What’s a Biohazard Cleanup Service? Process, Cost + FAQs

Updated

When we think of the responsibilities we might have in the aftermath of a loved one’s passing, we tend to think of basic executor duties and funeral planning tasks.

However, some unique circumstances could leave you with other responsibilities you hadn’t considered. For example, if a loved one died on your property, you may need to hire professionals to clean up any mess or contaminated areas.

Jump ahead to these sections:

The professionals who handle this task specialize in biohazard cleanup. While you’ll ideally never need their services, you should learn about what they do and how to hire them, just in case you ever do have this unpleasant responsibility. Additionally, violent deaths aren’t the only types of incidents that may require hiring biohazard cleanup professionals.

The following overview will prepare you for this responsibility should it ever arise. It covers what biohazard cleanup involves and what you need to know about finding a reliable team.

What’s a Biohazard Cleanup Service?

The specific tasks a biohazard cleanup team handles will vary depending on the circumstances. But in general, biohazard cleanup involves fully removing blood and other body fluids from a site where a violent crime or accident has occurred. A biohazard team will also thoroughly disinfect the site to minimize the chances of anyone being exposed to pathogens.

Those who provide biohazard cleanup services must undergo thorough training to do this type of work. They must also use special tools and protective equipment to handle potentially dangerous substances safely.

Depending on the types of services they offer (as not all biohazard cleanup professionals respond to all the same situations), members of biohazard cleanup teams may also need to prepare themselves emotionally when prepping for a job, as the work they do can involve exposure to upsetting scenes.

The biohazard cleanup process generally involves the following steps:

  • Evaluating the conditions of the scene
  • Securing the affected area and blocking it off from the unaffected parts of the structure or property
  • Removing all visible contaminants
  • Cleaning, disinfecting, and deodorizing the scene
  • Performing tests to confirm the scene no longer poses a health risk

What Situations Do Biohazard Cleanup Services Typically Cover?

Biohazard cleanup teams may respond to a variety of incidents and situations. The following are simply among the more common:

(Warning: The following descriptions will mention acts of violence and self-harm. You may not want to read them if you feel this content will upset you.)

Violent crimes

Murders and similar acts of violence can leave a crime scene contaminated with blood, body parts and fluids, and pathogens in some instances. Thus, after investigating a crime scene, a law enforcement agency may enlist the help of biohazard cleanup professionals to ensure the scene is properly and thoroughly cleaned.

Suicides

A biohazard cleanup team may also be responsible for cleaning up a site where a person has taken their life if the way they did so resulted in contamination of the site.

Accidents

Many types of accidents, from automobile collisions to workplace accidents, can potentially result in contamination. Thus, biohazard cleanup professionals typically clean the sites of major accidents, as well. Similarly, they may also clean sites where natural disasters have resulted in significant injury or loss of life.

Keep in mind that incidents that result in harm to people aren’t the only types of accidents or events that biohazard teams respond to. They may also respond when an incident has resulted in harm to animals. This can even be a seemingly minor incident. For example, hiring a biohazard cleanup team is often necessary when something as simple as a raccoon or other small animal getting caught in a home and dying has occurred.

Outbreaks

Sometimes, biohazard teams will assist in remediating sites where outbreaks of dangerous pathogens have occurred. 

Sewage backups

A sewage backup may not seem as dramatic as the other examples listed here, but exposure to sewage can be more dangerous than some realize. When sewage backups occur, biohazard cleanup teams are usually the ones to address them.

Chemical spills

Although not all biohazard cleanup professionals are qualified to handle hazardous chemicals, chemical spills often require these experts’ help. 

Drug labs

If a drug lab operates in a building for a long time, residue and other potentially harmful substances can accumulate. Biohazard cleanup pros may help restore recently discovered drug labs so that the buildings pose no hazards to future tenants, guests, or curious passersby.

Hoarding

Significant hoarding can result in living conditions that pose a threat to the health of anyone in the home. Biohazard cleanup professionals may address these conditions before a home is safe for future occupants (or anyone else who may visit).

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Biohazard Cleanup Service?

