How to Cleanup an Unattended Death Site

Despite the adage that death and taxes are the only two things in life that absolutely are certain, most people really are never fully prepared for death. One of the most challenging situations when it comes to a loved one passing away is when a death is unattended. An unattended death is one in which a person dies alone and the passing is not discovered by anyone for some time. Days, weeks, months can pass in the aftermath of an unattended death before the body is discovered

An unattended death presents all of the grief related issues associated with any loss of a loved one. However, the unattended death of a family member or friend presents a myriad of other challenges. On that list is making decisions about how to arrange for the cleanup of an unattended death site.

Proper Unattended Death Site Cleanup Training

Due to what is at stake when it comes to unattended death site cleanup, specialized training is necessary. This training is designed to ensure effective biohazard remediation and the safety of those involved in the remediation process as well as those who will reside or visit in the house where an unattended occurred.

An Unattended Death Scene Is Dangerous

The cleanup associated with an unattended death site focuses on the fact that the premises in question contain dangerous materials. Indeed, the cleanup process associated with an unattended death scene is called biohazard remediations.

As a result, the safety of the individuals involved in an unattended death site cleanup is a paramount concern. Safety begins with utilizing the proper gear for the unattended death site cleanup. Proper gear must be specifically designed for a cleanup that involves biohazardous material. This gear includes:

  • Goggles
  • Mask or respirator
  • Smock
  • Shoe covering
  • Gloves

Phases of Unattended Death Site Cleanup

There are five broad phases associated with unattended death site cleanup or biohazard remediation. These are:

  • Initial cleanup
  • Sanitization
  • Deodorization
  • Disposal
  • Restoration

Initial Cleanup

The initial phase in remediating an unattended death site is the actual cleanup of the area. This involves the identification and removal of all biological materials left as a result of an unattended death. This can include blood and other bodily fluids as well as skin and other bodily components.

Many people are surprised to learn the types of material into which blood and other bodily fluids can be absorbed. Harmful bodily fluids of all types can be absorbed into any porous material, including:

  • Fabric
  • Wood
  • Carpet
  • Drywall
  • Concrete


Merely eliminating biohazardous materials like blood and bodily fluids are not enough to render a site where an unattended death occurred livable. The contaminated areas must be sanitized as well.

A professional biohazard remediation (or unattended death cleanup) service has access to the chemicals and products necessary to effectively sanitized a contaminated scene.


Once the initial cleanup process at an unattended death site is completed, there will be biohazardous material that needs to be removed and disposed of properly. In addition, some of the gear and supplies utilized to clean, sanitize, or deodorize an unattended death scene will become contaminated in the process. The disposal of these items also needs to occur.

Some of the items that are designated for disposal will fit into bags or boxes specifically designed to contain biohazardous material destined for disposal. Oftentimes, the cleanup of an unattended death site results in the need to remove and destroy large items that are contaminated with blood, fluids, and other biological materials. For example, mattresses may be contaminated with biological materials.

Typically, the sections of contaminated items like mattresses and carpeting are cut away from the portions that do not contain hazardous material. The cutaway sections typically will not fit in a biohazard bag or box. Rather, these have a red biohazard tag put on them.

Once all of the items contaminated with biohazardous material are identified and collected, a certified disposal service is retained to remove the items and properly dispose of them. The standard approved way of disposing of biohazardous material in the state of California is to incinerate these materials.


Even a trace of biohazardous material left behind can render a residence unlivable. Exposure to even a small amount of biohazardous material can result in serious negative health consequences.

The combination of thorough, comprehensive, effective cleanup, sanitization, deodorization, and disposal restores the premises to a healthy, habitable state. The ultimate objective of biohazard remediation process following an unattended death is met.