Perhaps you’ve seen crime scene cleaners do their dirty work on TV shows like Law and Order or CSI. Police officers arrive at the scene and once all evidence has been gathered, crime scene cleaners pull out their latex gloves to clean up puddles of blood and bodily fluids. It’s a pretty nauseating task that only a select few can handle which makes it one of the most unconventional jobs out there.
What happens on television might seem a bit dramatic, but crime scene cleaning is an actual thing and there are people out there who are willing to devote themselves to cleaning up messy deaths. Mopping up pools of blood is not only a horrific endeavor, but it also requires a lot of skills and training to successfully clean and sanitizes the affected areas. Here we’ll be talking about how crime scene cleaners operate and what goes into actually cleaning violent deaths and accidents.
What is crime scene cleaning?
Crime scene cleanups involve handling biohazards and dangerous material that are a result of unwanted accidents, murder cases, and incidents where death occurs. The goal is to remove any biologically contaminated substances that could cause harm to the human body. Sometimes crime scene cleaners are also tasked to clean out anthrax exposure sites or meth labs which makes their job a bit more complicated.
When someone dies, their blood and other bodily fluids contaminate the surrounding areas. These fluids are called biohazards and they carry pathogens that could potentially put anyone at risk of serious diseases or infections when exposed to these fluids. Any blood or tissue is removed from the site and crime scene cleaners follow strict cleaning guidelines to ensure that the affected areas are cleaned and sanitized.
Proper knowledge and training are essential to handle biohazards safely. Crime scene cleaners must possess a keen eye on spotting contaminated areas because even one unclean spot can spread unwanted diseases. They use disinfectants with varying strengths to eradicate all bacteria and pathogens within the scene of death. Once all of the biohazards have been cleaned up, the cleaning specialists will request a permit to properly dispose of the waste to prevent contamination
How the clean-up is performed
Wiping off a blood spill or mopping down bodily fluids on a crime scene just won’t cut it. In fact, doing so will only spread the contamination and will make the cleaning process that much harder. Crime scene cleaners operate differently when cleaning biohazards since they’re dealing with harmful substances and foul odors. Before they proceed to the cleanup site, crime scene cleaners are armed with conventional cleaning tools as well as specialized equipment to effectively clean the contaminated areas. They will assess the extent of the damage and pull out the necessary equipment for the task. Here is a list of the common cleaning tools crime scene cleaners use to clean up accidents and deaths:
- Personal protective equipment (i.e. latex gloves, respirators, and hazmat suits)
- Waste containers for storing biohazards
- General cleaning tools like brushes, spray bottles, and buckets
- Disinfectants with a high kill count
There are situations where the extent of the damage is massive and crime scene cleaners are forced to break out heavy-duty equipment to get the job done. These items are:
- Ozone machines (to combat fumes released by decomposing bodies)
- Steam injection machines (to soften dried brain matter)
- Powerful enzyme solvents t(o liquefy dried blood spills and eradicate viruses)
- Chemical treatment tanks (to store large amounts of biohazards via a vacuum system)
Sometimes crime scene cleaners will use sledgehammers and axes to break down wooden floors and walls to get to the biohazards. When a body decomposes, maggots start appearing and they can crawl into tight spaces. Breaking down the contaminated areas allows crime scene cleaners to remove all of the maggots and prevent the spreading of infections.
Cleanups go beyond cosmetic. An area might appear clean, but if it isn’t sanitized properly, then viruses and pathogens may still be present within the site. Crime scene cleaners treat every drop of blood seriously since bloodborne pathogens like hepatitis and HIV are life-threatening. Preparation is important since crime scene cleaners are routinely presented with different scenarios that require different methods of cleaning.
How the industry is growing
Ever since its inception in the early ’90s. the crime scene cleaning industry is continually growing. Many biohazard restoration facilities are popping up each year and more and more people are requesting their services. The hourly rates are mind-boggling and it starts at $250 per hour. Prices can escalate pretty quickly depending on the severity of the situation and the number of biohazards that need to be cleaned can also affect pricing.
The more trauma is done, the more workforce is required and additional fees may be charged if special tools are required to clean the site. A rough estimate of the total cost for crime cleanups ranges from $1,000 to an absurd $10,000. When structural damages are taken into account, the prices increase significantly.
When it comes to advertising their services, crime scene cleaners use a more subtle approach to inform everyone about their business. They usually provide business cards to police stations and funerals so that they can recommend their services. It’s rewarding to be a part of such a bizarre industry, but the job certainly requires employees to be able to detach themselves from work. It takes a toll on the employees emotionally and psychologically. But if they can prove that they are capable of working on such distressing work environments, the rewards go beyond the salary. It’s about helping people go through tough times by easing the pain of losing a loved one.
A lot goes into crime scene cleaning than most people realize and the crime scene cleaners deserve more recognition for their efforts. It’s an industry that operates away from the spotlight and that’s what makes it unique compared to other cleaning niches. It’s about being able to offer people a helping hand in times of need and that’s what crime scene cleaners take complete pride in their work.