What Is a Biohazard Vehicle and How Does Biohazard Car Cleaning Work?

Any type of accident or injury in a vehicle requires much more than a wipe down of the surface to remove visible fluids. Without the right techniques, cleaning protocols, and disposal methods, a biohazard vehicle can potentially spread dangerous and even life-threatening viruses and bacteria to passengers.

Vehicle remediation or biohazard car cleaning involves a thorough chemical treatment to disinfect surfaces, pathogens, and odors, removal of surfaces that can’t be cleaned, and thorough testing to ensure the vehicle is safe to use. Eco Bear serves Southern California and Las Vegas as a licensed biohazard waste cleanup company. We offer diligent and discreet biohazard cleaning with compassionate technicians who can spare you any potential emotional strain and health risks from attempting to deal with a biohazard situation on your own.

What Is a Biohazard Vehicle?

A biohazard vehicle refers to any vehicle, including RVs, SUVs, and cars, that are contaminated with some type of potentially infectious material such as blood, feces, semen, or vomit. You may require biohazard car cleaning for many reasons such as:

  • A dog getting sick while traveling
  • Childbirth or water breaking during labor
  • A police vehicle transporting an injured person
  • Suicide or homicide in the vehicle
  • Injuries in a car accident

Biohazard vehicle cleaning can be used for passenger vehicles as well as rideshare cars and taxis, police and first responder vehicles, and recreational vehicles. Biohazard material typically qualifies as a reason for a car becoming “salvaged.” In some cases, even a few drops of blood on the car’s interior can qualify it for a Biohazard/Salvaged designation. As with other types of salvaged cars, it’s possible to address the issue and restore the car’s safety and cleanliness. Improper cleaning and disinfection methods, however, will cause pest problems, odors, and possibly biohazard risks further down the road.

Biohazard Car Cleaning

Biohazard cleanup should always be conducted by licensed and trained professionals who are certified to handle and dispose of biohazard waste. Biohazard materials like blood can still contain active and transmittable viruses and bacteria even days or weeks after an accident or injury. For example, the hepatitis A virus can survive for months outside of the body, even in dried feces. MRSA can also survive for months on hard and soft surfaces and up to 6 months on blankets. In addition to the health risk, biohazard material in a vehicle will also lead to unpleasant odors and even pest problems if it isn’t cleaned and sanitized correctly.

The biohazard vehicle cleanup process is a multi-step approach that ensures all surfaces in the vehicle are free of biological materials and safe to use. The following is an overview of how biohazard car cleanup works.

#1. Assessment

The first stage of any biohazard cleanup is a careful hazard assessment of the vehicle. A technician in personal protective gear will perform an adenosine triphosphate (ATP) test on surfaces in the vehicle with a handheld device to test for the presence of ATP molecules that indicate cellular activity. All living organisms give off ATP when using energy. This assessment determines the scope of the contamination and it’s used to determine the best cleanup approach.

#2. Removal of Damaged Materials

Not all materials in a vehicle may be safely cleaned and sanitized. These materials must be removed and disposed of according to state and federal regulations on biohazard removal and transportation. In a vehicle, cloth and leather-covered surfaces, including carpet floor mats, seat cushions, and upholstery, typically cannot be cleaned and must be removed. This is why public service vehicles used by first responders are designed with nonporous surfaces that are easy to clean and disinfect.

All visible traces of biological materials and blood will also be removed from affected surfaces during this phase, including surfaces that can be disinfected. This is the riskiest step of vehicle remediation.

#3. Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Deodorizing

Only once items that cannot be disinfected are removed and visible traces of biologicals are cleaned can the actual cleaning and disinfection stage begin. The interior and any contaminated exterior surfaces of the vehicle are wiped down with a special agent that breaks down biological material like blood. Every surface that is potentially contaminated must be wiped down with this solution, even tiny nooks, and crannies for proper sterilization and to avoid odors in the future.

Next, a disinfecting solution is sprayed over all affected surfaces to ensure any potential bloodborne pathogens are destroyed. This disinfectant must cure for at least 10 minutes before all surfaces are wiped down again. Once disinfected, the vehicle can be deodorized for a long-lasting, fresh smell without the risk of odors returning.

#4. Testing

The final stage of biohazard car cleanup is crucial. All surfaces inside and outside of the vehicle will be tested with a product that reacts to contaminants to ensure every surface is clean. A second ATP test is also conducted to ensure hospital-grade disinfection standards in the vehicle.

Trustworthy Biohazard Cleaning

Whether you are buying a biohazard/salvaged car at auction or your family has suffered a tragedy, you can count on Eco Bear for discrete, caring, and reliable biohazard car cleaning in Southern California. Our licensed, trained technicians follow all OSHA guidelines and state and federal regulations in the removal, transportation, and cleanup of biohazard waste with a rigorous testing process in place to ensure your vehicle is once again clean and safe to use. We serve private individuals, businesses, and state organizations with trusted biohazard cleanup for vehicles throughout Southern California.

Photo Courtesy of Dan Jeffery.

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