As meth use is continuously on the rise in Australia, the probability of purchasing or living in a property that has been contaminated by methamphetamine is also unfortunately high. While there are very few warning signs of meth residue, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your home or future home is in the clear.

Here are five key signs you may be living in a meth house, some commonly asked questions about meth contamination in properties, and some things to do in the homebuying process to ensure you avoid the costly hassle of purchasing a meth-contaminated property.

Signs You May Be In An Old Meth House

Before you sign the papers on your new real estate purchase, it’s important to have full transparency and visibility of its past owners and the house’s history. Here are a few easy ways you can determine whether your house has a history of meth contamination.

  • Strong odours

Homes that have been contaminated by meth leave a signature scent that is quite recognisable. Suspicious smells such as ammonia, acetone, urine, vinegar and rotting eggs are usual suspects – so if you smell any of these while on the property, be sure to raise it with the property manager pre-purchase.

  • Unsanitary conditions

It’s not uncommon for houses to be a bit run down, but if your future home has deep stains on the carpet and walls, or looks suspiciously tarnished or messy, this may be a strong sign that meth use has occurred on the property. These chemical stains will look similar to nicotine stains and will often be sticky with a yellow residue.

  • Suspiciously low prices

If the price of the property seems too good to be true, there’s a chance it just might be. A low price on a property could potentially be due to long-term damage caused by meth, so it’s important to do your research and be as observant as possible throughout the buying process.

  • Disturbed areas of the garden

If there is interrupted vegetation or staining visible on soil in the garden, this is a sign your house may have been contaminated or used for the production of meth. This staining or disruption indicates a dumping ground for meth-based chemicals, and is a key bi-product of the presence of methamphetamine in a home.

  • Information from locals

According to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Illicit Drug Data Report 2016 – 2017, WA has the highest meth use of all states and territories in Australia. It’s for this reason that communicating with neighbours, local police and other relevant people about your house’s history is an extremely important step in the process of confirming a sale. In the police’s case, you’ll have peace of mind that your house was or was not involved in any arrests, disturbances, drug-related incidents or criminal activities.

Although you may not talk to them, it’s also key to keep an eye out for visitors who stay for short periods of time, or vehicles that come and go at all times of day.


Common Questions About Meth Contamination

  • Are meth drug labs the main source of contamination?

Yes, this is true. The manufacturing of meth poses a far greater threat to the safety of the home and the health of its occupants than just the use of meth. The process of ‘cooking’ meth-based drugs involves the use of a lot of dangerous chemicals, which can leave behind a highly toxic residue. If a property was used as a meth lab, it will require specialist forensic cleaning.

  • Can meth residue in a home be a health hazard?

Yes – high levels of meth residue can pose some serious health risks, including stinging eyes, respiratory problems, nausea, fatigue, blurry vision, headaches and more. These symptoms can arise as a result of chemical residue seeping into carpets, door frames, and even ceilings and walls.

  • Is testing the only way to confirm or refute meth contamination in a house?

Yes, this is correct. As meth contamination is typically invisible, testing is the only way to confirm or deny meth’s presence in a property. DIY test kids are available, and are usually a good starting point for homeowners or prospective homeowners who are suspicious of a property’s history.

If a DIY test kit returns positive, further testing will be carried out by a government-approved service provider to confirm both the type and level of contamination present within the property.


What To Look For (Or Avoid) When Buying A House

When looking for a new house, it’s essential to be present at as many of the home inspections as possible. By being frequently exposed to the house in either the pre or post-purchase phase, you’ll be able to have a good look at the place, and compare a few of the above examples of meth contamination to the property.

Another potential action to take in this preliminary stage (should you deem it necessary) is to carry out a DIY meth residue test. As mentioned above, a test that returns positive could signify to the government that your home requires further attention and proper cleaning. When conducting the test, be sure to swipe upwards of five tests in different areas of your home – including counters, the ceiling and walls in different rooms of the house – to give yourself and other parties involved the most accurate reading possible.

If you’re after some peace of mind about a potential meth-contaminated property, look no further than our team at Forensic Pathways. We provide an accredited, Department of Health-approved service for assessing, screening, testing and remediation of properties contaminated by methamphetamine. Our staff have scientific, forensic and legal qualifications, and are able to attend your property to carry out a thorough visual examination for signs of methamphetamine use, manufacture and contamination.

Give us a call on 08 6371 8810 or email us at for more information.