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Biohazard Clean Up Published March 15, 2011Last Updated July 10, 2018

Controlling Catastrophic Odors

One of the most annoying situations a home owner can face is a “catastrophic” odor.  Unpleasant odors are frequently a cause for concern. There are a limitless amount of over-the-counter (OTC) products that are available to help deal with these odors.  In most cases, these products will help control and eliminate odors, but they won’t work in every situation.  In situations that involve not so routine odors such as skunk, serious pet urine odor, and the odors associated with decomposition, you may want more than OTC help.

Before you start getting rid of the odors, remember that safety is the most important thing. You can be dealing with some forms of biological contamination; therefore it is extremely important to be safe.  You will need gloves, eye protection, something that will cover your skin in case of a spill or splash, and also an N-95 disposable respirator which you can purchase from any Home Depot or similar stores.  The disposable respirator will prevent anything from getting into the mucus membranes of your nose and mouth.

After you have ensured your safety, the first step in getting rid of an odor, is removing the source.  If pet urine is on a non-porous surface, thorough cleaning is the first step and may be enough. Due to pet urine and also skunk spray containing natural oils which is the cause of the smell, you will want a strong detergent.  Using warm water and the strong detergent should be effective and should not take long. After washing the surface, rinse it with warm water. If the smell is still there, repeat the process. Make sure to rinse with warm water, as it will clean away any residue left behind.

If the contamination of pet urine or skunk is on a porous surface, like it most commonly is, cleaning them is also the first step.  The odor may be on a rug, couch, drapes, etc. Clean these as you would a non-porous surface. If this does not work, then you may need to call a professional biohazard cleanup and restoration service like PuroClean. If the surface can be thrown away, that is also an option.

Semi-porous surfaces, such as wood, can be a little different. Cleaning them again is the first step, but you want to use the cleaning solution liberally. The goal is to have the surface absorb the same amount of cleaning solution as odor to try to neutralize the surface.  If particle board is heavily damaged by any fluid it cannot be restored to its pre odor condition, and will need to be thrown away.  If the surface is too large or complicated for you to clean yourself, you should consider calling PuroClean to get the job done. PuroClean professionals have specific training, access to specialized equipment, and professional grade products to handle cleaning and odor issues.

When you are dealing with an odor problem from decomposition, you should always consider calling a biohazard restoration company, such as PuroClean. If the situation involves a deceased person, then it is essential. After the proper authorities (coroner, medical examiner,etc.) have removed the body, then cleaning and decontaminating the remaining fluids come under federal or state, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Blood and Other Potentially Infectious Material (BOPIM) regulations. These regulations specify the training, equipment, safety issues, and products that must be used to safely remove and decontaminate an area damaged by BOPIM.

If the source of the decomposition odor is a rodent or other small animal, the odor usually seems to be much larger! In this situation you may still want to call PuroClean to handle the job. If you decide to “do it yourself,” then the approach is similar to the above. When dealing with animals and their decomposition it is even more important to follow all of the safety steps due to the animal’s decomposition materials. Damaged, absorbent materials are simply put in the trash. Semi-porous and nonporous materials need to be thoroughly cleaned and then sanitized with a disinfectant. OTC disinfectants are very effective and will result in a clean and sanitary surface.

If after your hard work the odor is still present, then try an air freshener. If the problem persists, call PuroClean. PuroClean biohazard cleanup and restoration professionals will have special products as well as special equipment, such as ozone or hydroxyl generators that can be very effective in completing the deodorizing process.

Regardless of the circumstances – dealing with an odor problem, water damage, fire/smoke damage, or mold remediation — call your local PuroClean office, the Paramedics of Property Damage™. For all property damage situations, our property damage professionals are standing by. They will mitigate the loss to prevent further damage and will then provide restoration services to return the property to a preloss condition as quickly as possible. All PuroClean offices have well-trained professional technicians who provide the latest state-of-the-science services to all property damaged from water, fire, smoke, mold, and other disasters.