Answering the question, What does a dead body smell like? can be difficult if you have never been around a dead body before. However, some people compare the putrid stench of a decomposing body to that of rotting fruit.
When someone dies, the body immediately begins the decomposition process and the smell of death can begin. The body will begin to smell due to various gases created by microorganisms during the stages of decomposition.
In addition to the extremely unpleasant odor, body decomposition fluids can permeate porous materials, which in a home can include carpet, subflooring, walls, concrete, and more, causing a smell that cannot be removed by ordinary cleaning methods.
What Causes a Decomposing Body to Smell?
A decomposing body goes through four stages: autolysis, bloat, active decay, and skeletonization. During the first stage of decomposition, enzymes begin eating cells from the inside out. During the second stage, trapped gases that are generated primarily by bacteria in the intestinal tract begin to build up and release odors.
6 Common Decomposition Odors | What Does Death Smell Like?
In addition to various gases, a dead human body releases around 30 different chemical compounds. The gases and compounds produced in a decomposing body emit distinct odors. While not all compounds produce odors, several compounds do have recognizable odors, including:
- Cadaverine and putrescine smell like rotting flesh
- Skatole has a strong feces odor
- Indole has a mustier, mothball-like smell
- Hydrogen sulfide smells like rotten eggs
- Methanethiol smells of rotting cabbage
- Dimethyl disulfide and trisulfide have a foul, garlic-like odor
The Smell of Death and Its Affect
Because a body begins decomposing immediately after death, biological hazards can damage personal belongings and a building’s structure, as fluids and odors permeate all porous materials.
Nearly every microorganism is involved in some aspect of the human decomposition cycle, so attempting to clean the scene is extremely dangerous and should be left to a professional crime scene and trauma cleanup company. Additionally, the smell of death can linger for some time, so a professional's help is needed.
Aftermath Can Help
Aftermath protects your family’s health by cleaning and disinfecting the site of a dead body as soon as possible so the grieving family can safely enter the residence and begin the healing process. We restore the environment to a safe condition by removing affected structural elements, and ensuring that no residual chemicals, bacteria, or microorganisms remain behind.
Our compassionate, professional team can remove body composition smell from your home or business. Contact us 24/7 online and at (877) 872-4339.