We recently had someone who follows us on Facebook comment on the suits.  Our cleanup technicians were pictured wearing hazmat gear in front of a dump truck with cardboard boxes from a hoarding cleanup site.  He questioned the need for such protection. Could those pieces of wood and cardboard actually pose any health threat?

Unfortunately, yes.  And that brings up an issue for anyone who is considering assisting a compulsive hoarder with cleanup of the home.  It’s more than an eyesore, more than clutter, more than piles of trash.  Most likely almost every permeable surface is contaminated with some sort of contagious microorganism.

If you’ve wanted any of those TV programs you’re probably aware that they usually find mice or rats as well as rodent feces.  Rotten food and maggots are common. So is mold. We’ve even seen dead cats found in crawl or attic spaces.  And pet hoarder homes pose even more danger because of all the bodily fluids from the animals. Live animals present are often sick, meaning there is even more potential for health issues, since some animal illnesses can be transferred to humans.  Because of the clutter, access to a bathroom is often restricted, so cleanup crews may encounter raw sewage in open containers in the home.  Another health threat.  Urine-soaked carpeting and wood, dried feces, and more pose severe health threats.

Many microorganisms are present in animal droppings and urine. Biohazards such as mold spores can become airborne, so even breathing in the air in one of these homes can be a health risk.

And then there is the safety issue.  Exits are often blocked, and items are stacked perilously high.  In many cases there is so much debris in the yard surrounding the home that it poses a challenge to get to the door. Often it’s difficult to safely gain entry to the dwelling, due to conditions both inside and outside the house. And those piles of trash may also be a fire hazard, which would threaten the safety of any nearby homes.

It isn’t the purpose of this post to dig into the cause of hoarding or even address it, but we feel the need to get the word out. Those hoarder homes harbor more than messes and clutter – most likely they are sites contaminated with microorganisms the can cause disease. And that’s why our cleanup crews get specialized training in the safe handling and disposal of contents in hoarder homes. And that’s why they wear hazmat suits and other protective gear.

MedTech Cleaners is a biohazard and trauma cleanup company serving many areas in the Pacific Northwest.  One of our services is cleanup of hoarder homes. 




Cleanup of homes where someone with a hoarding obsession lives can be a daunting task on its own, but it is even more challenging when animals are involved.  Animal or pet hoarding is a specialized form of hoarding.  The Mayo Clinic categorizes it as a mental health disorder when it involves accumulating an inappropriate number of animals. And the ASPCA estimates that at any point in time over 250,000 animals may be victims of hoarders. Most often it involves cats or dogs, although other common animals kept by hoarders are reptiles, rodents, and birds. Some even will hoard farm animals in a non-agricultural setting.

Just how many animals is inappropriate to keep in a home?  There are many factors here, including the space available, as well as the physical and financial resources of the individual to properly care for the animals. You wouldn’t say the owner of a 500-cow dairy farm was a animal hoarder, but the elderly woman across the road with 52 cats in a two-bedroom house certainly would be.

Of course, the primary concern is the mental health care the animal hoarder needs, which should be a top priority when the removal of the animals and cleanup of the property is being considered. There should be a plan for that care before efforts begin to put the home in order.  Sudden removal of animals can be very traumatic to the individual, so a mental health professional should be involved.  And it is crucial that the person understands that the welfare of the animals is involved, as well as their own.

The next step is to attend to the welfare of the animals, which usually will involve the efforts of a local animal welfare agency or an animal rescue. Animals must be caught, safely contained and transported, and then evaluated medically. Sadly, often these animals do not survive because of the neglect. And often dead animals are found as the property is examined in detail.

Then begins the clean-out and decontamination of the house, which should only be undertaken by a trained biohazard remediation company, since there are a number of health and public safety issues posed.

In addition to the usual removal of trash and deep cleaning that accompanies a typical hoarder home cleanup, when animals are present there are a number of health threats. In all likelihood, the animals themselves are not healthy, because they are not being properly cared for.  It’s not unusual for them to be sickly, malnourished, and ridden with fleas, mites, and other parasites. The animals may be infected with contagious diseases that could be passed to other animals, so that must be taken into account as well. Microbes from those diseases could remain behind on the property even after the animals have been removed.

Chances are their urine has soaked the flooring and other structural elements.  For example, it’s common in a home that is overrun with cats to find them in attic spaces or behind walls, so insulation, ceiling tiles, and drywall are probably contaminated.  Feces is a breeding ground for a number of health-threatening bacteria. And hoarders often strew food around on the floor, which means there may be rodents or maggots, or at the very least, bacteria feeding on the decomposing food scraps. Mice and other rodents themselves pose health threats that must be dealt with as well.

