Bio-One Of Orange 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 (714) 397-8375

What are the Common Signs of Hoarding, and How Can You Help? Bio-One of Orange.

A person struggling with a hoarding disorder has a completely different, more complicated perspective on life and the value of items. Being able to help so many families across the County since last year, Bio-One of Orange understands, more so than ever, the common signs of hoarding. The thought of parting with simple items most people would consider trash or recyclable (e.g., old newspapers) can cause stress and might lead to the extreme collection of select items. 

In reality, hoarding is a delicate condition, mainly because people lose control over things they need from the ones they acquire by impulse. According to statistics shared by the American Psychiatric Association, “hoarding affects an estimated 2 to 6% of the population,” and the main consequence of the encounter is the ability to perform normal activities. In many cases, hoarding is also associated with other mental health disorders like depression, OCD, and anxiety. 

Hoarding is listed as a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association and the ADAA, as the individual experiences or has difficulty throwing out or giving away personal items. 

What are the common signs of hoarding?

A person struggling with hoarding is unaware of the problems and hazards of compulsive buying and storing. They will keep all kinds of items because the value is not necessarily related to an economic perspective. It can be anything, and one of the most common items you can find in a house affected by hoarding are:

  • Household supplies.
  • Food and several beverages.
  • Newspapers and magazines.
  • Books, collectibles like coins, baseball cards, etc.
  • Clothing.
  • Documents and papers.

Bio-One of Orange can guide you step-by-step in organizing and disinfecting your house or property, discarding items that could potentially create safety threats. While there’s a wide range of characteristics and traits to identify a hoarder, they usually share a few common symptoms:

  • They usually live alone or they tend to isolate themselves from others.
  • Because they’re usually overwhelmed by clutter and other trash, a person struggling with hoarding is likely to be up to three times more obese than the average person. 
  • Hoarders might struggle with other conditions like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety, or Depression.

Bio-One of Orange is trained to approach hoarding scenarios with the utmost consideration for the individuals affected. It doesn’t matter how you got there if you are willing to overcome these situations.

How can you help someone struggling with Hoarding?

A person struggling with hoarding usually lives in a limited, unhealthy, and dangerous environment. Without realizing it, their normal living conditions are affected by this disorder, making easy tasks like sitting in their living room or going to the bathroom a difficult, sometimes impossible thing to do.

If you or someone you care about is showing common signs of hoarding, don’t hesitate to call a professional to help you get things back to normal. Bio-One of Orange's technicians are trained to face the most challenging situations with deep care and compassion for everyone involved.

Know that you are not alone in the face of a hoarding situation. The ultimate goal of Bio-One is to help you get back to the healthiest, safest, and most acceptable living conditions.

A common hoarding scenario - Picture taken by Bio-One of Orange.
A common hoarding scenario - Picture taken by Bio-One of Orange.

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Bio-One of Orange offers a quick solution to life’s most difficult and unexpected situations. Locally owned, we provide top-quality, industry-leading cleaning, sanitation, and decontamination services in:

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Hoarding Cleanup & Clutter Removal Services

Serving Orange County & Surrounding Communities!

Locally owned, Bio-One of Orange is proud to serve Orange County and surrounding Southern California areas: Aliso Viejo, Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Dana Point, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, La Palma, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster, and Yorba Linda!

Our technicians are ready to help you restore your home or business. Bio-One of Orange, a proud member of the Orange Chamber of Commerce, is available 24/7, 365 days a year. Contact us at 714-397-8375.