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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
If you or someone you know is struggling with these levels of hoarding we are here to help.
You can find more information at https://bioonesacramentoca.com/ or contact us at (916) 833-2461
Clutter is an everyday occurrence and there comes a point when we all need to clean up our messes. Leave things long enough, and we all start to fall into one of the 5 levels of hoarding.
But what are the 5 levels of hoarding?
What moves a messy room from Level 2 to Level 3?
Understanding the hoarding level of your space can help you prioritize which messes are one-person tasks and which may need some help from a back-up team.
Let’s walk through each level of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization’s Clutter-Hoarding Scale to better understand just how normal hoarding is.
There’s no doubt that many of us would like our homes to look as pristine as a real estate listing ad. But life’s hectic! With busy work and family schedules, numerous responsibilities and obligations, and competing priorities it’s easy to put off a small mess for later. However those moments of procrastination stack up to put our home at a Level 1.
Signs of this level of hoarding include clutter and messes that do not threaten your safety:
Ok, that last one MIGHT be dangerous if you’re barefoot.
None of these messes block exits in your home, and they do not cause an immediate bad odor. If we’re honest, we can admit that all of us—at one point or another—have had our home come in on this level of the hoarding scale.
Leaving your house in this state does not necessarily affect your health.
However, it may exacerbate avoidance habits that lead to snacking and more procrastination—which might lead to more clutter, shifting you up the scale.
This is another common level of hoarding. Most of us frequently bounce between Level 1’s clutter and Level 2’s disarray.
At this level, things literally begin to stack up:
At Level 2, the clutter can begin to impact a variety of areas of our lives. Some studies claim intense clutter increases our stress, makes allergies worse, and overall causes us to feel less satisfied with life.
These negative impacts are sometimes the trigger that leads to the situation getting worse.
Level 3 is where things begin to get concerning.
At this point, the mess itself may seem too daunting to tackle, and the increase in clutter results in a decline of cleanliness. There may be piles of objects obstructing multiple exits—or even a whole room used for storage instead of living.
It’s at this stage that pest infestations may become an issue. With the clutter, there are lots of places for unwelcome pests to hide and find food, and infestations of ants, lice, and cockroaches may warrant an exterminator. However, all that clutter makes it difficult for the exterminator to do a good job. Unfortunately, failing to clean up the source may set the stage for another infestation within a few weeks.
Another area of concern may be repairs needed around the home. Work may need to be done, but technicians or repair personnel may not be able to physically get to whatever needs to be fixed. This means small problems may become large ones as minor repairs are left to turn into bigger problems.
This state of things deeply impacts your ability to socialize. Messy and infested living spaces make it difficult to relax with your partner or family. Friends may prefer to outright avoid hangouts at your home. Your loved ones may be concerned about your living situation at this point.
The longer your home sits at Level 3, the higher the chance that leftover messes become long-term damage.
Hygiene and safety take a backseat in a house at Level 4. Long-term spills and messes create bad smells, and much of the house cannot be adequately used for each room’s purpose.
Those whose homes fit this category face daily irritation and inconvenience, all of it eventually leading to high repair bills, tripping hazards, and health hazards.
You may not think tripping hazards are a big deal, but falling over them certainly can be. Depending on how high the stacks are, they could even fall on you and do some damage that way.
There have been well documented cases where people have become trapped in their own home due to tripping hazards. Don’t let that be you!
Health hazards stack up in level 4 almost as quick as the clutter does. Issues like water damage that can no longer be reached lead to structural decay. Larger pests like bats or rodents may make their nests in the attic or basement and contribute to higher possibilities of disease.
A person or family living in this state may find it difficult to be comfortable doing anything.
Tackling the job to get the home back to a healthy and safe state may seem impossible on their own.
This is often what people think of when discussing hoarding behaviors. The situation may be the result of a psychological hoarding disorder or difficulty due to disability. It may have been compounded by depression or generational trauma or habits. The contributing factors are nuanced, varied, and often highly personal.
