The Institute of Challenging Disorganization published a Clutter-Hoarding scale that classifies hoarding behavior into five levels. Hoarding is characterized by the irrational need to keep possessions, trash, or animals.  

Level 2 Hoarding is the second least severe category on the Clutter-Hoarding scale. Hoarders at this level start to become guarded about the mess and accumulation they can no longer hide. Keep in mind that this scale does not diagnose the psychological component; instead, it has been developed to evaluate the hoarder’s property. 

 

What is Level 2 Hoarding?

You may be asking yourself, “How can I recognize if a hoard has escalated to level 2?”

The indicators are: 

  • The clutter in the hoarder house is visible
  • It is becoming difficult to clean the hoarded home
  • The kitchens and bathrooms are messy
  • There is a blocked exit from the hoarder house
  • There is an excessive accumulation of garbage
  • Pest populations are beginning to form
  • The hoarder is starting to self-isolate
  • Pet dander and pet excrement are in the hoarded home

     

 
Remember that a hoarder does not have to display all these characteristics to be a level 2 hoarder. Exhibiting even a few of these symptoms is enough to get professionals involved to help.  

 

 The Clutter in the Hoarder House is Visible 

 In a level 2 hoard, garbage, objects, and collections may be spilling out of overfilled storage areas and covering surfaces in the house. However, some of the floor is typically still visible. The hoarder usually does not recognize this clutter as a problem because they do not see it as excessively messy.  

 At this level, the hoarder is openly fixated on accumulating more objects. A collection of receipts may be piled on a table, clothing could be swamping a bed, and book boxes may block pathways. Property owners that enter the space may become distressed, and a level 2 hoarder begins becoming at risk of eviction.  

 

It is Becoming Difficult to Clean the Hoarded Home 

The clutter that exists in the hoarder’s house begins making housekeeping difficult. Because there are objects and other hoarded items in the way, it is not easy to clean surfaces. Collections are becoming disorganized because of a lack of space, although sometimes the hoarder still thinks they are adequately displayed and may still try to show them off to visitors.  

Level 2 hoarders begin to misplace items because it is buried in other stuff. The fridge becomes overstuffed, and expired items litter the stockpile. Dishes are usually piled up in the sink and on countertops, making the surfaces unusable.  

Odors will exist, but they are not overwhelming and are still isolated to specific areas, like near the counters and sink in the kitchen covered in dirty dishes.  

 

The Kitchen and Bathrooms Are Messy 

 A light amount of mildew will be present on tiled surfaces, specifically in the bathrooms and kitchen. Bath and hygiene products will cover most of the characters in a bathroom, and dirty dishes and other gadgets will block all the kitchen space.  

 All storage areas are at capacity. Some major plumbing or appliances may have stopped working, but the amount of stuff is too overwhelming to get them fixed. Grout is usually filthy, and any backsplashes will be covered in grime.  


There is a Blocked Exit from the Hoarder House 

The hoarder’s possessions are now blocking an exit in the home, which is the first real sign of danger in the hoarder’s behavior. Since the hoarder will not be able to leave the house if needed from that room specifically, they may get trapped in a fire, flood, or another disaster that requires them to use that door.  

While there is one blocked exit to the home, the collection causing the hoard is not yet considered a code violation, so the hoarder is at minor risk of being ordered by authorities to clean up. Entire rooms are not blocked off; however, pathways around clutter in the house may be forming.  

 

 There Is an Excessive Accumulation of Garbage 

 Various garbage cans around the home are overflowing. Garbage may start accumulating in the yard or on porches. There may be a few dirty dishes and rotting food containers near beds and in other unusual spots, and paper and other thin items may cover the entire floor.  

 Bugs and other vermin may have recognized that a food source exists within the house. It is common to deal with pest situations while cleaning up excessive trash.  

 

 Pest Populations Are Beginning to Form 

 There may be a noticeable number of cockroaches or ants in many spots in the home, and there may be signs of rodents, although a live one cannot be spotted.

Rat and mice feces may be on carpets, objects, and surfaces, although the mess has not started to stink on its own yet.  

 

 The Hoarder is Starting to Self-Isolate 

 The hoarder begins choosing to stay at home with their hoard more often than they did before. They start to limit the number of visitors into their cluttered space due to light shame and embarrassment.  

 If an underlying mental illness is diagnosed at this point, the escalation of a mess into a level 2 hoarding situation may be a sign of medication noncompliance. It is prudent at this point for a professional therapist or psychologist to check in with the patient to make sure their mental health is stabilized.  

 

 Pet Dander and Pet Excrement are in the Hoarded Home 

 There is not so much pet waste lying around that the entire home smells like it. However, there are too many areas where visible urine and feces are on the floor or other surfaces. Reptile setups, fish tanks, and rodent cages are visibly unkempt.  

 Pet dander is on most surfaces in excessive quantities and will exist on most fabrics. The hoarder and all their clothing will be covered in hair if they own cats or dogs.  

 
How to Help a Level 2 Hoarder?

 Hoarding is a complicated disorder that affects friends, neighbors, bosses, and family. Usually, a hoarder’s disorder is a symptom of a mental illness. This is the most critical stage in seeking help for a hoarder. The hoard is also borderline manageable, so snipping it in the bud at this point will not require such drastic measures.  

 At Spaulding Decon, we provide professionals to assist a hoarder in decluttering. Professionals may need to wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in level 2 situations if there is a need to remove hoarded garbage or waste materials from a home. 

 At Spaulding Decon, our trained biohazard remediation professionals know how to clean up a hoarder’s home, and we understand the emotional attachment that exists to the belongings. Our teams can create custom cleanup plans while working with mental health professionals to ensure that your loved ones get the help and support they need during the arduous cleanup process. 

 To find a Spaulding Decon team nearest to your location: Spaulding Decon Locations | Professional Cleanup Company 

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