Bio-One of Fremont decontamination and biohazard cleaning services

Understanding the Hoarding Spectrum.

When we hear the word “hoarding,” many of us conjure up images from shows like Hoarders, which often portray extreme cases. However, hoarding behavior encompasses a spectrum, and not all individuals who struggle with it have homes filled to the brim with clutter.

The Institute for Challenging Disorganization has categorized hoarding behavior into five levels on their Clutter-Hoarding Scale. The Bio-One Fremont team has completed multiple training programs to better understand the root causes of hoarding situations and to support those clients who reach out for support.

Level 1 Hoarding

At Level 1, a home may not be spotless, but it remains easily accessible and sanitary. While there is clutter, safety concerns are minimal. Many of us find ourselves in Level 1 at some point, with clutter being a common aspect of daily life.

Here are the key characteristics of Level 1:

  • All stairways, doors, and windows are accessible, free from clutter.
  • The home maintains good ventilation and lacks unpleasant odors.
  • Pet ownership adheres to zoning regulations, with proper waste disposal.
  • Pest infestations like insects or rodents are absent.
  • Essential safety alarms, such as smoke detectors, are in place.

Level 2 Hoarding

Moving to Level 2, the home remains livable but shows signs of increased disarray. Cleaning becomes overdue, potentially overwhelming occupants. Hygiene levels may decline.

Key characteristics of Level 2 include:

  • One primary exit may be obstructed by clutter.
  • Pet waste and hair may be present.
  • Minor electrical or plumbing issues might arise, along with neglected appliances.
  • Garbage bins may overflow.
  • Mild odors from unwashed dishes, laundry, or bathrooms may em

Level 3 Hoarding

Level 3 marks a significant transition, indicating more serious hoarding behavior and household disorganization.

Key characteristics of Level 3 include:

  • Presence of mild insect infestations.
  • Key living areas obstructed by piles of objects.
  • Multiple appliances rendered unusable.
  • Spills left unattended, contributing to unclean living spaces.
  • Rooms repurposed for storage, no longer serving their original function.
  • Noticeable unpleasant odors permeating the home.
  • Accumulation of dirty laundry throughout.

Level 3 households may benefit from seeking outside assistance, although concerted efforts from the family can also make a difference.

Level 4 Hoarding

At Level 4, excessive clutter dominates the home, necessitating professional intervention.

Key characteristics of Level 4 include:

  • Structural damage such as water damage and broken fixtures.
  • Presence of excessive pets and pet waste.
  • Blocked access to essential areas by clutter.
  • Presence of expired and rotting food, contributing to odors.
  • Rooms rendered unusable due to clutter.
  • Medium level of insect infestation.
  • Sewage issues may arise.

Level 5 Hoarding

Level 5 represents the highest level of hoarding behavior, presenting alarming hazards that require specialized expertise to address.

Key characteristics of Level 5 include:

  • Extreme clutter rendering important living spaces unusable.
  • Lack of ventilation.
  • Irreparable structural damage.
  • Disconnected water and/or electrical services.
  • Pets at risk due to living conditions.
  • Occupants in danger due to pet behaviors or health conditions.
  • Household appliances rendered unusable.

If you or someone you know is struggling with hoarding behavior at any level, assistance is available. Visit https://bioonefremont or call (925) 369-3096 to speak with a certified specialist.