But whatever the reason, a Level 5 household is in need of serious, professional help.
Those in a Level 5 house live in outright unsafe conditions. On the daily they are coming in contact with:
Not only is it difficult to socialize with others in your home, you may find it difficult to even leave because of the sheer volume of things in the home and the blocked entryways.
Many who are at this stage find themselves disconnected from reality in a number of ways:
At this stage, the structural damage to the home is often irreparable and fire hazards begin to enter the picture.
Houses at level 5 are prone to fires because of the flammable piles of clutter. If a flame were to spark anywhere, it could easily catch something and spread from there.
Not only that, but it’s very difficult for firefighters to enter. If a fire were to start there’d be little to no way of stopping it. With so many flammable objects and no way to enter the home, all it can do is burn.
So how did your home do? Do you have an idea of where your home fits on the hoarding scale? The vast majority of us are on there somewhere, and the good news is that no matter the level your home scores, there is always help available.
After walking through all 5 levels of hoarding, it’s clear we all struggle with cleaning up the house sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with a messy house. It’s a part of normal, everyday life.
However, your health and safety are important, particularly when things advance to those higher levels. When facing a daunting clean-up, here’s quick tip for each level of hoarding:
Your home falls into one of these levels—just like everyone else’s! The next step is determining what you need to get back to a manageable Level 1.
Our team at Bio-One understands messy homes, and we’re here to offer discreet, compassionate help when you or a loved one is trying to dig out from a higher level mess. We offer affordable, professional services that include cleanup, disinfection, and decontamination.
Every job has a unique remediation plan tailored to the specific needs and goals of the client. Rest assured, wherever you may fall on the levels of hoarding, we have the experience and equipment necessary to help you.
Consult with our team today to discuss your situation and determine how much time you can save with professional help.
Here is Week 5 of our Bio-One Weekly Wrap-Up.
Chocolate Spill Makes for a Sweet Cleanup
In Scranton on March 25, Juan and Nicole Morales received a call for a "chocolate" cleanup. Assuming this was code for a sewage back-up, they rushed to scene to find a different situation entirely. Approximately 100 gallons of milk chocolate had spilled, covering asphalt outside a local business.
This is certainly the sweetest smelling job a Bio-One office has ever taken, but Nicole clarified, "That smell was nice for the first few minutes but at the end I felt sick. Good thing we had an awesome team that pushed through and got this done!"
After scraping the chocolate with a forklift and pressure washing the area, the Bio-One team received a five-star review. Well done!
Behind the Scenes with Citizen's Academy
Many Bio-One owners sign up for their local Citizen's Police Academy to acquaint themselves with the activities of their local police department. This week, Bio-One owner, Ginger Akemon, in Jacksonville, FL earned her Citizen's Police Academy certificate from the Clay County Sheriff's Office.
"Definitely a learning process. Each County has their own, my goal is to go to each county's classes. This was 10 weeks long and over an hour drive each way, but well worth it, " said Ginger.
Hoarding Transformation in Long Beach
Have you ever seen hoarding shows on TV? Our team has first-hand experience remediating these situations with care and compassion. From clutter, trash, to animal hoarding, we understand that the removal of items can be stressful and sometimes overwhelming for families involved. Bio-One will make it a priority to establish trust to ensure everyone is comfortable and ready for each day to begin.
It's as simple as 1, 2, 3.
First, we always offer estimates at no cost to you. An experienced crew leader will tour the home and propose a plan based on your needs, expectations, and goals.
Second, our certified technicians are trained to be mindful of all possessions. We make it a priority to find and save items of value whether that's a wallet, coin collections, legal documents, photo albums, or baseball cards.
Third, we want to make sure you are 100% satisfied and happy with our work. If for some reason something else needs to be done, we are here for you.
Here is Week 4 of our Bio-One Weekly Wrap-Up.
