How to Help Someone Who Hoards

GoodTherapy | How to Help Someone Who HoardsHoarding is a serious mental health condition that can expose people who do it to dangerous living conditions, the derision of family and friends, and social isolation. About 5% of the world’s population hoards, but only about 15% of people who hoard recognize that their behavior is irrational. If you’re concerned about someone you love who hoards, you can’t force your loved one to get better. You can, however, provide a supportive environment that encourages your loved one to seek help and makes recovery possible.

Don’t Take Their Possessions

If your loved one’s house is covered in old magazines or unused clothes, it can be tempting to “cure” him or her by taking the items he or she hoards. This won’t remedy the underlying problem, though, and it can destroy your relationship with your loved one. Moreover, people who hoard can experience serious emotional distress when their possessions are taken, so your good intentions may actually harm a person you love.

Don’t Enable the Behavior

While you can’t stop someone who hoards from hoarding, you can avoid enabling the behavior. If your friend hoards antiques, don’t invite her to go antiquing. If your mother is a compulsive collector, don’t add to her collection at every birthday and holiday. Don’t offer to store hoarded items for a loved one, and if you live with someone who has been hoarding, don’t allow their possessions to overtake your home.

Educate Yourself

To the outside observer, hoarding just doesn’t make sense. If you want to help a loved one, learn as much as you can about this condition by reading websites, consulting mental health professionals, or even attending a support group for people who want to love and help people who hoard. Once you understand the fear, loneliness, and anxiety associated with hoarding, you may be better able to offer empathy and support.

Recognize Small Victories

Particularly among people who hoard who have had the habit for years, it can take months or years to get rid of hoarded possessions and for progress with the issue to become visible. If your loved one doesn’t feel like small victories matter, he or she will have little incentive to keep trying. Help your loved one celebrate small victories by praising them for throwing away a few items or refraining from buying new ones.

Help Them Sort Their Belongings

Some people who hoard accumulate so much stuff that it fills an entire house. Even after your loved one stops hoarding, he or she may have an entire home filled with hoarded items. Volunteer to help your loved one sort through his or her items and clean out the home. Some companies specialize in helping those who have hoarding issues clean up, so if you and your loved one are daunted by a packed home, consider contacting an organization that can help.

Don’t Clean Up for Them

Although helping your loved one sort his or her possessions can be helpful, doing it for him or her is not. Likewise, you can’t expect that the person in your life who is hoarding will make progress if you force him or her into treatment. These individuals need to make independent decisions, and this might mean waiting to intervene until the person you love is ready for help.

Help Your Loved One Find Treatment

Taking the first step toward treatment can be daunting, and it’s not always easy to find a qualified therapist. Don’t force your loved one into treatment, but consider researching treatment providers so you can offer information when your loved one is ready. can help you find a therapist who specializes in hoarding.


  1. Hoarding and OCD, stats, characteristics, causes, treatment and resources. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  2. Hoarding: The basics. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  3. How to help the hoarder in your life: Some suggestions. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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  • leonora

    June 21st, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    I always wonder about those shows where they go in and clean out the hoarder’s homes and then the house looks all clean again, but then what happens after the cameras leave? I would suspect that for many if not most of these people, you go back a month or two later and the hoarding behavior has started all over again if they are not getting treatment for it too. I think that this is doing those families such a disservice because I know that you have to clean out the homes too, but you also have to get this person some help and if you don’t do that then once the cameras are turned off the hoarding tendencies will not take very long to begin taking back over again. The behavior totally freaks me out because I am such a neat freak and the thought of living like that confuses me but I also know that they have problems and if you want to help them then you have to do more than just call out a maid service for them.

  • Lynn

    May 10th, 2020 at 1:56 PM

    This is one if the worst illness. I know a hoarder and I asked her if she had a crew of people to clean up, throw out, and organize her house WOULD SHE ACCEPT HELP. SHE SAID NO! I think deep diwn tgey enjoy living tge way tgey do. #1 it is a lot cheaper not having to entertain, even make a friend tea or lunch, it ut must be easy for her to be selfush, never entertain, even have family vist, and constantly complain about her miserable life. She always blames others for her lack of caring to her property and lufe situation. I love my friend, but have lost much respect for tge person I have known 30 years. I think it is the ultimate selfish and lazy lifestyle, cibstant complaining and “victimization”, that bothers me most.

  • Trishawish

    May 11th, 2020 at 4:28 PM

    Actually, it is not cheaper to live in disarray. You buy duplicates of what you cannot find, you can’t cook or store food and the squalor creates constant anxiety. My estranged friend behaves as if everything is “just peachy” and that is exactly how she responds when people ask her how she is doing. What I don’t understand is how her neighbors don’t call the police or health department. She lives in a condo and those who share walls with her must smell the hoard. The last I heard, she has no heat or AC because she won’t let a repairman in. I can’t help but wonder what she is doing during the lockdown.

  • juniper T

    June 23rd, 2014 at 4:05 AM

    My instinct would be to treat this just like you would any other addict, with care and kindness. You can’t judge them and make them feel bad about something over which they obviously have no control. Yes, they need to learn to help themselves but at the same time this will not be something that most can do on their own.

  • Connor

    June 23rd, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    For those of us who do not have these tendencies it is hard to understand those who do. Why do they feel the need to hang onto things that look useless and insignificant to the rest of us? For them, though, they must hold some sort of importance to them in their lives and while I would rather they collect in a way that does not destroy them or their home, I know that I would not want someone to come in and tell me the things that I loved and was attached to was junk and they don’t want to hear that about their things either. You can still try to be helpful while being kind, and there is help out there although I have heard that treating hoarding can be one of the more difficult addictive behaviors to break. I think that for many who have this urge it goes so deep for them that there are a lot of layers that have to be peeled away before you can even begin to get near the root of the problem and what causes this behavior.

