Confessions Of A Crime Scene Cleaner

By Jennifer Welsh

Reddit user Lotsofshi has a dirty job. He recently did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on the site about his work as a "Biohazard Remediation Technician aka CTS Decon Specialist (Crime and Trauma Scene Decontamination)."In his job, he specializes in cleaning up and decontaminating crime scenes from homicides, suicides, decomposing bodies (aka "unattended deaths"), industrial accidents, hoarders, tear gas, and other trauma, he wrote.

He applied to the job on a whim after growing to hate his desk job. He says there aren't really any certifications to do the job, other than being able to follow OSHA requirements.
Here are some of the most interesting responses from his AMA:

The worst thing you've ever seen? (Question from Chtulhu_Cult)

Lotsofshi's answer: "The "grossest" per se would have to be an unattended death (natural cause) in a small trailer and the victim wasn't found for over 2 months. I swear, it was a nightmare in that place. Dark, no power, and about 15,000+ flies and maggots everywhere. Flesh dripping from the walls and ceiling. Also, he was a hoarder."

(Second question from 199Eight)

Lotsofshi's answer: "I had to cleanup after a gruesome triple murder last year. A woman who ran a daycare was murdered in her home along with her parents, all execution style. It wasn't that the scene itself was bad, but the fact that it was clear what happened, especially in a home run daycare, when children were present. Blood on the children's toys, the fact that the woman was well respected in her community, and her parents were disabled... just depressing all around."

Why would you do this job? (Question from noargumenthere)

Lotsofshi's answer: "I'd have to say the challenge and a fascination with the extraordinary. Also, helping grieving families in their darkest hour is very rewarding as well."

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Do you clean at home? (Question from medianbailey)

Lotsofshi's answer: "My girlfriend likes to clean, but if she doesn't feel like it she will try to use my profession as leverage to get me to clean... I used to when I let her take advantage of me like that. Not anymore! Doesn't work. Now I tell her to go kill someone and I'll gladly clean it up, with a family and friends discount!"

Do you get used to the smell?

Lotsofshi's answer: "Unless you're a necrophiliac, nobody ever truly gets accustomed to the smell of a decaying corpse, as it's essentially an evolutionary no-no. So after dealing with several of those in a row, in the hot summer sun... it gets annoying."

What's the pay like? (Question from ngryan)

Lotsfshi's answer: "Typical starting pay is around $25/hour. That's given actual job time. Driving to each scene in the company vehicle is a different pay rate. Certainly room to increase that exponentially. I make more than this, but then again it depends on how often jobs come through that determines yearly pay."

What was your first clean-up job? (Question from Jbones159)

Lotsofshi's answer: "Shotgun suicide. It was certainly a nice introduction to the industry!

"Boss: 'And you see here? There's so much velocity from that shell at point blank that skull fragments will embed themselves in the wall. Grab the pliers and drywall knife.'"

Are there any secrets to dampening the smell of rotting corpses? (Question from tiddlyf**ksh*t)

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Lotsofshi's answer: "Pine-Sol, baby!

"Depends. Contaminated porous material, you can pretty much forget about it and your best bet is to throw it away or let it air [out] and forever be musky.

"Non-porous contaminated material is easier. Just a 3 step cleaning process and if it's really bad and cannot be removed (such as house structure) we use heavy duty epoxy. Many layers most times.

"Death smell permeates everything. It's astounding."

Have you ever laughed at a crime scene? (Question from atlas1324)

Lotsofshi's answer: "Oh absolutely! I do it all the time. Not when the customer is around, of course. But it's all within reason (mostly). It's a coping mechanism of sorts. Have to add humor to the job when you're cleaning up brains from a ceiling all day long."

What does death smell like? (Question from Grabold27)

Lotsofshi's answer: "It's one of those things where it's a smell in and of itself. If you've ever smelled roadkill up close, it's that.. but worse. It' just plain putrid and has a tendency to trigger the gag reflex. It's the strongest, most pungent odor I've ever come across."

