How to Clean Up After an Unattended Death

March 1, 2024by Jamie Browning1

Dealing with an unattended death goes beyond the emotional heartbreak. It brings real health risks that need the touch of professionals who handle things with care and understanding.

Sometimes, these situations aren’t discovered for days or even months. This presents the complex challenge of safely cleaning and restoring the affected area.

In this blog, we will guide you through the delicate process of managing unattended death cleanups.

We’ll also highlight the importance of involving experts equipped to handle these tragic situations.

Understanding Unattended Death Cleanups

An unattended death happens when someone dies alone, and their passing goes unnoticed for some time.

These cases are more complex than other biohazard cleanups. They can involve serious decomposition, which makes the scene harder to handle.

The breaking down of the body over time makes the physical cleanup tough and adds emotional weight to the task. That’s why calling in experts who know how to manage these situations is crucial.

A door is ajar with the lock broken and in the background is a ransacked bedroom

Immediate Steps to Take Following an Unattended Death

Discovering an unattended death requires a careful and respectful response. You must follow these specific steps to ensure everything is handled correctly.

Here is a step-by-step guide to ensure the process unfolds respectfully and safely.

Step 1: Secure the Scene and Alert Authorities

  • Avoid Tampering: Do not touch or move anything after finding the scene. It’s essential for the investigation that everything stays as is.
  • Call for Help: Your first move should be to dial up the local police or emergency services to report what you’ve found. This is required by the law.
  • Reach Out to Loved Ones: Gently let the deceased’s family or close friends know what has happened.

Step 2: Await Legal Clearance and Documentation

  • Police Investigation: Law enforcement will conduct an initial investigation to rule out foul play. Forensic experts may also document the scene.
  • Coroner’s Evaluation: A coroner may examine the body to determine the cause of death.
  • Official Release: The scene will be released once authorities have completed their investigation.

Step 3: Engage Professional Cleaning Services

Search for a reliable cleaning service that handles unattended death situations. Companies like Ultima Environmental deal with such situations with great care and professionalism.

Trained professionals ensure the process is conducted with dignity. They offer the necessary support to the bereaved and guarantee a respectful restoration of the area.

British Police vehicles at cordoned off crime scene in a typical English town

The Process of Cleaning After an Unattended Death

Cleaning up after an unattended death is a complex process that requires meticulous attention to detail, specialised equipment, and a deep understanding of biohazard decontamination.

Initial Assessment and Inspection

  • Conduct a Detailed Survey: Before any cleaning begins, a professional team will assess the site to understand the scope of the cleanup.
    This includes identifying areas affected by bodily fluids, decomposition, and potential biohazards.
  • Develop a Cleaning Plan: A tailored plan is formulated based on the initial inspection. It outlines the necessary steps to safely and effectively clean and restore the area.
Hypodermic needles left around the edge of a sink containing a smattering of blood and other needles

Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Safety First: Cleanup professionals wear appropriate PPE to protect themselves from biohazards and infectious materials.
    This typically includes waterproof gloves, biohazard suits, respirators or masks, and eye protection.
  • Preventing Cross-Contamination: Changing PPE regularly and following strict protocols helps prevent the spread of contaminants to clean areas or outside the cleanup site.

Understanding the Cleaning Methods Used


  • Removal of Biohazards: The first step in trauma cleaning involves carefully removing all biological materials. These include bodily fluids and tissues, which may pose health risks.
  • Application of Disinfectants: The area is treated with powerful disinfectants after removing biohazards. These are specially formulated to kill bacteria, viruses, and other decomposition-related pathogens.

Biohazard Disposal

  • Proper Disposal Methods: Biohazardous waste is placed in specially-designed bags or containers. These are transported according to local regulations for safe disposal.
  • Compliance with Regulations: All disposal methods must follow legal standards. Abiding by protocols such as COSHH in the UK ensures environmental and public safety.

