Average Clutter vs. Hoarding – Know What Category Your Home Falls In?

Explanation of the C-H Scale

With all the hoarding shows and clutter-filled homes that we see on TV, it can become a very scary prospect to think that your home is or may be on the same track as some of the homes you are seeing. We often hear clients say that they aren’t as bad as those hoarders on TV or that they’re afraid they will end up like one of those hoarders on TV.
In this post, I hope to create some clarity about what it actually means to be a hoarder and what is simply average levels of clutter. I hope that this will allow those who truly need the help be able to ask for the support they need. Similarly, for folks experiencing more common levels of clutter, perhaps this post will give you perspective and relieve some stress and fear. So let’s begin… 

Level One: 

This is a fairly well-organized home. Everything is accessible and can be used fully and functionally. There may be some optimization needed in the storage spaces: basement, closets, garage, attic, etc. All animals in the home are clean and taken care of properly. Finally, there are no safety issues in this home such as too many medications left out or major fire hazards. 

Level Two: 

The clutter is beginning to be evident in both private and public spaces in this home. It’s possible that at least one major exit or stairways are blocked by clutter. These are the homes that might have several days of dishes stacked up or mounds of dirty laundry piled up. A professional organizer can definitely help streamline the systems and address the existing clutter challenges in a Level Two home.  

Level Three: 

This is the tipping point between a cluttered household and a potential hoarding environment. In a Level Three home, clutter is significantly hindering the functions of key living areas. Most flat surfaces are covered with clutter. Some of the clutter may have traveled outside of the home and be visible in the yard or driveway. This home may have issues with too many pets, or even a possible infestation of bugs or mice. Clutter has built up around exits and may be creating safety concerns as well as fire hazards. There is also very little maintenance of household functions resulting in heavily soiled food prep areas, dirty dishes, dirty clothes piling up, and medication hazards. 

Level Four: 

At this point, the aid of not only a professional organizer but an additional network of support might be appropriate including but not limited to family, mental health providers, handymen, and pest and animal control. At this point the clutter has taken over the function of many rooms in the home. There are probably many rooms with only small paths through them and some rooms may be impassable because they are filled with stuff. Bathrooms and the kitchen are not being used functionally, and sanitation in this home is a significant issue. 

Level Five: 

A collaborative team of support will be necessary to recover a level five home. No room in this home is useable for its intended purpose, and there may even be some major structural damage to the home. Generally, a Level Five home has extreme indoor as well as outdoor clutter and is unsafe to live in. Often utility services have been turned off, and sanitation, health, and safety is the primary issue. 
If you want to find out in more detail about each level, I suggest visiting the ICD (Institute for Challenging Chronic Disorganization) website.
If you think there may be some significant clutter and/or safety issue’s in your home, please don’t hesitate to contact us. As professional organizers, we can point you in the right direction by working with you or referring you to a Professional Organizer in your area. You can also contact the National Association of Professional Organizers.  
Image Courtesy of Remax

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