As it says in the title, I used to clean up crime scenes for a living. I traveled the U.S constantly cleaning anything and everything you can imagine. I worked with the company for about 4 years before I decided to switch to engineering. I have a year left in school before I graduate as a Mechanical Engineer.

Some of the types of jobs I've cleaned:

  • Suicides
  • Homicides
  • Infectious Disease
  • Meth Labs
  • Tear Gas
  • Animal Filth
  • Hoarders

Ask me anything!

Proof: Due to the nature of the proof I am providing it confidentially to the moderators. But here is a cute picture my wife took of me. https://imgur.com/XARmdGD.

Edit 1: Not sure if I am suppose to put a time limit on this AMA, but I am just answering questions as they come along! Keep on asking! I am online studying for finals anyways.

Comments: 131 • Responses: 43  • Date: 

ChattyMattyYoutube25 karma

How much does it desensetize you? I know I misspelled that

Matt899239 karma

Honestly, I'm not sure. There were a few jobs that really made me feel uneasy, and one that made me walk outside and gag. If anything, I am a super clean freak now. I notice every little detail in my house and I can't relax until I feel like everything is clean.

Also, I still feel like gagging when I see really gross stuff on TV.

Gildolen22 karma

What is something movies get wrong about that profession?

Matt899236 karma

It's not as intense as the movies make it seem. The team I worked with were close friends and we really enjoyed our work. We always had a great attitude. The most important thing was music. We carried a speaker to every job site and had a playlist ready to go. It made the days go by faster and definitely changed the atmosphere.

Also, the movies like to make out the cleaners as awkward and morbid people, but we are all very social and normal guys.

Roly-T4 karma

What kind of music did you listen to?

Matt899212 karma

Pretty much anything you can think of. Usually a random playlist. I liked a lot of rock music.

oliviaemm18 karma

What was the worst scene you’ve ever had to clean up?

Matt899265 karma

It depends on if your asking about the filth of the job or the story behind the filth.

Nastiest Job site: A hoarder's home in CA. The toilet was filled with dead rats and feces that towered above the toilet seat. The kitchen had about 200-300 mcdonalds cups filled with urine and feces. We ended up throwing away a few dead cats and had to beat the shit out of a HUGE rat that kept running through our legs.

Worst Backstory: Well..we ended up having to clean a pool of blood out of a Toddler's playroom. That's all the details I'd want to share.

I'm sure there are more, but those two come to mind right away.

projectkennedymonkey6 karma

about the hoarder's home, is there a point where you say, just burn it all down?! that there's no point in cleaning it because it will just never be clean?

Matt899210 karma

In my mind yes, but I can’t tell the client that. I did the best I could and they were usually happy regardless.

AgendedV217 karma

Were there any scenes that made you want to quit your job instantly?

Matt899229 karma

Not particularly. There were a few that made me want to finish up and leave as soon as possible.

BUT I did have to tell a client we couldn't clean their mess one time. It was in Florida and there were dead raccoons all in the attic. It was averaging 95 degrees F outside and wearing hazmat suits added around 35 degrees F extra to that heat in the attic. The crawl space was so small that we had to send our thinnest guy into the back, but his suit was compromised by the roofing nails and such. We had to call it quits and offer other means of remediation that required removing the entire ceiling or roof.

AvoriazInSummer17 karma

Did you encounter any dangerous situations on your job?

Matt899259 karma

Yes! I'm glad you asked this question. It reminds me of the time we were cleaning a families' house where the parents were hoarders. One of their kids (teenager) had a violent streak. He found out that we were cleaning in his room and went ballistic. He started walking up and down the hallway with a knife attached to a rope and he started swinging it around. We ran out to the vehicle while the parents called the cops.

Turns out all the holes in the walls were caused by him doing that before.

sonofabutch12 karma

How did you get into this line of work?

Matt899224 karma

The company owner went to church with me and we did some non-profit work together. He asked if I wanted to try it out and I said yes without really thinking about it.

sonofabutch7 karma

Did you have any experience cleaning up disgusting stuff or was it a learn on the job type deal?

Matt899211 karma

Not really. My mom used to clean beach houses for a living and I would help her on the weekends. That was the extent of my experience, but I definitely learned a lot on the job. Attention to detail is the key to this type of job.