Do you do "freelance work" (which we are assuming means before the cops get involved)? (Question from NinjaDiscoJesus)

Lotsofshi's answer: "Hmmm... not sure exactly what you're considering "freelance work". But to answer that, no. Everything I've done was through the company I work for.

"Although my buddy and I have joked that I need to post a vague "I'll clean up anything professionally, no questions asked" ad on Craigslist and see what happens! Haha."
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Personally, I do not think I would want THIS INDIVIDUAL to help me with a situation like this. I would DEFINITELY use a PROFESSIONAL SERVICE.

I mean for him to state, "there aren't really any certifications to do the job, other than being able to follow OSHA requirements" - is deceptive and in many ways taking this article at face value is DANGEROUS.

To work in this industry State and Federal OSHA and EPA Requirements are VERY CLEAR and DO REQUIRE CERTIFICATIONS as a part of this industry involves DEALING WITH POTENTIALLY INFECTIOUS SUBSTANCES (Waste, Diseases, Pathogens, Viruses - and much more)

Someone perhaps should have vetted this article a little more closely! Wow - I am surprised!

July 26 2013 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Glinda the great

why was there flesh hanging from walls and ceilings you ask ??? In hot weather...or any weather I would suppose, the corpse fills with gas as it decays.....until the body explodes.

July 25 2013 at 12:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No certs needed? Um, I guess the government is about to find this guy and put a serious smackdown on him. There are so many wrong things in this article there is just nothing to say except...thanks for putting the real cleaners in an artificial light.

July 24 2013 at 11:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I seen a TV show years ago about this, some guy shot an intruder who broke into his house in the middle of the night, he shot him in the face with a shotgun. The cops did their things, took pictures of the scene then removed the body, the homeowner had to clean it all up. He was talking about how much blood and brain matter was all over the walls, floor and ceiling and how he had to clean it all up, the police are not going to do it. They do have services now that will come in and clean it all up for you but not everyone can afford to hire them, it is not cheap because it is considered a biohazard and they have to wear hazmat uniforms. Another show had a gut who died in his kitchen, they did not find him for a few weeks, he had bloated and exploded and it seeped down into the ladies apt. who lived below him, she did hire a service to clean it up, she said the smell was horrible, I bet it was. I worked for a mortuary picking up dead bodies from home, nursing homes and hospitals, even airports when they died out of town and had to be flown home. I would pick them up, take them to the mortuary help embalm them and deliver them to the funeral homes. One day in Memphis a state trooper pulled me over for driving in the car pool lane, in a Dodge minivan he could not see the body I had in the back, I told him there are in deed two people in the vehicle, the laws does not specify they had to be alive, just two or more people, he let me go. I guess he did not want to go through all the paper work, I showed him my papers, he looked at the body and let me go.

July 24 2013 at 9:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

these guys should be making twice as much.......

July 24 2013 at 5:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Actually, I have to say, NOT a fun thing to think about or do. It's one of those, "Someone has to do it" kind of professions but I did find it interesting and the humor helps to put it into perspective. At the same time as I cheuckled reading some of his answers, I also sense a high level of professionalism and respect from this guy, so I enjoyed the article. NOT for me though! Not for any amount of money!

July 24 2013 at 4:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Maybe they could use him to clean up Congress!!

July 24 2013 at 3:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to enorvesh61's comment

I suspect this task would be beyond the limits to how much of a putrid smell a normal human could handle.

July 24 2013 at 4:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

How did there get to be 'flesh hanging from the walls and ceiling"?

July 24 2013 at 3:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kittenblu's comment

i was wondering that too, especially coming from a 'natural death'

July 24 2013 at 4:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mastercommentor's comment

probably the gases in the body exploded...

July 24 2013 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

Interesting,, I never thought of who cleans up the mess. Thanks for the insight.

July 24 2013 at 2:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As the saying goes, It's a shitty job but someone has to do it.

July 24 2013 at 1:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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