  • Margaret

    September 5th, 2023 at 2:09 PM

    Because they are sick! This is serious mental condition and specialist don’t know yet how to treat those people! My mother in law and now soon ex husband are sick, but the only people who struggle are myself and the child. And trust me they don’t see it as a problem but instead you are the issue! They are happy the way they want to live their lives! And while my mother in law is calm about that eg. You can clean up something if you want, my husband can be really aggressive and abusive about it. On top of that I think he suffers from other mental disorders but he doesn’t want help nor be diagnosed

  • GiNgEr

    June 24th, 2014 at 4:17 AM

    Don’t belittle them and make light of their situation.

    I am sure that many hear quite enough of that from friends, family and neighbors and when you talk down to someone like that you have to know that someone with this kind of behavior already out on the table is going to internalize all of that negativity and want even more things in their lives that does not make them feel that way about themselves.

    I am not blaming others because this is something that only the hoarder herself can resolve, but we don’t help by talking to them like they are children and trying to make something so compllex into something simple. For them there is not a simple solution at all.

  • Trudy T.

    June 24th, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    With hoarders it is probably easier to ease them into the recognition that they need to clean up their activity and show them slowly just how detrimental this has become for them. Most of them probably know it on some level but they refuse to see the real damage that this is doing to themselves and to others. I think that most of them think that this is not hurting anyone else so why does it even matter, but you have to show them little by little that because of this addiction they have lost their friends, their family, and ultimately their entire life because of this behavior. They have to get to the point where they can see just how much this is putting a wedge between them and everyone else and give them a reason to want to change, because if they don’t truly wish to change their ways then it can never happen.

  • Sherri

    June 5th, 2019 at 5:35 AM

    Thanks. I’m an OCD Clean/organized person. After 8+ yrs of having surgeries n being on a lot of pain meds n living in hospital bed in L/R for 4 yrs., I awoke to my home being SO full of junk, basically I live in a place that gives me severe depression, anxiety n panic attacks. I’ve been too understanding, not even throwing out a screw, I cannot do this anymore!! It has isolated me, I live in my bedroom which is only place I can be. I’ve begged him to consider that I am miserable n am losing myself..went from extremely social by nature to utterly alone n I cannot live this way. Place is in my name and I am literally trapped here bcuz he won’t get rid of a sandwich bag size of stuff a week at my request. I’m a Christian, feeling guilty as he is causing me to sin as I am only trapped here due to him n he thinks nothing is wrong! I’m responsible! I am sssooo upset, angry, alone, feeling unloved n undated for by him I am starting to get violent (verbally). Please help me?!! I’m 56, so is he, all my children, grandsons, family, friends are in CO & I am about 1 day from leaving him which I believe may be the end for him.

  • Gena

    August 14th, 2019 at 6:56 AM

    Find a counselor in your area! Stop blaming HIM, whoever that is.

  • leigh

    June 25th, 2014 at 4:21 AM

    We grew up with an uncle who was like this, before this even had a name, we just thought he was a crazy old uncle who didn’t like to clean up behind himself. I look back now and see that he was filling something in his life that he was otherwise missing.

  • Claudia

    June 26th, 2014 at 4:24 AM

    You don’t think about the things that we do that can enable this person but those examples that are given above are excellent points. You can’t ask them to do things with you or you do things for them that will allow them to continue this behavior. It may start out seeming harmless but we would not be talking about it in this forum if this was something that was not touching a lot of lives and hurting numerous people.

  • Jessalyn

    June 26th, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Be kind
    be patient
    be thoughtful
    be aware of their needs
    kind of the same way we should treat everyone, don’t you think?

  • Trishawish

    March 8th, 2017 at 12:16 AM

    It is just heartbreaking to watch a beloved friend descend into a pit of “stuff.” I know it is a disease, I pray for my friend, but I am losing her to an endless mountain of that stuff. It breaks my heart.

  • Ann

    September 19th, 2018 at 5:30 PM

    Yes I have a friend that has done the same thing. Her house is awful and smells so bad. I still like her, and try to be kind to her, but it pushes me back. I can’t go over her house as there is no where to sit and I am allergic to cats. SO So so Sad. I found this site looking for ways to help her.

  • Stacy

    June 27th, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    I have watched all of the shows about this and seriously it breaks my heart to learn more about it. These are people who are living with such a hole in their lives that they never think that they can feel so they accumulate more and more things which will never take the place of waht they are actually missing, whatever that might actually be.

  • Terri

    March 10th, 2020 at 9:51 AM

    When there are animals involved you have to choose to do what’s in the best interest of the animals. That’s why there are Humane Societies. People that hoard cannot take care of them and it is animal cruelty to leave them in a situation they can’t escape from. In this instance, you must act and the person hoarding will not understand. However, it is the right thing to do.

  • brynna q.

    June 28th, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    We all know that unless and until someone is ready to receive help then there is no sense in even trying. They are not ready to put the effort into recovery so we should not put all of our own strength into that eprson who is going to sap it from us. When they are ready to make a change, no matter how much I might want it for them right now, until they want it too, it can even become a moot point to even talk about it. Separate yourself from the person, stop going around and see if withholding your presence could be enough to make them see that now is the time that they should begin moving forward if they want to retain the people that they love in their lives. Because if we continue to stay around they are going to see this as an acceptance of the hoarding and they will have no real reason to think seriously about quitting.

  • Mom

    June 17th, 2019 at 11:52 AM

    Withdrawing your love and your presence will only cause further their isolation, and will deepen the problem. Accept them on their terms. If their home is objectionable, find places to have coffee or tea together outside of their home. If they are unable to find places for comparison, there is little chance that they will see the difference and then want to work towards something better. Be patient: It does not seem so to someone who does not suffer from HD, but for the sufferer, this is incredibly hard work, done in tiny doses. Be there to share the little victories, because those are the moments that build upon each other. Many hoarders are delightful people with tons of fascinating interests, which sometimes is actually part of the problem.

  • Trishawish

    June 17th, 2019 at 10:26 PM

    How is that not enabling? If the hoarder were an alcoholic rather that a hoarder, would this advice be on target? If the answer is no, this is enabling. It’s like pretending that there isn’t a problem and whatever the hoarder is doing is acceptable. That’s like the alcoholic whose family covers up for him or her and tries to keep the problem secret. I think sunlight is needed on these issues. As long as people can avoid feeling uncomfortable about their antisocial behavior, what is their motivation to change? And hoarding is antisocial behavior that affects others – just read the comments to verify that. That’s just my opinion, I’m no expert, but I have lost my friend to her pile of stuff. She lives in a condominium and her behavior negatively affects every other property owner in that building. To me, that should be dealt with. If I lived in that building, I would be calling every government official I could think of to force her to address the problem and hope that would include therapy.

