Call the Experts: 855-GOT CLUTTER Online Assessment

What is Hoarding?

Hoarding, sometimes referred to as Hoarding Disorder or Compulsive Hoarding Syndrome, is a problem faced by many throughout Canada. People who excessively collect items (or sometimes, animals) in such a way that it interferes with their ability to live a normal life have hoarding disorders. The exact impact of hoarding behavior varies from person to person, but when it’s a problem, it affects day-to-day life. This includes family, work, social life, and sometimes their health.

1st Hoarding Clean Up can help those with hoarding disorders reclaim not only their space but their normal lives.

Severe hoarding causes health and safety hazards. The collection of newspapers, magazines, food, old clothes, and other items may cause fires while animal hoarding can spread contagious diseases.

Are you concerned that you or a loved one has a hoarding disorder? Read on to learn more about the 5 Levels of Hoarding, as defined by the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD), called the ICD Clutter Hoarding Scale.

Using the perspective of a professional organizer, there are five levels on the ICD Clutter Hoarding Scale, with Level 1 being the least severe and Level 5 Being the worst. The four categories that define the severity of clutter and hoarding potential are:

  • Structure and Zoning
  • Pests and Rodents
  • Household Functions
  • Sanitation and Cleanliness

Level 1 Hoarding

The household of a Level 1 is considered a standard household; no specialized knowledge in working with hoarding disorders is necessary for clearing these areas. Someone with a Level 1 hoarding disorder often keeps their home clean and accessible but may excessively collect and shop for items.


Level 2  Hoarding

A household of Level 2 requires professional organizers or related professionals to have additional knowledge and understanding of chronic disorganization. Usually, the individual is embarrassed about the clutter that they’ve acquired and has detached from their regular social activities. They’ve started to have clutter build up in at least one room of their home, the home has started to smell, and basic cleanliness levels aren’t being upheld.


Level 3 Hoarding

This household may require additional services, as well as a professional organizer. Professional organizers experienced in working with Level 3 households should have a helpful community network of resources, especially mental health providers. This person usually has at least one unusable bedroom or bathroom in their home, with garbage overflowing and evidence of rodents. If this person has pets, usually they won’t have cleaned up after them. Usually, the individual’s hygiene has slipped and they’re defensive of the state of their home; a mental health professional can help to compassionately communicate with them.


Level 4 Hoarding

A Level 4 household needs the help of a professional organizer and a coordinated team of service providers. The individual with hoarding disorder could have psychological or medical issues, and financial hardships are generally involved. Resources to bring the household to a functional level may include pest control services, extreme cleaners, financial counselors, and licensed contractors. A level 4 household usually has at least one blocked exit and there is evidence that bugs and rodents are inhabiting the home. There may be damage to the structure of the home or broken appliances, and food may be rotting. This isn’t a livable or hospitable environment for people or their pets, who may pass away or run away.


Level 5 Hoarding

The Level 5 household requires help from a wide range of agencies. Professional organizers should not undergo helping a Level 5 household by themselves. This individual may be under the care of a conservator, or the household may be the inherited estate of the individual. Essential members of the team should be identified before work begins, a written strategy must be outlined, and contractual agreements must be signed in order to effectively remediate this household. The person is housebound and in an extremely precarious mental state. The house is no longer functional and has been taken over by clutter, mould, and pests.

Information courtesy of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, The Recovery Village, and

If all of this sounds all too familiar, it is likely that your loved one has a hoarding disorder. Contact us at 1st Hoarding Clean Up today to get in touch with our experienced technicians, who will help you to compassionately approach and assist your loved one and help them with decluttering. We also have partner organizations that can help the hoarder to move forward with their life.

If you want to read more about hoarding disorders, please check the links below for more information from trusted sources: