How To Become a Crime Scene Cleaner

Crime Scene: Do Not Cross
Crime Scene: Do Not Cross | Source

Strong Stomach Required

If you faint at the sight of blood or get weak in the knees when you see vomit or bodily fluids, becoming a crime scene cleaner is not for you. Many people confuse crime scene analysis and investigation with being a crime scene cleaner. However, their courses of action are very different indeed.

Crime scene sterilization involves bio-hazardous waste, body fluids, toxic waste, remains, blood, human waste and unpleasant smells. Remediation of these factors is the job of a crime scene cleaner.

Biohazard Symbol
Biohazard Symbol | Source

Where It All Began

Historically, it was left to family or survivors to remove any remnants of violence, death, homicide or suicide. In the '80s, murder rates began to rise as did the need for sanitation services. Over the years the industry has grown into such a popular field that it has garnered television shows, documentaries and it's own cult following. Crime scene cleaners go by various names depending on where you are in the world. Other names include:

  • biorecovery
  • bio cleaning
  • trauma cleaning
  • trauma and crime scene decontamination
  • blood cleanup
  • CTS Decon

Crime scene sterilization involves the removal of bio-hazardous materials post investigation. They are not allowed to enter the crime scene until the investigation is complete and are not involved in the legal process or court proceedings.

Could you handle the stress of being a crime scene cleaner?

  • Yes, blood and guts - poo poo.
  • No. I can barely look at needles.
  • No, but I'm interested in watching it done.
See results without voting

The Real Cleaners

There are numerous types of crime scenes that a cleaner will encounter. Although CSI makes it look glamorous and Dexter makes it look easy, there is a lot more involved than just cleaning up after a crime. Cleaners are on call 24 hours a day, and are expected to perform a very unique set of tasks which include:

  1. death cleanup
  2. trauma cleanup
  3. unattended death cleanup
  4. suicide cleanup
  5. suicide related death cleanup
  6. meth lab cleanup
  7. meth lab related death cleanup
  8. accident cleanup
  9. biohazard cleanup
  10. blood cleanup
  11. decomposed body cleanup
  12. debris cleanup
  13. filth cleanup
  14. hazardous material cleanup
  15. hoarding cleanup
  16. homicide cleanup
  17. murder cleanup
  18. tear gas cleanup
  19. tragedy cleanup

In addition to the multitude of crime scenes and cleanup scenes, cleaners must be able to decontaminate entire areas of concern. It may also be their function to act in consolatory ways to the survivors and family.

Hazmat Suits
Hazmat Suits | Source

The most critical job of a cleaner is to maintain an area which is both infection and hazard free. Cleaners undergo extensive training to ensure that all regulations are followed in regards to body fluids and blood born pathogens. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) sets forth strict requirements for the disposal of human blood, body fluids, body parts, pieces and organs. OSHA requires cleaners to wear protective gear during all cleanup processes. It is required for cleaners to have a Hepatitis B vaccination and many employers will encourage or require regular blood tests to ensure employees have not been exposed during a cleanup. This is especially important after needle heavy cleanups.

In addition to the numerous types of cleanup scenes, cleaners are expected to remove any and all indication of incident, do it in a timely fashion and return the existing space to its original state as though nothing ever happened. They perform this arduous task with great risk, often long hours and sometimes extreme situations.

Cash and Skull
Cash and Skull | Source


Salary range for a crime scene cleaner can start between $35,000 a year up to $80,000 a year. The high end salary is for persons who are dealing with bio hazard cleanup. If you don't mind working with anthrax on a daily basis, you'll be on your way to the bank. Realistically, there are not opportunities in most cities to work with bio hazardous waste on a daily basis so it's important to get excellent training and to be hired by a reputable company. You don't have to have a college degree to be a crime scene cleaner but you have to have a cast iron stomach and the willingness to do things that are thankless, exhausting and often uncomfortable - literally (hazmat suits are hot and heavy).

Comments 43 comments

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

I really wanted to post a you tube video on this page but I feared it would NEVER be allowed. Sorry friends.

Wayne Adam profile image

Wayne Adam 4 years ago from Parrish,FL

Good article, very informative, interesting topic.

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

Thank you for reading and commenting Wayne. It's definitely a job that requires a special skill set. Glad that you stopped by. -K

spartucusjones profile image

spartucusjones 4 years ago from Parts Unknown

Very educational hub! I learned stuff & learning stuff is cool. It is not a profession for me because I get queasy at the sight of blood. I always have to look away during medical shows & Crime scene shows when they show an operating or investigating scene. I guess I'm a little bit of a wimp!

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

ha ha ha...that's okay Spartucus, you are not alone. It's a pretty gory field. I had to edit MUCH of the content just to write the hub. I tell ya, it's a jungle out there! Great to hear from you, thank you for commenting and reading. -K

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

This is so fascinating! I had no idea that crime scene cleanup was mostly handled by a victim's family before the '80s. YIKES.

This job certainly isn't for the feint of heart. I wonder what sort of effect it would have on one's view of the world!!

leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

We once had to call Hazmat for a spill at my former company - it was quite the response (for a small spill)! They had tents set up and we had to decontaminate a few employees, and our "office" looked like a scene from Outbreak! I don't think I could deal with crime scene clean-ups. Those people are very strong spirited - this is a great article on that career option, krsharp!

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

leah, ha ha ha....I bet. OSHA is adamant about the way spills are handled. It's best to let professionals handle chemicals. You can't take risks with hazardous materials because of the bio hazard components. Those are the types of situations that people slow down, watch and stare...myself included. Thank you for reading and commenting. -K

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

Simone, I can't imagine having to take care of the cleanup myself. It would be too much, I think I would move. Cleaners talk about being desensitized. I'm not sure I would want to have that extreme loss of emotion and empathy toward the human body. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. -K

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Quite an interesting career and you have made it sound very approachable. I don't think this is one that I could handle but I am very thankful for those who do the job. Voted up!

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

teaches, I agree. I think that this trade is glamorized in the media when in reality it is grueling and very stressful. Thank you for reading and commenting. Always good to hear from you. -K

Emma Harvey profile image

Emma Harvey 4 years ago from Berkshire, UK

Wow this is such an interesting topic. I had little knowledge on this but it really opens your eyes to what needs to be done.

Great job - voting up :)

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

Thank you for reading and commenting Emma, I appreciate you taking the time. -K

meloncauli profile image

meloncauli 4 years ago from UK

Great interesting hub. I have always been intrigued to know all about this subject for some strange reason! I honestly don't think I have the stomach for it but what an interesting career.

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

Meloncauli, I agree with you! While criminal investigation fascinates me, cleanup is definitely not going to be my next big career move! Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate you taking the time. -K

Cameron cre8art 4 years ago from San Jose, California

Nice article! :)

I have recently joined a crime scene cleaning company and enjoyed your well researched article. Best regards from DeconNow!

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

Cameron, Great to have you and thank you for the compliment. Please be sure to let me know if there are any major topics that I missed. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. -K

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

Wow, sounds like a pretty good-paying job! Too bad I'm so faint-hearted when it comes to blood, vomit and bodily fluid. I was on a road trip with my mom and grandma once. My grandma got carsick and threw up in the car. And the sight and smell of that just made me end up vomiting, too!

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

Oh no! Om, you poor thing! After coaching for so long I've seen broken bones, blood, hyper-extended knees and elbows and anymore, I don't flinch at all, but I have no inclination towards cleaning up after Charles Manson. Thank you for reading and commenting. It's great to hear from you -K

Shanna11 profile image

Shanna11 4 years ago from Utah

Wow, you know, I'd never really thought about what happens in the aftermath of a crime. It never occurred to me that someone had to clean it all up, which is kind of odd-- it seems very basic. Very interesting Hub! Thanks for sharing!

lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona

Not a television glamorous profession is it? They handle cleaning up the muck after the investigators do their thing. Not a bad gig if you can handle it mentally and physically. Thanks for the insight into this interesting facet of CSI work!

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

Shanna11, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It's sort of a macabre job to have - the aftermath. I have to commend the people who do this for a living. Glad you stopped by. -K

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

lindacee, not glamorous at all! I think you are right though, it would be a lot to take on mentally. Thank you for reading and commenting. -K

DREAM ON profile image

DREAM ON 3 years ago

In the early 80's a friend asked if I wanted to make $60.00 an hour for two or three hours work.I thought the most we would get paid was $40.00 for cleaning up what looked like just an old apartment trashed.Stains on the rugs and walls.We both went in there and cleaned the place spotless.We thought nothing about what really happened all we knew we could clean the floors etc.It smelled aweful more like garbage and spoiled food we thought.I couldn't believe the money we made and about 6 months later found out someone had committed suicide in the apartment and we cleaned up what was left.This is before all the C.S.I. and all the t.v. programs.We were pretty shook up for a few days then we thought too late now.I found your hub interesting and a job someone has to do but it doesn't have to be me.

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 3 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

DREAM ON, Now looking back do you wonder about the bio-hazard issues. There are so many precautions now. It's probably a good thing you didn't know! Thanks for taking the time to read and respond. -K

Manny 2 years ago

I feel really interested in doing this job now after looking it up everywhere on what they do. I might not have that great of a stomach to throw up and poop but I think I can handle the blood and stuff a lot more because they don't smell as bad, plus I would find it interesting to clean up anthrax and meth labs.

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 2 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

Manny, Thank you for reading and commenting. This job is fascinating and terrifying at the same time. I agree that it would be difficult to clean up the bio-hazardous waste but the crime scenes would be very interesting! Thanks again! -K

merissa 2 years ago

Krsharp05 are you a clean up person? If so how did you get into this job field because I've been looking on how to get into this but I don't know how

Samantha710 2 years ago

Please can anyone tell me How to become a trauma scene cleaner? I had thoughts on being a morgue attendant but that seem sooo boring compared to this! I live in Brooklyn,NY and would love more info on this please. Anyone! -best wishes.

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 2 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

merissa, I am not a crime scene cleaner but if you are interested I would research schools and classes or tech programs in your area. Additionally, find out what the need is for that type of work where you are. Best of luck, -K

Samantha710, I think that there are similar qualities between crime scene and trauma scene clean up since there is a bio-hazardous nature. Good luck in your search. I hope you can find some courses or schooling. I'm sure there is a demand in NY Thanks for reading. -K

kayla 2 years ago

I really enjoyed your hub. My friend and I are interested in forensic clean up or trauma clean up. Do you know of any schools or training in Seattle area. Pierce or King County Washington?

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 19 months ago from 18th and Vine Author

kayla, thanks for reading and commenting. I don't know of any schools close to you but they are out there. I would just search in the internet for the classes or call the local forensic lab and ask them what the requirements are to be a tech. Best of luck, -K

Tpalmer87 12 months ago

Wow that was very fascinating! Im actually really good with all the nasty stuff I think I would be able to do the job. How do you get there though? Any special courses in college you have to take etc? Im very very interested! I started studying criminal justice in college hoping to be a police officer but my friends say "you're such a freak, you should become a crim scene cleanup" I didn't even know such job excited I mainly thought police officers are the ones that did the job. Lol great post though! Thank you!

Marcy 3 months ago

I am moving to NYC soon and would like to be a crime scene cleaner..but unfortunately I do not have my high school diploma...would it still be possible to get a job with out one..

Teresa 2 months ago

I'm very interested in getting trained ashe a cleaner. Nothing really bothers me, in the extent of cleaning up someone has to do it and I do have compassion which goes with this job but I really believe I could do this and I already have respect for the ones that already do this. Please consider me to get this training and start working.

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 2 months ago from 18th and Vine Author

Marcy, Hi and thanks for reading and commenting. I would check with the NYC government jobs - perhaps online. That's my best advice. You can also look into the schooling and find out whether or not you need your high school diploma. It's probably different in each state. Best of luck and thanks again. -K

krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 2 months ago from 18th and Vine Author

Teresa, Thanks for reading and writing. You should check the government jobs listing in your state. I would also consider the schooling which sometimes helps with job placement. Thanks again -K

Donna 2 months ago

I'm gonna keep it real, there's Absolutely No Way I could Ever do this job! I just became curious while watching an episode of The First 48, I can't imagine being a mom or dad or sibling that has to clean up after a family member commits suicide! Just the thought of it is Horrendous, I salute the people that work this job, they are very brave!

lorban 2 months ago

I have worked in the medical field for a number of years now. Working in a variety of different fields such as nursing home care and ER and have to deal with odd smells. I have been out of a hospital setting for a long time and now work in a doctors office and now am looking for a change in scenery again. What is the best aspect of this job that you can tell me as it looks to be an interesting career change for me now that I'm in my 40's

Helen salisbury 2 months ago

Hi my name is helen am 32 and have allways wanted to do this type of job. Am a mum of 2 age 8 & 10. And have a very strong stomach, live on the wirral in the uk. I send respect and love to you all hopfully one day i can live my dream and join a uk based team.

Helen xxxx

Don1 2 months ago

Crime scene, suicide, and trauma remediation (clean - up) are all part of my many remediation responsibilities. Bio hazardous materials found on scene is unique in its aura. A wall is just a wall until that same wall has blood splater brain matter blasted into it. I've watched several individuals throw up inside of a full face respirator with a 100% sealed Hazmat suit sealed tight with it. Tightly sealed can feel clostriphobic knowing that when you are ready to take a break you have a 10 minute safety procedure to unsuit properly. Being surrounded outside your suit by the aura of the scene where tragedy took place.. And then filling your sealed respirator with your own bio hazard when even a drop can't escape from your face...eyes close naturally leaving you in the dark.. Clamping your mouth shut and unable to breath puke into your nose.... Your health, safety, sanity, and life is in your co-workers hands .. Even when I lead them outside and do an emergency decontamination, those 2 minutes of absolute helplessness can't ever be forgotten and most refuse any and all trauma projects ever lol. Those jobs are all about the detailed preparation for all of the hazardous issue that can arise in a second. I've prepared a collection of techniques that if followed correctly can make a Horrific scene safe, simple, and quickly completed properly per state standards. If interested I'll pass on a few of my personal trade secrets.

Don1 2 months ago

Suicide scenes are all uniquely diffetent. The ones successful will almost always display 1 of 4 paths leading to the end. Depression and Loss of All Hope are usually easiest. It's been thought about for a long time and attempt to control their mess being considerate knowing someone will have to clean up. If the court system could tell the difference between a dead beat father and a father pleading to have their children UN- STOLEN by a manipulative mother to just be a part of their life.. These type would be greatly reduced..... Seeking attention type find they messed up and went too fast for real.. Huddle to compress the wound scared alone 'till time is up... Seeking attention to not be alone but are all alone at the scariest time if their life... Teach the children early that all kids(wierd, shy, awkward, handicapped, and even mentally disabled all need a friend.. You can see the loneliness within the scene. These should never happen and can easily be reduced.

Don1 2 months ago

Those two types have a beneficial factor by talking about they truely can be reduced by any person that cares enough to help others that speak with no words but will display with actions hoping tool notice before it's too late.......... The other types are top graphic and benefit Noone by mentioning.

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