How to unstick a dead mouse from floor?
July 21, 2011 2:11 PM   Subscribe

How do I get a dead mouse in a puddle of dried molasses off my kitchen floor?

In trying to pack my kitchen wire shelving for an upcoming move, I discovered an overturned bottle of blackstrap molasses on the bottom shelf and a tiny dead mouse in the middle of a puddle of dried molasses. In a kind gesture, my SO tried to remove the mouse from the tile floor, but reported that it was immovably stuck.

How can I remove the little guy with minimum trauma? I can't just soak the floor in the sink like my dishes, so I don't know how to soften up the molasses again. Also, we're in the middle of the horrible heatwave, and I'm a little worried that reconstituting Mr. Mouse will bring out the flies.

(Exculpatory note: Gah! I am not as awful a housekeeper as my question seems to indicate! I mopped the kitchen floor two months ago, but that was the last time I could see under the wire shelf...)
posted by ntartifex to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Hot water is gonna be your friend. Douse the area in boiling water, and scrape the whole mess off with a pallet knife or bench scraper. Something flexible yet strong.

My sympathies, btw. I'm not terribly squeamish, but this would gross me the fuck out. Use a glass or two of whiskey to assist with the mental preparation for this unpleasant task.
posted by mollymayhem at 2:16 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

That must have been a hell of a ride for the mouse.

I think I'd try to scrape up the molasses w/mouse first -- use a strong metal spatula if you have it. If that doesn't work, I'd spray it with some household cleaner like Simple Green or 409 Kitchen Formula (which seems to work on everything) to soften it up and kind of de-sticky things without releasing aire de mouse. Then take mouse outside to the garbage and work on the rest of the molasses.

posted by amanda at 2:17 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would cover the mouse with a plastic bag, to contain any real or imagined nasties, maybe stick the bag down to the molasses surrounding him. Then I'd use hot water, patience, and a scraper to get him up -- then double-bag him and put him in an outside trashcan. Then more hot water and scraper/sponges to remove the molasses. Then disinfect.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:18 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Instead of pouring boiling water on it, try using a steam iron to soften the molasses. You'll cause a lot less damage.
posted by JohnE at 2:18 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Instead of a spatula, I'd probably use a shovel because ewwww. Your kitchen floor may vary.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:19 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'd try just hot water, but not boiling. The hot water that comes from your taps if you let them run for a minute or two will probably be pretty effective with patience and elbow grease.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:20 PM on July 21, 2011

Ok, reiterate, OMG.

Ok then, I would absolutely try every dry method first. I would go to the tool bench (or Lowes) and get a really nice new plaster spreader thing, the metal kind not the plastic kind. I would try to chisel the whole thing up in one piece.
posted by stormygrey at 2:20 PM on July 21, 2011

If you'd like to soak it in warm water, you might be able to make a levee/berm/barrier around the area using Play-doh or wall putty or something, to keep the water within the area in question. Then, after it's soaked for a while, you can consider whether to do multiple "rinses" before trying to scrape it up.

As for the flies - you could put an inverted bowl (maybe covered in foil?) over the whole thing to keep mouse air separate from people air.

Soldier on! It will be gone soon.
posted by amtho at 2:30 PM on July 21, 2011

To soak it, get an old towel, soak that, and let it sit on top of the whole thing for a few hours, add more water as needed.

Once it's softened up you can ball it up (you should be able to grab the mouse too) and dispose of the whole thing.
posted by dolface at 2:39 PM on July 21, 2011 [6 favorites]

For the initial loosening/softening stage, a hairdryer might also help - heat up the mouse and his candy coating enough to scrape it up, then go to work on what's left with hot water. If it were me, I'd also spray the spatula/shovel/whatever liberally with nonstick spray (like Pam) between each attack to minimize molasses stickage as you're working.

(Un)fortunately, these are only my best guesses, as I have no personal experience with mice in molasses. I do not envy you the task ahead, but good luck and godspeed.
posted by amy lecteur at 3:04 PM on July 21, 2011

Hot water other source of heat to loosen the molasses. Putty Knife to pry the bugger off. Discard in a plastic bag or some equivalent directly to the trash. Mop with hot water to clear the rest.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:10 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I dunno, these responses sound like they're likely to make a bad mess worse and damage your floor to boot. I think I would put the hot tap water into a spray bottle, spray around the mouse so that you don't get it super wet. Leave that a few minutes, then use something like a butter knife to carefully scrape up the mess. Do you have a plastic bench scraper? That might work. I'd be really careful with metal on that floor--depends on what kind of floor you have, but if it's vinyl you could really scratch the hell out of it.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 3:25 PM on July 21, 2011

BTW, molasses is mostly sugar, so it should come right up with a little hot water.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 3:27 PM on July 21, 2011

Broad sharp chisel, turned bevel down so you can control that it doesn't cut into the shelf; tiny knocks with a medium-sized hammer; locally applied to mouse area, that is, under it as much as possible; slow approaches from all sides.

Afterwards a hot water soak with old rags as dolface says.

(and yikes.)
posted by Namlit at 3:44 PM on July 21, 2011

Can you borrow one of these: ?
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:38 PM on July 21, 2011

The mad science solution would be liquid nitrogen and a chisel. Best of luck!
posted by chairface at 5:00 PM on July 21, 2011

Any information you could provide about the consistency of the molasses (like hard plastic? Like roofing tar?) and the composition of the floor (smooth or textured? linoleum, tile, newfangled composite?) would be helpful.
posted by contraption at 5:01 PM on July 21, 2011

Namlit's got it. Just get the mess up. The mouse is way beyond caring. Don't douse your floor in hot water; it will be bad for it and possibly cause swelling if it seeps in, and will make the sticky sugar mess spread and soak in.

Get a firm, thin object, and slowly but firmly press it under the semisolidifcation. Yes, I just made that word up.
posted by carlh at 5:36 PM on July 21, 2011

I use dolface's method for this sort of thing (not that dead mice are frequent problems in my house either), except I use paper towels, several of them folded into a pad. Softens up dried sticky messes nicely without having to scrub or douse the whole area in water.
posted by Gator at 5:49 PM on July 21, 2011

Response by poster: contraption,

The molasses is sort of like ancient caramel -- tacky to the touch, but dried out in the inside. The tile is textured / not glossy.
posted by ntartifex at 5:58 PM on July 21, 2011

Response by poster: To everyone else,

I'm still in mid-move (packing boxes even now), so I am going to take on things tomorrow after the movers finish. I am going to try the towel + water trick to soften up things, and push into the blob with a putty knife. If all goes well, I'll be bleaching the heck out of the floor afterwards. I'll let everyone know how things go tomorrow.

(For a brief, malevolent moment, I have contemplated leaving him as a surprise for my remaining housemates who have never mopped the kitchen floor this year. But I can be better than that! Right?)

I will definitely also have a stiff drink or two prior to the operation. That will certainly make the update more interesting.
posted by ntartifex at 6:06 PM on July 21, 2011

Oh, ok, so the mouse is already beyond discomfiture?

Draw a wide circle around the splotch with oil with your finger/basting brush. Slowly dribble water until it wells up against the painted moat. This works best if the surface (floor) is really clean.

Leave overnight; this gives time to dissolve and diffuse the dehydrated sugar (molasses).

The molasses should be dissolved/diffused enough so the mouse can be plucked whole and discarded. Scrub remainder with a soppy cloth and rinse in a big bucket of water.

The oil ring can be cleaned with anything with a detergent or bleach.
posted by porpoise at 11:29 PM on July 21, 2011

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