  • Janice

    July 13th, 2019 at 1:15 PM

    Its another day and nothing really has changed. I pray to God every day”Please help me”.I know there’s a God,loving ,merciful blah,blah,blah,but nothing changes.
    I dont even bother telling people I’m a hooatder.By their expression they think it’s sick and you’re sick.
    This has affected where I live.Goverment housing.Numerous letters,photos taken submissions put in my files.Im not totally out of control,no piles of pizza boxes on the floors,but it’s bad enough.
    Heard from some of my neighbors, they think I’m of my neighbors told me it’s because I have all this stuff on my porch.Driftwood plantssome pottery.Funny thing is I’ve noticed others have demonstrated the same.If they dare!I agree with writer we are creative and have many interests. I would rather be no one else on this planet. But,here I am struggling through another day,but with hope that it will get better and I can get a hold of this.Thank you for listening.

  • Ric

    June 29th, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    Are there a lot of therapists who specialize in hoarding issues?

  • Celeste

    December 6th, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    My mom is to the point where she needs to move into assisted living but won’t because she thinks she needs to keep EVERYTHING she encounters until the end of time. So much furniture in her home including supremely old mattresses from my childhood which ended over 20 years ago.

  • Desperate Dad

    December 23rd, 2014 at 3:35 AM

    What about the family that lives with a hoarder? I understand that we should be gentle and basically walk on eggshells when it comes to a loved one’s hoarding but at what point do you say enough is enough? I have a wife and three children. My wife has always been a hoarder and it has gotten progressively worse over the past fifteen years. For years the kids and I have been trying to take the advice of all of these hoarding websites that basically say try to be gentle, understanding, and compassionate which is OK for the hoarder but what about the rest of the family. The kids are suffering mentally and I know it is because we go out of our way to conform to this type of living. They are teenagers now and are old enough to realize that they have basically been screwed out of a normal childhood. I could go on and on about the living hell that we are in but I would have to write a book. I may be a few years too late but I think it is time to put my kids needs before my mentally ill wife’s needs. I know it sounds harsh but my children’s mental health may still be salvageable, my wife’s hoarding problem is not.

  • Living With a Hoarder

    February 20th, 2017 at 5:32 AM

    Oh my, desperate dad! You took the words right out of my mouth! What about the ones living with the hoarder and THEIR mental health!? Indeed!

  • Bill B

    December 9th, 2019 at 7:55 PM

    I grew up with a mom that hoarded. It hurt me my whole life and it does still to this day. Its one thing when one has a personal issue and its another when that issue drags down the rest of the family. Going to try to pressure to her to seek help but going home is the last place in the world I ever want to be. Its a cesspit not fit for human habitation by any standard. I would have been instantly pulled out of if CPS saw it. 

    Its a painful issue because its rare and so not fully understood. The question in my mind is:

    If it is an issue beyond a loved ones ability to control, then the burden is on the family to help,understand, and address(somehow!?!?).
    If it is within the loved ones ability to control, its not too different than other abusive behaviors a loved one refuses to admit and address. One should be understanding to a point but one shouldn’t simply accept being a victim of the behavior indefinitely.

    Unfortunately as a kid I was too young to understand or have the ability to address it. Now shes old enough its very questionable if she can address it at this point and it has taxed the entire family’a mental health excessively. I don’t like the advise on this website because its super non confrontational. Very non-confrontational approaches can go no where depending on the person. Hasn’t w/ my mom in 20 years. I’m not sure there is a oneshot packaged strategy to address hoarding in general. Had my parents broken up I may have been able to experience a sanitary home for at-least some of my life growing up. Is that horribly selfish of me to desire? I’m unsure.

  • Steve

    January 11th, 2016 at 5:11 PM

    I am deeply in love with a hoarder. I am 66 years old and l am a therapist. I can’t let her go because because our happiness depends on it. I am empathetic but l do not know how to help. I can’t live without her. Please help me to help her .

  • ED

    January 4th, 2017 at 11:22 PM

    I am a hoarder in your age group and feel that I could truly explain and offer suggestion s that would help you, if you would like to communicate, please do.

  • Jacki S.

    January 18th, 2017 at 8:46 PM

    I am a hoarder. It has gotten out of control. My Mom lives with me and she hoarder too. I hoard movies. anything Christmas, pot for flowers. and on and on and on….I don’t know where to start and need help.

  • Sherri

    June 5th, 2019 at 5:40 AM

    So am I but I’m suffering panic, anxiety and more!! I am OCD Clean! Help me help him?????

  • Russel

    June 20th, 2016 at 4:54 PM

    My Aunt had a hoarding problem and we finally fixed it last Summer. Her house was a mess and finding everyday household stuff was a pain. Together with her 2 daughters, we started tackling one room at a time. We committed 30 minutes everyday. This made it easier for my Aunt to depart with all the stuff she had piled up over the years. Once we cleared a room, we invited friends and neighbors over to see the progress. Their positive comments encouraged my Aunt to keep going on. Posting before and after photos online also helped. In about a month, we were done. We piled all the junk in the garage and rented a roll-off dumpster from and they took everything away in one shot. What a relief!

  • Missy

    July 12th, 2019 at 6:06 PM

    It’s now been a few years. Is it still clean or did she fill it up again?

  • Pan

    May 21st, 2017 at 10:50 AM

    I have lived with a hoarder husband for 29 years. Basement is piled with “collections.” Area hasn’t been cleaned in years. He owns another house in another town. After discussing the problem with a therapist for months, I told him everything had to go so the area could be cleaned and painted. I gave him a month deadline to have the items out. I said I’d hire movers to move the heavy things but it all has to go. He’s fixated on what is “allowed” back in. I feel very alone in this process. It would be helpful to find a group – in person or on line. Any helpful comments would be most appreciated. Thank you.