The cost of a biohazard cleanup service can range widely depending on the severity of the incident that prompted the need for biohazard cleanup services. That said, for a simple job that involves addressing a biohazard in someone’s home, the average cost tends to range between $3,000 and $5,000.

The cost for jobs that require more substantial cleanup can be as high as $25,000 or more, but those occurrences are rare and usually won’t happen in a home. Be aware that, in some circumstances, insurance policies will cover the cost of biohazard cleanup.

How Do You Know If You Need a Biohazard Cleanup Service After a Death?

Knowing what to do when someone dies is rarely easy. It can be even more difficult than usual when a death is violent.

Hopefully, you’ll never have to ask yourself whether contamination after a death on your property requires hiring biohazard cleanup professionals. However, if you ever find yourself in these circumstances, you must know what steps to take next.

When a death (regardless of the cause) has left a scene contaminated, local law enforcement will respond to investigate the scene and facilitate transporting the body to a morgue. They’ll assess whether biohazard cleanup services are necessary. If they are, law enforcement officials will often recommend a local service instead of requiring a property owner or other responsible party to find one themselves.

That said, this isn’t always the case. Additionally, there are potential situations in which you may need the services of biohazard cleanup professionals, even though law enforcement may not necessarily be involved. Again, maybe an animal has died in your home, and you need to hire professionals to disinfect and sanitize the affected areas.

Keep reading to learn what you can do in these situations. The following section offers helpful advice.

Tips for Finding a Biohazard Cleanup Service

If you ever need to hire a biohazard cleanup team, these tips will help you find one you can trust to deliver quality service:

Ask for recommendations

Before you begin searching for a local biohazard cleanup team yourself, you may want to call your local police and other possibly relevant agencies and organizations (such as animal patrollers) to ask if they can recommend a biohazard cleanup company that can help in your situation. This may also be wise if you’re unsure whether the incident is something you should report to the police.

There’s no guarantee that whoever you ask will have an answer. For example, maybe the police in your area work exclusively with biohazard professionals who specialize in crime scene cleanup and don’t typically respond to minor incidents (if that’s all that has occurred). However, it’s still worth checking. Doing so could save you a lot of time and difficulty.

Search online

If the police or others you’ve contacted can’t recommend the right biohazard cleanup service for your needs, the best way to start looking for one is the same way you might search for a new local plumber, auto mechanic, or dentist: head to Google.

Search “biohazard cleanup” along with your city, county, or region. It’s also a good idea to include words that describe the general nature of the situation, such as “blood cleanup” or “animal remains.” You’ll likely find plenty of results.

Check websites and reviews

You don’t want to delay when hiring a biohazard cleanup service. The longer you leave a scene contaminated, the greater the chances that pathogens or substances will cause harm to yourself or others. Do your best to keep yourself and others as far away from the scene as possible until the biohazard cleanup professionals have completed their work.

That said, you do want to confirm the team you hire has the expertise necessary to respond to your particular situation. It’s also important to make sure they have a reputation for delivering quality service. You don’t want to hire “experts” who will fail to truly sanitize your property.

Check the websites of a few of the businesses you find. Make sure they handle the type of situation you’re currently dealing with and that they’re able to respond to a service request in a timely manner. Next, check if former customers have reviewed the business on Yelp, Google Business pages, or similar platforms.

Contact immediately

Once you’ve found a business you believe you can trust, contact them immediately. Describe the situation, ask if there are any steps you need to take, and don’t return to the scene until you receive confirmation that it’s safe to do so.

Biohazard Clean Pros Offer a Valuable (if Unpleasant) Service

Once more, this information will ideally never be of practical use to you. To learn more about handling difficult tasks in the aftermath of a passing, check our guide on how to plan a funeral for someone else.


Sources: 
  1. “Average cost of biohazard cleanup.” Basement Guides, Basement Guides, 2021. basementguides.com.
  2. “Biohazard Cleanup and Restoration.” ServPro, Servpro Franchisor, LLC. 2021. servpro.com.
  3. “What is biohazard cleanup? does it require certification?” Aftermath, Aftermath Services, 2021. aftermath.com.
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