What is it like to be a crime scene cleaner? How much do they earn? (2023)

Warning: This article contains images that may be disturbing. The article originally appeared onNetherlands

I met Tugrul Cirakoglu in Wehl, a town in eastern Holland, at the home of a woman who died a month ago after falling down the stairs. The police took her body, so now it's our job to clean her house.

When I arrive, Cirakoglu is outside, busy putting on his disposable coveralls. Together we ring the bell. The deceased's niece opens the door and lets us in. The stench in the house is so strong that I feel sick. Cirakoglu, on the other hand, calmly cleans up the huge amount of body fluid in the hall. I look at the hundreds of worms she is sweeping away and wonder why they are so dark. "These are meat worms," ​​he explains. "They're a different type than what you'd find in a compost pile."

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We spent about two hours getting rid of flies, removing bloodstained rugs from the stairs, and installing air fresheners. It's time enough to chat with Cirakoglu about how the 29-year-old started his cleaning business, the only service in the Netherlands specializing in "crime and trauma scene cleaning".

What is it like to be a crime scene cleaner? How much do they earn? (1)

Tugrul Cirakoglu.

(Video) What It’s Like Starting Out as a Crime Scene Cleaner!

VICE: How did you become a crime scene cleaner?
Tugrul Cirakoglu:After graduating with a Masters in Management and International Business, I struggled to find a job, so I decided to start my own business. With only €300 to my name, I founded the cleaning company Frisse Kater [Fresh Hangover] in 2014. Initially, the company focused on cleaning after house parties. But when I realized that the "more extreme, more profitable" rule applied to the cleaning industry, I decided to start focusing on extraordinary cleaning jobs. I spent four months on the internet reading about cleaning things like blood and bodily fluids.

You've learned?
Mostly I learned that cleaning equipment is expensive. Over the last four years, I have invested €150,000 in equipment such as special disinfectants, degreasers, brushes, squeegees, gloves, disposable overalls, oxygen masks and specialized vacuum cleaners. The vacuum cleaners, which cost 1,500 euros each, have a special filter that prevents bacteria from entering the air. You need them when you want to vacuum up corpse dust, for example.

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I'm sorry?
When a corpse is left to decompose for too long, it begins to turn to dust. If you clean it with a regular broom or vacuum cleaner, some of this dust is thrown into the air. When you inhale, it's like you're inhaling small parts of a corpse, which can lead to all sorts of illnesses.

(Video) How People Make a Living by Cleaning Up Crime Scenes | Inc.

What is it like to be a crime scene cleaner? How much do they earn? (3)

And can you afford all that equipment?
Definitely, last year we earned €250,000. Although I stopped worrying about money so much, my goal is to earn a million a year. At the moment I keep about half of the profit; the other half covers my employees, office space, cleaning supplies, cars and taxes.

How to determine how much to charge?
I work for different categories. I have a spreadsheet that defines the cost of my inputs and the profit margins of my work. For example, if you want to remove 150 kilos of faeces from a bathroom, you are in the most serious cleaning category and you may have to shell out €3,600 per day of work. In the lowest category, a day's work costs around 1,700 euros.

One hundred and fifty kilos of feces? Did this really happen?
Yea! In May, we got a call from a building management company that needed to remove 300 pounds of poop from a toilet. People from neighboring apartments complained about the smell. The toilet of the person who lived in the current apartment got clogged at some point, but instead of doing anything about it, he kept taking a shit. First he filled the entire toilet, then the floor around it. In the end, he would stand on the threshold of the bathroom to shit on him. It filled the entire bathroom and her bedroom door was right next door. The building manager agreed to let this person stay in the apartment, so she was there on cleaning day, reading the newspaper as if nothing had happened.

(Video) 3 things to know BEFORE becoming a crime scene cleaner

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What is it like to be a crime scene cleaner? How much do they earn? (4)

Outside the cleaning scene.

Was this your most intense assignment so far?
No, we've had crazier missions. Two years ago, we had a job cleaning a house where a morbidly obese man had been decomposing for five months before his family noticed he wasn't answering his phone, so they showed up at his house with the police. After someone has been decomposing for so long, there isn't much the police can remove. Their remains are scooped up with a shovel and placed in a bag. This man has turned into soup. The officers told me that the smell was so strong that they vomited as soon as they entered the house. And after opening the balcony doors for fresh air, half the guests at the hotel across the street left because the stench was overpowering.

What did you find when you got there?
Because the guy was so heavy and had been there for so long, his bodily fluids and worms were spread over about ten square meters. His entire floor and the layer beneath it had to come out. The fluids seeped into the concrete and turned it black and your entire kitchen was damaged. The owner hired us because he wanted to rent it out to someone else. This job fell into the more serious category.

We clean up all kinds of things: stabbings, shootings. We had a person who was attacked at home with an axe. The ax had fallen on his head and brain tissue was splattered on the wall. Or a woman who stabbed herself dozens of times while suffering from psychosis. It was a lot of blood.

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But the most intense thing I encountered was cleaning up the remains of people who had GI bleeding. With bleeding in the stomach, there is a lot of blood and stool.

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Screenshot of Cirakoglu's YouTube page.

Did this happen recently?
Six months ago, we had a 32-year-old man who suffered a GI bleed and stayed alive in his own bed for a month, lying in his own urine, blood and feces. He was too sick to get up. After that, he suffered another stomach hemorrhage. He died from it a few days later. The worst part is this guy had roommates. They didn't check on him until a week after he died because they smelled something. No one noticed he was in pain for five weeks straight. These people were all drug addicts. While we were working there, one of the roommates came by and asked if he could have the dead man's laptop. They couldn't wait for us to finish.

How do you clean a bloody surface?
You rub hard. It also depends on the situation: if the blood is on a non-porous material, we can clean it. But porous surfaces like wood must be removed. When dealing with a dead body, the question is always: are we lucky? Has the body started to leak really well or are we looking at total chaos?

What effect does the job have on you personally?
Since starting this job, I've begun to recognize the rotten nature of humanity. The fact that people die doesn't surprise me, it's been happening since the beginning of time. But what surprises me is how rampant loneliness and mental health issues are in the Netherlands. They always paint us as a beautiful and happy country. But how can someone have 150 kilos of feces in the bathroom? How can someone else be dead in your house for five months and nobody cares? These examples make you realize that the Netherlands is one of the most individualistic countries in the world. I also go to the dirty homes of successful lawyers and doctors. They cry to me in their living room about how lonely they are. I have no problem with blood and dirt. But seeing and feeling the intense loneliness and sadness, it really gets to me.

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