  • Nicnac

    July 9th, 2018 at 8:32 AM

    Hi Pan,
    I realize that it was last year that you posted and I hope you were able to move through the situation well enough. My mother and brother are hoarders and I’ve been the “responsible” child that got the brunt of the work, criticisms, smart remarks from other family members and not only survived but thrived. There are some very subtle things to watch for that if you don’t see what’s occurring, will get you off track.

  • Pan

    July 9th, 2018 at 1:08 PM

    On May 10, we got divorced but still live together. Second marriage and needed to protect my income. He has done nothing to improve the house he owns in another town since 2002. No one will insure an unoccupied property. On July 1, I told him he needed to move himself and his stuff to the other house. I gave him a Sept. 15, 2018 deadline. I cannot change him, and I cannot live with him anymore. I can only change myself. It has taken me a long, long time to get to the final straw. Now I have to follow through.

  • Sherri

    June 5th, 2019 at 5:49 AM

    Wow. Pls. Read my story. I’m in same boat as you, this place is in my name but he has a condo he isn’t taking use of out of laziness, fear of moving all this crap or whatever but I cannot be so disregarded for so long, I’ve dealt with him, yet I too must consider income. We’re not married, been together 13 years and are mostly just roommates, don’t even feel like a friend to him. I’m going to literally and entirely LOSE IT!!! And it’s not going to be good. Please help me? I was thinking of leaving for a month leaving an ultimatum that I won’t be back until it is all out and at his place. We are both physically disabled n I am an OCD CLEAN FREAK!!!

  • marie

    June 27th, 2017 at 8:55 AM

    My granddaughter is a hoarder. I offered her a place to stay in order to finish college. Since I’m in poor health it’s become very hard to manage this situation. Her room has become unbelievable. I’ve tried to clean it up more than once but I found it hasn’t helped. My best bet is to at lest keep her possessions limited to her room. however, the overflow has extended at times into the other parts of the house.
    My main worry is that when she moves and gets married she will only get worse. I love her but it seems I have no way to help her. I hurts me deeply.

  • Anonymous

    July 9th, 2017 at 5:26 PM

    I completely disagree with the walk on eggshells approach. The hoard is about control. The hoarder wants to avoid responsibility for creating a home. For whatever reason. It needs to be confronted, cleaned and monitored. Don’t let the hoarder fool you. It is more kind to help the hoarder out. I know this.

  • Trisha

    July 10th, 2017 at 10:57 AM

    But, don’t you think professional intervention is needed? It is a mental illness after all. Could you get anyone else to change just by demanding it? I’ve seen some of the people on the TV shows who will give up their husbands/wives/children in order to keep the hoard. Also, this email shows have shown that unless the hoarder makes an internal change, the hoard comes back. I think the hoarders are deeply disturbed people who use the hoard, as you say, as a form of control, as a wall to keep people away. I wish I had a solution for my dear friend. I miss her. I think this disease is progressive but you can’t force people into therapy.

  • Pan

    July 9th, 2017 at 7:40 PM

    Thank you. I’ve accomplished confronted and cleaned – it took 7 weeks to get the entire basement completely empty, 2 days to rip up rugs, sanitize and clean. Now ready for paint. the hardest will be the monitoring on a weekly basis to prevent this horror from returning to this space.

  • AMBrose

    September 4th, 2017 at 5:38 AM

    Looking back, thanks to reading all the above comments and finding nuggets of similarity, I realized that this was the ‘dis-ease’ that my partner of 33 years was afflicted with before the beginning of our relationship in 1985. When you are given someone to truely love, there can be no letting go no matter what you think or feel. To me, it is a sacred duty that has been given to you to learn from , discover one’s own deficiencies, faults, etc.,etc., and to see if you are able, that the one, most difficult feeling, emotional mind/thought to overcome and literally grab by the throat and quell, is IMPATIENCE. Work on that in relation to yourself first and your continued relationship with the one that has been given to you will work itself out on so many levels that at this time, you cannot even imagine.

  • Sherri

    October 21st, 2017 at 12:40 PM

    My mother is an hoarder. I have avoided going to her house because it just makes me angry and frustrated. I know I can’t change her. But here is the problem: She is in an assisted living home. She needs to be moved from the second floor to the first floor for health and safety reasons. I went through the drama last year of moving her into the home. She has been collecting “things” for the past year. 1) She can’t let go of gifts or things she claims are “hand-made” (the people in her assisted living home give her more “things”). 2) The staff will not clean her room, except for a cursory run through because of her accumulation of stuff. 3) I need divine intervention in order to get through this next move. Question: Do you actually tell a person who hoards that they are hoarding? Do you label the behavior? She is on medicaid and section 8 housing, and she cannot afford professional help. I am already paying for many things she cannot afford like her telephone, internet, roku channels, and supplements not covered by medicaid. I cannot afford to spend more money. Where can I go to get help for her?

  • Sam

    November 17th, 2017 at 5:09 PM

    Sherri – I wish I could give you some advice, but I have none to offer. I just want to let you know that you are not alone. My mother has similar problems and I don’t know what to do/how to help either. Prayers for us both!

  • Trishawish

    November 17th, 2017 at 7:49 PM

    Sheri, I think you are doing the best you can. I pray for my friend all the time, but I think our relationship is pretty much over now. We have to remember that this is a serious mental illness. I did label the illness because I thought that secrecy and denial were detrimental to the hoarder in the long run. I felt I could not pretend my friend was simply messy or a “clutterbug” as she liked to refer to herself. But, in the long run, things were more important to her than people. I still pray and wish her the best. I know that is not available to you as you are dealing with a family member. I hope things work out for good for you.

  • Heather

    January 8th, 2018 at 11:29 AM

    What is the best way to confront a hoarder who does not believe he has a problem (my dad)? I understand the psychology is about perfection, etc. and that is exactly what he thinks he is: perfect. But there is food spoiling, smells coming from him and the house, and rotting junk. This disease has ruined their once beautiful, magazine cover-worthy home. My mom is now a prisoner of the house, and can’t touch his stuff or he freaks out. She tries her best, but he has completely ruined everything over the past 10 years or so. It has gotten progressively worse with age. He refuses any kind of help. The only option I can think of is to tell him he can’t see his grandchildren anymore until something is done. They already aren’t allowed there anymore and that doesn’t seem to bother him. He comes here. Please help!! He carries the stench of the house with him! I’m at a loss :(

  • Trishawish

    July 19th, 2018 at 10:24 PM

    I think you approach the hoarder the same way you would approach an alcoholic.

