Clean Up!

If you have mice or rats in or around your home or vehicle, it is important to clean up all urine, droppings, dead rodents, and nesting materials safely.

If you develop an illness and are concerned that it may be due to a rodent-borne disease, talk to a healthcare provider and inform them of any exposure you may have had to rodents and/or their droppings and urine.

Diseases are mainly spread to people from rodents when they breathe in contaminated air. CDC recommends that you NOT vacuum or sweep rodent urine, droppings, or nesting materials. These actions can cause tiny droplets containing viruses to get into the air.

If you swept or vacuumed during rodent clean up prior to reading this guidance, we recommend contacting your local or state health department for information about rodent-borne disease incidence in your area.

rodent droppings on ground

Evidence of a rodent infestation.

Prepare to clean up after rodents

ALWAYS take precautions when cleaning to reduce your risk of getting sick. Before you begin cleaning, prepare by gathering the proper equipment.

  • Use a preferred disinfectant:
    • General-purpose household disinfectant cleaning product (confirm the word “Disinfectant” is included on the label), or
    • Bleach solution made with 1.5 cups of household bleach in 1 gallon of water (or 1 part bleach to 9 parts water). Make bleach solution fresh before use.
  • Wear rubber or plastic gloves. Additional precautions should be used for cleaning homes or buildings with heavy rodent infestation.

If you have questions about your specific situation, contact your local health department.

Clean up rodent urine and droppings

  • Step 1: Put on rubber or plastic gloves.
  • Step 2: Spray urine and droppings with bleach solution or disinfectant until very wet. Let it soak for 5 minutes.
  • Step 3: Use paper towels to wipe up the urine or droppings and cleaning product.
  • Step 4: Throw the paper towels in a covered garbage can that is regularly emptied.
  • Step 5: Mop or sponge the area with a disinfectant.
    • Clean all hard surfaces including floors, countertops, cabinets, and drawers.
    • Follow instructions below to clean and disinfect other types of surfaces.
  • Step 6: Wash gloved hands with soap and water or a disinfectant before removing gloves.
  • Step 7: Wash hands with soap and warm water after removing gloves or use a waterless alcohol-based hand rub when soap is not available and hands are not visibly soiled.
7 visual steps to clean up rodent urine and droppings

Clean up dead rodents or rodent nests

Fleas are common on rodents. Consider using insect repellent (for example DEET or other EPA registered repellents) on clothing, shoes, and hands to reduce the risk of flea bites and minimize exposure to fleaborne disease while picking up dead rodents.

  • Step 1: Wear rubber or plastic gloves.
  • Step 2: Spray the dead mouse, rat, nest, and surrounding area with a disinfectant. Let it soak for 5 minutes.
  • Step 3: Place the dead rodent or nesting materials in a plastic bag along with any used traps, unless you plan to reuse the trap.
  • Step 4: Tie the ends of the bag together in a knot to seal the bag. Place the full bag in a second plastic bag and seal that bag by tying the ends together in a knot.
  • Step 5: Throw the bag into a covered garbage can that is regularly emptied or contact your state health department for information on other ways to throw away dead mice and rats.
  • Step 6: Wash gloved hands with soap and water or a disinfectant before removing gloves.
  • Step 7: Wash hands with soap and warm water after removing gloves or use a waterless alcohol-based hand rub when soap is not available and hands are not visibly soiled.
7 visual steps to clean up dead rodents or rodent nests

If you plan to reuse the trap

Traditional snap traps can be reused. If you plan to reuse the trap, submerge the trap with the rodent in disinfectant (using a bucket) for 5 minutes while wearing rubber gloves. Remove the rodent from the trap by holding the trap over a plastic bag and lifting the metal bar. Let the rodent drop in the bag. Rinse the trap well with water to remove the scent of the disinfectant and let it dry completely. Follow steps 4-6 mentioned above by double bagging the rodent, disposing of the bag, and washing your gloves and hands.

Clean up different types of spaces after rodents

Homes and outbuilding (such as cabins, shed, and barns)

Prepare:

  • Open all doors and windows for 30 minutes before cleaning to ventilate the space. Leave the area during this time.
  • Re-enter the area and look for rodent waste.
  • Put on rubber or plastic gloves.

Clean up:

  • Clean up all rodent urine, droppings, nests, or dead mice or rats.
  • Mop hard floors, or spray outbuilding dirt floors with disinfectant.
  • If exposed insulation has become contaminated with urine and droppings, it should be placed into plastic bags for removal.
  • Clean hard surfaces such as countertops, cabinets, and drawers with a disinfectant.
  • Clean and disinfect other surfaces and items as recommended.
  • Move storage boxes and containers with potentially contaminated items outside to a well-ventilated area exposed to direct sunlight.
    • Remove any potentially contaminated materials while outside. Remain upwind so that any dust or debris is not blown toward your face.
    • Discard any items that are no longer needed.
    • Clean and disinfect any hard/nonporous items as recommended with a bleach solution or disinfectant. Follow recommendations for other materials like cloth and paper.
    • Dispose of any cardboard boxes contaminated with urine or droppings. Plastic, glass, or metal containers can be disinfected with bleach solution or disinfectant.
  • Wash gloved hands with soap and water or a disinfectant before removing gloves.
  • Wash hands with soap and warm water after removing gloves or use a waterless alcohol-based hand rub when soap is not available and hands are not visibly soiled.

