Cleaning Mouse Droppings
By: Rita Stadler
There are some things you just don’t want to actually talk about, but you still really need to know. Cleaning up mouse droppings is one of those things. Thank you Internet for providing a judgment-free place to look up all the things you’re too embarrassed to actually ask someone.
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let’s talk about what mice droppings are and why they matter. “Mouse droppings” refers to rodent excrement. Yes, people, we are talking about poop. You do it, I do it, mice do it. You and I have the decency to use a toilet and flush after the fact but mice will leave their rice-sized and shaped black pellets everywhere they go. That is gross enough all by itself, but the matter becomes significantly more serious when you consider the dozens of diseases mice can transmit to people ranging from salmonella to hantavirus.
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Why should you care about mouse poo?
Mouse poop can be used to assess a rodent infestation, even when you aren’t seeing any actual rodents. While mice may be sneaky or shy, they will always leave behind signs so you can detect a problem and judge the scope and severity of a mouse infestation. Signs of a mouse in the house include:
- mouse droppings
- musky odor
- chewed up materials, especially food packaging
- gnaw markings on wood, plastic, wiring, or any object; also look out for piles of debris resulting from gnawing such as an accumulation of sawdust near wood furniture, etc…
- nests: any gathering of soft materials such as shredded paper, cloth, or furniture stuffing; usually found in areas that aren’t frequently disturbed, or near a heat source.
What Do Mouse Droppings Look Like?
Mouse droppings measure 1/8 to 1/4 inch in length and have a thin, rod-shaped appearance with pointed ends. Roof rats are larger than mice but smaller than Norway rats. Rat droppings tend to measure 1/4 inch long. Droppings of Norway rats can measure between 1/4 to 1/2 an inch in length and have a moon or crescent shape.
How to Clean Mouse Poop
Before engaging in a full cleanup of mouse droppings, make sure the infestation has stopped for at least five days. This also reduces the risk of contact with rodent related diseases like Hantavirus.
Ventilate the space for at least 30 minutes before you begin the cleanup. Open the windows and doors to let fresh air pass through and leave the area while it’s airing out.
Spray the urine and mouse poop with disinfectant and let it soak for at least five minutes. If you don’t have disinfectant, you can create your own bleach solution mixture using 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.
Using latex, vinyl, or rubber gloves, pick up urine and droppings with a disposable paper towel or tissue and throw away in a plastic bag. Dispose of the bag properly and never compost rodent droppings.
Clean hard surfaces, such as countertops and floors, with disinfectant or bleach. To clean mouse droppings from carpet or furniture, steam clean or shampoo with a commercial-grade cleaner. And wash clothing and bedding in hot water.
The CDC offers additional detailed guidelines for cleaning up after a rodent infestation such as disposing of nesting materials, mouse traps, and dead rodents, as well as how to clean storage spaces (crawl spaces, attics, basements), outbuildings (sheds, barns, and cabins), air ducts, and vehicles.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Mouse Dropping Duty
While you may be inclined to get out your indoor vacuum or shop-vac to make the nastiness disappear quickly and without any direct contact, that is ill-advised because vacuuming can stir up dust. Taking special precautions to disinfect and clean up mouse poop is important because many of the diseases rodents can carry may be transmitted through their droppings.
Don’t use a broom or vacuum when cleaning rodent-infested areas. This could stir up pathogens and cause you to inhale them.
Don’t use your bare hands when cleaning up mouse droppings.
Don’t forget to rodent-proof the area to prevent future infestations.
Don’t clean up mouse poop while pregnant, if possible. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s estimated that 5% of house mice carry LCMV, an infectious disease transmitted through rodent urine, poop, saliva, that can be transmitted to a fetus and can cause death or birth defects.
Do use a respirator or dust mask if you have one
Do air out the area prior to cleaning to reduce the chance of inhaling airborne germs.
Do wear rubber or latex gloves.
Do dispose of all nests, droppings, dead rodents, and soiled paper towels or cloths in a sealed bag inside a covered trash can.
Do wash hands thoroughly with soap and hot or warm water.