  • suneede

    February 5th, 2018 at 8:55 AM

    Im not even sure how to begin to approach my adult child that is a single parent.

  • Mariah

    April 29th, 2018 at 8:19 PM

    My sister is a hoarder and she has a ton of paper bags in all shapes and sizes. It’s mentioned here that we should not clean up for them and just volunteer to sort things out. Moreover, it’s highly recommended to have hoarding cleanout services in this type of circumstance.

  • Caroleann

    May 5th, 2018 at 12:47 AM

    My elderly mother is a hoarder and the worst part is, my Dad is in his mid-90s, very frail and uses a walker. The house is such a trip hazard for him. He is constantly getting caught up on things with the walker and falling. It’s a nightmare. There is no getting through to her. Every day she talks about how she is going through things but all she does is move things from one pile to another and pretends that she’s making progress if she throws 3 pieces of paper away. She’s obsessed with recycling too. Even if there are things she knows she has no use for, she won’t throw them away or even give them to Goodwill. She has to think about who would be able to best use the outdated piece of junk so she can give it specifically to them. She has tons of magazines but won’t throw them away or give them away because she thinks they won’t be appreciated. She has to be sure whomever she gives them to also won’t throw them away. We have pretty much accepted that there will never be any solution. We will just have to watch them live out their lives like this and then ultimately hire a junk truck to come haul it all away. It’s very, very depressing to watch.

  • Anitra

    February 20th, 2019 at 7:47 PM

    My mother is a hoarder. I’ve tried all sorts of things. Appealed to her mobility (she needs a cane, it’s a trip hazard), her health (it’s very hard to clean around all the papers and junk), her finances (it’s a fire hazard and the landlord may start charging more) and finally tried appealing to her love for me. I told her “when you’re gone, I’m going to have to deal with all of this. I’m going to have to throw most of it away.” She told me that was fine, because she can’t decide what to throw away now. :(

  • jack

    May 21st, 2018 at 7:40 AM

    It’s the elephant in the room; have any of you ever lived out of a suitcase? For me, I’ve no choice and no, you don’t always have a choice; it will take a complete brain short circuit to heve her actually remove “stuff” out of the house and storage unit.

  • Janice

    July 18th, 2018 at 3:35 PM

    Please contact me for Hoardering solutions. Please. Thanks

  • The Team

    July 18th, 2018 at 3:47 PM

    Hi, Janice. Thank you for visiting If you would like to consult with a mental health professional, please feel free to return to our homepage,, and enter your zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area. If you’re looking for a counselor that practices a specific type of therapy, or who deals with specific concerns, you can make an advanced search by clicking here:

    Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. Alternatively, you are welcome to call us for assistance finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Time; our phone number is 888-563-2112 ext. 1.

  • Theia

    September 29th, 2018 at 4:53 PM

    Many articles and reports cover older people hoarding but what about if you have a husband and adult child you live with and they both hoard different things and your own life is miserable, for them as you care about them deeply, but also as your home is full of other peoples things you cannot touch or move? This has happened to me and since I have become slightly disabled, it is more of a problem, but they promise to clean up and never do and get angry and upset if I try. They refuse to accept they have issues and seek any help. I can’t afford to move out, or get a cleaner to help. I had never heard of this condition until recent years when it was shown on documentary programmes and only realised my family had it when it escalated in recent years from just being a bit untidy and having a lot of things into what seems to be real hoarding disorder and all that goes with it. We’ve had some family traumas but nothing much more than most people, I cannot see how this has occurred though it must have some heredity trait?

  • Sherri

    June 5th, 2019 at 6:01 AM

    Pls. Email me? Same situations! Disability, they think there is no problem, you can’t leave, I fear & Love God and I feel so guilty as I am always miserable, crying alone, have no one to even tt and am constantly wondering why I am even on this earth?! I can’t do it n am starting to hate which is so wrong!

  • CB

    October 11th, 2018 at 8:47 AM

    My boyfriend’s step daughter (previous girlfriend’s daughter) is a hoarder. I don’t think her house is unsanitary. It’s my belief that there’s no rotting food, bugs or animal waste around – just very cluttered. The boyfriend and I are building a house together, and because he had to sell his previous home, he is now living with her. She refuses to admit that she has a problem and has said that she has no intentions to clean her house. My boyfriend is currently storing some of her items and refuses to make her take them because there’s no room in her house for them. I believe that’s HER problem and shouldn’t be his! However, he’s refusing to make her take her items from him. The house we are building together cannot yet be occupied because it’s not finished. My boyfriend is now considering renting 2 shipping containers, which will be placed IN FRONT of the new house, temporarily. This bothers me immensely. I understand that he has furniture, car parts, etc. that he needs to store until the house is finished. However, I believe that if he could get the step daughter to take her items, he may only need one shipping container in front of our new house, not two. How do we get his step daughter to understand that she has a real problem? I believe that he should make her aware that her problem is spilling over into OUR relationship, but I don’t think he’s done that yet. How do I get him to stop enabling her? Finally, the step daughter has custody of her minor child, who also has to live with all the clutter. This affects the minor child in a negative way. So does she not see this? Or does she simply not care? Frustrated to the point of wanting to end this relationship due to my boyfriend’s refusal to clearly communicate that she has an issue and to get her to understand that she’s effecting him, me and her daughter. Sad when people seem to value their possessions more than their loved ones. I just don’t get it! Any suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

  • Trishawish

    October 14th, 2018 at 2:15 PM

    I wish you the very best with this dilemma. I would not expect the stepdaughter to change. If your significant other will not set limits with her, I think you can only expect more enabling to occur in the future. Remember that you can only control your own behavior. I do wonder why your SO is so deeply invested in a child that is not his own. Where is the girl’s mother in this situation? I have a beloved stepfather myself, but he was actually married to my mother and we have a 60 year relationship. I see that as being different than a live-in relationship, but that might just be because I’m old. :) I commend him on maintaining his relationship with this young lady, but I wonder if he thinks that doing whatever she asks is the only way to maintain the relationship. My husband continues to enable his youngest daughter financially and I think he just can’t say the word ‘no’. You should be prepared for your SO to continue his behavior if you commit to remaining in the relationship.

