What is Level 1 Hoarding?

Level 1 hoarding is the least severe of the hoarding levels, and it often goes unrecognized by outside observers and the hoarder. The first phase of many Hoarding Disorders can include the following characteristics: 

  • Difficulty parting with redundant items  
  • Excessive shopping for items already in the home or that are not needed 
  • Stairs, doors, and windows in the home are accessible 
  • There are no noticeable odors in the home 
  • Little to no visible clutter on surfaces or in walkways 
  • Sanitation and cleanliness exist within the home

Hoarding is a serious condition that involves the obsessive collection and storage of items that others would deem redundant or worthless. An overabundance of pets is also classified as hoarding.

The Institute for Challenging Disorganization has created a five-level scale for the classification of hoarding behavior, and as one passes through the levels, their hoarding behavior becomes more acute. They’ve created hoarding level indicators by evaluating which problems exist in a hoarded household. As a person graduates to a new hoarding level, some of the indicators discussed as nonexistent in this article will become pronounced.   

While the lack of apparent indicators may hide the fact that a hoarding situation is occurring, it is essential to try and recognize the behavior, so it can be curtailed before it escalates to Level 2 hoarding. Understanding each of the criteria used to identify hoarding and how that appears in a level 1 hoarding household can help you protect your loved ones or neighbors from an escalated and unmanageable hoarding situation. 


Difficulty Parting with Redundant Items 

 A level 1 hoarder will have repeats of the same object in their home, and sometimes this repetition is excessive. For example, a drawer may contain 35 forks, yet the hoarder cannot part with a single one even though no one else lives with them. They assign a potential need to this accumulation of objects and experience anxiety at the thought of parting with some of the repeated items.  


Excessive Shopping for Items Already in the Home or That Are Not Needed 

An obvious sign of level 1 hoarding is excessive shopping. Even when the household’s needs are met, a hoarder will have the compulsion to obtain even more stuff to put in their house. If a person has 15 cans of baby formula, but there is no infant in their life, that is hoarding. 



One of the ways to determine if a hoarder’s love for shopping is a problem is to analyze the financial consequences that shopping is creating. While not all hoarders will experience financial hardships due to their need to shop for items, it is not uncommon for an excessive shopper to accumulate objects even when they cannot afford them.  


Stairs, Doors, and Windows in the Home Are Accessible 

 Although some object accumulation takes place inside the hoarding person’s housing, there is no blockage or obstruction of stairs, doors, and windows in the dwelling. The hoarded items are still contained in more suitable areas in the home, so fire exits are not blocked.  


There Are No Noticeable Odors in the Home 

 While a level 1 hoarder may have a little trash or animal waste accumulation in the house, there are no permeating or rancid odors in the home. Sometimes in more advanced hoarding situations, the rotting garbage, food debris, and biological waste cause the entire house to stink. A level 1 hoarder not only does not have that situation occurring, but they may also be disgusted by the possibility. This is because there is a notion in the hoarder’s head that they are not hoarding. After all, they keep their livable spaces clean.  


Little to No Visible Clutter on Surfaces or in Walkways 

 While there is no visible clutter in walkways or on all the surfaces in the home, evidence of over-collecting will still be present. There may be plenty of clean counter space in the kitchen. However, one might notice that there are eight cookie jars, three blenders, and four sets of plates tightly stacked in the cabinet.

Most level 1 hoarder have stuffed every socially acceptable storage space in their house to the brim, often in a fashion that appears tidy due to the extensive organization that went into making sure every piece of the room was used up in these storage spaces.  


Sanitation and Cleanliness Exist Within the Home 

Some grade 1 hoarders even fixate on how clean and sanitized their home is to deflect their obsessive collections.  

Toilets and another drainage will be fully functioning, floors will be maintained, and animal waste will be controlled. There may be litter boxes or dog training pads in the home, but they are only in up to two locations with feces contained in and on the proper receptacles. Carpets will not be covered in stains, nor will they have ground in dirt and debris. All surfaces will be wiped clean, and there is not an overabundance of dust accumulation.  




Why It is Important to Recognize Level 1 Hoarding?

Hoarding situations escalate over time, and curbing the behavior early is best to avoid a catastrophic hoarding situation. While level 1 hoarders show few signs and symptoms, it is essential to recognize the beginning of their obsession with intangible items so intervention can occur before the situation worsens. It is also helpful to remember such a low level of hoarding, so it is easier to identify when the hoarded household has reached a higher level.

After all, hoarding is a recognized mental health disorder, and as such, delicate handling of the situation is required.

Our licensed and certified professionals can handle any hoarding situation. Regardless of what is happening at the location that has you worried, we are here 24/7 to help you. Call us at 866-99-DECON.

Free Ebook – Dealing with Hoarding Around You

Learn from our 15+ Years Experience with Hoarding Assistance. Hoarding is destructive to your property values as well as theirs. There are many ways to go about working with a harder to get them to clean up the mess. In this free eBook download, Spaulding Decon teaches you lessons learned from dealing with Hoarding Cleanup and the psychology behind hoarding disorders.

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