Crime scene cleaners aim to help those left behind.

BY Jessica Hinchliffe

When a household becomes a crime scene, who cleans up the mess that remains?

Every day, Elias Bobridge and Charina Farry from Aust Bio Cleaning attend to homes that have become crime scenes throughout south-east Queensland.

The duo works in conjunction with police, decontaminating areas resulting from suicides, homicides and meth lab discoveries.

WARNING: This story contains graphic images

Mr Bobridge said the idea for the business came about when a couple he knew had a friend who took their own life and they were asked to help clean up.

“When I spoke to them about what had happened, they said cleaning it still played a part in their minds as it was their friend and it was upsetting,” he said.

Skirting boards and floorboards are removed as part of the cleaning process. (Image via ABC)

“You don’t want to clean up the remains of someone that you know and you don’t want it to be the last thing that you remember about the deceased.

“It’s extremely traumatic and upsetting.”

He said the conversation prompted him to think more about who was cleaning up homes after people died.

“There’s little awareness of this industry and many people don’t know that we exist,” Mr Bobridge told 612 ABC Brisbane’s Steve Austin.


Ms Farry, who was formerly a nurse, said trauma cleaning was vastly different from day-to-day cleaning.

“You have to do it with proper infection control,” she said.

“My medical background of knowing how to clean up blood correctly is helpful … it’s not just about wiping it up.

“We clean after the blood is gone with a special solution so we’re not contaminating the surfaces as we’re cleaning.”

Each day is different

Everything used in the cleaning process has to be thrown away in specialised bins.

“It all goes into clinical waste bins including the biowaste, our suits, gloves, eyewear and mops … it all gets thrown away,” Ms Farry said.

She said the smell could sometimes be overwhelming depending on the weather conditions.

“If it’s a hot day and the room has been closed up … it’s really bad,” Ms Farry said.

Mr Bobridge said each day was different, as every scene the team confronted was different.

Shoes must be covered before entering any of the contaminated homes and most floorboards are removed at scenes like this. (Image via ABC)

He said there had been situations that have stayed with him longer than others.

“We did a job at Maroochydore and he was a 42-year-old man who was a drug addict and he died horrifically,” Mr Bobridge said.


“The whole house looked like a violent crime scene and the police said to the family, ‘do not enter’.

“When you see the photos on the wall and you see the fella, you see photos of his kids in better days, it makes you ask questions … why?”

Helping those left behind

Thinking positively and focusing on his own family helped Mr Bobridge get through the tough days.

“You learn to block it out and realise that you’re there to help the families,” he said.

“When you’re suited up and you have your mask on you can’t smell it; you just go in and clean and not think about it.”

Furniture has to be removed from the home before cleaning can begin (Image via ABC)

Ms Farry said she focused on the families they were assisting by cleaning up the sometimes distressing scenes.

“I’m probably thick-skinned from nursing, but I think about the job and getting the home back to the families,” she said.

“I always think about how my services have helped the families so they don’t have to deal with it.

“There was an incident in Toowong where a lady had died and her brother was so overwhelmed that we could help.

“He was able to come back into the house and get their belongings and he was so happy we could take that burden away from him.”


How to clean up a meth lab

Mr Bobridge said cleaning up condemned meth labs had become a big part of the team’s work.

“If the police shuts down a meth lab, then the house is condemned and it has to be cleaned straight away,” he said.

“The cost of a meth lab to be cleaned up is about $25,000 minimum and that’s just to decontaminate the property.

“There are tests done to indicate if there’s toxic residue there, and then a second test tells you about the level of contamination in the house.”

PHOTO: Elias Bobridge and Charina Farry work together to restore homes which have become crime scenes. (Image via ABC)

He said the amount of waste to be removed from meth labs could take days.

“For every one pound of meth produced, five to seven pounds of toxic waste [is produced] and that ends up in the floors, walls, the furniture, and it all has to be taken away and disposed of,” Mr Bobridge said.

“The problem we find is people who have rental properties, as they’re the best spot for criminals to do their business and then move on.

“In the US you can get insurance for that, but here in Australia you can only get landlord insurance … it’s a problem.”

This post originally appeared on ABC News

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