Unattended death describes a situation in which someone passes away outside of a medical provider’s care. This may be because of a variety of circumstances, like a medical event, accident, murder, or suicide.

Several things can impact the need for cleanup. In some situations, emergency services will discover the deceased quickly, but the area will still require cleanup due to the cause of death. In other situations, someone may not discover the person for days or weeks. In these situations, professional cleaning is almost always needed.

Unattended death situations are often full of biohazards. Biohazards are fluids or excrement from living beings that are full are pathogens that can cause disease or death if someone is exposed. To ensure that the cleaning process treats all biohazards properly, you need a company like Scene Clean after an unattended death.

Body Fluids

The human body is full of fluids; the death and decomposition of the human body also involve a lot of fluids. Bodily fluids like urine, blood, and vomit have pathogens that can make people sick if they try to clean them up themselves.

The cause of death factors into how much cleaning human biohazardous material will require. A violent death often involves more blood and fluids than a heart attack. However, even less-violent causes of death can sometimes involve blood, vomiting, urine, and feces, all of which need proper cleaning.

Each stage of decomposition will need some professional cleaning. The rate of decomposition depends on things like the temperature, humidity, and if there are scavengers around. Regardless of the stage of decomposition, pathogens will release into the air, making it dangerous to clean yourself.

  • The first stage of decomposition begins a few minutes after death. Blisters filled with fluid can appear inside and on the skin. These lesions will eventually rupture.
  • Stage two involves pathogens and bacteria that cause the body to bloat, leading to a horrific odor that only professionals can remedy.
  • Stage three happens with the release of fluids through body orifices as the soft tissues decompose. These fluids can sink into mattresses, walls, carpets, and subfloors and require a professional to return the property to a safe and habitable state.

Pet Problems

When a pet owner dies an unattended death, they leave their pets unattended. Depending on how long it takes to discover the body, the pets may survive! However, it’s not uncommon for a pet – cats in particular – to eat the body thus adding to the complexity of an unattended death. Pets also may end up spreading urine and feces around the home. It’s not their fault; without someone to look after them, they do what they must. Still, odors and health then become a problem.

This may also include scavenging through garbage or left-out food, which in turn may cause nausea and diarrhea. In some situations, tragedy compounds itself and people do not find the pets in time. Under these circumstances, the animal’s body will begin to go through the stages of decomposition.


Pets aren’t the only critters that may be present on a cleanup scene. Bugs and rodents may also be present. Insects like flies may become attracted to a body within the first 24 hours. They won’t necessarily leave after the body does, either. Flies may linger, and maggots may fester in fluids left behind.

Depending on the state of the home, there may be creatures such as rats and mice present. Rodents can cause significant property damage, and they often carry diseases. You should only clean rat and mouse droppings with proper protective equipment and methods. Their feces can carry a disease called hantavirus, leading to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.

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If it takes a while to discover an unattended death, food in the home will decompose. Once food decomposes, mold, fungus, and rot may spread. Bugs can also become an issue. The odor can sometimes be worse than the odor of the body itself. Handling rotten food can be hazardous to your health, so it is important to ensure proper cleanup.

Fungus, Mold, and Water Damage

Fungus and mold can also occur due to water damage and body fluids. Water damage can occur due to poor upkeep of the location, leaving taps on, the manner of death, or bodily fluids spilling during the removal of the body.

Some types of mold and fungus can be odorous or dangerous to breathe in. Additionally, it can be difficult to remediate water damage on your own. In most cases, you’ll want to hire a company that can thoroughly and properly restore your property.


The unfortunate truth is that hoarding situations can make an unattended death more likely. Many hoarders don’t let people into their homes; if they die, people may not discover the body for some time.

Hoarding situations may have hazards that can cause accidents and may also have other problems, such as:

  • Spoiled food
  • Mold
  • Fungus growth
  • Pests

An emergency team may have trouble accessing the home, especially in the event of an unattended death.

Cleaning up the hoard of a loved one can feel insurmountable and traumatizing. We work alongside local hoarding services to make the cleaning process easier on grieving families, but we also work with hoarders to help them make their homes livable again.

Let Us Help


Don’t try to take on the cleaning of an unattended death yourself. Scene Clean is a Minnesota company with locations in Osseo, Bloomington, Woodb

ury, and St. Cloud. Our technicians have over 100 years of combined experience, and we rigorously follow OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standards for biohaz

ard cleaning.

We have certifications from the American Bio Recovery Association (ABRA), the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), and the EPA for lead paint removal.

Contact us today or for emergencies call 612.643.0911.