It’s an unfortunate fact that at least once in their lifetime, everyone is faced with the task of cleaning up blood. Usually, it’s from a minor injury or nosebleed, but sometimes, it’s left behind after a serious accident at home, in the workplace, or in our vehicles.
If you google, “how to clean blood?” you’ll get a lot of tips (and maybe a few sites explaining dialysis treatments), but rarely will you find out just how often janitorial supply or home-made solutions can make your situation worse—if they work at all for cleaning up blood. It’s not just about finding the right product; it’s about using the right techniques, especially if there’s a chance that the bodily fluids you’re trying to remove include bloodborne pathogens.
Are you sure this is a project you want to take on yourself? If you’re not, then follow these steps before making an educated decision. Blood cleanup is a serious matter, especially in the wake of a tragic event. You don’t want to take on a situation that might re-traumatize you, or that puts you, your employees, or your family at risk through improper protocols.
Assess the Situation
Before you tackle any project that involves cleaning up blood, take a step back and formulate a plan. You’ll need to be honest with yourself about what you must do, what you’re capable of doing, and what you’re willing to risk in the cleaning process and afterward, should you do an incomplete job.
And as you review each the steps you’ll need to take with a significant blood cleanup project, you’ll want to ask yourself the following three questions:
- Are you trying to save money?
- Are you trying to save time?
- Are you trying to keep yourself busy as a trauma-related coping mechanism?
Don’t Disturb Evidence
If the site is a crime scene, have the authorities completed their investigation? Sometimes, we’re so concerned about getting injured people the hospital that we don’t call the police to make a report. We also might want to contact our health and liability insurance companies to find out if they need documentation of damages (including bloodstain damage) for any claims.
If your property is, indeed, a crime scene, it’s likely you’ve also been left with the task of cleaning up forensic materials, such as those used to detect fingerprints and blood spatter.
Determine What Objects & Surfaces Are Contaminated by Blood
Speaking of blood spatter, are you aware of all the nooks and crannies in which you’d never expect to find blood? Whenever there’s been a traumatic injury or violent death, the blood that you see isn’t always the main concern. Blood that’s become airborne due to impact, or that’s soaked into difficult-to-clean materials, might not be a cosmetic issue… though it’s certainly a health hazard.
Climate Control System: Was the air conditioning or heating system in operation when the trauma occurred? That airborne blood mist could be inside your ductwork and the mechanics of your HVAC system, spreading throughout the building bloodborne pathogens that can live outside the human body for up to two weeks.
Carpet and Underlayment: Does your regular carpet guy know how to clean blood-soaked carpet so that it’s completely sanitized? Is he willing to work with biohazardous materials? Porous carpet fibers, spongy padding, and fibrous subflooring might need to be completely replaced if it’s saturated with spilled blood. If it’s capable of being cleaned to sanitary conditions (and how confident are you that it is?), you’ll need to make sure you’re incredibly thorough. You’ll need to rent industrial-duty fans and dehumidifiers to make sure your flooring materials don’t become moldy. You’ll also need to be sure your carpet shampooing equipment isn’t simply spreading pathogens and proteins, or driving them deeper into your flooring substrate.
Furniture: Have you thought about how to get blood out of sofa components? It’s one thing to clean blood out of upholstery, but the framework and cushions must be completely sanitized to discourage pests, bad odors, and hazardous microbes.
Fixtures and Decorative Features: Power switches, light fixtures, ceiling fans, and other surfaces with ridges and closely-seated parts can trap blood. Drywall, molding, textured ceilings, and window treatments can hide minute amounts of blood and body fluid. Of course, if you’re faced with blood cleanup after a suicide, especially one involving a firearm, contaminated structural and finishing materials may need to be removed and replaced. Other surfaces will require special detection chemicals, as well as cleaning products that safely sanitize the materials.
Your Vehicle: If the incident involved a trip to the emergency room in your family car, you’ve got another huge project on your hands. Cleaning blood out of car vents, from the gaps between the seats and console, and from the metal framework and superstructure isn’t something you want to tackle with a rented car shampooer. While your local detailer is unequipped do the job safely and completely, your future trade-in inspector will be incredibly thorough when evaluating your car for blood residue using the same techniques used by crime scene investigators. They’re always on the lookout for biohazard cars.
Another thing that will be incredible? The odors you experience on a hot day, or when you need to run your heater in the middle of winter. Cleaning blood out of car interiors is best left to a biohazard cleanup company such as Bio Recovery.
How Will You Dispose of Biohazardous Materials?
Getting rid of furniture is difficult enough without it being covered in blood. Disposal of biohazardous materials requires special handling and methods, and you can’t simply drop your blood-soaked furniture, clothes, carpeting, and cleaning products at your local dump or transfer station. Doing so not only leaves you liable for substantial fines, but it puts disposal site workers at risk. Bio Recovery and other licensed crime scene cleanup companies are trained to properly package and dispose of dangerous bodily fluids.
Revisiting Those Three Key Questions
Do you still feel confident that you know how to clean blood thoroughly and safely? Are you still worried about saving money and time, or keeping yourself occupied?
Affordability: Your insurance company or community victim outreach fund will offset or completely cover Bio Recovery’s fees. If you “go it alone”, you’ll end up investing in inappropriate equipment rentals, unsuitable cleaning products, hauling and disposal fees, and special protective masks and suits…and without the training, all that expense might be for nothing if you’re not skilled in effective body fluid and blood cleanup.
Expediency: Bio Recovery is available 24 hours a day, 7-days a week, and our trained crews can get your property back to pre-trauma condition long before you can even finish gathering the necessary supplies to get started.
Emotional Stability: Are you in the right mindset to deal with blood cleanup? After suicides, the discovery of an unattended death, or anytime time blood cleanup after someone has died, loved ones might feel they “owe” it to the deceased to clean the property themselves.
Your efforts are best served taking care of your own emotional and physical well-being so you’re able to be there for your loved ones or employees in a more appropriate manner.
Most people, even (if not especially) first responders and former military, simply aren’t emotionally prepared to clean up blood, and finding residual tissue and bone is always a shock. Our technicians are trained and conditioned to approach the aftermath of trauma without associating it with previous or personal experiences.
Let Bio Recovery Step In so You Can Step Down
You’ve likely got a lot on your plate; caring for surviving staff or family members, making funeral arrangements, and looking after your own well being. If you’re “lucky”, the trauma only requires time to recuperate from an accident that caused more property damage than physical injury.
Your job is to heal—physically and psychologically. Our job is to follow OSHA guidelines and our own unprecedented protocols to make sure the job is done right the first time, so you, your employees, or your family don’t have to worry about secondary illnesses and property damage due to pathogens and mold. Contact us immediately if you need our support and expertise.