Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Apparently, it could have been worse

I was reading recently and learned that there are several types of hoarders: animal hoarders, squalid hoarders, and clean hoarders. (Really? 250,000 words in the English language and the best term that researchers could come up with was "clean hoarder?" Come to think of it, that's actually kind of funny.)

Clean hoarders keep things that the rest of us consider junk, in quantities that impede basic daily activities (cooking, sleeping, mobility, etc.). Piles of gifts for other people that are never given away, 27 bottles of unopened shampoo, newspapers and magazines stacked to the ceiling -- you get the idea. Hoarding of this type can be dangerous, as it creates fire hazards, falling hazards, and basic house maintenance issues. Clean hoarders do not, however, tend to keep things on the more nauseating end of the trash spectrum.

Squalid hoarders keep junk, too, but they also keep things that would make most people's stomachs turn. We're talking used paper plates, rotting food, dirty adult diapers, bags of garbage, and sometimes their own bodily excretions. (Seriously?) Their houses often begin to decay as well, because they are unable to have a repair person come in to, say, fix the leaking toilet. It will just keep leaking for years until the floorboards give way. These houses are often unsalvageable after the hoarder moves out. They're so far gone that they must be bulldozed.

Animal hoarders live in squalor, too. You've probably seen them on the news. They're the hollow-eyed people arrested for animal cruelty after the humane society raids their home and finds 82 cats (or dogs or horses or whatever), in varying states of illness and starvation, living there. Often, they will keep dead animals in the freezer or in other areas of their property. (Again I say, seriously?) Ironically, these hoarders often truly believe that they are "rescuing" the animals under their care.

My mother is a clean hoarder. So yes, I'd definitely say that it could have been worse.


  1. Yes mine too. For this I am tremendously grateful. I agree about the humor in "clean" hoarder :D - but I guess, in comparison to what it could be, it is actually pretty clean.

  2. I can totally relate. So I see it could even be worse. Wow.

  3. My father was a squalid hoarder, my mother the enabler/do nothing, and it was definitely quite bad. They also hoarded animals to a limited extent, and I can remember my mother keeping some dead birds in the freezer. Our house fell into such disrepair that it eventually started to collapse (roof falling in, etc) was condemned by town and torn down.

  4. Mine had thousands of bottles of shampoo, toothbrushes, jars of salsa, dishwasher gel...

    And then also a mountain of used cat litter and feces and a house that needs bulldozing due to the disrepair caused from leaking toilets and a total lack of maintenance...

    And also dead cats in the freezer with the obligatory feces all over the house and sky high ammonia levels and destruction caused by dozens of animals running amok.

    Did I hit the jackpot with my hoarder parent?

  5. Yes, Anonymous, you get a free pass to get into heaven when you die, since you've already been there, done that with hell. :(

    My father was I guess a 'clean' hoarder, too, though the house certainly wasn't exactly clean and had some near-squalid areas I'd say. And I suppose it's true it could have been worse. It was bad enough, though.

  6. My mother was a squalid hoarder, and started to become an animal hoarder, but luckily we managed to put a stop to THAT part of it. Right now she has no animals, but the cat food is still caked onto the floor and I know there are cat feces in dried pellets tucked away who knows where...

    Yes, seriously. The smell is insane. Don't open the fridge unless you want to pass out (or at least throw up.)

  7. My mother's sister is also a squalid hoarder, but she made over $100 grand a year for many years. She filled 2 homes, one with 5 HUGE bedrooms, with her junk, PLUS several storage rooms.

    Her expensive house in a nice neighborhood looks so obviously out of place... the lawn is brown and full of weeds. The siding is dirty. I know for a fact that neglect means the roof has been leaking onto the second floor rooms to the point the ceiling on the first floor has been drooping under the weight of boxes of crap and dry rot. The McMansion will get condemned for sure. I wouldn't be surprised if on that day her neighbors throw a huge block party.

  8. To be a clean hoarder, you have to have at least some degree of control over your hoarding. If your hoarding is out of control then no matter how clean you are eventually the accumulation of stuff will make it impossible to access parts of the house to clean them, to deal with infestations of insects, or to repair damage, and your house will slowly but surely turn to squalor.