Edit: Grammar

waremi11 karma

Of the seven jobs you list which one would make you cringe the most when a call came in?

Matt899236 karma

Hoarders. It wasn't so much the filth (most of the time), but the clients we had to deal with. Usually, it was a relative or friend that called us in too clean it and the hoarder was not happy. They would threaten us physically, and even had a lady try to cast spells on us because we threw away some candles.

DShot9011 karma

Did you ever clean something that was important later? Like did you ever clean bloodstains or throw away garbage that the police ended up needing ?

Matt899225 karma

Not that I can remember. We did end up finding a gun and a few bullet casings on one job. Called the police to come back out. We had to take off work for the day while the police re-investigated the scene.

Most of our jobs took place after the police gathered everything that was needed and deemed it was OK to clean the house. The most important part of the job was documentation. We took pictures of EVERYTHING we threw or cleaned. We wrote itemized list of everything we cleaned including the brand name and price if we could find it. We even set up GoPros in the rooms to help keep us accountable in case there were ever any questions later on.

GatorChamp449 karma

Does "Animal Filth" mean houses of people who hoard animals?

I'm sure you had to be protected from infections but did you ever have a health scare from the job? Pricked by a needle or something similar?

Matt899213 karma

Yes. We had a few cases where the owner had a second house specifically for their animals. One home was hoarding hundreds of cats.

Every day when I'd go back to the hotel I would shower vigorously. Taking off the hazmat suit was the most nerve-wracking part of each day. It had to be done very carefully. Our suits were very durable so it was hard to have even a needle penetrate them, but still hurt really bad to get pricked by one!

Roly-T6 karma

If you were a crime scene cleaner why did you clean up hoarders homes? Sorry if this is ignorant or anything

Matt899212 karma

Well, our company mainly focused on cleaning crime scenes, but we opened up to doing hoardings and other clean ups that were filth related and that became close to 60% of our companies profit.

Roly-T6 karma

You don't have to answer this, but what was the pay for cleaning up? Would police pay for crime scene clean up? Was it hourly or based on how serious the job was? And I've seen you mention this one hoarder who had hundreds of cups of urine and feces and rats, what was the pay for that?

Matt899212 karma

The pay was good for our small company. Most companies paid an hourly wage anywhere from $10-$18. Our company was more on the pricey side and since we traveled a lot they made up for that. Starting off, I made $140/day as a technician, but once I became a Senior Supervisor my day rate was $200/day for anything over 4 hours of work. $80/day for any traveling and a $35-$45 per diem for food depending on the city we were in.

If I stayed under budget for supplies and food I would get a bonus of $200-$500 per job.

ShellyATX210 karma

I was very surprised when a friend had a gunshot suicide happen in her home and the Cleaner bill was $13,000. After you became a supervisor, did you play any role in the estimates and collections?

Matt89926 karma

Yes, that’s a typical cost for something like that.

Yes, as a supervisor I was responsible for estimating jobs and collecting payment along with documenting all service agreements, meeting with insurance adjusters and clients.

Tha_Daahkness6 karma

What does it mean to be cleaning up infectious disease? What sort of diseases have you cleaned up, with what situations causing the need for such? Basically, I just want your interesting stories related to this aspect of the job?

Matt899215 karma

The two main diseases that called for remediation were C-Diff and MRSA. They were both very infectious and the home owners needed us to sanitize the entire house to help reduce the chances of them getting it again.

Most of the time the houses weren't filthy in any way. They were cleaned and looked normal besides the fact you could get infected. One house was an $8.2 million dollar home in California. It was an extremely nice house that the bank took over once the homeowner got sick and couldn't make payments anymore. They wouldn't put it back on the market until we certified that it was professionally sanitized.

Tha_Daahkness5 karma

Aww I was hoping for something crazy like bubonic plague in one of the hoarder's homes.

bearatrooper15 karma

C. Diff is no joke dude. It's basically this.

Tha_Daahkness-6 karma

Yeah but it's not the black plague, or ebola, or some crazy shit like that.

Matt89926 karma

We did have a company wide meeting when the Ebola scare happened. Even though it was scary it was going to pay really well. I think they quoted paying me $300/hr for every Ebola job we did.

