What Is Crime Scene Clean Up

What Is Crime Scene Cleanup?

A Comprehensive Guide to Decontamination, PPE, and Forensic Cleaning

Tragedies such as crime, unexpected deaths, and other traumatic experiences are unfortunate parts of life. In the immediate aftermath of a crime, investigators contain the crime scene for a thorough analysis. Once all evidence has been collected, the authorities pack up and begin the next stage of their investigation. But while investigators can move on, friends and loved ones of the victim are often left wondering what’s next.

Any crime scene leaves a traumatic physical and mental impact. Due to biohazards, many crime scenes are messy, emotionally draining, and dangerous. Cleaning up a crime scene is not for the faint of heart. In most cases, non-professionals lack the extensive knowledge and experience to handle the job safely. In addition, professional crime scene cleanup requires compassion and empathy to help survivors through one of the worst experiences of their lives. 

When you’re faced with a traumatic event like a homicide, suicide, or unattended death, there’s no substitute for professional crime scene cleaning services. On the technical side, crime scene cleanup calls for expertise in deep cleaning, biohazard removal, and decontamination. On the human side, crime scene remediation demands the utmost respect and humanity to minimize mental trauma. 

From removing biohazards to instilling peace of mind, professional crime scene cleanup can help restore a scene to its original state, providing a safe environment in which to begin healing.  

What Does a Crime Scene Cleanup Entail?

Crime scene cleaning services differ from traditional cleaning services in intent and approach. Our goal is not simply to create a clean environment, but to eliminate serious contaminants and help our clients begin to process their grief. Blood and other biohazards are dangerous to our health and serve as reminders of a traumatic event. A professional crime scene cleaning team removes these substances completely, restoring a sense of calm and normalcy to the site.

Restoring a crime scene to its original condition requires specific knowledge, tools, and methods. The process can take anywhere from several hours to a couple of days, depending on the severity and location of the crime. A bathroom, for example, can be cleaned and decontaminated fairly quickly. But a crime scene in a living room with furniture, carpet, and open space requires a more detailed approach that can take up to two days.
Steri-Clean’s biohazard cleaning process is OSHA- and EPA-compliant and based on decades of experience in hazardous material management and human relations. We’ve designed our procedure to have a minimal impact: Our professional crime scene teams arrive on time, follow a proven process, and restore trauma areas to their original state with a uniquely human touch. Here’s how Steri-Clean ensures a safe and complete crime scene cleanup to help survivors try to move forward:

Crime Scene Assessment

Professional crime scene technicians begin every visit with an in-depth site assessment following OSHA regulations for crime scene cleanup. This evaluation allows us to create the most effective strategy for cleaning, removing biohazards, and decontaminating the scene safely. The assessment completed, we contain the area to prevent the spread of biohazards or cross-contamination.  

Scene Control

The cleanup team secures the crime scene per OSHA cross-contamination protocols by closing off the area from other parts of the structure. Containing the site with plastic sheeting or other barriers creates a “safe zone” around the crime scene, minimizing the spread of biohazards. Only when a crime scene is controlled and contained can technicians begin removing biohazards, cleaning, disinfecting, and deodorizing. 

Biohazard Removal

All bodily fluids are biohazards—blood, tissue, and other biological matter contain pathogens that can cause illness and health issues. Remediating biohazards at a crime scene can range from neutralizing blood and other biological remnants to removing contaminated items like furniture, decor, and even carpeting. Technicians may use enzyme solutions to re-liquefy and disinfect blood and other substances. Biohazardous materials are then secured in approved hazmat bags and containers, which are removed from the scene for proper disposal.

Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Deodorizing

Once biohazards and contaminated items have been removed, a cleanup team cleans, decontaminates, and deodorizes the site using industry-recommended cleaners and EPA-approved disinfectants. Remnants of the trauma are cleaned with hydrogen peroxide, and other EPA-registered disinfectants to ensure a safe and thoroughly clean area. The area is then treated with strong deodorizing solutions or special equipment like air scrubbers. Due to the nature of biohazards, contaminated cleaning supplies are disposed of per industry guidelines.   


Steri-Clean finishes every crime scene cleaning with adenosine triphosphate (ATP) testing to guarantee a high level of decontamination and safety. ATP is an energy molecule found in every living thing, from plants to people. Steri-Clean technicians know that the best way to assure a biohazard scene has been properly disinfected is to prove there has been a dramatic reduction in the amount of measurable ATP.

