- After Tugrul Cirakoglu finished his studies, he started a business cleaning up after house parties.
- The 29-year-old noticed that the worse the mess, the higher the price he could charge for a job.
- Cirakoglu specialized in “trauma cleaning,” cleaning up crime scenes and “unattended deaths.”
“Specialize and pick your own niche,” is a piece of advice most entrepreneurs will have heard at some point throughout their careers, however, 29-year-old Tugrul Cirakoglu seems to really have taken it to heart.
In September 2014, after graduating and struggling to find work elsewhere, Cirakoglu started a cleaning company that started by cleaning up after parties, and has since progressed to tidying up after hoarders and clearing crime scenes, according to an interview he gave to Vice Nederland.
This specialty is referred to as “trauma cleaning”. Taking on the tough jobs that seemingly no one else wants to do seems to work out in Cirakoglu’s favor, at least financially, as according to his interview with Vice, he’s regularly called out to clean-up jobs that can earn him up to several thousand dollars a day.
The Amsterdam-based cleaner regularly posts images online to showcase his work. However, a word of warning that some of the images on his Instagram account make for graphic viewing that requires a strong stomach, so scroll his feed with discretion.
How it all started
For Cirakoglu, it all started with much more inoffensive work.
Though “student digs” and “post-house-party” scenes aren’t exactly renowned for being the cleanest places on Earth, they’re certainly not in the same ballpark as most of the jobs Cirakoglu comes across nowadays.
Five years ago, Cirakoglu had earned a Master’s degree in Management & International Business, yet he was still struggling to find a job.
With a little over $300 in start-up capital, he founded his company, “Frisse Kater”. Though it initially focused on “deep-cleaning” after house parties, Cirakoglu soon started noticing that, the dirtier the job, the better they paid.
“The more extreme, the more lucrative,” appears to be the rule, according to the entrepreneur. It’s for this reason that Cirakoglu decided to focus purely on extreme and exceptionally dirty jobs.
He promises his customers such a thorough cleaning job, that it will be “as though nothing had ever happened”.
Often, there are serious issues with hygiene in the homes Cirakoglu visits.
From hoarders who compulsively collect objects in their homes to the point where they’re drowning in clutter to people who soil themselves and their own homes, there are probably few things Cirakoglu hasn’t seen.
In May, a housing association asked Cirakoglu to shovel 150 kilograms of human feces out of a bathroom as residents had complained about the stench. Though the toilet had been clogged for some time, the resident had just continued to relieve themselves to the point where it had overflowed with waste and covered the floor.
“In the end, the resident would simply go to the threshold of the bathroom and use the doorstep to relieve themselves,” Cirakoglu told Vice.
In 2017, Cirakoglu was called out to a job in Eindhoven, where it turned out that a large individual had passed away without anyone noticing. The death had remained “unattended” for five months, to the point where there was very little left in the way of discernable remains. The odor was so substantial that, when the police opened the windows, the guests in the hotel opposite were forced to leave.
The bodily fluids and human waste had spread over 10 square meters of floor space over the months. The house was in such an unimaginable state that the landlord was willing to pay the first price Cirakoglu offered in order to clean the house thoroughly.
As well as places where incidents have occurred, Cirakoglu often attends to scenes where violent crimes have taken place. The cleaner explained that certain types of accidents or death entail more cleaning than others.
Heavier-duty jobs can cost up to $4,000
Cirakoglu divides his jobs into categories to ascertain a price. The “heavier” the category, the higher the price. For example, cleaning out 150 kilograms of human waste from an overflowing bathroom would fall into the heaviest category, costing around $4,000 a day, he told Vice.
Even for a job in the lightest category, you can easily make somewhere in the region of $2,000. Last year, Cirakoglu made nearly $300,000 in turnover and he thinks he can definitely increase that figure to $1 million a year.
He’s earned this enviable salary despite working in a field he was never trained for — he is self-taught and for four months, he read everything there was to find on the internet about the toughest cleaning jobs.
He learned everything about cleaning up bodily fluids, which cleaning materials to use, as well as which disinfectants and which degreasers are the best for which jobs. From brushes and shovels to gloves and disposable overalls, he researched it all himself.
He didn’t have to go through any kind of inspection for a permit as there isn’t one for this sort of field, which Cirakoglu finds “weird”. The only licenses required are those for transporting medical waste, which can’t just be disposed of in normal trash receptacles. Otherwise, there are no other permits or laws, according to the self-made cleaning entrepreneur.
Hazardous air and blood
Not only is the work incredibly dirty; it can also be rather dangerous.
Cirakoglu explained that, when someone has passed away and their remains are left for a considerable period of time, their body begins to decompose and produces a sort of dust.
As soon as you start sweeping or vacuuming, you start unsettling this dust and blowing it around into the surrounding air.
“If you breathe it in, you’re basically breathing in parts of the deceased person. You can get contract all sorts of diseases from that,” he told Vice. He also warned that you need to be careful with blood — even if blood from a deceased person has been around for some time, there’s still a risk of infection.
Customers pay a danger premium for these kinds of jobs
When Cirakoglu gets called out, he goes armed with special equipment like special vacuum cleaners equipped with heavy filters that prevent bacteria from being blown into the air. The equipment also comes at a hefty price — according to Cirakoglu, this type of cleaner can cost up to $1,600.
The extreme situations in which the cleaner finds himself aren’t what stop him in his tracks; it isn’t the dirt or the graphic scenes but the devastating story behind each one.
“I don’t find it shocking that people are murdered; that’s been happening for as long as we can remember. What surprises me is the prevalence of loneliness and mental health problems in the Netherlands,” he told Vice, highlighting the fact that the notion of a person willing to use a clogged bathroom for months on end is in stark contrast to the beautiful image of the Netherlands often painted out.
“You ask yourself how someone can lie dead in his home for five months unnoticed without anyone caring,” reflected Cirakoglu. “It’s then that you really start to notice that the Netherlands is actually one of the most individualistic countries in the world.”