With the legalizing of marijuana for recreational use in many states and more coming on board, as restorers we can expect to see more cleaning jobs that involve this type of residue, especially in rental situations.
Not unlike a smoke damage job, the cleaning process and solutions that we use will depend on severity. In some ways, the cleaning and deodorizing process is similar to fire cleanup as far as the steps we take to eliminate odor and clean.
Proper assessment is key at the beginning of the job so you know your level of contamination. This will also help determine what cleaning and deodorizing solutions as well as processes you will need to use to get the structure and contents back to a pre-loss condition.
Let’s say you have a mild residue issue. First, clean the walls and ceilings of all affected areas using a wall wash solution with 9D9 added for deodorization. Other surfaces in the structure can be cleaned with a mild degreaser cleaner. Don’t forget details like bathroom fixtures, windows, door hardware, etc.
If you are dealing with a more severe residue issue, you will want to clean the walls and ceilings using a more aggressive solution like Degrease-All. If you use a product such as Wall Wash, you do not have to paint the surface affected afterward. If you use Degrease-All, you will have to paint the areas after you clean them. So you don’t want to jump to this aggressive step unless it is absolutely necessary. What is important is to make sure that all residue is off of the walls. Plus, when you’re done, you may still need to seal the surface with an odor sealer to get rid of staining.
Carpet & Soft Contents
Once you handled the hard contents, walls, and so on, it’s time to be sure all flooring and soft goods like bedding and window treatments are also thoroughly cleaned – especially because of their odor-absorbing properties. You also need to eliminate any items that are paper or cardboard. If paper items need to be cleaned, you will want to use a dry cleaning or chem sponge for the process.
Electronics & Personal Items
Electronics that have been exposed to the marijuana residue will need to be thoroughly cleaned as well. These items may need to be wet cleaned using an ultrasonic unit.
Odor Removal & IAQ
After a thorough cleaning of the structure and personal items has been done, you may want to deodorize the structure and contents using either hydroxyl generators or ozone machines. My personal preference is to use hydroxyl as it is not as toxic and damaging to contents as ozone can be. And hydroxyl allows you to start the deodorizing process during your cleaning.
Using an air scrubber may be warranted as this will pull particulates out of the air. The HVAC system and ducting may also need to be cleaned where there has been marijuana use. The residue can be pulled through the system if it was running. If not properly cleaned you could contaminate all over again the structure and contents after cleaning. At a minimum, all air filters should be replaced.
Safety & PPE
Safety is also a big factor when cleaning this type of residue. Personal protective gear is going to be needed to protect your crew. Gloves, eye protectors, respirators and possibly Tyvek suits need to be necessary depending on the severity of the job.
It is important to note that not all insurance policies may cover this type of cleaning so you will need to do your due diligence on a case by case basis.