The presence of ATP at a crime scene after cleanup does not mean there are dangerous levels of biohazards. However, an ATP test with minimal positive results for microorganisms is the industry standard for ensuring the absence of disease-causing pathogens. Steri-Clean designates a trauma scene to be clean, disinfected, and safe only when ATP testing shows acceptable results. 

Per industry guidelines, professional technicians follow a proven action plan to assess and remediate a crime scene to its original state. Crime scene cleanup team members wear personal protective equipment (PPE) for their safety and to prevent the spread of pathogens. Some of the safety equipment our technicians wear at a cleanup scene includes liquid-impermeable hazmat suits, shoe covers, safety glasses, and full-face respirators.

Types of Crime Scenes that Require Professional Cleanup

Crime scenes and other trauma situations are highly dangerous without proper knowledge, tools, and PPE, but the health dangers of biohazards during a cleanup are only part of the story. Survivors of a traumatic event shouldn’t have to clean up after the death of a loved one. Revisiting the site of such a trauma exacts a profound mental toll, disrupts the grieving process, and prevents healing. In fact, a recent study found that a loved one that cleans a suicide scene is 75% more likely to commit suicide themselves!

At Steri-Clean, we appreciate the urgency of remediating a crime scene for everyone’s emotional and physical well-being. When customers choose Steri-Clean, they choose a professional and humane cleanup service that understands the pain they’re experiencing. Each member of Steri-Clean’s team undergoes rigorous training to professionally manage and remediate these and other trauma scenes:

  • Biohazard removal
  • Blood cleanup
  • Crime scene cleanup
  • Decomposition cleanup
  • Fingerprint dust removal
  • Infection control
  • Odor control
  • Suicide cleanup
  • Tear gas remediation

In the aftermath of a homicide, suicide, or other traumatic events, cleaning up the scene is the last thing you want to deal with. Steri-Clean is the partner you can count on in these awful situations. Though we can’t undo the past, we can help restore a sense of calm to help you process the future. Our state-of-the-art biohazard remediation equipment, proven strategy for safe and effective cleanup, and respectful and empathetic professionals are here to help. 

Why Is Professional Crime Scene Cleaning Necessary?

Most crime scene and biohazard cleanup services in the U.S. are well-regulated by OSHA, the EPA, and other organizations. Professional trauma scene cleanup technicians follow their policies and guidelines as well as federal and state regulations for the removal and disposal of specific biohazards. When a crime scene isn’t managed by professionals, pathogens and other contaminants can linger and cause health issues. 

The potential hazards of crime scenes are widely known. Human blood can carry deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, and other highly dangerous pathogens. When blood and other bodily fluids contaminate an area, every contact with those biohazards should be considered infectious and a threat to health. Thorough and methodical decontamination by a professional biohazard cleaning team ensures safety and peace of mind.

Health and Safety

A crime scene must be professionally cleaned to ensure the area is safe and free of pathogens. Cleaning biohazardous materials without the proper knowledge and tools carries significant health risks to the cleaner and anyone who might visit the site afterward. It’s important to note that pathogens do not pose an immediate danger only, but also one that might not reveal its presence until long after the scene has been cleaned. Bacteria, viruses, and other biohazards can spread quickly and silently without professional intervention. Professional remediation ensures the continuing safety of both cleaners and survivors.

Damage and Stains

Biohazards like blood and other biological matter can cause permanent damage to items and property if not removed promptly. Staining and contamination are often found in carpets, walls, furniture, and other areas. The threat of lingering health dangers and the ever-present reminder of trauma at a crime scene necessitate remediation by professionals as soon as possible. A professional crime scene cleanup team minimizes damage by removing untreatable items from the scene and decontaminating the remainder with proven cleaning methods. 

Unpleasant Odors

Blood, bodily fluids, and other biological matter can be absorbed by fabric, flooring, structural elements, and other items at a crime scene. These pathogens can still create an unpleasant odor even with professional cleaning and disinfection. The smell of these biohazards can linger long after the trauma, providing a constant reminder of the event that results in a stressful environment. Household cleaners and air fresheners are rarely effective on these strong odors, but a cleanup technician knows how to eliminate those odors for good. Specialized equipment and processes can not only eliminate malodors, but remove the associated airborne bacteria that creates the odor. 

Steri-Clean specializes in professional forensic cleaning, with comprehensive services that create a safe, clean, and pleasant environment. Our experienced biohazard removal technicians follow proven methods to restore the scene and your peace of mind. Count on Steri-Clean to help you in your time of need with thorough, discreet, and empathetic crime scene cleanup. 

