House Before Selling

A room cluttered with personal items on a hoarder's house. Dealing with all the cluttering is the biggest issue when cleaning out a hoarder's house

When you come across homes available for a short sale or foreclosure, you will see that the condition might not be what you would expect. Typically, the current owners will want to sell a house fast in Omaha (as is the case with a short sale), or the bank has taken the home back and wants to get it off their hands (such as the situation with a foreclosure).

One of the most common issues you will see in homes like these is hoarders living there. Typically, the situation is quite dire due to the massive amount of items packed away. 

If you think you are in this situation and need to remedy the home’s condition before parting ways, this guide lists seven tips to help you clean out and declutter a hoarder’s home before selling.

Cleaning Out a Hoarders House

Although the hoarder situation you encounter may be overwhelming, it’s important to remember that the outcome will be worth the effort. Additionally, if the owners are still in the picture, the process will go much smoother if they are not there while the work is happening.

Separating the owners from the home isn’t always easy or possible. Many will have an intense emotional attachment to the items in their home, which is a primary reason the condition is what it is. In addition, their mental health may not be able to handle the chore.

Although a common misconception of OCD is having an overly tidy home free of germs, dust, clutter, and debris, this is not the case. Instead, many with OCD have separation anxiety with physical items, leading to hoarding situations. 

While you can hire professionals or cleaning services to take care of the mess with a deep clean, this can be costly. The worse the house’s condition, the more expensive the service will be. Therefore, it is feasible to tackle the job yourself. 

How To Clean a Hoarders House

When you are getting ready to clean a house that hoarders have recently vacated, you will want to prepare before you even step foot in the door fully. Not only will you need to prepare yourself mentally, but the process will take a toll on you physically as well. 

As you get up and around for the day, be sure to dress in comfortable clothes that you are okay with throwing away at the end of the day. Some hoarder’s homes can be biohazards due to issues like mold, feces, or infestation, so having proper protective equipment like gloves and masks is critical. 

Make sure that you have a surplus of cleaning supplies for the hoarding cleanup. You will want to have more sponges, paper towels, trash bags, and cleaning solutions than you anticipate needing. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of cleaning a room and run out of an essential item.

Cleaning a Hoarders House Before Selling

It is rare that a house will sell on its own if it is overtaken with trash and possessions, as you will see in most hoarding situations. Therefore, getting the home to a neutral state is critical before listing it for sale. 

Whether it’s cash home buyers in Nebraska, local home flippers, or a family looking for a starter home, individuals are waiting to get into the home.

To get the job done efficiently, it’s best to have a great deal of manpower behind you as you set out to clear the house. You will have to throw most things away, so having the proper resources (such as a dumpster for junk removal) will be key to getting the job done quickly. 

If the house cleaning involves a family member or loved one with a hoarding disorder, it can be challenging emotionally to part with items that are memorable or that have sentimental value. However, it’s necessary to know that keeping such things may pose a health risk, and it’s typically a safer bet to part ways with them.

Once you are in the right mindset, know that in many instances where we buy houses, Lincoln area included, done is better than perfect. Then, gather the necessary supplies and get started!

Two young individuals sit down and pack items in boxes while cleaning out a hoarder's house

7 Tips for Cleaning a Hoarders House

As you ready yourself for the job, there are many things to consider, as discussed above. To help the process go as smoothly as possible, read through the seven tips for cleaning a hoarder’s house that we dive into below.

Gather Necessary Supplies

When undertaking a job of this magnitude, be prepared to discard anything you bring into the home for cleaning. After cleaning, all tools and items must be properly disposed of for the health, well-being, and safety of all.

As you collect supplies, be sure to account for extras of all items. Some of the most vital include the following:

  • Mops
  • Vacuum Cleaner
  • Brooms
  • Heavy Duty Gloves
  • Masks
  • Rags
  • Sponges
  • Paper Towel
  • Bleach
  • Cleaning Solution and Disinfectants
  • Heavy-Duty Trash Bags or Empty Boxes
  • Rodent Spray and Traps

You will also need to secure a dumpster to place outside for easy disposal of the items that you remove from the home.

Analyze the Situation

When you enter the home, take stock of the rooms that require the most work and see how you want to divide your time. At a minimum, you will want to create a clear path to the door for removing trash bags and dumpster items.

If there are animals in the home, you will want to formulate a plan to remove them before starting the cleaning. You may also see infestations that need to be safely resolved before proceeding. 

Tackle One Room at a Time

When you look at the house as a whole, the sheer amount of work and physical labor you will need to complete can be overwhelming. However, dividing the house into rooms makes the work more manageable. Once you clear out and complete a specific area, you can move on to the next. 

Use the same approach with each room you enter. Start by removing the surface-level trash, then move on to more detailed work. 

Don’t Rush the Job

When cleaning a house of this size, you can’t expect to complete it entirely in one day. In fact, sometimes it can take several weeks to get it into a condition worthy of sale. So on day one, rushing into the house with a gun-ho approach is expected. However, you need to have realistic expectations and plan accordingly.

Overall, know that selling an ugly house isn’t done overnight, nor is cleaning one.

You want to avoid rushing through each room and then finding out that you forgot about a closet, didn’t see water damage, or missed a mold issue. These problems require you to backtrack and remedy any mistakes.

Take Breaks

There are no rewards for being the fastest cleaner in a hoarding house. Therefore, you must take frequent breaks while cleaning for your mental stability, safety, and health. In addition, going outside for fresh air at least once per hour is vital, as it allows you to separate yourself from what is happening inside.

Not only that, but a breath of fresh air is necessary after being in home cleaning conditions that are anything but sanitary. Getting out in the sun will allow you to reset and be in a more positive frame of mind to continue the job.

Ask for Help

Cleaning out a hoarder’s house before selling is a massive ask. Going about the task on your own can be a safety hazard and take much longer. Asking for help is crucial to getting the job done right. 

Whether it’s asking family members to help or hiring extra workers from a cleaning company, you will find that the experience is much smoother when you aren’t doing it independently. However, hoarder cleaning isn’t easy, so you must be realistic about your needs.

Pay Attention to the Details

Before you declare the job complete, make sure you walk throughout the house and double-check for anything you may have missed. Don’t forget the following items that we often bypass:

  • Clean Ceiling Fans
  • Wipe Down Light Fixtures
  • Clean and Sanitize Toilets
  • Deodorize the Bathroom
  • Thoroughly Clean Vents
  • Sanitize Cupboards
  • Wipe Down Shelves
  • Clean Under Furniture
  • Steam Clean Carpets
  • Mop and Sanitize Tile
  • Clean Walls
  • Sanitize Light Switches and Door Knobs
  • Clean Windows Inside and Out
  • Throw Out All Food and Toiletries

By tackling all these little tasks, you can prevent mold growth and remove any lingering bacteria in the home, making it suitable for others to inhabit. You can also perform basic home improvements to increase value if time permits. 


Whether you have a home available for short sale or foreclosure, it needs to be in a state that is safe for new owners. Getting the home to suitable standards can be tedious if the previous tenants were hoarders. 

Hoarding often results from declining mental health and can be impacted by depression or OCD. These diagnoses often make it impossible for a person to get their house to a liveable state.

If you find yourself needing to clean out a hoarder’s house before selling, it’s important to reference this guide for suggestions and tips. Knowing the proper supplies to bring, what safety precautions to abide by, and how to appropriately dispose of items in the home is vital to the well-being, health, and safety of yourself and future owners. 

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