AyMiOjo5 karma

My dad was a homicide detective, I've seen lots of crime scene photos, and I'm just now realizing that in all those years it never really occured to me that a company may be called to come out and clean up the aftermath. For some reason when homicides and suicides happen in the home I always figured the surviving family cleaned it (probably because my dad's dad was dying of cancer and committed suicide when it got really bad (gunshot to the head) and my dad was the one who dealt with the clean up).

Who calls the clean up company? The police or the family? And when homicides & suicides happen in public places who calls for clean up? Are there a lot of companies like this? How much notice did you get? I imagine your work hours were pretty sporadic if they called right after the crime scene investigation was completed.

Matt899213 karma

It's not too late! I was eating dinner, and just got back to see this now.

The property owner or family member calls us. First Responders do their job and then leave. They aren't really concerned with what happens after unless its a Meth Lab. Most of the time the police are not even sure who to call. Its a ethical concern, but most of the time they aren't suppose to recommend a specific company.

There are a lot of companies that will do this type of work, but it doesn't mean they do it correctly. Our company was a very pricey company, but we did our job right. I can't tell you how many times we were called in for a second cleaning because the first company did a terrible job.

We guaranteed that we could be anywhere within 24 hours. Once I got a text at 9am. Got to the airport at 11am. Flew to Albuquerque, NM and drove to Roswell, NM. Cleaned the job and flew back on a late night flight. Another time I was talking to my fiance (now wife) while she was on her lunch break. We planned to meet somewhere for a date night, but she called me after she got off work and I was in New York City cleaning a house. I live in Atlanta. Basically we lived in airports and hotels.

ShellyATX2-3 karma

These were good questions - wish they would have been answered :)

Matt89925 karma

I just replied :)

the-last-bastion5 karma

Has there ever been a job that was emotionally hard to do? What was it, and how did you overcome it? (I hope I'm not too late!)

Matt899212 karma

Yes. There was one in particular that I briefly mentioned in another comment. I was hesitant to share, but here it goes.

This was my first job as a supervisor, and it was in Louisiana. The backstory is hard. A disgruntled father breaks into his ex wife's home with a gun. He walks into her room and threatens to kill her and her son. She makes it to her 3 year old son's room to try and protect him. The dad comes in and shoots both of them before shooting himself. The mother and father died, but thankfully the son made it..barely. We ended up cleaning up a toddler's room that was covered in blood. It was really hard. Especially since I just had a baby myself.

As I have mentioned in other comments I had a really great team. We stayed positive and got the job done.

Oiler1134 karma

What's the goriest thing you've had to clean up? Did you always work with the same crew? How many people worked with you? How did you wash your suit? What's some of the saddest stuff that happened you've seen or whatever? What did the neighbors think? I've heard some hoarder neighbors don't know that they hoard. Have you ever kept anything or wanted to?

Matt899210 karma

Goriest: Shotgun Suicide to the face.

We switched crews every once in awhile, but mostly the same people.

Usually 2-4 people per group. Once had 8.

We didn’t wash suits. We switched into new suits every 3-4 hours.

Some neighbors were super nosey. They didn’t care what happened they just didn’t want their neighborhood looking bad

Yes, I’ve kept quite a few things with the written permission from the client. Once got to keep $8000 because the clients were afraid to touch anything from the house.

verbalddos2 karma

Did you split the 8k with the crew? Was it just a stack of haunted cash or something, I really need to know the rest of this story.

Matt89926 karma

The job was in Miami. We split the money between three of us. We had fun that night.

JoeMontano3 karma

At my current job I work with stuff that tends to smell or is rotting. Because of this I have a personal policy to never smell anything at work. Is it something similar for you? What's the worst you've smelled?

Matt899219 karma

Well, our mask would keep us safe, but we always walked into the job site without a mask on at first because we needed to see what we were dealing with. That way when we were done we would see if that same smell resided. If not then our job was done right.

It was really funny to watch people gag when they walked into a house that smelled terrible.

The worst was a house that was full of cat shit. The client was cute and I wanted to impress her, but I ended up running out gagging.

bgeller2 karma

Was the client the person responsible for the cat poop?

Matt89928 karma

Nope, her mom was. I guess that should have been a sign though.

dreamevile3 karma

I watched Spotless on netflix and it was a great show!

In your view does it perfectly describe your job?

