It’s a dirty job, but Matt Paxton has got to do it.
Paxton’s Richmond-based business, Clutter Cleaner, started three years ago as a business specializing in helping senior citizens clean their houses and move into new homes.
Now he’s going to be on a TV show about people who can’t stop collecting junk.
“A&E flew us out to New Mexico,” said Paxton, “and we took 100 cats out of a thousand-square-foot home.”
Only about half of the cats were alive, Paxton said.
“The family had been kicked out, and the house had been condemned, but we were able to get the house clean so they could come back and live,” Paxton said.
During last year’s foreclosure boom, Paxton did a lot of work cleaning houses for banks. You can read about that here.
But lately the concept has taken a slight turn and has earned Clutter Cleaner a spot on a documentary-style TV show.
Paxton’s new niche is cleaning homes of people with hoarding disorders, a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder that turns its sufferers into chronic collectors.
“Some people collect baseball cards or beer bottles, but when it impairs your life, that’s when it crosses the line,” said Paxton. “You have people losing their lives and their homes.”
Paxton and his six-man crew are featured on two episodes of the A&E series “Hoarders,” which airs Monday nights at 10 p.m. The show is produced by Seattle-based Screaming Flea Productions.
Each episode focuses on a different person or family member afflicted with a hoarding disorder.
The first Clutter Cleaner episode is scheduled to air Sept. 7.
Clutter Cleaner is also featured on the series finale, which takes place in as Paxton’s team tackles three acres of junked cars and scrap metal.
“That is a very aggressive show,” said Paxton. “We are really honored we got the finale.”
As part of the show, the individuals receive therapy for their disorder for two years after going on TV, Paxton said. Many hoarders cannot afford the sort of extreme cleaning services required to straighten out their surroundings. For the ones featured on “Hoarders,” A&E foots the bill.
Paxton said the kitty clean up was a $10,000 job, while the metal collector would run about $15,000.
When he isn’t being hired by a reality TV show, Paxton gets calls from family members of hoarders. Many are the kids of senior citizens who need to move into retirement homes.
And although Paxton has dealt with some fulsome environments — including a collection of used adult diapers here in Richmond — most of the jobs are on the tamer side.
“We did a job with a senior lady today who had four feet of mail, and her family hired us to do two hours every Monday,” said Paxton. He said it would be March before they deplete the pile of junk mail that dates to the ’80s.
The company’s work with hoarders has become its bread-and-butter, and Paxton said he no longer cleans up foreclosed homes for banks.
“The margins just dropped and dropped,” said Paxton. “This is so much more profitable.”
Buzz surrounding the show is driving calls to Paxton’s phone, and, once his episodes air, he expects the exposure to be huge.
“We know our product was hard to explain, so that’s why we went after TV. I’ve been trying for a year to get on TV,” said Paxton.
You can watch clips, previews and full episodes of “Hoarders” online.
Al Harris covers small business for BizSense. Please send news tips to [email protected]