This guy's about to make us a promise we know he can't keep. This is the ad for his cleaning service–it says: "Are you worried about H1N1 virus? We can fix that."
After he arrives at our empty apartment, what will he tell us about how he'll "fix that"? How much will he charge?
And what will state health officials say when they see our hidden camera video?
Our investigation found swine flu fears are fueling a brand new industry…people claiming to be able to rid your home of the H1N1 virus.They create impressive-looking cleaning proposals –with big bucks bottom lines. Problem is–it's a big waste of money.
Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7News"Do you need to call someone in to decontaminate your house?"
Dr. Lauren Smith, Massachusetts Department of Public Health "Absolutely not."
While the salesman makes his pitch, he doesn't know we know the facts: To get H1N1, you need to come into direct contact with the virus, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, it can only live 2 to 8 hours on a contaminated surface.
But when we said we were "worried the old tenants had the swine flu," he assured us he'd "come back next week and kill everything in here."
That's ridiculous! Even if previous tenants did have the flu, by that time the virus would be long gone!
Dr. Lauren Smith, Massachusetts Department of Public Health "You could just wait for the place to be H1N1 free."
Finally, we requested an impossible task, asking: "Will the place be sterilized?" His response, "Yes, the house will be sterilized after I do a full cleaning."
Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7News "If he's saying he's promising to sterilize our apartment, what you say to that?"
Dr. Lauren Smith, Massachusetts Department of Public Health"I would say that's not a reasonable thing to promise, and it's not something that could be accomplished."
And look at his final estimate for the job. Calling the unit "infected with H1N1"– he says sanitation will cost us $500.
Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7News "What think when you see this?"
Dr. Lauren Smith, Massachusetts Department of Public Health "It's perplexing and its concerning."
And he's not the only service which may clean your wallet instead of your house. Another company's ad offered H1N1 house sanitization. They told us on the phone it should be done "once every season."
And this ad promised Swine Flu Decontamination!
We asked them: How long does the H1N1 virus last? Their answer was shockingly wrong: "It'll last forever unless you kill it. It may lay dormant for awhile, but it's always there."
And then they faxed us this "H1N1 decontamination proposal," it includes a "chemical fogging application" and a "sterilization chemical." Bottom line: $1785.
Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7News "Charging this much money for decontamination, what's the bottom line?"
Dr. Lauren Smith, Massachusetts Department of Public Health "That's a lot of money that would be better spent and it's totally unnecessary."
So, according to the Department of Public Health: regular cleaning of your home is all you need to do. Doctors told us the best weapon against H1N1 is to stay away from contagious people and remember to wash your hands.
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