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How To Choose A Crime Scene Cleanup Company

Updated: May 29

How To Choose A Crime Scene Cleanup Company

Choosing a crime cleanup company involves considering its reputation, certifications, licensing, costs, and experience. You'll also want to do a little research into the company's cleanup process, availability, response time, customer reviews, and how compassionately they approach the situation.

Crime scene cleanup services are crucial for ensuring the safety of those involved.

The cleanup process includes the removal of biohazardous materials and the thorough decontamination of the affected area(s). If not handled correctly, these waste products pose serious health concerns which could be fatal.

In the aftermath of a traumatic event, dealing with emotional and logistical challenges can feel overwhelming. 

The emotional weight of grief, trauma, and stress is already taxing, and the logistical challenges, like navigating the legal process and property restoration, can further burden anxious individuals.

But finding the right crime scene cleaners makes this difficult time a lot easier.

By evaluating the factors mentioned in our guide, you're better equipped to choose a company that handles crime scene cleaning professionally and respectfully. This allows you and your loved ones to focus on the healing process.

Understanding Crime Scene Cleaning

Crime scene cleaning goes by a variety of names, including trauma scene cleaning, homicide cleanup, disaster cleanup, biohazard remediation, or after-death cleanup services.

As mentioned, the aftermath of a crime scene can be traumatic, overwhelming, and downright exhausting. Biohazardous waste and potential property damage add another layer of stress to an already difficult situation.

Crime cleanup companies are there to alleviate some of that burden by providing safe and professional decontamination of the affected area(s).

What are biohazardous materials?

Infectious materials and waste include:

  • Blood

  • Body fluids - saliva, semen, feces, vomit

  • Tissue

  • Animal waste, etc.

These harbor harmful pathogens like germs/bacteria, microbes, viruses, and fungi. Coming into contact with these poses significant health threats due to their potential to cause infection, disease (e.g. Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDs, etc.), and even death.

What does crime scene cleaning entail?

  • Biohazard removal and disposal: Trained technicians remove and dispose of blood, bodily fluids (e.g. semen, saliva, feces, etc.), human tissue, and other potentially infectious materials. They use personal protection equipment (PPE) and adhere to strict protocols to prevent the spread of bacteria and disease.

  • Disinfection and decontamination: Professional crime cleanup services use specialized techniques and cleaning products to disinfect and deodorize the affected area. This process eliminates harmful bacteria and viruses to ensure the space is restored to sanitary conditions.

  • Odor control: Crime scenes often have a lingering smell, especially in cases of unattended deaths. Professional cleaners neutralize and remove these odors using specialized industry-standard methods and cleaning products.

  • Property restoration: If spaces have been damaged from intrusion, gunshots, fire/water damage, or vandalism, some crime cleanup companies provide restoration services.

It's important to remember that crime scene cleanup services go beyond just cleaning.

Professional companies understand the trauma, pain, and emotional toll these events have on surviving victims. Opt for companies that prioritize discretion, sensitivity, and compassion throughout the entire process. This sort of professionalism may seem 'small' but it is vitally important for your mental and emotional health.

10 Factors to Consider When Choosing A Crime Scene Cleanup Company

Here's an extensive list of factors to consider when choosing biohazard remediation services:

1. Certifications and licensing

Reliable companies should hold certificates, permits, and licenses. This level of professionalism showcases their skills, qualifications, and expertise in handling infectious materials and wastes safely and responsibly.

While crime scene cleaning is not a regulated industry, rigorous training courses ensure companies understand how to handle hazardous waste and sensitive situations.

Some of these include:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) - sets safety standards for various workplaces, including those for biohazardous cleanups. An OSHA-accredited company adheres to strict protocols to protect its employees and prevent the spread of germs and pathogens.

  • The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) - ensures health and safety standards in various industries, including crime scene cleanups. NIOSH recommends specific measures to protect workers from hazardous situations, including the handling of pesticides, working in confined spaces, and exposure to substances like lead and silica.

  • Trauma and Crime Scene Technician (TCST) certification - focuses on procedures and precautions for trauma and crime scene cleanup based on industry standards like the ANSI/IICRC S540 Standard. It involves inspecting and investigating human blood and other potentially infectious material (OPIM).

  • State and local licensing laws - reliable cleanup companies must adhere to relevant Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and have the following state certifications to remain compliant:

How do you verify a company's qualifications?

You can typically access this information through:

  • State licensing websites

  • Professional websites

  • Online directories

Additionally, any reliable company will have these credentials readily available on their website.

Safety protocols

Ensure the crime scene cleanup company you choose follows safety protocols.

This includes:

  • The proper use of PPE like hazmat suits, safety goggles, gloves, and respiratory protection equipment. 

  • Adhering to industry best practice procedures such as monitoring and labeling infectious materials. This is often done using data sheets, progress reports, and procedure checklists.

  • Follow strict decontamination processes to ensure the safety of workers and clients, as well as the proper cleaning, sanitizing, and storing of cleaning equipment and products.

  • Ensuring that hazardous material is handled and disposed of safely and responsibly as per state and federal regulations and laws. 

  • Crime scene companies must preserve the integrity of the scene, property, and surrounding area(s) until authorities have finished their analysis and reporting.

2. Experience and expertise

Reputable companies use crime scene cleanup technicians, trauma scene specialists, and biohazard remediation experts who possess the specialized knowledge, experience, and skills required to handle sensitive situations.

The value of this expertise cannot be overstated!

As no two crimes are the same, seasoned professionals are familiar with industry best practices, ensuring the cleanup and emotional support given adheres to the highest standard.

Opt for services with a proven track record in situations similar to yours, such as:

  • Homicide: These situations require specific skill sets due to the potential for forensic evidence and increased biohazard risks.

