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

Do you know the difference between Hoarding and Clutter? Bio-One of Orange.

It’s common for houses to get disorganized or cluttered at times. We get it. People have gone through a lot this past year and while having a clean and organized home is a sign of things being “under control,” not having it does not mean you’re struggling with a hoarding disorder. Hoarding and clutter are certainly not the same.

Bio-One has helped many houses and properties affected by hoarding in Orange County, California. Hoarding damage is visible: there’s barely any or no space at all to walk around the rooms; the areas for normal daily activities are not functioning, and there are multiple physical, fire, and even death threats. 

Hoarding and clutter are commonly associated and, sometimes, confused between one and the other because clutter can lead to hoarding disorder. Our Team at Bio-One of Orange shares the main differences you can see when a house or property is affected by hoarding or clutter. 

Our experience helping families throughout Orange County is a valuable statement to spot the main difference between these two topics.

Disorganized, but not necessarily out of place.

If we look it up by definition, clutter is just “filling something in a messy or disorganized way.”

Your desk can be filled with junk mail or paperwork that you haven’t had the time to organize. Maybe you’re an avid reader and often buy books, magazines, and comics with the hope of reading them soon, but you haven’t put them in the library, shelf, bin, or basket. 

However, these books, magazines, junk mail, and other paperwork are in your office, living room, library, or the area where you frequently read. This kind of behavior is associated with being disorganized but not necessarily being a hoarder. 

For someone who is disorganized, or deals with clutter in their house or property, these books, magazines, and paperwork are in a room associated with their use or purpose. Yes, things are disorganized, but if you take the time to classify your books and take out the junk mail, your room will probably look tidy and in harmony with the rest of the house.

The problem with Hoarding Disorder

For someone struggling with a hoarding disorder, it’s common to find items outside of rooms where they have a purpose. For example, hoarders will use their kitchen cabinets or bathtub to accumulate paperwork, magazines, and other materials. Consequently, they cannot use their bathtub or kitchen cabinets for the activities they’re supposed to do in these rooms, which is bathing and storing food.

If you notice you or someone you care about has been storing things in areas where they probably shouldn’t (exposing themselves to safety threats), let Bio-One of Orange help you. We will work closely with you to ensure you’re comfortable organizing and getting your life back on track.

The struggle with letting go of things is a determining factor.

The determining factor to separate clutter from hoarding is that the possibility of getting rid of the clutter or things that are causing your house to be unhabitable is just too much to bear. A disorganized person is not likely to struggle with parting from things. For them, the approach to the scenario is something like: “Ok, I understand that these things might cause me some trouble, so I’ll organize myself and let go of them.” 

For a hoarder, letting go of the simplest items represents a stressful and impossible thing to do. Regular items have a different meaning for someone struggling with hoarding, so it’s important to face these situations with care, compassion, and understanding of their feelings and emotions. 

If you want to learn more about hoarding symptoms, you can visit the ADAA - Hoarding: the basics.

Bio-One of Orange can help.

We can say that the line between clutter vs. hoarding disorder is drawn at the point where clutter makes it impossible to get on with daily, regular activities; when your house or property becomes an unsafe environment to live in because of clutter, you might be dealing with a hoarding disorder.

If you’re struggling with clutter or hoarding in your house or property, Bio-One of Orange, in Orange, California, can help you get things back in order! Our Team is discrete, compassionate, and aware of the challenge that cleaning and organizing a house impacted by hoarding might be.

Example of a hoarded space vs. a cluttered room. Bio-One of Orange.
Example of a hoarded space vs. a cluttered room. 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

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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.