5 important tips for staying safe when cleaning areas with rodents

A few months ago we asked if your home was rat-proofed for the winter. Before the cold weather set in, you moved food sources, sealed up cracks, trimmed back brush and eliminated clutter.

Unfortunately, warmer weather doesn’t mean fewer rodents. Those pesky animals love to get into your home no matter what time of year it is, and it’s possible that they’ve already made themselves comfortable in your garage or basement. And that means dealing with rodent poop, nests, and potentially dead rodents.

Some mice (deer mice, specifically) can carry hantavirus in their urine and droppings. This virus is rare, but can be potentially deadly in humans. So, if you are doing your annual spring cleaning and notice signs of infestation, take caution when cleaning it up.

Here are a few simple tips for getting rid of rodents and rodent droppings and protecting yourself and others:

  1. Air it out. Before cleaning a space, ventilate it by opening multiple doors and/or windows for at least 30 minutes, allowing fresh air to circulate. Leave the area while it is airing out.
  2. Get your gloves on. Wear rubber or plastic gloves at all times. Dust masks can help protect against dust, molds, and insulation fibers, but they don’t protect against viruses. When you’re finished cleaning, wash the gloves with disinfectant or soap and water, and then wash your hands after disposing of the gloves!
  3. Spray, then mop – never sweep or vacuum. Sweeping and vacuuming stirs up dust, which contains allergens and could be contaminated, such as with hantavirus. Instead, spray the soiled area with a bleach solution and let it soak for 10 minutes. Then, using paper towel or rags, wipe up the droppings or nest material, seal the cleaning materials in a bag, and throw them in a covered trash can.
  4. Shampoo or steam clean upholstery and wash bedding. If you notice evidence of rodent urine or droppings on upholstery, bedding, or clothing, shampoo or steam clean it or wash it with detergent in hot water.
  5. Dead mouse? Soak dead rodents and nests, then double bag it. While wearing gloves, spray the dead rodent(s) with your bleach solution and let it soak for 10 minutes. Seal the dead rodent or nest in a bag, then seal that bag in a second bag. Throw the bag in a covered trash can.

Rodents don’t just hide out in basements and garages. They can infest crawl spaces, sheds, attics, BBQ grills, cabins, build nests at campsites and other outdoor sleep spaces, and even cars. Snap traps should be used to trap live rodents. Glue traps and live traps should not be used because they can scare the caught live rodents and cause them to urinate. This may increase your chance of getting sick.

For more information about cleaning rodent infestations visit our website.