When you have kids, you quickly become an expert in stain removal or go broke buying new carpets. You no longer put a dress shirt on before your 2-year-old’s breakfast. You know enough to leave the back seat of your car alone. And you haven’t bought anything that’s white since Puff Daddy made music videos. You do it, because you know that a kid can cover everything in spit, shit, puke, and occasionally blood, in seconds.
Neal Smither, owner of Crime Scene Cleaners Inc. in Oakland, California is just like you. He’s on call 24 hours a day to clean up a gag-reflex-triggering mess. Unlike you, he gets paid for it. And if this mean streets sweeper can scrub out a drug deal gone bad, you can manage some spit-up on the couch. “I can get almost everything out,” says Smither, who found his calling when he saw “The Wolf” clean up what was left of Marvin in Pulp Fiction. “It was like an epiphany for me. It opened my eyes. I said, ‘F–k! I can do that!’” And now you can, too.
What Cleansers to Use
The crew at CSC go through their own custom batches of enzyme cleansers, which target specific body fluids. Since you can’t get these chemicals on Amazon, Smither recommends 2 simple household cleaners that work: Dish soap and Simple Green.
- Dish Soap. “I’m a firm believer of dish soap for a lot of things,” Smither says. “It’s an effective cleanser. It cuts grease. It’s gentle, not abrasive. It cuts protein — it’s a very targeted type of a cleanser. The same goes for laundry detergent. It’s going after protein, and that’s what feces is.”
- Simple Green. “We use enzymes, which only work on proteins,” says Smither. “But no one else is going to have that. So I recommend Simple Green. It is a phenomenal cleaner, and you can just dilute the [stained area].” It’s also non-toxic, biodegradable, and received the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
Cleaning Up Skid Row
For every diaper blowout or potty that wasn’t found in time, here’s how to make the best of a shitty situation. Step 1: Scoop any large remnants. Step 2: Dispose. Step 3: Grab some liquid Dawn. “I’d use dish soap to get the stains out,” says Smither. “I would mix a 20 percent to 1 percent water-to-soap — just very, very diluted. I would spray it on the stain or my rag, and dab it out.”
Smither also recommends isolated stains should be treated with cold water. After enough of the stain is eliminated, throw those clothes in the washing machine. If none of that works, stop taking your kids to Chipotle.
If You’re Gonna Spew …
Unfortunately, no one really grows out of puking. So you can also use these tips when your old college buddies visit and pretend you’re still in college. “Puke is either going to come out or it’s going to destroy the surface. If [kids] are puking up something acidic, you’re f–ked! But if it’s dinner that’s burped up, then I would use the same technique as poop,” but with Simple Green instead of dish soap because it’s the stronger of the 2. And be slow, but firm when you’re scrubbing. “You got to ease into the mess,” he says. “You don’t want to remember a big pile of puke on your carpet.”
Hardwood Is Actually Easywood
Your realtor sold you on those floors, and now it’s paying off. “Hardwood floors are simple,” says Smither, who says use any cleaner you want on wood, but be quick. “I would use Simple Green. I’d wipe up the heavy duty stuff. Bag it. And do my detailed cleaning with a non-abrasive scrubby sponge and whatever absorbent material to wipe it up. You’ve got to do that quickly, because with wood floors, that stuff can stay.” Don’t put that security deposit in jeopardy.
Restoring That New Car Smell
Kids getting motion sickness is the Kobayashi Maru of driving. You can’t do anything while you’re behind the wheel. You don’t want to pull into a gas station to clean puke. But, when you finally do, Smither says you really just need a shop vac and some patience. “It’s just a more detailed job, because you have a lot of cracks and crevices. A decent vacuum with fine attachments will suck those crevices out after you’ve applied your cleansers.”
The floor carpet is easy: Just take it to an auto detailer and get it shampooed. The car seats? “Those foam fillers in the seats are so dense that if it absorbs anything, it’ll almost not come out entirely.”
Of course, you need to keep things in perspective and remember that while you’re picking up regurgitated Cheerios, the guys at CSC are picking up parts of brain. “The intensity of the waste is mindboggling,” says Smither about his gig. “It’s so fucking nasty. It’s quite foul. It really is.”