How to Tell If You Are Buying a Meth House

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Meth house testing might be low on the list of concerns while shopping for a new home. But if a home hasn't been properly cleaned and renovated, consumption or creation of methamphetamine inside a residence can have lasting consequences. 

Meth residue can remain on soft surfaces like upholstery and flooring, off-gassing over time into the air, leaving emissions long after cooking or consumption. It's estimated that nearly 33% of these emissions are deposited into the environment after smoking.1 

Long-term exposure to these particles can result in upper respiratory irritation and central nervous system issues in sensitive groups like children.2 

But testing a house for meth isn't as straightforward as you might think. While the EPA created guidelines for states to follow, many areas have since made their own rules. Suggested "acceptable levels" land between 0.05 to 1.5 micrograms (µg) per 100 cm2.

So, if you're in the market for a new home, how do you know if your potential dream home wasn't a hotspot for meth users and manufacturers? 

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Professional home inspections

While home inspections aren't required for every home purchase, they're highly (highly) recommended. Home inspectors check every nook, cranny, and crevice of your home for problems with plumbing, roofing, electricity, and more. 

Many home inspection companies offer add-on services like radon and meth testing too. While this may cost a little extra, it can be worth the price if you want to be confident in your investment. 

After the test, the meth testing home inspectors will provide you with a comprehensive report on your home's health and offer suggestions for the next steps or remediation if needed. 

Laboratory hot spots

Over the last decade, domestic production of methamphetamine has decreased in the US. But the lingering effects can stick around in homes for years. According to the US Department of Justice, there are hotspots throughout the country that are still home to domestic meth production.3 

If you're considering buying a home in one of these states, we suggest testing for meth even if the home is in good shape. 

  • CA
  • FL
  • IL 
  • IN
  • MI
  • NC
  • NY
  • OH
  • PA
  • TN

DIY test kits

Test kit
Meth Test Kit

* price as of 10/14/2021 at 11:00 a.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer.

Meth labs aren’t exactly known for their cleanliness. If you walk into a house that looks messy and run-down, it’s a good indicator that something might be amiss.

Deep stains on the carpet and walls can also be a strong signal of drug use in the home.

That’s not to say that every messy house is a former meth house, but be skeptical if you encounter a home that’s excessively dirty.

Ask your real estate agent

Your real estate agent can be your best friend throughout the home buying process. In addition to navigating seas of paperwork and advocating for your best interests, they also have access to local records and information regarding the properties you're interested in. 

While it varies from state to state, your real estate agent may be required to disclose information regarding the use, sale, or production of meth to you at some point during the home-buying process. 

Ask neighbors or nearby residents

Depending on the property, you might be able to ask around about previous tenants of the house. While your future neighbors might not know everything about the home, they might be able to give you a few clues about how the house was treated.

Check the database

If you're still feeling suspicious but interested in the home, check out the US Drug Enforcement Administration's database of clandestine meth labs available to the public. The search works by state and year, so you may not find your property on the list, but it's a good place to start.

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Meth House FAQs

Cooking and using meth produces strong chemical smells that may remind you of urine, rotten eggs, fuel, paint thinner, or other corrosive chemicals. 

Methamphetamine doesn't leave an obvious residue on surfaces. But it can remain on soft surfaces like carpet or upholstery for years. Residents can be exposed to the leftovers of meth use or production through inhalation, absorption through skin, or ingestion.4 


Meth residue and drug lab cleanup can be an intense process. Steps may require health and hazard professionals to get involved with ventilation, sanitation, and testing before the home is deemed fit for residence. If you find a home on the market with high levels of meth residue, don't purchase it.

Final word of advice

On the chance that you do find traces of methamphetamine in your home, be sure to work with professional cleaners and mediators to solve the problem. This usually entails fully replacing and stripping carpets and any soft surfaces in the home. The good news is that even homes with trace amounts of meth particles can still be safe. The same applies to inspections for mold and radon, for example. 

But the homebuying process can be long and stressful. We don't recommend settling for a home with a low price and a dangerous history. If you're able, take your time to find the dream home you and your family deserve.

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  1. National Library of Medicine, "Household Contamination with Methamphetamine: Knowledge and Uncertainties." November, 19, 2023. 
  2. CPR News, "Meth contamination was detected in your local library. Here's what that means." January 27, 2023
  3. United States Department of Justice, "2020 Drug Enforcement Administration National Drug Threat Assessment, page 19-27." March 2021.
  4. Indiana Department of Health. "Drug Lab Cleanup." Accessed April 24, 2024. 


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Katie McEntire
Written by
Katie McEntire
As a renter, pet-owner, and woman living alone, Katie McEntire takes safety seriously. She’s tested devices like pet cameras, home security systems, and GPS trackers in her own home and devices in the name of safety. In addition to testing, writing, and reviewing for SafeWise, she also makes videos for the site’s YouTube channel. She’s been featured on publications like TechGuySmartBuy, Forbes, Healthy Moms, and Digital Care. Katie has a Bachelor’s degree in Technical Writing from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. She’s held previous writing positions at and Top Ten Reviews.

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