Personal protective gear needs to be worn by those handling the cleaning. That includes such things as goggles, respirators, hazmat suits, and disposable footwear covers and gloves. In spaces where the urine odor is exceptionally strong, respirators may be required.  Animal hoarding cleanup involves several steps:

  • Removal and proper disposal of all biological substances, including bodily fluids such as blood, vomit, urine, and feces. It would also include disposal of any deceased animals. Feed scraps are also considered biological materials. Carpeting, textiles, and even furniture often have to be disposed of as well, when cleaning is impractical.
  • Sanitizing the property using medical-grade chemicals and appropriate processes.
  • Deodorization. Animal urine produces pronounced ammonia fumes that can remain for an extended period of time if the urine has soaked permeable materials such as flooring, walls, etc.
  • Other cleanup. Animal hoarders typically neglect the physical maintenance of their homes, and most likely the property will be cluttered with debris, trash, broken fixtures and furniture, etc. All that must be removed and properly disposed of.
  • Restoration of the property. The final goal is restoration of the home to a livable, sanitary condition.  At times this is not possible; we have encountered mobile homes where animal hoarders resided, and the homes needed to be demolished and removed because restoration was not financially or physically feasible.  In situations where it is practical, structural repairs need to be made, flooring needs to be replaced, walls and ceilings need to be painted, etc. There may be elements such as wiring that were damaged by the animals that also needs repair.

Above all else, whenever an animal hoarder is involved, any cleanup and remediation efforts need to be undertaken by compassionate, trained biohazard professionals.  In the Pacific Northwest, we’re the ones to call.  We offer cleanup and biohazard remediation for animal and other hoarder homes as part of our services.  Our main office is in Spokane, but we serve the greater Washington State and surrounding areas.






Are you facing cleanup from a hoarder? Most of us have areas of our homes that despite our best efforts to keep things neat and tidy just aren’t.  There is a reason that the ‘junk drawer’ is a long-standing joke. But there are those whose difficulty keeping a clean home are far greater, and those people are referred to as hoarders.  These situations are sad, because the individuals involved are suffering from debilitating mental illnesses such as anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

One of the services our company provides is cleanup of a place where a hoarder has lived (and maybe still lives). Perhaps you own rental property that has been occupied by one of these individuals, or maybe someone in your family is affected by this and the cleanup is more than you can (or should) handle.

Cleanup in a hoarding situation is best left to professional biohazard cleaning firms like ours, for a variety of reasons.

  • If the hoarder is a relative or friend, the emotional stress of dealing with the cleanup can take its toll on you
  • The work involved can be physically demanding
  • There are most likely biohazards involved that you don’t know how to properly deal with and that could have health and safety consequences.

What is a typical hoarder cleanup like?  First, there is no ‘typical,’ although most situations have common issues.  The basic issue is an accumulation of items, usually worthless, although at times there may be valuable gems in those piles of what most would refer to as trash.

We’ve come into houses where the resident kept every magazine and newspaper they ever received.  Others might be cluttered with worthless decorative items.  But some are far worse. One apartment we saw recently contained thousands of pizza boxes and piles of empty beer cans that obscured the floors and covered the furniture.  Of course, maggots and cockroaches were everywhere. And many hoarders also have an unusual number of cats or dogs, which present their own biohazard problems.

Some houses may be contaminated with biohazards such as parasites or mold (or worse), and others may actually have structural damage.

The first step in cleanup of any hoarding situation is to assess what’s involved, to take stock of what needs to be dealt with.  The next is to secure the property to provide for the safety of the individuals involved in cleanup. Those piles of old magazines on the floor in the hallway may actually conceal rotted floor boards. Or perhaps there are toxic chemicals present.  We take precautions with our hoarder cleanup crews to make sure they are safe on the job, and that involves the use of particle masks, respirators, and at times hazmat suits.

The next step is to formulate a plan. Restoration of the property will usually involve:

  • Removal and disposal of trash and damaged items (carpet tear-out is often involved)
  • Salvaging of items that may have value or can be sold
  • Actual cleaning of the property
  • Damage repair

If you are facing the daunting task of cleaning up after a hoarder, please don’t try to take on this job alone.  We’re here to help – and it’s one of our specialties.  We offer efficient, discreet and professional hoarding cleanup. Give us a call today to talk about your needs. We’re here to help, 24/7, every day of the year.  Talk to a real live person and not a recording – (877) 691-6706.






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