  • Suicide: Similar to homicide cases, death cleanup companies are needed for the proper disposal and removal of toxic waste after a suicide.

  • Unattended death: Decomposing bodies require specialized protocols for safe handling.

3. Reporting and testing

Recordkeeping and testing are important after crimes are committed, because:

  1. It ensures regulatory compliance and transparency to guarantee proper disposal procedures are followed.

  2. It provides verifiable proof that the cleanup was done according to state laws and professional guidelines - and that the environment is safe for reoccupation.

Here's a brief breakdown:

  • Crime scene cleaners are responsible for documenting the cleaning process using before-and-after photos, detailed notes, and a meticulous inventory of any hazardous materials or biohazards encountered.

  • It's crucial to receive a certificate of completion from the cleanup company once the work is finished. This proves the cleanup was performed according to regulations and that the environment is considered biohazard-free. This paper trail also forms part of your insurance claim and is a requirement of your insurance company.

4. Compassion and discretion

Reputable crime scene cleanup companies understand the emotional impact traumatic events have on families, victims, and bystanders.

Look for companies that prioritize your privacy and exude a high level of professionalism and ethical conduct.

For a better understanding:

  • A compassionate cleanup company understands the emotional toll that a traumatic event can have on those involved. They approach their work with empathy and understanding, recognizing the stressful nature of the situation. A compassionate company treats its clients with kindness, dignity, and support throughout the cleanup process.

  • Discretion is essential in how the company conducts its work. They understand the need for privacy and confidentiality, especially when dealing with these sensitive situations. A discreet company ensures the respect of the individuals involved and causes minimal disruption and unnecessary attention.

5. Insurance and coverage

Understanding insurance coverage is crucial, especially during this difficult time.

If your insurance policy covers the cleanup costs, the company can assist you through the claims process and provide documentation and invoices to your insurance provider on your behalf. Choose companies that offer assistance with helping you through the claims process.

Additionally, cleanup services usually have business insurance in place. Examples of this include:

  • Workers' compensation insurance - protecting the company's employees in case of work-related injuries or illnesses. This helps avoid legal disputes on your side.

  • Environmental liability insurance - covers potential environmental damage caused in the cleanup process, including improper disposal of biohazardous materials.

  • Third-party liability - provides cover if bodily or property damage occurs on the crime cleanup scene.

If you are unsure, don’t be afraid to ask the company about their insurance policies. 

Top tip: Ask your insurance broker to verify personal coverage for crime scene cleanup scenarios. They may already have a relationship with a crime scene cleanup company in your area. Find out in advance what is covered, who handles the paperwork, and how the agency manages payments and reimbursements.

6. Services offered

Look for trauma scene cleaning companies that offer services similar to the situation you find yourself in. Whether it’s homicide, suicide, or unattended deaths, certain companies may specialize in one type of cleanup over another. 

This ensures the correct cleanup is done for the relevant trauma scene, giving you peace of mind that it’s taken care of safely, reliably, and efficiently. As mentioned earlier, some of these services include: 

  • Biohazard remediation

  • Odor control

  • Property restoration

  • Additional services such as Infectious disease disinfection - hepatitis, for example, is very contagious, and contaminated materials must be handled carefully to avoid its spread.

7. Cost and payment options

The importance of pricing transparency is crucial to ensure you're not out-of-pocket before insurance coverage kicks in.

Price structures can vary but, generally, you can expect to pay between $400 and $600 per hour for cleanup services. Some cleanup organizations provide financing options, loans, or payment plans.

Important note:

  • Some government agencies may offer financial assistance for cleanup costs, especially when public health is a concern.

  • Depending on the circumstances, victim relief funds might be available to assist survivors of tragedies like crime, violence, or suicide. These funds can often contribute toward cleanup costs.

  • If you don’t have crime scene insurance coverage in place, look for cleanup companies that offer payment plans/financing options.

8. Customer reviews and recommendations

Do some research into the background of various trauma cleanup services.

This includes:

  • Scouting online customer review platforms such as Google Reviews, Trustpilot, and Yelp.

  • Refer to industry associations such as OSHA, NIOSH, EPA, etc.

  • Do a deep dive into testimonials, ratings, recommendations, and feedback from past clients to gauge the public perception of the company.

  • Weigh up both positive and negative feedback for a full-spectrum company analysis.

  • Get professional advice from trusted sources such as law enforcement, insurance companies, and trade groups.

  • Do not be afraid to ask cleanup companies questions to ensure they offer exactly what you are looking for.

9. Availability and response time

Look for emergency response teams that offer 24/7 assistance. This is especially important in the case of time-sensitive situations.

Fast response times, accessibility, and ease of communication make the cleaning process easier for those involved, including law enforcement agencies and families of the deceased.

10. Communication and transparency

Crime scene cleanup companies must offer direct, respectful, upfront information during difficult scenarios. Reliable companies keep clients (e.g. families, victims, property owners, etc.) informed of their progress.

Some businesses might have client portals available, such as text messages or online tracking features that are sent at predetermined time intervals to give progress updates.

Open, honest, and transparent communication is one of the most important things during crime scene cleanups. It offers emotional support to the victims/families involved and keeps everyone informed. 

The Importance Of Choosing A Reputable Crime Scene Company

Crime scene cleanups are no easy feat. They require a meticulous and methodical approach to handle the situation efficiently. 

Opting for a reliable biohazardous remediation company is vital for navigating the complexities of crime scenes and gives you peace of mind knowing the legalities and prevention of infection are taken care of.

Chore-ology is the industry leader in residential biohazard decontamination services in the greater Seattle region. We have the knowledge, training, and equipment to handle any situation, and are committed to ensuring the safety of our clients, our team, and the environment.

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