Signs Of A Meth Lab In The Home You’re Buying: Recognize And Know the Risk

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Published: January 13, 2015 Last Updated: June 8, 2019

Homes that have been used as a meth lab may turn into a buyer’s hallucinatory nightmare in more than one way; including the development of minor or major health issues.

Chemicals and substances may become embedded in walls, paint, carpet and furniture, as well as many other locations; leading to a costly clean-up.

Signs of a Meth Lab

Unusual things, such as windows being painted over or blacked out, duct tape on doors, lots of clear glass containers around the home, unusual odors accompanied by stains ( often pink, red or yellowness type ) messiness or dirtiness in the home. Coffee filters with unusual colored stains.

Occasionally graffiti or painted over graffiti may be a tell-tale sign. Extra locks on exterior doors often un-professionally installed or a number of warning signs on the property like “Beware of Dog.”

Strange piping, bottles or containers connected with rubber hoses, or unusual venting are just a few of the warning signs that a home may have been used as a meth lab.

Simple things, such as kitty litter products lying about in a number of locations, or unusual locations, may be a warning sign. Kitty litter is often used by meth lab cooks to help soak up chemicals that were spilled in the process of manufacturing meth. It does an excellent job of soaking up spills. Even old rags with red or yellow stains lying about may be a warning sign.

Plastic tubing connected to unusual plastic or glass containers; or tubing just laying about or configured in strange ways is another possible warning sign. More than likely, it’s intent was for sinister purposes, not artistic purposes.

Products that may be used in a Meth Lab are often just laying around in trash piles or bags.

Listed below are a number of products that are often associate with the cooking and manufacturing of meth. It is not uncommon for these products to be lying about in a disorganized fashion or in locations that you would normally not find these products. At times,  half hazardly just lying in open trash bags. They may be found in the house, in the garage or basement areas, out on the back patio areas or even a storage shed or barn, or in the back patio or sun room of the home.


Alcohol, Ether, Benzene, Toluene/Paint Thinner, Freon, Acetone, Chloroform, Camp Stove Fuel/Coleman Fuel, Starting Fluid, Anhydrous Ammonia, “Heet”, White Gasoline, Phenyl-2-Propane, Phenylacetone

Iodine Crystals, Rock salt, Black Iodine, Epsom Salts, Red Phosphorous , Drano, Lye (Red Devil Lye), Muriatic/Hydrochloric Acid, Battery Acid/Sulfuric Acid, Batteries/Lithium, Hot Plates, Propane Cylinders, phedrine (over-the-counter), Bronchodialators, Cold Tablets

Smells to watch for

Smells and odors may be another giveaway that a home has been used as a meth lab.

There may be a smell like cat urine, rotten eggs, silver gas, wet diapers, paint thinners or paint remover’s, adhesive’s, cleaning fluids, vinegar, pickled foods or fertilizer type smells.


Hospital type smells, similar to ether or antiseptic type odors may be a warning sign. A sweet order accompanied by a sweet taste in the air may likewise be a potential warning sign.

If You Notice Warning Signs Around the Home

Testing Kits and Clean-up

There are various testing kits on the market where you take samples and get the results immediately and others that you send the samples to an analytical laboratory for analysis by gas chromatography. Also, there are professional testing companies that will do the testing for you, as well as,  perform any clean-up and remediation needed.

Additional Resources

  • Plumbers and home builders are switching to PEX piping. Is it better than copper? What are some things that you should know?

  • Work in the quiet comfort of the backyard

  • Red flags to look for to make sure your not buying a house that was a meth lab.

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