Sunday, September 28, 2014

Dusted and Disgusted - 3 Facts About Dust

Dust. Almost every home I go into has a lot of it. I have seen dust caked on every surface imaginable. We have been known to vacuum about 10 lbs of dust out of one home. A lot of Collectors that I personally work with have some sort of breathing problem and have to use some sort of breathing machine. I feel like a lot of it has to do with the dust in the home. 

A window I recently opened - after over 10 years.
Clutter attracts dust. POOF like a bag of flour exploding, our dust rag hits the banister. Without a mask I feel it seep into my mouth, tongue, teeth and yes lungs. It's "chalk" like. 

It is very important to open up windows before we dust, and we encourage everyone on the team to wear a N95 dust mask or a respirator. That includes our Client who is always on the team.
Below are three facts about dust that you might not know:

Dust consists of particles in the atmosphere that come from various sources such as soil, dust lifted by weather (an aeolian process), volcanic eruptions, and pollution. Dust in homes, offices, and other human environments contains small amounts of plant pollen, human and animal hairs, textile fibers, paper fibers, minerals from outdoor soil, human skin cells, burnt meteorite particles, and many other materials which may be found in the local environment.(

Collector Care Crew w/ Masks
Dust pneumonia is a medical condition that develops due to the excessive exposure to dust. This form of respiratory disorder affected a great number of people during 1930s in the US when the Dust bowl took place. The Dust bowl refers to a period of dust storms that affected American and Canadian prairies during a severe drought in1930s. The Dust Bowl caused ecological damage, agricultural depression and consequently economic and social disaster. Enormous amount of dust in the air caused dust pneumonia in large portion of the population and many died.(

Dust mites grow best at 75-80% relative humidity, and they cannot survive when the humidity is below 50%.
Dust mite populations peak during the hot, humid months of July and August. Depending on its age, your mattress may house between one million and ten million dust mites. Dust mites flourish in warm, humid environments.

Now that you know a little bit more about dust, I invite you to purchase some masks. Not in bulk my wonderful Hoarding Disorder Clients. Go online (we know you hate going out) and order yourself a few to have around when you are cleaning or sorting and kicking up dust. Make sure it has a particulate filter. Below are two examples of ones we like:

Rachel Seavey, Blogger and Owner of Collector Care

Rachel Seavey speaks regularly about dust and clutter during her presentations for the Better Breathers Club Ca. American Lung Association. She prides herself on providing full service organizing needs to her clients including dusting and detailed vacuuming using a HEPA filter high grade vacuum. 


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

3 Tips to Help With
Disorganization While Depressed

You have had a bad week, month, year, decade. We get it. We have been there. I won't go there on this blog, but let me tell you Collectors that most of our team members have been depressed at one point in their lives. It's easy to help when you can empathize.

Times stops, and all along you are acquiring and burying yourselves mentally and physically into the trenches. You have now emerged and have no idea where to begin. You are overwhelmed, embarrassed, shameful, resentful, angry, sad, and fearful. Just know that you are not alone.

Thank you to
"Even Helen Keller knows life stinks." - Marshall Mathers
Many of our Clients feel like you. Depression is absolutely a huge clutter factor. I can go into my office and pull all the statistics from the many books I collect on the subject. I can explain away until I am blue in the face. You will either get it or you wont. Instead of telling you all of the facts, I would like to provide you with some tips to help you on your journey with tackling clutter. I am not a doctor, I am not qualified to diagnose, or prescribe drugs (thank goodness!) Please seek professional help for your depression. These tips do not replace therapy, CBT, SSRI's etc. They are specifically geared to help you clear clutter while you are in a funk.

  1. Open up your windows and doors and get some sunlight in.  I know you are embarrassed, what will THOSE neighbors think? Who cares. Do it bright and early with sunrise if you are hesitant. I can't tell you how many times I walk into your homes and it's like a dark cave. You have towers of clutter, multiple methods of covering your windows and your doors might barely open. Just let a crack of sunshine in. Soak up that vitamin D. Like a cat, relish in it. It's really good for you and your home to have fresh air and sunlight. (Google Seasonal Affective Disorder.) UV rays kill germs (Google Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation).
  2. Affirm. It's hard to be good to yourself at this moment. Look at yourself in one of your multiple dusty, cobweb encrusted mirrors and tell yourself you deserve a good life. Look yourself in the eye. Look into your own soul and say out loud "I deserve a great life". Every time you take out the trash, shred a letter, or clean the cat box - pat yourself on the back. Celebrate and affirm every step you take to creating that great life you deserve. rocks
  3. Ask for help. This is not easy. If you don't have supportive family or friends, I would suggest hiring a Professional Organizer. More specifically, hire an ICD trained Professional Organizer by going to the Institute for Challenging Disorganization website. You want someone who is insured, and specializes in Chronic Disorganization and/or Hoarding Disorder. Call and ask a lot of questions and take your time finding the right fit.

