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Imagine that you’re at dinner and your phone rings: it’s your boss reporting you for duty to clean up a grisly crime scene. You prepare yourself mentally and professionally and you stand up. It’s just another day on the job.

Being on-call 24/7 doesn’t just apply to medical professionals–it also applies to crime scene cleanup technicians.

Are you interested in pursuing a career in crime scene cleanup? Perhaps you’re fascinated by the subject and would like to learn more about what happens after a violent crime occurs.

You’ve come to the right place. We put together a guide on what cleaning up a crime scene actually looks like and who cleans up crime scenes.

So keep reading to discover what you never knew about crime scene cleanup.

Crime Scene Cleanup: Where It Starts

Holding a certificate in bloodborne pathogen and chemical exposure prepares you for all types of cleanup.

Many people use this certification to proceed with training in crime scene cleanup. However, this type of biohazard cleanup is also used for different situations as well. These include meth labs, animal-hoarding sites, and natural deaths.

People who specialize in crime scene cleanup are called “secondary responders.” These professionals come to crime scenes after the police, paramedics, and the coroner have processed the scene and left.

The most common scenes that secondary responders clean up are suicides, accidents, and deaths that go unnoticed for a period of time. This is usually in the case of people who are in advanced decomposition by the time of discovery.

Crime scene cleanup companies assess the scene and decide what equipment they need for that particular job. This company specializes in all types of biohazardous cleanup, including crime scenes.

What Equipment Is Used for Crime Scenes?

The goal for cleaning a crime scene is to leave absolutely no trace of what happened.

Crime scene technicians have access to a wide range of tools, equipment, and supplies. This is to ensure thorough cleaning and apply safety protocols.

Cleaners must wear one-time-use suits, gloves, chemical-proof boots, and filtered masks. This will protect their bodies from any airborne bacteria or bodily fluids. Using the utmost caution, crime scene cleaners make sure to cover every part of their body before entering a scene.

Next, these professionals pull out the equipment and supplies they need for standard cleanups:

  • 55-gallon heavy-duty trash bags and plastic bins with lids
  • Sponges, spray-bottles, mops, buckets, and brushes of all sizes

For especially gritty scenes, crime scene cleaners might need more heavy-duty and specific equipment like the following:

  • Medical-grade disinfectants
  • Shovels
  • Ozone machines to remove odors
  • Razor blades and putty knives for scraping
  • Solvent to kill bacteria

Depending on the crime, technicians may or may not need to use heavy-duty materials. For especially violent crimes or decomposition, extra equipment and care are needed to wipe the scene away.

Cleaning up a crime scene can take from 1 to 45 hours, depending on the level of biohazards.

What Crime Scene Cleaners Do at the Scene

Wherever a crime or a death has happened, cleaning crime scenes is the last thing to remove all traces of trauma.

For car accidents, motorcycle deaths, and deaths involving the road, crime scene cleaners have to secure the scene by doing everything they can to erase all traces of the crime: visible or invisible.

This usually involves scraping, shoveling, and disposing of matter on the road or around vehicles and buildings. Spraying disinfectant chemicals throughout the scene helps to remove traces of bacteria and disease.

For crimes that involve indoor scenes, cleanup is especially important. Because residents usually continue living in homes that once had a violent crime, crime scene cleaners must make sure that no possible trace is left throughout the building or house.

Airborne pathogens can affect people up to months after death if not thoroughly cleaned.

Crime scene cleaners take every precaution to ensure that bacteria or matter from a scene is gone.

This might include scrubbing, scraping, and wiping every drop of blood or bodily fluid from floors, walls, ceilings, and furniture. Every surface has to be inspected and cleaned, including picture frames, lampshades, and crevices.

For more extreme cases, crime scene cleaners might have to rip the carpet up, remove upholstery, and remove any surface affected by blood or other body fluids.

What Do Cleaners Do With Evidence?

After thoroughly cleaning a crime scene, the final step is to dispose of the waste gathered.

Since human waste is biohazardous, putting it into an ordinary trash dump is illegal. Cleaners have to obtain a special permit to transport waste to special disposal sites for the remains gathered at crime scenes.

Along with a permit, cleaners have to pay to either dump evidence or incinerate it in a specific incinerator.

Because biohazardous materials are exceptionally dangerous to leave behind, crime scene cleaners are trained to look for the smallest spot to clean perfectly. Techs know how to clean a crime scene, and this is why you shouldn’t do it yourself.

What Else Do Crime Scene Techs Do?

Crime scene cleaners aren’t limited to gritty crime scenes.

Along with gruesome cleanings, techs also deal with animal waste, drug waste, and virus outbreaks. All situations require care with cleaning and disposal but can range from homicides to lonely deaths.

In fact, the most common calls that techs respond to involve suicides and people who are discovered alone after death. In situations where cleaners respond to scenes at homes, the family of the deceased is often there as well.

Crime scene cleaners also are a listening ear to grieving families, offering support to those who need it at the moment.

Technicians are trained to handle every situation that comes their way, and with their job, it’s likely that they will see all types of scenes.

Wrapping up a Crime Scene

Being a crime scene cleaner isn’t easy, but it’s rewarding.

With training, knowledge, and strength, cleaners succeed at crime scene cleanup by knowing they’re helping others through a difficult time.

If you found this article interesting, check out more from our Life section.

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