The Importance of Proper Disposal and Decontamination 

The CDC and other health organizations have established guidelines for safely managing, remediating, and disposing of biological materials. Biohazards include substances found at crime scenes, medical waste, infectious pathogens, and other matter harmful to humans. Because biohazards can originate from so many sources, crime scene cleaning teams must understand how to remediate nearly any biohazard found in the CDC’s classification levels. According to the CDC, the four categories of biohazards range from mild to deadly:

Level 1 — Level 1 biohazards like E. coli pose minimal health dangers.

Level 2 — Level 2 biohazards like HIV are known to cause moderate health problems. 

Level 3 — Level 3 biohazards include high-risk airborne pathogens like tuberculosis that can cause serious health issues. 

Level 4 — Level 4 biohazards include pathogens like Ebola that lack an available treatment and can cause advanced health problems and death. 

A comprehensive understanding of different biohazards and the skill to remediate a crime scene safely are imperative for crime scene cleaners. If not properly treated, pathogens and other biohazards can linger well after the traumatic event and pose a danger to anyone who comes in contact with the contaminated area. Proper disposal remains the only way to fully eliminate the risks of infection, disease, and other health issues caused by pathogens.

Crime Scene Cleaning by Professionals

Bloodborne pathogens and other biohazards are nearly always present during crime scene cleaning and can easily contaminate items and infect people at the scene. Neither these health risks nor the emotional trauma of a crime scene should be underestimated. Even with the mental fortitude required to meticulously remove contaminated items and then clean and disinfect a violent scene without professional equipment and experience, handling biohazards is risky business. 

If you’ve experienced a crime or other traumatic event that creates a hazardous environment, you’re not alone. In the aftermath of a tragedy, Steri-Clean is by your side. Call on our comprehensive and compassionate crime scene cleanup services anytime, day or night. Our team of expert cleaners is discreet, understanding, and above all, intent on restoring your safety and peace of mind.

When a tragedy or other traumatic event disrupts your life, trust Steri-Clean for the support you deserve and the expertise you need. Since 1995, Steri-Clean has gained a reputation as one of the most respected and sought-after crime scene remediation services in the U.S. Numerous city governments, homeowners, and businesses rely on Steri-Clean as much for our professional expertise as our caring and empathetic approach.
Crime scene cleanup takes a special kind of resilience and compassion that’s not for everyone. Cleaning any biohazardous scene, especially a crime scene, can be fraught with dangers and is typically a delicate situation that requires empathy and expertise. Those unique traits inspire every Steri-Clean technician to help restore some semblance of normalcy to a horrible situation. No matter the situation, we are driven by our passion for helping people when they need it most.

Crime Scene Cleanup FAQs

Who has to pay for crime scene cleaning?

In most situations involving a crime scene requiring cleanup at a home or business, the resident or owner must find and pay for a cleaning service. Many homeowner and business owner insurance policies include biohazard coverage for remediation services involving crime scenes, unattended deaths, and other situations that pose a health risk. 

What is biohazard cleanup?

Biohazard cleanup is the cleaning, disinfection, and deodorization of an area involving a traumatic event such as a crime, suicide, or other tragedy. Biohazard cleanup companies like Steri-Clean also remediate drug labs, chemical spills, dead animals, and other contamination sites. 

Why is human waste considered a biohazard?

Any bodily fluids can contain blood, and as such fluids are considered OPIM – Other Potentially Infectious Materials. Feces, urine, and other bodily fluids can also contain bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that pose a danger to humans. While most bacteria from human waste and other bodily fluids aren’t harmful, some bacteria can cause life-threatening illnesses. Typhoid fever, Hepatitis A, Rotavirus, and parasitic infections are some of the more severe consequences of contact with human waste; these require professional remediation for safe removal.

Why is biohazard cleanup more expensive than other cleaning services?

The dangers involved in biohazard cleanup require specialized equipment, cleaners, and knowledge that only a professional service can provide. Because every crime scene and biohazard cleanup is different, our technicians prescribe the most efficient and comprehensive solution based on their assessment of each scene’s needs. In addition, the requirements for handling, removing, and disposing of biohazardous material include more costs than non-specialized cleaning. The extra requirements needed to perform dangerous biohazard remediation services, greatly increases the liability and insurance requirements for our company much more than a normal cleaning company 

What is the difference between biohazard and medical waste?

Many organizations consider healthcare-related waste from humans and animals to be medical waste, but there are no regulations for the disposal of this waste category. However, biohazardous waste (including sharps like syringes and lancets from healthcare facilities) is strictly regulated and must be managed according to those regulations.