How to Get Rid of Dead Mouse/Rat Smell: Detailed Identification & Removal Guide

Mice and rats are obnoxious pests that can get into even the tiniest spaces. Of course, no one would like to meet these rodents at home. Fortunately (and unfortunately), they tend to stay away from people. Therefore, we might notice an unpleasant smell of decay that seems to come from nowhere when, in fact, it comes from a decomposing rodent. It’s not easy to locate the stinky carcass: mice and rats die far from our reach, too.

By profession, I’ve dealt with mice and rats quite often. House owners ask me all the time: how to find a dead mouse and get rid of the rotting odor? To answer these questions, I have written a guideline. Keep reading to learn more about pest control!

How to Get Rid of Dead Mouse/Rat Smell
  1. Find the source of the odor.
  2. In the first place, do not forget about preventing rats and mice. Otherwise, there is a chance that you’ll run into this situation again.
  3. Use odor removal bags, air purifiers, scented candles, coffee beans, and ozone generating machines to control odor.

How Do I Know if There’s a Dead Rat?

If you think that a pest could have found its end on your site, it means that you’ve noticed a suspicious odor that has never been present before. Inexperienced homeowners might confuse the dead rat smell in a wall with something else. But if you’ve come across a decaying rodent at least once, every time you notice the odor, you’ll know what’s the drill.

Describing a Dead Mouse Smell

In walls, under a table, in piping or ventilating systems, it doesn’t matter where a critter got stuck: soon enough, you’ll become aware of it. The main sign is, of course, the decomposing odor that includes sulfur dioxide, methane, and gases generated in the deteriorating tissues.

❗ PERSONAL OPINION: The best description that I can think of is that the rotting critter smells musty. It’s a nasty bouquet of decaying flesh and gas generated by the intestinal microbes. It could also remind you of spoiled vegetables you’ve forgotten about a very long time ago.

woman smelling some bad smell and holding nose closed

Other Signs

Are you unsure whether rodents have infested your home and possibly went off inside? Check if there are any:

  • rat or mouse feces in the closet, on the shelves; they also love hiding in attics and basements!
  • torn paper bits and nests in darker, secluded places.

When a house is indeed infested, your pets (if any) might act weirdly. For example, dogs tend to wake you up at night and bark at nothing. It might be because they’ve heard a nocturnal critter getting out for food.

Dead Rat Smell in House: Where to Look

Alright, you’ve identified the odor: it seems that a poor rodent has passed away somewhere around. But what if you detected a dead rat smell in vents or somewhere else?

First of all, check all the hiding places that nocturnal rodents typically find attractive. For instance, rats and mice like to get inside of our cupboards, under the upholstery of the furniture, in cars, garages, etc.

❗ IMPORTANT: If you came across a little corpse somewhere in the open, consider yourself lucky. In other cases, critters get trapped in walls, under carpeted floors, in the ceilings.

To detect the rotting pest, pay your attention to:

  • Where the stink comes from. A simple sniff-test might save you a lot of time and effort. If it gets stronger, it means you’re coming closer to the source.
  • Flies, bugs, maggots, etc. These insects are typically attracted to the decaying flesh. If there’s any place where they hang around, it might be a good hint.
  • Wet stains from bodily fluids. Until a carcass dries out completely, it oozes liquids that might stain your walls or ceilings.

brown mouse hiding under corner of a building

Hidden Dangers of a Dead Rat Odor

Remember a simple thing: the stinking isn’t going to harm you. Although the decomposing flesh exudes ammonia and further toxic substances, an itty-bitty mouse or even a slightly bigger rat won’t poison anybody. Unless you get your face ridiculously close to a dead critter, the odor isn’t going to pose any danger.

The True Harm from Dead Critters

There are further factors of body decomposition that are much more harmful to people: viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc. Therefore, it’s strictly forbidden to touch the dead with your bare hands or work without protective clothes and a respiratory mask. If you act too carelessly, various pathogens might get you infected.

Another nasty thing is fleas. They are carriers of many diseases. After their main food source went off, they will seek a new one, and they will be hungry. Although people are not their favorites, by the time the insect leaves you alone, you will already be bitten, and the infection will begin spreading over your body.

Take Care & Stay Aware

If you’ve got plans on dealing with the obnoxious smell, the best thing you can do is to scare the pests off your site completely. Prevent mice and rats using professional service: fortunately, a group of experienced specialists will treat your premises. With the long-lasting effects of such treatment, you won’t see any pests for long.

If you intend to eliminate mice and rats yourself, remember that they follow the traces of urine left by other rodents. Where you’ve previously removed the dead carcass from, another one might appear. To prevent it from happening, close the gaps in the walls. The rodents can get through the dime-sized holes, so it might be quite a workload.

❗ HAZARD: When looking for indoor pest control tools, do not choose poison: it would only aggravate the situation.

The rodents will eat toxic pellets, hide in inaccessible places around your house, and pass away outside of your reach. Instead, opt for humane traps. By cleaning them regularly, you’ll take care of the stink.

How to Get Rid of Dead Rat Smell

It is not always possible to apply preventive measures. If the odor has already appeared, it needs to be addressed right here, right now. I would like to share with you how to eliminate the dead rat smell.

Finding the Source

field mouse hiding in a jar

How long will a dead rat smell? It depends on various factors: humidity level, temperature around the house, etc. Therefore, fourteen days while the rodent decays and dries out can stretch to a month, or even longer, if you’ve come across a particularly well-fed rat. In short, detecting and eliminating a dead rodent carcass is your safest bet.

Let’s see what you should do once you’ve identified the source of the odor.