New Start for New Haven Veteran
In New Haven County, Bio-One and Junkluggers answered the call to help a veteran and his disabled wife. The couple were overwhelmed with a hoarded home and much of their furniture would need to be disposed due to biohazardous conditions. With Bio-One's Help First, Business Second motto in mind, Bio-One owner, Matthew Hill, teamed up with Junkluggers to re-furnish the home with gently used furniture at no cost to the client.
“Anytime we can give a little more to our clients, we always seize the opportunity,” said Hill. “Junkluggers has been an awesome organization with a great mission that fits nicely into what we are trying to accomplish.”
#HelpFirst for Heart-Breaking Scene
In South Carolina, Bio-One owner, Kris Elliott, was called to disinfect and clean a heart-breaking trauma scene. After hearing the family's story, he generously decided not to request payment for his services and shared their GoFundMe page on Facebook. As of March 20, Bio-One offices in North Carolina and South Carolina have contributed just under half of the total donations. This is #helpfirst at it's finest.
If you'd like to learn more about the family and donate, please visit their GoFundMe page.
Poker Run Supports Law Enforcement
Supporting local law enforcement is a 24/7 activity at Bio-One! In Tuscon, AZ, the Bio-One team participated in the South Arizona Law Enforcement Foundation (SALEF) poker run. SALEF collaborates with law enforcement to understand their greatest needs, and work with businesses in the community to raise money by presenting community events and submitting for grants.
Looks like they were gifted a beautiful day for cards, corn hole, and backing the blue.
Here is Week 3 of our Bio-One Weekly Wrap-Up.
Five 30 Yard Dumpsters
The team in Pensacola has been working non-stop on a two story home that required Bio-One hoarding services. Over the course of five days, they filled five 30 yard dumpsters, and found multiple antique pieces, photographs, sentimental items and cash that was promptly turned over to the client.
Look through the transformation photos on their Facebook page!
Backing the Blue in Omaha
The Bio-One team in Omaha dropped off bagels at the Omaha Police Department just before roll call, and Vanessa Urbach, the civilian crime and prevention specialist, tweeted a "Thank You" with shoutouts to Bio-One. Joining the conversation was our own Bio-One Twitter handle, Deputy Chief Ken Kanger, host of the What's Up Omaha Podcast, and a number of other officers in the department.
Kudos to the Omaha team for backing the blue!
Before Bio-One teams can help first, we have to ensure safety for every technician on the job site. This week, Bio-One owners took part in conversations about safety. Topics ranged from preventing common injuries on the job to attending OSHA training with Bob Easter. Jared Lafferty, Bio-One owner in Gwinnett County, even took the conversation to Twitter and featured safety protocols his team uses while on the job.
We couldn't be prouder of our teams for putting safety first!
Here is Week 2 of our Bio-One Weekly Wrap-Up.
14,000 lbs of Clothing Removed from Hoarded Home
In Indiana, the Marion County team remediated over 30+ years of hoarded clothes in a home. The team calculated that approximately 14,000 lbs of clothing were removed.
Bio-One’s teams know that every job represents a unique experience for our customers, who may have difficulty parting with deeply personal items that can range from clothing, video tapes, trash, and even animals.
We work with all of our clients in a step-by-step process that instills trust while properly ridding the space of items that can prove harmful. Learn more about Bio-One's hoarding services.
Bio-One Welcomes Two New Offices in Wisconsin
Two Bio-One offices launched in Wisconsin this week, and we are very excited to welcome Angela, David, Andrew, and Viktoriya to the Bio-One family. Learn about these amazing teams below!
Angela Welbes and David Levin are the owners of Bio-One of Madison. Both were born and raised in the midwest, and they met in 2015 while they were both living in Wisconsin. Their blended family consists of 3 daughters and a son. The COVID pandemic provided a personal reset that enabled an opportunity to join the growing Bio-One family and the ability to help the surrounding communities of Madison. They are excited to start this new venture together.
