Crime scene cleaners have the unenviable job of walking onto the scene of a violent act, cleaning up the mess, sterilizing the space, and making it look impeccable.

Even for fans of the goriest horror movies, it’s hard to imagine the reality crime scene cleaners endure every day. Blood, body parts, brain matter, and all manner of bodily fluids and waste are part of their daily life. And no horror movie can convey the fetid reek of decomposition.

How hard is it? Sometimes retired firemen or police officers take up the career and last only a day. While they’re used to seeing the aftermath of crime, they’re not used to getting that up close and personal with it–scrubbing contaminated floors and handling blood-soaked bedding.

Yet the gore and smell are only part of the reason being a crime scene cleaner is the hardest job in the world.

Not Everyone Is Cut Out for Crime Scene Cleanup

It takes a special combination of skills and character traits in order for a person to last as a crime scene cleaner.

  • Physical strength is a must, and many companies require their employees to be able to lift 50 pounds easily. This is because heavy lifting is a regular part of the job. Furniture, mattresses, and rugs and carpets must be hauled off and disposed of. Some demolition may be involved.
  • Flexibility is important. Crime scene cleaning is an emergency-based job, so the hours are unpredictable. You’ll be called out at all hours of the night. As soon as law enforcement releases a crime scene, cleanup teams come in. The longer a scene sits and the more time blood soaks into porous materials, the harder it is to clean and the worse it smells.
  • Personal integrity ensures that you will do the job thoroughly. Crime scenes can involve potentially lethal pathogens. In order to make a home safe and livable, every trace of biohazards must be removed and the area sterilized. You can’t cut corners.
  • Being detail-oriented is a plus in crime scene cleaning. Every bit of blood, tissue, and fluid must be located and cleaned, so being meticulous and focused is important.
  • Compassion helps crime scene cleaners deal kindly with the many grieving survivors they encounter. You come into contact with a lot of grief in this job, and part of it is comforting and reassuring family members as well as explaining the process.

The Toll of Crime Scene Cleaning

Crime scene cleaners often say being able to help people at their worst times feels good. It may be rewarding, but crime scene cleaners are wrapped up in these emotionally-charged environments on a constant basis. That takes a high toll. Crime scene cleaners often need therapy to help them cope with the nature of their job. Some suffer from PTSD.

It’s hard to be a part of all that grief. It’s hard to go into a scene and see all the reminders that the victim was a real person with people who loved him or her. The sadness of a crime scene hits many cleaners harder than the actual gore.

With the exception of jobs that involve the death of a child, the saddest of all, many say, are the unattended deaths, in which victims are not found until weeks or months later. The loneliness of such situations strikes a chord. The fact that people were not missed or that no one cared enough about them to check up on them is heartbreaking.

Some cleaners eventually get used to the gore and emotional toll. Others learn to compartmentalize. Compassion fatigue is a danger; the ability to work in the middle of such scenes dispassionately can translate into trouble connecting emotionally with the other people and situations in their lives. Some cleaners adopt coping mechanisms, which may be good (self care) or bad (drugs and alcohol abuse).

On the Job 24/7

Most people will never need to call in a crime scene cleanup team, but if the unthinkable happens, Sterile Pros will be there for you. We are on call 24/7 to take on the task of safely restoring your property and making it as if nothing ever happened. Our teams approach every job respectfully and compassionately.

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