Why is it so important to be careful during the clean-up of a rodent infestation? Rodent-spawned infections have been responsible for at least 10 million fatalities since the dawn of the 20th century. Also remember that rodent-borne diseases threatened all of humanity during the Black Death plague of the late Middle Ages. That plague, spread by the fleas on rats, caused 200 million deaths in Europe alone.
Even today, rodents harbor various diseases that are infectious to humans, including:
For the sake of your health, it’s vital to properly clean up any infestation you discover.
First off, ensure that the rodents have been completely eliminated from the area you are cleaning. Set up your preferred rodent traps and check them daily; if you catch rodents, dispose of them and reset the traps. Repeat the process until a week passes with no further rodent catches. At that point, it'll be safe to assume that the rodents have been eradicated from the area. The same wait-time will also ensure that their droppings aren't infectious anymore. Ventilate the area as you clean out the remaining traces of rodent defecation.
When you clear away the evidence of a mouse infestation, do not sweep or vacuum up droppings and nest particles. These actions can kick up dust and expose you to the pathogens you’re trying to remove. Instead, moisten all debris with a bleach solution – preferably 10 percent bleach to 90 percent water – and wipe it clean.
As you clean, know that it’s important for the entire area to be cleansed of all the germs and smells that attracted rodents in the first place.
As you prepare to clean, follow these steps:
If there's evidence that the rodents crossed other parts of your house, have those areas thoroughly disinfected as well. Scrub away streaks or prints along your kitchen floor or countertops; machine-wash bed sheets or fabrics with evidence of rodent nibbling; and steam-clean any carpets or furniture upholstery that may have been marked by the critters. Once you have finished disinfecting all these spots in your house, dispense with the gloves and clean your hands with soap and/or rubbing alcohol.
As you clean, you may stumble upon a rodent carcass. When you clean up dead rats and mice, double up on the sanitation steps discussed earlier. Armed with disinfectant and rubber or latex gloves:
Before you clean up after rodents in one of the outbuildings on your property – whether it's a barn, cabin or shed – air out the structure for at least 30 minutes before you get to business. With gloves on and the disinfectant ready:
Rodents can gain entry to outbuildings far easier than houses, so it's important to maintain the lawn and other vegetation that surrounds the barns and sheds on your property. Since rodents like to hide in dark areas, you should do your part to deprive them of these places. On a regular basis, trim the bushes and dispose of the leaves that have accumulated in your yard.
Always use rubber or latex gloves when gathering contaminated clothing, bed sheets, quilts, pillows, cases or stuffed animals for cleansing. Machine-wash these items in hot water. Once washed, place the fabrics and other washables into your dryer and spin them at a high temperature; anything above 115 degrees should kill off any lingering hantaviruses. Infected rugs, carpets and furniture will require the use of professional-grade steam cleaners with shampoo or disinfectant.
If rodents have touched items in your house that can't be disinfected with a liquid formula – such as books, magazines and documents – leave them outside in the heat for a day, or store in a disinfected indoor area for at least a week. Ultraviolet rays kill hantaviruses, which can otherwise linger on surfaces for up to three days. Wear gloves while handling these items that you believe are infected. On some hardback books, it wouldn't hurt to wipe the front and back covers clean with a formula-moistened washcloth.
It takes more work to clean an infestation in the hidden areas of your home – attics, basements, crawl spaces, wall cavities – because these are the places where rodents are most likely to dwell. Before you clean the nesting remnants, rat droppings or mouse poop, you might have to trap and kill a lot of rodents first. In order to do this, you should have some rodent traps set up in the infested areas. If the rodents are currently active, you'll probably catch them in quick succession; just bait the traps and wait, checking back occasionally. If five days pass with no new captures, you've probably eliminated the population.
Before you disinfect your crawl space, attic or wall cavity, have it ventilated for at least 30 minutes to clear contaminations from the air; fans are a big help in stuffy areas:
In order to prevent any further infestation of your storage spaces, take a flashlight and inspect the walls, ducts and trimmings for cracks, gaps or any other possible rodent entryways. Cover these openings with sealant or mesh wire. Consider paving crawl spaces under the structure.
In cases of heavy rodent infestation, special measures must be taken, especially when it occurs in a large home or building, whether occupied or vacant. Workers partaking in the cleanup of rodent-plagued premises should arm themselves with the following gear: rubber or latex gloves, disposable coveralls, disposable rubber boots and goggles. Air-filtering masks – preferably with either high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) or powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) filters – should also be worn. Following each day's work, disinfect all protective gear. Double-seal any used respiratory filters in bags marked "infectious" and dispense with the bags at an appropriate location.
One of the most common haunts among the rodent population is an air duct, to which rats and mice can gain entry through cracks around the vents on your roof. When rodents invade your air ducts, it can send rank odors throughout your house; especially when rodent carcasses decompose. To rid this problem from your house:
In order to keep rodents from entering your air ducts, it's important to check around the outside of your home for small holes and cracks that could serve as entryways. If you see any gaps around the outside vents, cover the gaps with mesh wire or sealant. Remember, mice can fit through dime-sized holes and rats can squeeze through nickel-sized holes. Infestation of your heating and cooling system could also mean that it's time to have your air ducts professionally cleaned.
A single mouse or rat is one too many, but where one rodent treads, others are likely to follow. That's why when you see a rodent in your house, there's clearly something wrong with your home's integrity, such as a small crack around a window pane, chimney or roof duct. The moment you even suspect that a critter has entered your home, deploy glue trays and snap traps.
If you're looking to eliminate rodents once and for all with a efficient, safe and sanitary device, your best option is one of the electronic mouse traps or electronic rat traps from Victor®. These simple devices kill rodents instantaneously.