02/10/2014 02:00 pm ET Updated Feb 14, 2017

The Dirty, Stinking Truth About Real-Life Hoarders (GRAPHIC, NSFW)

Laura Spaulding / Spaulding Decon

A&E's "Hoarders" has forever changed the crime scene cleanup business.

Whenever Laura Spaulding gets a call for a job, prospective clients usually describe the dilapidated, urine-soaked, garbage-festooned premisses they need cleaned as "bad," but "not as bad as the show."

The truth is, it's always worse. Always.

"When you're leaving s--t in a bag in the kitchen, yeah, it's worse than the show," said Spaulding, the president of Spaulding Decon based out of Tampa, where the perpetual heat and humidity makes the stink all the worse.

"Hoarding is right up there with the worst things we have to clean up. At what point do you disconnect, where you just throw your used maxi pads on the bathroom floor next to you?"

It's morbid work, but somebody's gotta do it. And who better than Spauling, a 40-year-old retired cop, with a seen-it-all-before, salty sense of humor straight out of "The Wire." When she wore a badge, she spent time as an undercover detective, busting narcotics and prostitution rings. But she grew disenchanted and "the money sucked," she told HuffPost Crime.

One day while investigating a homicide, somebody at the scene asked her if she was going to clean up the mess. She had no idea -- so she did it herself. She retired, and since 2005, her company has been cleaning up crime scenes. Suicides, meth labs and hoarders' homes are her bread and butter.

Food, however, is the last thing you'll want to think about when you see the photos she shared with HuffPost Crime.

Crime Scene Cleanup