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Eliminating mice and rodent smells from a car or truck

This page is taken from information at Allpar’s forums.

One member’s Jeep pickup had been sitting for some time, and mice had moved in. Even after the seats and carpet were removed, the owner could not eliminate the smell with ordinary scrubbing and detergents.

When cleaning using strong chemicals or in the presence of biologically active contaminants, one should wear rubber gloves and eye protection. “BlackSheep” said that any time one is working around rodent or bird droppings, one should wear an N-95 mask to prevent disease.

To disinfect the areas where rodent or mouse excretion has been, one can, according to the posters, use ultraviolet rays (such as exposing to strong sunlight for 2-3 days) or chlorine bleach. Bleach is somewhat hazardous to materials and people; if used, the correct concentration has been 1 part bleach, 10 parts water, according to Jim. He noted that this dilution cannot be used on fabrics (far too strong) and also noted that new products are available for disinection.

Ozone can be helpful but potentially hurts insulation, plastic linkages, and other hard to replace parts. Overdoing the ozone can lead to a “smoke-like” smell after two days, even after two hours of using an ozone generator.

Bob Lincoln has used lemon-scented Lysol pump spray and Febreze, then steam vacuumed the carpeting. He vacuumed the cowl as well and sprayed Lysol into it, running the fan on high until the vapors were ended. Again, one must exercise considerable caution with these chemicals, and airing out afterwards is essential. (Others have endorsed this method.)

It may be helpful to take apart the vent system and make sure the various vents and hoses are completely clear of animal remains. Some ducts may fall apart with the handling and need to be replaced.

For a floor covering, to replace carpet in a work vehicle, Jim suggested a type of dimpled rubber sheeting around 4 feet wide from a roll sold by auto parts stores. To save the carpet, scrubbing with dish detergent and a stiff brush (on a handle) then spraying clear with a garden hose at high pressure and allowing to dry in the sun for a day can work; it should be disinfected first.

Getting the smell from the seats may be most difficult, since it can get into the foam. “BlackSheep” said lifting the foam out of the covers, dosing them with white vinegar, and letting them dry in the sun has worked for him in the past.

The original poster (“Trailduster”) wrote, “That lemon scent lysol is the stuff! One treatment on the hard parts and you'd never know the mice had been in the truck. I soaked and rinsed the seats twice, still a bit of smell to the right seat, but the center pad and left seat smell better than new. The seats look better than they did when I got the truck, and will probably smell better when I'm done.”

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