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Eliminating the Dead Rodent Smell from Your Home

By: EarthKind

The only thing worse than finding a rat in your house is NOT finding a rat that has died in your house.

An ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mantra might have you thinking that as long as you don’t see any of these rodents, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, household pests don’t just disappear. If a rodent dies somewhere inside your home, the lingering smell will be an unpleasant reminder. These DIY steps along with natural pest prevention tips can help you stop this stinky problem in its tracks!

Woman plugging her nose to block the smell of a dead rat

How to Identify Dead Rat Odor

If there’s a dead mouse or rat somewhere in your home, you will almost always be able to tell from the smell. Once the dead rodent begins to decompose, it will begin to produce a very strong, unpleasant smell. The stench is similar to that of a dead animal smell you might notice from roadkill.   

First, you will want to locate the dead rodent. Use your nose to follow the unpleasant scent, and also look for signs of the pests around your home. Once you have identified the location, it’s time to start the removal process.

Hand with a protective glove holding a spray bottle cleaner

How to Get Rid of a Dead Rat Smell

You can get rid of these pests, and the dead rat or mouse smell they leave behind, without resorting to harsh chemicals or dangerous pest control methods. If you locate the smell and discover a current infestation happening, you will want to work to clear out any existing infestation. Once that has been done, follow these tips:

  • Review CDC guidelines for removing dead rodents and cleaning up after them. This will help protect yourself against diseases carried by these pests like Hantavirus. The CDC recommends placing the dead rodent inside of a plastic bag, sealing it, and then placing that inside of another plastic bag. 
  • Once the dead rat or mouse is removed, air out the affected area completely by opening windows to let in fresh air and using fans.
  • If there are any remains, find and remove them. Make sure to wear protective gloves and follow the proper instructions for cleaning up their waste.
  • Deep clean areas where nests, droppings, or other signs of rodent activity were present with a disinfectant.
  • Place Stay Away® Rodent pouches in the area using 1 pouch per 8 square feet if the rat problem persists, or just 1 pouch per 125 square feet to prevent future problems.

What Attracts Them in The First Place?

Rats are creatures of opportunity; they’re not out to get you. They just want a safe place to call home with plenty of food to eat. Most rats and mice have poor eyesight, but a highly developed sense of smell. They will use their sense of smell to find food from great distances and to detect danger before entering new territory. Homes and buildings that leave garbage bags out or in uncovered cans are inviting to them because this is an easy food source. Contrary to the idea that a bigger animal will scare a rat away, pests are also attracted to homes with pets because they will happily eat dog and cat food.


Cluttered areas offer plenty of hiding places for pests, so garages, storage spaces, and other places where they can find cover are quickly infested — by the time you realize there is a problem, these intruders have already made themselves at home and begun breeding. Since they only need an opening about the size of a quarter to enter a home or building, apartment complexes, older construction, and warehouses are easy targets. 

How to Keep Them Away

If you do not create the opportunity for rat infestations in your home, you may never see one or have to worry about other problems linked to them like rodent-related diseases, property damage, or foul odors. The following three steps will limit the prospects for opportunistic rats and other household pests:

  1. First, clean up the things that attract rodents like food, water, and clutter. Store open food packages, leftovers, and pet food in air-tight containers. Only set out dog or cat food and water when feeding your pet instead of leaving full dishes out all the time. 
  2. Next, seal up potential entry points. Rats only need a half-inch-sized opening to get inside. Block entryways by covering chimneys and dryer vents with mesh metal grates. Check for holes, gaps or cracks along a building’s foundation, doors, and windows; fill any openings with steel or copper wool and cover with silicone caulk. 
  3. Finally, pouch up by placing Stay Away® Rodent pest prevention pouches anywhere needing protection from rats or mice. EarthKind’s botanical, scent-based repellent overwhelms the sense of smell these critters rely on with a unique blend of essential oils that most people enjoy. Rodents will avoid any area where the fragrance is present.

If you’ve recently noticed a dead rodent smell in your home, it’s important to locate the source of the problem and take the proper steps towards removal and preventing future infestations from occurring. 

  1. Rita Stadler

    Hi Jean,

    Activated charcoal should help absorb the odor and filter the air. We also carry a line of air fresheners that contain zeolite, another naturally occurring substance that can filter and freshen air. In addition to getting rid of the stink, make sure that you take steps to prevent any more rodents in the walls and around your home by sealing potential entry points and keeping rodent repellent in garages and entryways.

    Thanks for reading!

    1. Rita Stadler

      Rats in urban areas are a challenging problem. The most effective solutions come from communities working together, using an integrated pest management plan to remove pest food sources and keep shrubs and debris cleaned up. Thanks for reading!

  • Bobby

    Fresh ground coffee works really well.

  • Sandra D Belcher

    If they have died in a wall where you can’tget to them, is there a remedy for the odor?

    1. Rita Stadler

      Unfortunately, time is the best remedy. If possible, run fans and open windows to improve the airflow. Look for odor absorbing materials like zeolite, activated charcoal or baking soda instead of trying to cover the smell with air fresheners.

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