  • CB

    October 15th, 2018 at 1:14 PM

    Thank you Trishawish. I appreciate your comments. My SO was with the stepdaughter’s mother for 23 years; and when he starting dating the mom, the daughter was only a few months old. The mom passed away several years ago, and I believe that she left a lot of items to her daughter, most of them having little monetary value. So part of the hoard was inherited. There is also a car in the stepdaughter’s yard that the mom used to own. The stepdaughter does not drive the car. It’s just sitting there rotting away. Clearly she has a strong emotional attachment to it. I would like to know the stepdaughter better, and wished I felt comfortable enough to have a conversation with her. But I guess that’s not my job, it’s my SO’s.

  • Patricia

    June 5th, 2019 at 2:59 PM

    Just as an update to you, my stepdaughter was tragically killed in an auto accident related to her extremely low blood sugar at the time. That was in late March, 2019. We never know what might happen.

  • Suzanne

    November 18th, 2018 at 12:16 PM

    Thanks for all the comments that were so helpful in my hoarding situation. Sister has actually rented apartments and bought houses to “store” her stuff. What a financial drain which she is beginning to feel. After many years of hoarding, she finally acknowledges her behaviour but does so as a badge of honor that she recognizes her problem. By admitting this, she feels exonerated from having to do anything about it. Disabilities have increased my concern for her environment. Interesting that hoarders exhibit similar behavior and ones that are involved with them exhibit similiar behaviour (frustration, concern, anger, and helplessness).

  • Sherri

    June 5th, 2019 at 6:05 AM

    Dang!! I just noticed almost all comments/stories ate really old! I need help!!!

  • The Team

    June 5th, 2019 at 7:51 AM

    Dear Sherri,

    If you would like to consult with a mental health professional, you can start finding therapists in your area by entering your city or ZIP code into the search field on this page:

    Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. You may click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. If you need help finding a therapist, you are welcome to call us. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time, and our phone number is 888-563-2112.

    Kind regards,
    The GoodTherapy Team

  • Sherri

    June 5th, 2019 at 11:31 AM

    Thanks for the advice but I’ve already done so and am currently plating phone tag with her now!!!

  • Anita

    October 8th, 2019 at 1:01 PM

    I live with a hoarder. It has gotten worse over the years. I notice a lot of “understand them” and “meet them where they are” ideals. But those of us living with them have seriously over stressed lives. I have developed stress related heart problems, (A-Fib, tachycardia, and mitral valve problems plus another murmur). My health, and literally my life is at risk for the trash in the house. Before the heart problems, I cleaned and cleaned, unable to have people over, entertain at all, (or now even ask home health care workers to come in) because he would deliberately trash the place so I couldn’t have people in. I have noticed that hoarders tend to be super self-centered and selfish. They won’t look at what they do to others, or how they affect them, and have a decided lack of empathy. If it weren’t for the fact I have an autistic son that I can’t support without my husband, and whose life I didn’t want to change dramatically, I would have left years ago. Now I wish I would have left and gone on welfare. I might have been able to keep my health. I will be leaving this winter. I am getting section 8 housing lined up now. I can’t take begging him to clean the fire hazard up on his side of the bed anymore, begging to clean out the garage so I can have repairs made, begging to clean up the basement for repairs, begging for the yard to be mowed, begging to get rid of the scrap and trash calling in the mice and snakes (yes they are in the house now)….. Living with a hoarder sucks dirt for everyone else. Please address what we can do.

  • Trishawish

    October 10th, 2019 at 5:58 PM

    I think the word is CONTROLLING. Especially in a passive-aggressive way. My friend does not want confrontation! That is the worst thing she could experience! But, she absolutely wants to control everything. That aspect of her personality is what finally made me end the relationship as it used to be. I wonder if your husband is controlling in a passive way? I absolutely understand your frustration and sadness. I think you are now taking your life in your own hands. I think your future will be much more fulfilling. I wish you success and happiness.

  • Nyla

    January 23rd, 2020 at 6:12 AM

    I was examining some of your blog posts on this internet site and I conceive this website is really instructive! Keep posting.

  • Bobbie

    February 4th, 2020 at 2:22 AM

    My wife is a hoarder, I also watch the tv shows. These shows make it look easy. They have these almost perfect endings. What I wouldn’t give to be able to use the kitchen again

  • Lilith

    September 18th, 2020 at 5:13 PM

    I am a hoarder (stage 4 on a scale to 10, so the room is clean, floor is visible, no pests or mould, but there are stacks up to half of the wall, with boxes and loose items, old paper or crafting-materials.)
    My first ‘helper’ that came over, was an absolute nightmare. She came in, sat down and while I turned my back to make some tea, she grabbed my sewing-patchwork and threw it in the bin, saying she has ‘started cleaning already.’
    I basically took everything out of the bin(secretly) that she threw away, until, after a year, I had the courage to send her away. She went with loads of loud shouting and threats and insults. Out of sadness and panic, I had started hoarding more and now the second part of the room was full and part of the floor too.
    The second one was wonderful. She advised me (and didn’t command) and encouraged me to sort through the items myself, throwing away things I could easily find again (empty toothpaste-boxes for crafting) or adjust the item to my liking (taking the glass beads off of a broken and irreparable chandelier instead of keeping the whole chandelier.)
    She also told me that she understands whenever I feel like buying items again and she doesn’t judge when I do. She encourages me to keep my list (that my mother made) with me, during shopping. It has questions like; ‘Is this something you already have? Is this an item that has a flaw that you can repair easily…or is it difficult? Is this something you are trying to ‘rescue’ or is it something you truly desire?’
    Instead of coming home with 20+ items, I will come home with 5, or even 3.
    And knowing I “can still buy new items” makes it a lot easier for me to get rid of stuff. One cat-figurine in….3 mugs out of the door.
    One large bag of dresses at the door…5 new dresses bought. Again, one bag of dresses out the door. Another 2 t-shirts bought and a scarf.
    3 Scarfs mug bought. It all rotates and donating and trading is a great option too. It’s like a game, instead of a chore now. Trading the stuff you no longer want, for a reward. I’m in control of the intake and I’m really getting the hang of it now. Whatever I wanted to keep is in seethrough-boxes, stacked neatly and labeled, so I can see what I have. And occasionally I can clean out a box and see if stuff can go away. Later, I might find a beautiful bowl and buy it for myself.
    It will always be a challenge, but my room is “normally cluttered” now and no longer the kind of room you’d gasp at. And I’m still going strong on the selling/donating of it all. I know I am in control of moving it all out of the house, so I am also the one that deserves most of the credit :) Brilliant.

