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How To Remove Dead Body Odors

Updated: Apr 12

How To Remove Dead Body Odors Graphic

Dead bodies release gases as they decompose. Most often, the volatile organic compounds in these gases have very unpleasant odors that can linger long after the body and any bodily fluids have been removed.

Death odor removal can be done using ozone machines, disinfectants, and enzyme solvents.

Some store-bought cleaning solutions may not be enough to remove unpleasant corpse odors, so you may have to call a professional biohazard decontamination team if the body was left to decompose for a long time.

Read on to discover how to remove the smell of death, and when to call a professional.

Getting Rid Of Dead Body Odors Yourself

It is not recommended that you attempt to remove putrid corpse decomposition odors yourself. A decomposing body is considered a biohazard because of the pathogens and bacteria that linger after a person dies.

However, if you are in a position where the death odor removal is your responsibility, here's how to go about it:

  1. Presumably, the decomposing body has already been removed. If that's not the case, you need to contact the relevant authorities before you try to remove offensive rancid odors.

  2. Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as goggles, gloves, a face mask, and some kind of smock.

  3. Open all the windows and doors to ventilate the space and let fresh air inside. Fans can also be used for ventilation.

  4. Remove whatever fabrics or upholstery can't be restored. This includes carpets, drapes, or furniture. Hazardous pathogens and disease-causing bacteria can be absorbed into any porous surface, and no amount of cleaning can remove them. Place all infected materials within biohazard bags for safe disposal.

  5. Select your cleaning products:

  6. Hospital-grade disinfectants

  7. Bleach diluted in water

  8. Enzymatic cleaners

  9. Start on the outside of the odorous area, working towards the center. Scrub the area as best you can with cloths, brushes, and a mop.

  10. Once you've worked your way to the epicenter of the deadly corpse odors, go over the area again with a white vinegar and water mixture (1:1 ratio).

  11. Pat the area dry. The source of the horrible smell should be gone now; however, it may still linger in the air.

  12. Place a bowl of vinegar in the area for just a few days to absorb the remaining smells.

  13. If the foul odor is really severe, you can use an ozone machine as a final step to eliminate the death smell once and for all.

How Can You Deodorize A Space After Cleaning?

As mentioned above, ozone machines and a bowl of vinegar can help to deodorize a space. But this is not always enough. Even after cleaning an area using the steps above, the faint smell of death can linger.

The complete elimination of this smell can be due to several factors:

  • Absorption of body fluid odors into porous objects like drywall and wood floors.

  • The physical structure of the death scene.

  • Objects contaminated by gases and fluids.

  • The types of gases and odor-causing molecules released.

There are several different kinds of equipment available to help deodorize a space after cleaning. Ozone generators are common, but they're not the only option:

  • Misters and foggers

  • Pump sprayers

  • Trigger sprayers

  • Vapor modification units

  • Hydroxyl generators

Most of these are not readily available for domestic use and are used by professional crime scene cleanup companies.

What Causes The Smell Of A Dead Body?

As a body decomposes, bacteria and other microorganisms break down the body, releasing volatile organic compounds in the form of gas. It's these organic compounds that are responsible for the death odor.

The main compounds that contribute to the smell of death include:

  • Cadaverine: Gives that recognizable cadaver smell, like rotting meat.

  • Putrescine: Smells like rotting fish or flesh.

  • Skatole: Strong feces smell.

  • Indole: Has a more earthy smell, like that of mothballs.

  • Hydrogen sulfide: The smell of rotten eggs.

  • Methanethiol: Strongly smells of rotten cabbage.

  • Dimethyl disulfide/trisulfide: Smells like garlic.

These odors start to emerge a few days after someone dies and are released at different stages of the decomposition process.

Is The Smell Of A Dead Body Harmful?

Decaying corpses themselves are biohazards, but the decomposition odor is not harmful.

The volatile organic compounds released during decomposition that give a dead body its putrid smell will only be harmful in massive quantities, which are unlikely to occur at a death scene.

Even so, it is best to wear protective garments and make sure the space is well-ventilated when you start the cleaning process.

When To Call The Experts

Cleaning the area where someone or something dies can be taxing - not just physically, but also emotionally. Not only are the odors overwhelming, but you're dealing with the emotions behind having lost a loved one or beloved pet.

Contacting a professional post-death cleanup company like Chore-ology means you can step aside and spend time with your family, while our team restores your home or the scene of the death.

We specialize in decomposition odor removal and approach each situation with understanding and compassion. We won't just remove the death odor, we'll also purify the air, ensuring the space is environmentally safe for human habitation.

Will Insurance Cover Dead Body Odor Removal?

It will depend on your policy, but in most cases, your property insurance policy will cover the costs of cleaning and removing the smell of dead bodies.

Chore-ology can help you deal with your insurance company so you can focus on healing during this difficult time.

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