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Hoarders: The Real Reason It Is A 4-Day Clean-Up Process

The state of most homes on A&E's "Hoarders" is overwhelming, to say the least, given the often decades-long accumulation of possessions, trash, and filth. Oftentimes, the individuals featured on the show — like Season 6's Shanna and her disturbing collection of human waste-filled jugs — aren't aware they have a problem and are hesitant to part ways with their hoard. Though the clean-up process can be slow-moving at first, it actually only takes four days, for a pretty understandable reason. 

In response to a social media comment that inquired about the four-day limit, clean-up specialist Cory Chalmers explained that those involved in "Hoarders" — including himself, the doctors, and the family members of the hoarders — have full-time jobs, loved ones, and lives to get back to. When taking into consideration travel time, interviews, and filming the state of the home, in addition to the clean-up, each episode requires eight days.

"Just making 8 episodes [per season], the crew is gone 2 months," said Chalmers. He added, "It wouldn't change the story much if we added days, and since we offer after care to continue the process, our job is just to get the change in their lives started, not completely empty out the house, or fully change the behavior (this part can take years)."

The hoarder spends time with the organizer and therapist before the clean-up

Also in response to the social media comment, Cory Chalmers elaborated on the typical schedule that he and everyone else involved in a "Hoarders" episode follow. He stressed that, in helping the person snap out of their hoarding tendencies, the clean-up is just a portion of the process. 

On the first day, the organizer, therapist, and film crew travel to the home. Then, over the next few days, interviews are conducted and footage is captured as these professionals attempt to get to the root of why so much stuff has been acquired. In order to truly grasp the severity of the person's living situation, the organizer and therapist explore the entire home and bring in loved ones who have often separated themselves from the individual over the years. Chalmers said, "Another day is spent getting all of the before shots of the home, as well as the walk-through with the Dr. and the hoarder, and often myself and the friends or family who has not seen it in a while." 

It's not until all of this happens that, for the next four days, cleaning services such as 1-800-GOT-JUNK? are brought in to clear the residence. The company described on its website, "This timing allows the homeowners to work with the professional organizer and the clinical psychologist before we arrive, which gives homeowners the opportunity to prepare themselves for the actual junk removal process."