Thorough Cleaning of the Area

  • Deep Cleaning: The area undergoes a deep clean following decontamination and disposal. This includes washing all surfaces, floors, and walls to remove residue or stains.
    Professionals use HEPA filters, air scrubbers, or ozone generators to cleanse the air. This removes lingering odours and germs.
  • Restoration: The final step often involves minor repairs or painting. The goal is to return the space to its original condition, making it safe and habitable.
A person wearing an Ultima branded full PPE suit stands with their arms folded

Challenges in Cleaning a House After an Unattended Death

Cleaning up after an unattended death comes with many difficulties. These go beyond just the physical tasks.

They can affect the emotional well-being of the professional cleaners tasked with these difficult jobs.
Moreover, there are considerable health risks and legal compliance issues to consider.

Emotional and Psychological Impacts

The emotional impact on cleaners involved in unattended death cleanups is significant.

They face the challenge of encountering distressing scenes regularly. This exposure can result in considerable stress and emotional fatigue.

The job requires maintaining a professional distance while also showing empathy.

So, providing adequate support and counselling for these professionals is essential. It can help them cope with the psychological demands of their work. It can also help safeguard against burnout or more severe mental health concerns.

Physical and Health Risks

Cleaners encounter significant risks from blood-borne pathogens in bodily fluids and decomposed tissues.

They also face hazards from using strong disinfectants and cleaning agents. These chemicals need careful handling and proper ventilation to avoid harm.

Additionally, the cleanup process often involves moving heavy objects. This work is done in potentially unstable environments, raising the risk of physical injuries.

These challenges highlight the need for safety measures and protocols during the cleanup.

Legal and Compliance Considerations in the UK

  • COSHH Regulations

    The COSHH regulations require protective measures for workers. They protect against harmful substances, including biohazards encountered during cleanups.

  • EPA Guidelines

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Guidelines dictate the proper disposal of biohazardous waste. The rules aim to protect public health and the environment.

  • Certification and Training

    Cleaners must undergo specialised training and get certified to handle biohazardous materials safely. This also helps them follow national safety standards.

Why Professional Cleanup Services Are Essential

  • Safety and Efficacy

    Experts like Ultima Environmental use advanced cleaning agents and equipment. This ensures thorough decontamination and disinfection of the affected area. It also safeguards the health of occupants and workers.

  • Compliance with Regulations

    Professional services are well-versed in local and national regulations. They make sure that all cleanups meet stringent safety standards.

  • Adept at Handling Sensitive Situations

    The ability to approach each cleanup with compassion and respect is crucial. Professional teams are trained to work discreetly and sensitively.

  • Reduced Health Risk

    By entrusting the cleanup to professionals, the risk of exposure to harmful pathogens and chemicals is significantly minimised for the family and the community.

  • Advanced Cleaning Solutions

    Professional services have access to industry-leading tools and cleaning supplies. These include advanced HEPA vacuum cleaners that capture tiny biohazard particles. They also use powerful sanitising agents that kill pathogens.

Restoration and Healing

The final phase is restoring the space to a safe and habitable condition. This step is about much more than physical cleaning. It represents a crucial part of the healing and closure process for those affected.

Restoring the space shows moving on from the event. It brings normalcy and peace to the family and community.

Restoration involves cleaning, disinfecting, and repairing to erase all signs of the incident. This might include repainting walls, replacing damaged flooring, or making structural changes. These processes ensure the space is completely restored and safe for habitation.

Ensuring the environment is free from leftover biohazards is vital. This includes doing air quality tests. It’s key to certifying the area is both visually clean and safe for health.

Ultima’s Promise: Expert Cleanup Services with Care and Respect

Dealing with an unattended death comes with emotional, physical, and legal challenges.

Critical steps must be taken from the moment such a death is found. These include telling authorities, securing the area, and hiring expert cleaners.

Professional cleanup services like Ultima Environmental play an indispensable role in this process. Our team is skilled at biohazard removal and decontamination. They also handle sensitive situations with care.

If you or someone you know is facing the aftermath of an unattended death, remember, you’re not alone. Our team at Ultima is here to support you through this challenging time.

Please, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

One comment

  • Stanley Maduro

    April 16, 2024 at 3:41 pm

    Theres online courses?


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