Rodent excrement can pose serious health risks to people and animals. Through their urine and droppings, rats and mice can spread viruses and parasites — not to mention an unpleasant smell — throughout your home. If you spot signs of rodent urine in your attic, it’s essential to clean up the space immediately to prevent further infestation.
So how do you get rid of rat urine in an attic? If you’re doing the cleaning yourself, gear up with latex gloves and a surgical mask before opening all the windows to let the bad odor out. Spray the urine with a disinfectant solution, mop it up with paper towels, and dispose of the paper towels into a plastic bag for removal. Afterwards, you can focus on decontaminating everything else in your home.
How To Find Rat Urine In Your Attic
While there are various rat and mice species that frequently drop by human dwellings, roof rats and house mice are the rodents which often seek shelter and food in human residences. A mouse or a rat can easily crawl through pencil-sized gaps and gnaw through wood, allowing them to build nests in hidden areas like wall interiors or an attic space. As rodents are incontinent, leaving excrement wherever they go — especially when they’re near their nests.
The problem, however, is that their urine is difficult to spot on most surfaces. Unless you find fresh urine stains on wood, it can be tricky to see and clean up after rodent urine. Some people even utilize black light technology to detect rat urine, although this solution delivers inconsistent results. In this case, it’s best to start by looking at the attic’s surroundings.
Start by tracking rodent droppings first, as this will let you know whether you are dealing with an old infestation or a new one. The droppings can also tell you if it’s a mouse or a rat infestation.
- Fresh droppings – soft, moist, and brown
- Older droppings – dry, dusty, and grey
- Mouse droppings – look like tiny rice grains with pointy tips
- Rat droppings – look like long, brick-like pellets
Most likely, you’ll spot these droppings along the walls of the attic. Rodents are nocturnal creatures of habit; they tend to stick to the same routes along walls when they travel at night. If the attic has a lot of dust, check for rat footprints on the floor.
Rat and mice droppings are also often accompanied by rub marks as well. These grease stains are a mixture of dirt, pheromones, and other natural byproducts excreted by rats and mice everyday. The thick, brown, slimy substances on the attic floor or walls can help you track down rodent urine easily.
Once you have a general idea of where the rodents pass by, it’s time to follow your nose. Rodent urine has a strong, musky, and unmistakable smell. Like common household pets, rat urine is made of urea and water. When the urea degrades, the nitrogen within is released and ammonia develops — creating the stench. As the urine dries up, the calcium in it also leaves behind a crystallized, chalk-like residue.
5 Steps For Cleaning Up A Rat-Infested Attic
After finding traces of rodent urine, it’s important to remove an existing rodent infestation by trapping. Set up traps and seal all crevices, gaps, cracks, and openings with caulking or steel wool. Check on the traps daily and release any trapped rodents away from your home. Reset the traps and repeat the process until there are no further catches. Wait for a week to eradicate all rodents from the area and ensure the droppings are no longer infectious.
If there is no evidence of a recent infestation, it’s best to wait 5 days before cleaning your attic space. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has specific guidelines for safely and effectively cleaning infested attics, basements, or crawl spaces:
1. Put on your protective gear.
When clearing away evidence of a rat or mouse infestation, you must avoid touching the urine, droppings, nesting materials, and any dead carcasses directly with your hands. Wear rubber, latex, or vinyl gloves on each hand and cover your nose with a surgical mask. This will protect you against viruses, molds, dust, and insulation fibers. A dust mask could also prevent you from breathing the odor and other dust particles directly, but it won’t be able to block hantaviruses.
Don’t use a broom, brush, vacuum cleaner, or any other sweeping item to clean up the urine, feces, or nest particles. Vacuuming the space would just spread the urine, kick up dust, and expose you to the airborne pathogens you’re trying to remove.
2. Open up the doors and windows.
Bacteria from rodent urine and droppings can become airborne, which can spread diseases like Hantavirus and even trigger allergy or asthma symptoms if you’re not careful. Ventilate the attic for at least 30 minutes before disinfecting to clear contamination in the air.
Even if it’s cold outside, open the windows and doors to filter the air in the room. Electric fans can also help ventilate stuffy areas. Cross-ventilation works well on an attic space; open the door and a window across it for best results. Leave the attic while airing it out and be sure to keep everything open for the cleaning after.
3. Prepare your disinfectant solution.
Whether or not the urine puddle is fresh or dried, it contains transmittable diseases so it’s crucial to disinfect it before handling. Mix a household disinfectant with water and bleach; the water-to-bleach ratio should be 10:1.
If you don’t have bleach, store-bought disinfectant is fine as long as you follow the label and use the product as directed. Once the bleach solution or disinfectant is ready, spray rodent excrement and saturate for five minutes to inactivate viruses.
4. Soak up the urine with paper towels.
After saturating the urine in the disinfectant mixture, wipe it clean with paper towels or a rag. Place the used paper towels along with any excrement, nesting materials, or rodent carcasses in a plastic bag and seal it tightly. Seal the full bag in another plastic bag and immediately dispose of it in a regularly-emptied, covered garbage can. Once the spot is clean, reapply the bleach solution over the area and neighboring spots.
5. Decontaminate everything else in your home.
If there is evidence of rodent activity in other parts of your home, it’s best to disinfect them as well. Don’t remove your rubber or latex gloves yet while handling contaminated household objects, fabrics, and countertops. You can continue to use your bleach solution and disinfectant for:
- Mopping up wood floors.
- Cleaning furniture.
- Scrubbing away grease marks.
- Wiping down kitchen countertops.
For other items, you should:
- Throw away contaminated cardboard boxes in a garbage bin.
- Remove contaminated insulation sheets before throwing them away.
- Steam-clean rugs, carpets, and furniture upholstery with shampoo or disinfectant.
- Use hot water to disinfect sheets, pillow cases, clothes, and other fabrics with rodent traces before machine-washing.
- Leave books, magazines, and documents outside for the day so ultraviolet rays can kill lingering hantaviruses.
Once you’re done, remove your gloves and dispose of them. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, even if you didn’t touch them directly. You can also use a waterless, alcohol-based hand run to be safe. Remove your face mask after cleaning your hands.
Why You Should Get Rid of Rat Urine ASAP
Rats and mice are known to spread more than 35 diseases, which is why it’s important to get rid of rodent urine traces in your home and kitchen. These diseases can spread to humans directly through contaminated food or contact with rodents and their urine, droppings, or saliva. Rats and mice also serve as carriers of fleas and ticks, which cause severe illnesses and even death in some cases. Some diseases commonly spread through rodent urine are:
Prevent Rodent Infestations With Midway Pest Management
For a swift and safe response against pest infestations, Midway Pest Management is the best in Johnson County. As a locally owned and operated professional pest control service, Midway Pest Management will create a pest control program tailored to your needs. Call us today to book an appointment.
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