  • Angel

    November 1st, 2020 at 5:47 PM

    I also live with a hoarder, and reading all these “be kind” comments. Until you have had your freedom and mental health compromised you don’t realize how hard it is to stay kind. The selfish emotional manipulation you receive from the hoarder, being told that you’re unwanted and their slow consumption of your space is a slow trip to insanity. The hoarder’s lack of compassion for their family, and inability to take responsibility of their problem makes it so painful for those around them. The advice is always don’t enable them, what do you do with a parent who says it’s not your business, not your house, not your life, and they’re mobile enough to buy whatever they want no matter how calm and kindly you plead with them to stop.
    I spent most of my childhood isolated because I was judged for the state of my home, I became so ashamed that I could never invite anyone to my home. As I worked in therapy as an adult, I started sharing more of this story, I know it’s not my fault, but I feel so trapped. I feel responsible to make sure my parents are ok, but staying in this environment is slowly throwing me into a deep depression of resentment and anger. I have supports telling me to get out, and what just watch my hoarding parent bury himself and my mother?
    From what I read, there is nothing I can do…I want to leave but responsibility binds me…if there is any advice for a parent that is stubborn, and unwilling to change or take responsibility, please help.

  • Trishawish

    November 2nd, 2020 at 4:32 PM

    It must be agonizing when the hoarder is 1. a parent and 2. someone you live with. I am no longer really friends with the person I wrote about earlier – her choice, but I am totally fine with it, It took some time, but I got over the rejection and saw it as a positive in the end. I”m not angry with her, I understand why she hoards better than she does. I’m very sorry that she is not living a full life, but I have to believe she is as content as she allows herself to be. I feel we have an estranged relationship now. For you, though, the problem is much harder and it sounds like you are taking as good care if yourself as you can. If you can find a way out, though, I think you might be happier once the shock of leaving wears off. I know I feel much better now and that option is available to you. You can’t CAN’T fix them. You want the change more than they do. I just lost my father and it reminds me that life is short (even though he was 94). Don’t postpone your own happiness and freedom. Once you truly have the intention, you WILL find that the universe will shift to provide you with ways and means that you can’t see or imagine now. I wish you luck and will send out some prayers that you set that intention…remember: no one can make you fell bad/sad/guilty/whatever but you.

  • Marion

    November 22nd, 2020 at 6:16 AM

    I would like to chat with others who live with a hoarder. I am getting on now and want to live a normal life . Its making me very depressed and ill. I live in the UK but lived in the USA for years. I am a widow and met this man 4 years ago whom i liked a lot but now he has moved in to my house with all his stuff its driving me crazy . These people are very selfish I think or controlling or simply mentally ill . I need support !

  • Princessa

    February 5th, 2021 at 5:34 PM

    As embarassed as I am to admit it, my husband is a hoarder and it drives me insane!! It’s ruined our relationship, our house and vehicles. I can say it really started when he was diagnosed with a lung condition there is no cure for that will eventually suffocate him to death. He had to quit working, didn’t feel like a man any longer and was home day in and day out. Then Covid happened….. due to him being sick already we both had to take extra precautions. We can’t even see his daughter. That’s when it came to be out of control. When his daughter was coming over on the weekends it was never this bad. Now there’s not even a place for me to sit let alone her to sleep. My cats and I are forced to stay in the bedroom.
    We have only lived here two months and it’s already changed from the original plan of nothing in the house. Anything he wanted stayed in the shop. Didn’t happen that way.
    I don’t know what to do. He is dying I’m tired of being mean cause it doesn’t help. Advise?

  • Princesa

    February 5th, 2021 at 5:36 PM

    That would be me🤦🏻‍♀️

  • Princess

    February 5th, 2021 at 5:37 PM

    I also live with one

  • Mau

    April 11th, 2021 at 5:08 PM

    I am also living with a hoarder. I’m not perfectionist or a ‘clean freak’ but like a reasonably neat and clean home.
    I’m not afraid to be mean and set hard boundaries, but I still cannot use some of the space in MY home — and not for a good reason.
    It’s a pain to clean and laundry literally never ends because there’s so much of it.
    And moving with this crap is pure nightmare. There are literally bags of stuff from the store that are lined up against the wall and have never been touched.
    For those of us who live with the hoarder, OUR health, OUR sanity matters too. It’s OUR home too. Tired of being understanding and having to put up with a messy, super cluttered living situation that we didn’t create.
    Hoarding might be an illness but these people need to learn to think of someone besides themselves. Others deserve compassion too.

  • Rachel

    May 3rd, 2021 at 12:45 PM

    What do you do to help someone who is hoarding garbage? There is not a single area outside of where the door swings open that is not covered with garbage? You literally have to step on and over things to try to get around. They insist they are not a hoarder since they don’t collect “things” and aren’t attached to them as some might be with things like books, for example. They are terrified of germs (don’t want to touch the dirty garbage can) and yet are growing all kinds of germs by not getting rid of the garbage. I’ve taken their place to ground zero 2 or 3 times over the years, but they don’t maintain it for one reason or another and I know that doing that is not helping them. They are highly intelligent and get along well with people, but this has been going on for over 10 years and it’s only getting worse. The roaches are in army mode now. I don’t know what to do and I worry about their health and well-being and they live hours away from me. Any thoughts would be so very much appreciated.