Matt89923 karma

I haven't seen it, but I feel like I should! Also, Sunshine Cleaners is a good movie from what I hear. Once I watch it I'll get back to you!

Snakkey3 karma

What’s the most interesting find in a hoarder’s pile?

Matt899213 karma

$20 silver coins. An old couple had a big pile of these and ended up finding out that one box was worth $110,000. Needless to say, they were very happy we cleaned up their mess.

OakCypress2 karma

Wow, wish I had seen this AMA earlier. Have a question but not sure of it's too late:

How did you all transport the waste?

Matt89921 karma

Hey! I’ll still answer. I think I messed up when I didn’t provide sufficient proof because the question was removed for over an hour before it was reposted so it may have been buried underneath other post.

We transported it very carefully. We used a Chevy Tahoe or any other extended SUV to have the space to put it in. We would double bag it in biohazard bags and then box it in a biohazard box. A lot of states require a sort of license or certificate so that you can transport. Other states would reaver someone come pick it up and transport for us.

Coltsfan2102 karma

Do you ever have any fears that you've contracted some disease from this? Do you have any side effects (besides like gagging, etc) from this job?

Matt89922 karma

Yes, I use to fear that all the time. My biggest fear was the damage our cleaning chemicals would do to my skin. We always used the cleaning chemicals to wash our hands and arms. It was a dumb decision, but it made us rest easy.

LazyBigFootv32 karma

What's the worst hoarder case you ever done?

Matt899217 karma

It was a house in California. The hoarder was a NASA scientist. The house was covered in filth from top to bottom. Dead rats in the toilets, Poop and urine in hundreds of cups all over the kitchen. I had to bend over in every room I walked because the trash and filth was so high that my head would hit the ceiling. There were dead cats all over and one mischievous rat that we ended up killing because he was way too curious about what we were doing. Being from Georgia I have never seen a rat that big.

There was another in New York that took us 15 days to clean. We were working 14 hour shifts every day too. A typical job for us was 2-3 days, and a 'big' job lasted 5 days. So, 15 days was terribly long. Hoarding at its finest. Nothing really nasty in the house just a lot to get rid of.

Bonkerton_52 karma

How do i get this job?

Matt89923 karma

Apply!! I ended working because I knew the guy that owned the company.

dubufeetfak1 karma

does it pay well? can i do it without any experience if i show up and ask ?

Matt89922 karma

It depends on the company. I knew the company owner so I was able to get it and get trained by a really great supervisor. It can pay well depending on the company and how fast you learn. The biggest thing is to be able to pay attention to detail while cleaning. Nothing can be left un-sanitized.

SeaWhole1 karma

How did you deal with those infectious diseases? What precautions did you take to not infected? Also, what church do you go to? You said the company owner went to church with you.

Matt89924 karma

On most job sites we had three zones. Control Zone, Buffer Zone, and Safety Zone(I think those were the names). The control zone is where the disease or filth was. The buffer zone is where the decontamination happened, and the safety zone was a place to take breaks and switch into new suits. The buffer zone is where we could get sprayed down with a chemical and then removed it before walking into the safety zone.

It was a church in downtown Atlanta. I don't go there anymore, and neither does the company owner. He lives in Indiana now I believe.

AlkanK1 karma

All those messed up shit head blown off, dead bodies how do you live with that? Is there an off feeling switch or something? I would like to become an firefighter but i know i will see alot of messed up stuff i wonder how you deal with it.

Matt89923 karma

I just switched it off. To me it was a job that needed to be done quickly and correctly. I had a good team and good music and those two things helped a lot.

namkash1 karma

How did you go from engineering to a scene cleaner???

Is it true that Coke Cole is a good cleaner??

Matt89925 karma

Actually I went from crime scene cleaning to engineering.

Traveling was big part of my job as a crime scene cleaner. Turns out I am terrified of flying. So, I read a book about airplanes and took a few piloting lessons. Then I became really interested in rockets, space, and quantum physics. So I ended up going to college for mechanical engineering.

Not sure how well Coke cleans. I know it helps clean car batteries!

moose_in_wood1 karma

Did you ever see a professional-is hooking meth lab?

Matt89924 karma

I am assuming you meant a professional looking meth lab? No, most meth labs were in trash houses and apartments. Actually, most of them were in Indiana which is weird in itself.

