There’s nothing worse than coming home to an awful stench and finding out it wasn’t the dog’s flatulence causing it. Narrowing down the possibilities, you remember seeing droppings and come to the terrifying conclusion that you’re dealing with a dead mouse or rat.
Obviously, finding the corpse and getting rid of it is the best solution, but what happens if the mouse died in the wall or under the floor? Here’s how to get rid of a dead mouse smell if you can’t get to the rodent or found it too late.
That Smell: The Cold, Dead Facts
Due to the fact that rodents prefer hiding, it can be tough to identify the source of the smell and eliminate it. Here are a few things you’ll need to know in your efforts to eliminate (or wait out) the odor.
How to Find a Dead Mouse
It can be harrowing to search for a mouse or rat corpse, and there’s no easier way than to suck it up and use your nose. Try to identify the room where the dead rat smell is strongest.
From there, it becomes a game of hide-and-seek, checking every crevasse you can access and shifting furniture. This adventure can be even worse when the rodent died somewhere in your car or another small, cramped space.
The ideal solution here is to find the corpse and dispose of it with gloves and a bottle of disinfectant in your arsenal. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with a dead mouse in the wall or floor, which means you’ll just have to tough out the decomposition process or hire an exterminator.
What Does a Dead Mouse Smell Like?
Not even our cats have dared put their noses close enough to a mouse corpse to find out, but according to those braver than us, it can resemble a sweeter version of skunk spray.
Sulfur is generally the first odor you’ll pick up, with methane following close behind. These two odors will last throughout the rotting process.
Other noxious gasses that smell like rotting food will join the mix as the decomposition speeds up.
How Long Does it Take for a Dead Mouse to START Smelling?
You might begin to notice a dead rodent smell as soon as 12 hours after death, but it can take two to three days before it becomes strong enough that even the least sensitive nose will notice.
This is because the rodent will begin to decompose soon after death, but much of the odor remains trapped in the body cavity until the process fully takes hold.
How Long Does it Take for a Dead Mouse to STOP Smelling?
The moment a mouse dies, their olfactory nerves cease to function and they no longer smell. But seriously, though, the length of time depends upon a number of factors.
An arid environment will help to mummify the corpse, making the smell diminish faster. Conversely, a moist environment will allow rot to set in, as well as help encourage maggots and other pests that may expose more of the rotting meat to air.
The worst of the smell usually only lasts a few days, but the smell will take anywhere from a week (at best) to eight weeks to actually go away depending on the conditions and size and type of mouse.
Getting Rid of a Dead Mouse Odor
In those unfortunate cases where you can’t find the corpse or that dead animal smell lingers, there are several methods you can use to make the situation more bearable or counteract the stench completely.
In the House
You can choose to use a dead mouse odor eliminator or mix up something in the kitchen, depending on the location of the corpse. One of the easiest ways is to simply open the windows and turn on some fans when the corpse was found within the room.
You can also use essential oils, incense, or scented candles to cover some of the odor while it dissipates. A good thorough cleaning will also speed up the process.
For rodents that have died in the vents or behind a wall or floorboards, such methods will have limited success. Instead, you might wish to resort to a good odor-eating bag such as the one made by Earth Care, or an odor eliminating spray, such as R86.
In the Car
Find a shady spot and open all the windows, as well as the hood and trunk. Leaving the car exposed to sunlight will bake in the smell and make it take that much longer to eliminate.
Once you’ve gotten the worst out, clean the exterior, engine, and undercarriage thoroughly with a pressure washer. Follow this up with a good interior cleaning using upholstery shampoo and your favorite cleaners.
You should allow the car to air out again after the washing is complete. This not only helps dry out the interior, but it can remove any lingering smell. You’ll also want to avoid using the AC or car heater for a few days if the mouse died near the engine.
In the Garage
Your garage is at once the easiest and one of the most difficult places to eliminate a dead rodent smell from. It’s difficult because there’s a lot of clutter and often limited ventilation.
At the same time, it’s easy because you can close an attached garage off from your house proper and leave the door open for ventilation. Adding some fans will help, as will scrubbing the location of the corpse with bleach or a good cleaner.
Related: How to Get Rid of Mothball Smell
When in Doubt
In the event you suspect you have more than one rodent or have family members with respiratory or immune system issues, it might be prudent to call in an exterminator. Not only will an exterminator eliminate any living rodents, they can also extract them from your walls and floor with minimal damage.
Remember, a rotting corpse will attract other pests and can lead to an infestation of insects, so weigh the cost of removal over the risk of leaving that mouse to rot before choosing your course of action in these cases.