For many years, Miguel Ángel M. moved bodies in funeral vans following the profession that his family had historically carried out. It did so until 2010, when it detected a somewhat peculiar market niche in the Spanish funeral sector. This is the specialized cleaning of organic remains and body fluids in spaces where a crime has been committed. In Spain it was a virgin field to exploit, although in countries like the United States there was already a long history that has even been brought to the screens with series like ‘CSI’ or movies like ‘Sunshine Cleaning’ and ‘You assassin, we clean the blood’, or the peculiar character of Señor Lobo in ‘Pulp Fiction’, when Harvey Keitel solves the ballot for Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson.”

There are times when you even have to lift the floor, because the fluids have seeped through the parquet and there is no other choice but to clean underneath,” explains Miguel Ángel to El Confidencial. The cleaners of the company where he works, DEP Cleaning Specials, were trained in Orlando and later shared with him the cleaning tricks that today are confidential to maintain their status within the sector. This company, based in Madrid, is one of the first to offer these services in Spain and since then it has already eliminated the ‘post-mortem’ trail of dozens of anonymous people, but also public ones, whose identity they cannot reveal. The rise of this type of business has reached the main capitals of the country and companies such as EcoServeis in Barcelona or the pioneer Cleaning González in Albacete stand out.

The boom in the market reaches such a point that Miguel Ángel flatly refuses to provide information on the chemicals or cleaning methods used in his company. “The competition is very strong, the funeral sector is very small and there are many interests involved,” confesses the expert. The main difficulty, which also intensifies in the summer months, is the smell strong and durable.

From 500 to 6,000 euros

As for the cost, going to the cleaning of these professionals is not within the reach of all pockets. The price of the service varies depending on the treatments required for optimal cleaning of the crime scene, the days of work and the scene of the events. The range fluctuates between 500 euros and 6,000, and it may be that in one day the space is almost sterilized or that they have to wait weeks for the products to take effect. Homicides, suicides, unattended deaths or people with Diogenes syndrome. The pictures they find are of all kinds. The cleaners are unaware of what happened when they come to sanitize the spaces, but there are already many gloves that have been put on and the white overalls that have been left to throw away. “When we go in, we already know very quickly what may have happened and, if not, we usually try to find out based on how the objects are placed or the amount of blood there is,” Miguel Ángel admits.

‘When he transferred lifeless bodies from hospitals or houses to the Forensic Anatomical Institute, funeral homes or cemeteries, he had nightmares at night. So, for him, this job change has been almost liberation. “What you see are remains, you don’t put a face on them, and so it seems that you don’t pick up any kind of feeling”, describes Miguel Ángel to make himself understood. He refers to the traces of blood, insects or worms that remain on sheets, walls or mattresses, and which he deals with as “something familiar, as if he were cleaning the remains of a sewer and with time it would no longer be so unpleasant”.

A jungle… of competition

But the funeral cleaners fear for their survival. There are no protocols that regulate the trade by law and, consequently, they face fierce competition from clients and competitive rates. Unlike countries like the United States, where the sector is regulated, in Spain the action protocols are conspicuous by their absence. The professionals of DEP Cleaning Specials opened the business with the expectation that, after the passing of the years, the sanitary organisms would regulate their exercise. To this day, nothing has changed. Before the appearance of these companies, each family member cleaned the stench of their loved ones or hired non-specialized companies to do so. Chaos is the common denominator in all scenes. Although they are already immunized against death, Miguel Ángel admits that “there are situations that one never gets used to, such as deaths due to gender violence”, which unfortunately are always too many.


By Williumson

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