Kongregater1231 karma

What were to happen if you disrespect the remains?

Matt89922 karma

Not sure. There were a few jobs that really freaked me out and felt like something spiritual was going on.

martixdotorg1 karma

Tell us how it was spiritual i would like to know out of curiosity.

Matt899216 karma

Of course!

Backstory: This was a super old house in downtown DC. Less than a mile from the white house. The lady that lived in it was on vacation in another country. She decided to call her house and leave herself a voicemail on her home line. Well...some guy picked up the phone!! She told him to leave, but he just mumbled something and then dropped the phone. She called the police, but when they got there he was gone. A few days later she called the house again and he picked up again! She called the police once more and they go to the house to find this dead guy in her bathroom. Weird part is that he looked like he had been dead for quite a few days. This is where we come in. We come in to clean the ENTIRE house from top to bottom because the smell is terrible. Flies and maggots were everywhere. The entire time I am cleaning I keep seeing this figure of person out the side of my eye. I just ignored it because I don't really believe in that type of stuff. At the end of the job the team and I are packing up and everyone is oddly quiet. Then one guy finally speaks up and says, "Guys, I'm not trying to sound crazy, but I kept seeing a shadow out the side of my peripheral." The other guys freaked out and said they saw the same thing. We all saw this weird shadow of a person out the side of our eyes, but never mentioned it to each other. It was pretty wild to think about after the fact.

99_other_accounts1 karma

Do you typically wear hazmat suits to each job?

Matt89925 karma

About 90% of jobs required a hazmat suit. There were a few jobs where the person thought they were a hoarder, but really just needed someone to help them organize their house. So, that's what we did.

Sometimes if we were getting close to finishing up the job we would stop wearing hazmat suits. One, because they were expensive. Two, they were super hot. I only liked wearing them in the winter months.

buffel03051 karma

I have several questions, feel free to skip any of you’ve answered them already.

  1. Do you say what you do when you meet new people? Are they often weirded out or do they mostly think it’s cool?

  2. What’s the most common question when you tell people what you do?

  3. What type of training do you have to do before officially working as a cleaner?

  4. Despite the gore and the filth, what are some good moments on your job?

  5. Do you meet people that are from the same line of work outside of your company?

  6. How do you start the cleaning process? What kinds of storage units do you use? After cleaning how do you get rid of them? I’m from a country where we have minimal waste sorting so I’m a bit curious about how people with this line of work deal with the waste.

Matt89922 karma

  1. I don't do this type of work anymore, but it's still an awesome conversation starter.
  2. Most common question is "How do you eat anything on your lunch break?"
  3. Most of it was on the site training, but a lot of OSHA online training as well.
  4. Traveling the U.S. at the age of 20 was really awesome. I experienced new things constantly. I'm 28 now and I feel like I've had my fair share of traveling. I don't really want to have the type of job again.
  5. The only person I have ever met that did this kind of work was my stepdad. He is an auto mechanic now, but as a young adult he did some crime scene cleaning in his hometown.
  6. It depends on the type of job. If there is blood involved then that was the first thing to go. Every job was unique and had to be approached differently. Disposing of bio hazard materials depends on the state. Some states have strict laws about where it goes while others don't really care. Do you remember Tony Stark sitting in the Big Donut at the end of Iron man? That is near LAX airport. We had disposal site close to there.

aceonthestore1 karma

How did your parents react by getting this job?

Matt89925 karma

They didn’t really care too much. I was 20 and living in Atlanta and they were 4 hours south of me. They were just happy I had a job to pay my own phone bill.

verbalddos-1 karma

Any cleaning tips you can share for everyday life? Like what really gets blood stains out of clothes. For if my dog is sick on the carpet what should i Do? Stuff like that.
Thanks

Matt89923 karma

Blood stains out of clothes? Am I assisting you in a crime? If so....go on Amazon and look for Natural Stain Remover. Good luck!

[deleted]-1 karma

[removed]

Matt89921 karma

Yes. I am looking for former business cards. And a picture now.

CornellDiver-10 karma

How do you not know how an Oxford comma works?

Matt89925 karma

Because I’m an engineer not an English major. If you could go around and fix all my mistakes and let me know that would be great. Then I’ll know.