How to get rid of dead mouse smell ugh ugh ugh
November 21, 2021 7:17 PM   Subscribe

There's tons of questions about getting rid of mice. My place smells awful.

I had various methods and finally convinced the management to bring in an exterminator. These were some solidly persistent mice! Also, maintenance promises to put netting over the dryer vent, which is where they think they came in. I keep everything closed and in plastic containers, wiped down, etc. Apparently one has died in the wall in the kitchen and it's awful. So far I have burnt incense and pulled a solid air freshener to its fullest opening. Any other ideas on how I can cover or get rid of the smell? I have neither the know-how nor the time to open the wall (although maybe I could get maintenance to pull out the stove to check behind there). Ideas to cover up the smell? How long will this last?
posted by intrepid_simpleton to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've grown up in houses with dead mice in the walls and the smell usually only lasts maybe 3-4 days. This is presuming you have mice and not rats or something bigger. If the smell is in or near the kitchen keeping a pot on the stove with some simmering water and some mulling spices can help.
posted by jessamyn at 8:20 PM on November 21, 2021 [4 favorites]

Have had this happen a couple of times. It's awful.

Something that I found somewhat effective was putting bicarb soda into some kind of tray, sprinkling a couple of drops eucalyptus oil* in it and then putting it in the area where the smell is coming from.

I also put a drop or two of Niloder onto a cotton bud and put that into the tray.

Make up multiple trays depending on how bad the smell is and how big the area is.

In our case, the smell was wafting through our built in robe (closet), so I put the trays of bicarb in there.

The smell went away faster that I expected.

* You could use peppermint oil
posted by kinddieserzeit at 1:55 AM on November 22, 2021

They were in my pantry area under the stairs enjoying dog food and a bag of rice, the smell was vile. I cleaned with pine oil cleaner. If the source of the smell is in the walls, it will take a while to dry out. Run fans. Eucalyptus or another very strong clean smell is a good mask, but you may grow to associate that smell with bad smells. They get in my car, and I use an orange oil based spray that is quite strong, sorry don't have the name.

Get activated charcoal or Buy plain, not matchlight, charcoal, put it in the blender to make activated charcoal; activation = making the most surface area possible. Put in cups; leave on tables.
Get coffee beans, put in cups; leave on tables.
Plain unscented Febreeze may help quite a bit.
posted by theora55 at 5:06 AM on November 22, 2021

In an old house, we had a dead mouse (or something) in the wall (downstairs) and a gap between the drywall and a radiator pipe (upstairs) and it smelled for a while. The handiest handyman I ever knew said we'd probably have to knock a bunch of holes in the downstairs drywall hunting for the dearly departed, so his suggestion was something strong smelling (REALLY strong smelling) in a rag, which you stuffed in the gap around the pipe until things dried out enough that you didn't smell decaying mouse anymore. Which is what we did, and that was the end of it.

The strong smelling stuff was something he had in his arsenal of tools, and he just poured a cup in an old applesauce jar in case we needed to re-apply. At a guess, it's something like this, but if you have a helpful hardware store nearby I'd recommend seeing if they have a different smell-camouflage-r.
posted by adekllny at 5:12 AM on November 22, 2021

The nuclear option for bad smells is peppermint oil. It's so powerful, and overwhelms other smells so well, that it's used in medical settings for times when, um, biological smells are so strong that it triggers the gag/retch impulse in medical staff trained to handle horrible odors. If the smell is truly unbearable, dab a couple of drops on one of your going-outside-in-a-pandemic masks and wear it in the house. Otherwise, you can aerosolize it and use it to overwhelm the smell of death with the smell of peppermint.
posted by Mayor West at 5:20 AM on November 22, 2021

The other nuclear option is Vicks VapoRub on the upper lip.
posted by pullayup at 6:21 AM on November 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

When this happened at my parent’s house I used Fresh Wave Gel and it worked very quickly. I put about 1 cup in an open container near the area and within a day—odor was gone. I’ve been using their products for years and while they’re not cheap, they work.
posted by bookmammal at 7:33 AM on November 22, 2021

This happened a few times a year in the home I grew up in. Even if it's a big rat, it won't last more than a week or two at most and probably isn't worth tearing holes in walls for unless you were planning to do that anyway. Close doors between rooms if you can and open windows. A cell phone, recording video, taped to a broom stick is handy for checking behind furniture, but it's probably in the walls. Menthol gum or cough drops can help a bit. Best of luck.
posted by eotvos at 7:44 AM on November 22, 2021

i had a rat infestation behind some walls in a basement that turned into a stench of dead rats behind the wall stretch that lasted for a few weeks we threw a dozen boxes of baking soda behind the walls and got a few of the bad air sponges from bed bath & beyond.

this too shall pass, but both of these steps made a difference for us.

I wish i had known about this peppermint oil tip at the time... but i wonder if it would have ruined peppermint for me.
posted by wowenthusiast at 9:16 AM on November 22, 2021

Humidity seems to make a difference. If the mouse corpses dry out fast they stop stinking fast. If there is moisture inside the wall where the mouse died it will smell longer. You might want to examine the wall inside and out to triple check for the possibility of interior condensation. I suggest you try pointing a heater at the area of wall where you believe the mouse to be, leaving it on overnight, at a heat that makes the wall warm but not hot to the touch. You can remove the outlet plates on that wall if there are any to help get heat and over-dry air into the wall more easily. Run the heater until the room feels like it needs a humidifier and you can get static shocks from rubbing things

I prefer live capture traps to poisoned bait to prevent this problem.

Sometimes a hapless mouse gets away from the cat and then dies inside the wall. If you hear your cat having fun scrabbling somewhere it is worth leaping up to go check if she has a mouse and appropriating it if you can. We can tell if our cat has just caught a mouse from the sound she makes as she runs downstairs to bring it to her nest. It's a much faster and heavier tread than her usual soundless descent. Of course you may not have a cat but if you do it could be helpful to consider this.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:50 AM on November 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

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