  • Rosemary

    May 4th, 2021 at 4:48 AM

    I am living with a hoarder . He moved in to my house about 3 years ago and its been a constant struggle . We are aged 79 !
    I am a widow and need the company and help with shopping etc as I became disabled a month or so go , probably needing a knee replacement . Also he has Aspergers I eventually found out . I live in the UK and tried everything to combat this nightmare . Even the Fire Service came and advised its a hazard. I have managed with great difficulty to get him to move some of the stuff to storage which I had to arrange! He now agrees it has to be sorted but tries to get out of doing anything until I scream and shout !
    The trouble is he loves everything I love especially animals and I also cant find anyone else ! I have tried believe me ,but older women are not in demand ! SO many widows ! I lie through my teeth, told him the neighbours have complained to the local authority , the fire service keep emailing me etc. We cant even get the gas and electric meters read as the large double garage is stacked full of old newspapers going back 20 years. The shed is the same and the spare room and porch and we have rats of course in the garden only , I hope! I have had a lot of very expensive counselling but nothing effective . I have a lovely friend who tries to help and we managed to snaffle some of it away in small amounts to the trash bins locally . I found a metal recycling place which I hope will take some stuff . He would prefer to do nothing of course . Needless to say he has been divorced twice ! Boy was I naive ! Every day I think he has got to go ! But I cant stand the loneliness ! I forgot to mention the garden/yard is also full of his stuff . I tell him NOBODY can put up with it ! To no avail. BUT there is a sea change and it MAY be going gradually ??? He says he will have to get more storage as if its my fault !
    At last he has admitted most of it has to go , but with the Covid one cant get rid of stuff easily. So watch this space please!

  • John

    September 22nd, 2021 at 2:18 AM

    The takeaway from this is to simply wait for the extremely stubborn loved one to die and then be stuck with the mess. 5 tons to the dump from my late father’s house so far using two retired men (one of which is yours truly) working every day for 1 month and only 1/3 of the way there. Makes Steptoe and Son’s junkyard look threadbare!

  • Jennifer

    February 1st, 2022 at 1:11 PM

    This is such a difficult issue to manage! There are a number of underlying emotions behind hoarding, so it has to be handled delicately. I found some helpful advice in this article:

  • John

    February 2nd, 2022 at 11:23 PM

    Hi Jennifer
    Thank you for your comment. 16 tons so far (reminds me of the song) and no end in sight. The only real way to prevent this is to not become a hoarder oneself.

  • Christine

    March 11th, 2022 at 7:41 AM

    I have a male friend with who I feel could be more than friends with, . but he has hoarding issues and still ‘aquires’ more…( that is his word for taking things that are free to him or very cheap.) He has three bedrooms and not one is space for anyone to sleep in. Even his stairs and hallway have stuff on them… Magazines newspapers pamphlets fill his home as well as tools and old scrap metal to make money from. He’s 63 and already paid for his house,, he works and claims benefits. I can just about put up with going around after a year of getting used to it, to some degree anyway. Id like to help but not sure how without ruining our friendship. He does at least keep a pathway through his rooms and doorways free….but he still continues to get more things that arent useful or even beautiful…… I feel frustrated at times but say nothing. I’ve tried but it gets ignored.

  • Pat

    March 12th, 2022 at 12:20 AM

    If you’re already frustrated, don’t pursue a more intimate relationship. A person who is 63 is not going to change his or her behavior unless the law is involved. Of course, you have to do what you think is right for you, but if you don’t like what you see now, you won’t like seeing it every day. You can’t change him.

  • jack

    March 12th, 2022 at 7:53 AM

    I am in the same situation, but in reverse; it’s never ending. How about 8 rooms, all full to 6 or more feet capacity. I knew I was in trouble since 1989, when she moved and I, in the helping process accidentally uncovered kindergarten papers. That welove each other goes without saying! The biggest move was her moving to her parent’s house. They died and we’ve got most of their ‘stuff’ in closets, most of another room, etc. This lifetime, for me, is one of learning patience, dealing with frustration and acceptance while knowing it’s not going to change regardless of momentary outbursts and hugs after. I’m 85, she is 76. So, it has become a life of mutual adjustment, and love. One all I really have to say is “Love ios all that matters!

  • Trish

    March 12th, 2022 at 11:15 PM

    Is it loving to enable an addiction? I don’t know, but I tend to think not. People can be loved to death. People can be “helped” to death. But if it’s right for you, it’s not for me to judge or condemn. This is a mental/emotional problem for the hoarder. As long as they are enabled, the behavior will persist. If you are happy tolerating an unhealthy living environment God bless you. I was not and it still makes me sad for the person my friend used to be, but I had to terminate the friendship. It’s hard because I still see her from time to time, but I had to let it go.

  • Michelle

    August 13th, 2022 at 8:45 AM

    My SO is a hoarder and I’m beyond frustrated and disgusted! We sleep in separate bedrooms and so far his hoard is confined to his room. However, I went in there the other day only to discover gallon jugs urine hidden behind a wall of trash. He hoards everything…..trash, rotten food, soda cans, newspapers, literally everything he touches gets added to his hoard! I understand why he hoards but I’ve lost all empathy for him. I want to help him but am unsure how or where to start.

  • katie

    February 7th, 2023 at 3:27 PM

    My husband is a hoarder too. He also keeps urine in laundry soap bottles. He saves used paper trash and many other useless things. I’m a clean freak, and I just have to throw stuff away when he’s gone. If he notices, he throws a fit. I know how you feel.

  • Daniela

    October 7th, 2023 at 7:30 PM

    My family and I have a Cleaning, Disinfecting and Hoarding company and we do everything we can to help and transform the social lives of hoarders. Every time we go to their homes we see how much they suffer from this disorder. When we finish our work, it is wonderful to see the smiles on their faces, their families and their friends. New life is emerging. We don’t judge them because they have these disorders or because their homes are messy and dirty, the important thing is that they accept our help. They want to change their lives and are giving life a new chance.

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