  1. Wear tight gloves, protection clothes, and an anti-dust great-filtration respirator. There shouldn’t be any direct contact with the critter.
  2. Spray it with some bleach solution, sanitizer, or other substances to kill bacteria. Leave the rodent for 15-20 minutes to properly soak in the mix.
  3. Carefully take the rodent and throw it in a sack. Tie the bag extra tight and dispose of it.
  4. Start processing the place where the rodent was located. Use quality chemical cleaning solutions. If a poor thing has met its end on a soft material (such as upholstery or a car seat), you can spray it with vinegar.

However, it’s not always possible to identify the source of your problem. You can only do something about the nasty rotting. For that reason, I would like to cover how to get rid of dead rat smell naturally.

Organic Methods

In a fight against odor, there are a plethora of natural chemical-free methods as well. Here is the list of some efficient ways to deal with the smell.

  • Odor-removing bags. With their organic mineral filling, such as sodium aluminosilicate, they eliminate the stink. Hang such a bag in a room, and in a day or two, the stinking will be gone.
  • Air purifying gadgets will help you forget there was ever a problem while also emitting a pleasant natural fragrance.
  • Scented candles. Although they aren’t helping with purifying the air, they just make the situation more bearable.
  • Coffee beans. It won’t be particularly effective as it masks the stink instead of the complete elimination, but you can hold out for two weeks, changing between coffee and scented candles.
  • Ozone generation machine. If you have one at home, it will remove any odors by ozonizing the air.

Related Post: 7 Best Mouse Repellers Reviewed

Now, all that’s left to do is hold out for several weeks. I think combining these methods will make dealing with smells much easier.

❗ CAREFUL: In the first place, do not forget about preventing rats and mice. Otherwise, there is a chance that you’ll run into this situation again.

white air purifier working

FAQ: What You Should Do if You Smell a Rat

Although I’ve used all my experience and expertise to provide the necessary standpoints, I wouldn’t dare to call this article exhaustive. Certainly, uncovered points could remain. So I’ve compiled a short Q&A to provide you answers on the most burning questions: for example, how long does it take for dead rat smell to go away.

What Does a Dead Mouse Smell Like?

Let me say, the odor is disgusting. If you’ve felt it once, then you won’t confuse it with anything else. A mouse or rat that died recently emits a strong rotting odor, slightly reminiscent of methane and spoiled cabbage.

There’s a Dead Mouse in Wall. How Long Does It Take to Start Smelling?

If you think you’ve identified a dead rat smell in the wall, it means that the animal is dead for at least 3 days. Nevertheless, in a colder climate, it might be delayed: the heat speeds up the decaying processes, whereas cold slows them down.

How Long Does a Dead Mouse Smell?

Fortunately, the dead rodent smell does not last long: the critter isn’t big in size, so in two weeks, it will dry out and stop emitting the nauseating bouquet. But be careful: if a pest stuck somewhere wet, for example, near the piping, it’s going to stink much stronger: moist isn’t your ally as it boosts the decaying process.

Is the Smell Harmful to People?

Even if you breathe it all day long, you won’t get intoxicated, I promise. At best, it would only make you nauseatic. A dead mouse itself is very toxic, but the carcass is far enough from you and won’t cause any damage (until you touch it with bare hands, of course).

How to Get Dead Mouse Smell out of Car?

pair of yellow rubber gloves

You should always remember that mice and rats spread diseases, so it’s necessary to approach them in full clothes protection supplemented with gloves and a respiratory mask. The guide for cleaning your car is as follows:

  1. Apply the bleach solution directly and let the corpse soak in it for 15 minutes to kill any infection.
  2. Stick it in a sack; close tightly to seal the odor.
  3. The place where you’ve discovered a source needs to be treated with cleaning products, later proceeding to the car interior.

Choose high-performance items. Also, consider using professional cleaning services.

Highlights: How to Eliminate Dead Rat Smell

Indeed, it’s necessary to fight not with the consequences, but with the cause. To achieve the long-lasting effect, the elimination of unpleasant odors should always begin with preventive measures. Until you scare the rodents off your site, even solving the original problem doesn’t guarantee it won’t be back.

How can you secure your actions? With professional help, including not only my article but the advice of the local pest control agencies as well, you’ll forget about the dead mouse odor. On the other hand, this problem is widespread enough to find all the necessary information and expertise online. With due diligence, you’ll be able to cope with the issue on your own.

Related Post: Best Rat Traps on the Market Reviewed

When working with rodents, do not forget about protection. I am positive that as soon as you figure out the obnoxious rodents, you’ll become a true expert in pest control.

Now, I need your advice: what should I write about next time? Are there any pests that your household suffers from? Leave your suggestions down below! I appreciate your reading. Good luck and don’t lose this fight!


  • Do’s and Don’ts of Pest Control (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency):


Why You Should Trust Pest Control Hacks?

We know that pests are nasty neighbors, and it can take months to eliminate them without the right approach. Our experts use their own experience to compile articles and guides that are introductory and informative. Our authors’ opinions are independent and based on the results of practical testing of pest control tools. We do not notify manufacturers of testing of their products and do not receive payment from them for posting their items. Also, our texts are never submitted to company representatives for proofreading before placement. On the site, you will find exclusively objective ratings and reviews.

Nicholas Martin

Nicholas Martin

I am Nicholas Martin, and I am an entomologist. I combine the insect survey work with the consultation for private pest control agencies. My narrow specializations are both urban pests and agricultural pests. I studied their control over the previous 25 years. More about Nick

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Leave a reply

      Solve : *
      14 − 3 =

      Pest Control Hacks