Air ducts (heating and cooling ventilation systems)

When there is evidence that rodents have access to heating and cooling ventilation systems, it is best to contact a professional rodent exterminating service to remove them. Companies specializing in duct cleaning are familiar with the problems and risks associated with rodent infestation in ventilation systems.

Vehicles

Rodents may build their nests in cars, trucks, campers, and other vehicles, especially if such vehicles are used infrequently. Check and clean your vehicle to prevent the spread of rodent-borne diseases. Consult a qualified mechanic or automotive professional for assistance.

While the vehicle is in a well-ventilated space, you should inspect for rodent activity; detect any waste, nests, or dead rodents; and disinfect to clean the vehicle.

  • Inspect: Open the hood, vehicle doors, and trunk to allow the interior and engine compartment to air out for 20 minutes. (When starting a vehicle that has been idle for an extended period, air it out first, and inspect the air intakes and filters before starting the engine.) Check inside the vehicle interior. Remove cables from the battery to avoid shock before inspecting the engine compartment. Be sure to wear plastic gloves and a long-sleeved shirt.
  • Detect: Find any dead rodents, nesting materials, or rodent waste (like urine or droppings). Gather cleaning supplies to clean and disinfect.
  • Disinfect:
    • Do NOT use a vacuum or a high-pressure sprayer on rodent urine, droppings, or contaminated surfaces until they have been disinfected.
    • Spray materials with a disinfectant until fully soaked and let sit for 5 minutes.
    • Use a paper towel to pick up the materials and dispose of the waste in the garbage. If you find nesting materials in the air intake system, remove both the nesting materials and the air filter, and discard in the garbage. Insert the new replacement filter and close the unit.
    • After the rodent droppings and nesting materials are removed, clean the rest of the area with additional disinfectant.
    • Reconnect the battery when the area is dry.
    • Wash gloved hands with soap and water or a disinfectant before removing gloves. Then wash hands with soap and warm water after removing gloves.
7 visual steps clean a vehicle

Prevent future colonization of vehicles. Rodents can enter the passenger compartment through ducting, rusted areas, and cable conduit. Snap traps and poison baits are effective in stopping rodents access into vehicles. Do not leave any kind of food anywhere in the car, as it can attract rodents.

Cleaning and disinfecting different types of surfaces

Porous/non-hard surfaces require different methods for cleaning and disinfecting.

Types of surface

Types of surface

Types of surface

Method for cleaning and disinfecting

Method for cleaning and disinfecting

Method for cleaning and disinfecting

Clothing, bedding, and stuffed animals

Types of surface

Clothing, bedding, and stuffed animals

Launder potentially contaminated bedding, clothing, or stuffed animals with hot water and detergent. Machine dry on a high setting or hang to air dry in the sun.

Method for cleaning and disinfecting

Launder potentially contaminated bedding, clothing, or stuffed animals with hot water and detergent. Machine dry on a high setting or hang to air dry in the sun.

Carpets and upholstered furniture

Types of surface

Carpets and upholstered furniture

Method for cleaning and disinfecting

Books, papers, and other non-washable items

Types of surface

Books, papers, and other non-washable items

Leave books, papers, and other items that cannot be cleaned with a liquid disinfectant (for example, books and papers) outdoors in the sunlight for several hours, or in an indoor area free of rodents for a minimum of three weeks. (A longer period of six weeks is strongly suggested.)

Method for cleaning and disinfecting

Leave books, papers, and other items that cannot be cleaned with a liquid disinfectant (for example, books and papers) outdoors in the sunlight for several hours, or in an indoor area free of rodents for a minimum of three weeks. (A longer period of six weeks is strongly suggested.)

Special precautions for heavy rodent infestation

Special precautions should be used for cleaning homes or buildings with heavy rodent infestation. These precautions may also apply to vacant dwellings that have attracted large numbers of rodents and to dwellings and other structures where a disease spread by rodents has been confirmed in the rodent population.

Workers who are either hired specifically to perform a clean-up or are asked to do so as part of their work activities should contact their local or state health department, local or state occupational health and safety authority (OSHA), or CDC for information about preventing rodent-borne diseases.

People involved in the clean-up of heavy rodent infestations should wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE):

  • Coveralls (disposable, if possible)
  • Rubber boots or disposable shoe covers
  • Rubber, latex, or vinyl gloves
  • Protective goggles
  • Appropriate respiratory protection device, such as half mask air-purifying (or negative-pressure) respirator with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, or a powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) with HEPA filters. Follow local and state requirements regarding pulmonary function and fit testing before beginning any work requiring the use of a respirator.

PPE should be decontaminated upon removal at the end of the day.