Andrew and Viktoriya Gonzales are the owners of Bio-One of Milwaukee. Andrew spent the last 24 years in the banking industry, in addition to serving on boards and committees for several Non-Profits, such as NAMI, Madison Development Corp and United Way. Viktoriya originally came to Wisconsin 16 years ago to further her education and loved it so much, she decided to stay. She has spent the last 12 years in telecommunications and management. Both have a passion for giving back to their community and have a drive to help those in the Milwaukee and surrounding area who are in need.
COVID-19 Disinfections Help Seniors in Charlotte, NC
This week, the Bio-One team in Charlotte, NC announced the renewal of a COVID-19 disinfection partnership with the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services. This unique #HelpfFrst service offers free disinfections to seniors, 60 years of age or older. See their Facebook post below to learn more.
Rebecca Wallace, Bio-One owner, recently visited with Arizona Midday to share how the Bio-One team makes a difference on and off the job in Arizona and throughout the United States.
Arizona Midday - "Well we've got some help for your home right now. If you're feeling overwhelmed by a clean-up project, we've got help for you today. Rebecca Wallace is with Bio-One. Hi Rebecca. What is Bio-One?"
Rebecca - "So Bio-One is known for crime and trauma scene clean-up. However, we do a lot more than just that. We help people when there is a hoarding situation, so that they can regain their home and their lives again. We help with infectious disease decontamination, rodent droppings, odor abatement, basically if you think you might need a respirator to do the job we're the people you want to call."
Arizona Midday - "Wow, that's incredible. It's stuff we don't want to do. What made you decide to get into this line of work?"
Rebecca - "So, me and my husband live in Flagstaff most of the time and we were talking with some first responders and heard how when people pass away or they're hoarders there is no one that can help them. There's just no one who does this kind of work. So we decided we want to be able to help our community, help those around us during a time of need so they can actually move forward in their lives and not have to deal with the mess of maybe things that have happened that they don't want to have to think about."
Arizona Midday - "I love that idea. So in order to help your clients as much as possible, do you work with other companies? Tell me about that if you do."
Rebecca - "Yes, we do. We work with quite a few other companies, because what we do is just a piece of a whole puzzle. So we work with a lot of restoration companies, Best Option Restoration, they are state-wide like us so they can help us anywhere as well. We work with animal rescues, so if there is a hoarding situation that animals are involved in we can get the animals out safely and get them rehabilitated. We work with quite a few non-profits that help first responders if they're in a time of need or crisis. It's across the board. We work with all kinds of different people. Contractors. Mental health professionals. Anyone that can be a piece of that puzzle with us, we want to work with them.
Arizona Midday - "Oh, I love that. So what areas of Arizona does Bio-One cover?"
Rebecca - "We have offices all the way down from Tucson up to Flagstaff, and everything in-between. Our goal is to be able to help our clients within 90 minutes or less if there is an emergency. So we have offices everywhere. Any we're national. We have 120 offices throughout the US as well.
Arizona Midday - "Wow. That's incredible. So you work with businesses. You work with non-profits, but you're also really involved in the community too, right? Tell me about that."
Rebecca - "Yeah we are. It's important for us to give back. Our community is important. We live here. We're part of it. So in 2020 alone, we gave out over 25,000 bottles of chemicals that are approved by the EPA for COVID-19 decontamination. We have blood drives all throughout Arizona to help with the blood shortage. We donate PPE to first responders and victim advocates. And we have BBQ's throughout the state as well for all of our first responders just to tell them thank you for what they've been doing. They work hard and we want to make sure that they know we care.
Arizona Midday - "Rebecca Wallace, incredible work that you're doing with Bio-One. And thank you so much for spending time with us today.
Rebecca - "Thank you for having me."
Congratulations to John and Jennifer Symmons from Bio-One Charlotte on their first big hoarding job!
It was a 5 bed, 3 bath home with a garage and the clients were very happy with the results! They are learning more each job. Nice work Bio-One Charlotte!