Know in your heart that you can make it. You are a survivor, and you can do it. You will come out of this heart wrenching state and you will come out strong.

The next time you feel like acquiring something to make yourself feel better, try doing the steps above instead. I know they are all hard to do, but they are manageable. Start with step one. It might take you a while to get to step two. Step three is the hardest, but once you meet that special helper, you will regret you had not reached out before.

Warm wishes and the best of luck to you Dear Collectors.
I know you can do it!

Rachel Seavey, Professional Organizer and Owner of Collector Care. 925-548-7750 SF Bay Area & Worldwide


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Diogenes (Squalor) Syndrome and Hoarding Tips and Information

Hey there Collectors! It's been about a month since I wrote my last blog, sorry about that! Even us organizers have to take time for ourselves. This month has been a tough one for my little Collector Care ... we have had 3 cases of hoarding with a thick frosting layer of squalor. Self care has been really important for us all, and sometimes that means not writing for a few weeks. But I am back, and chock full of ideas. Starting with this one, covering Diogenes Syndrome.

If you have a sensitive stomach, go to my previous blog it's all about Fall Fashion! If you are still here, you will learn about Diogenes Syndrome and 5 tips to help your family member who is suffering.

Diogenes syndrome definition: A rare condition where a person (usually an elderly person) fails to look after there personal cleanliness and hygiene. (

The Broadway musical "Grey Gardens" -- headed for Tony nominations and a Hollywood movie -- highlights the fall of socialite Edie Bouvier Beale and her mother, Edith, who lived in a squalid 28-room mansion among scores of flea-infested cats and raccoons, and towers of dirty cans.

The syndrome was named for Diogenes, a Greek philosopher of the fourth century B.C., who advanced the principles of self-sufficiency and contentment unrelated to material possessions -- a misnomer -- given the nature of the disorder, which causes people to hoard animals and belongings. 

Hoarding occurs in about 1 to 2 percent of the population, according to Randy Frost, a psychology professor at Smith College who wrote "Buried Treasures," a self-help book for hoarders. About 10 percent of hoarders display the rarer Diogenes syndrome. 

Those who live with the syndrome manifest personality traits like reclusiveness, suspiciousness, obstinacy and other isolating tendencies. There are often precipitating events -- such as physical illness, deafness, blindness and bereavement -- that make the syndrome worse.
Research shows a relationship between the syndrome and anxiety and depression, and anecdotal studies suggest the disorder may be triggered by a significant emotional or relationship loss, said Frost. (Susan Donaldson James, ABC NEWS)

So beyond running from the sight and smell, what can you do to help your family member that is suffering? Here are five super honest tips from professionals who care. 

  1. Hire a cleanup company that is licensed to handle biohazards. Have them clean and  disinfect the home from top to bottom. From the cobwebs draping the ceilings,  to the clumped feces on the floor it - it all has to be eliminated. Have them remove all soiled furniture, bedding, clothing, area rugs, etc. Anything contaminated needs to be bagged and tagged. Cover in plastic and dispose of properly. Start new.
  2. Buy disposable adult undergarments. These can be found at any grocery or pharmacy. Order them online. Wrap in a plastic grocery bag and toss.
  3. Plastic. Buy a plastic mattress cover, and plastic sheets. Toss when soiled. Put plastic tarps down securely under the bed, and sofa. This reduces to damage to the floor and structure, and makes it easier to clean or dispose of. Cut around the the edges of bed and dispose when soiled.  Make sure they are secure and covered with another rug so that your loved one does not slip. 
  4. Buy a shower chair. Have your loved one sit down while showering if they cannot stand. Your loved one needs to bathe, and sometimes it's too hard physically. Make this as easy as possible.
  5. Put a large garbage can in every room. It's hard for your loved one to dispose of their garbage so make it easy on them. At this point aesthetics are irrelevant. 
If you or your loved one can afford medical and psychiatric care,  assisted living, or around the clock care, those would be my first suggestions.  Above are all self help tips and tips for family members and loved ones for those suffering with Diogenes Syndrome. 

Collector Care Professional Organizers are equipped to handle any job, big or small. We put a lot of pride and effort into our work, and most importantly we CARE.

Do you need help cleaning up a squalid situation? Not sure where to go or who to call? Look no further!
Collector Care Professional Organizers
+Collector Care
Check out our awesome reviews!