Get rid of rats and keep them from coming back

How to Get Rid of Dead Rat Smell

The presence of a dead rat can lead to serious health problems and cause damage to your property. The stench produced by a dead rodent is also enough to make one vomit, and it’s known for being nearly impossible to neutralize. However, a few remedies exist, the most effective being a meticulous cleanup process.

How to Get Rid of Dead Rat Smell

Some also suggest seeking professional cleaning help. But before you seek professional help in getting rid of the dead rat smell, give these five detailed steps a try. 

Step 1: Dispose of the Rat 

Correctly disposing of the rodent and everything it may have left behind is the most crucial step. When you locate the rat, determine whether it has nested in that area and if it has left droppings. Rat droppings resemble anything between large rice grains, coffee beans, and raisins. Their nests can be a combination of various materials – like twigs, fabrics, and leaves – accompanied by a musky scent. 

Once you have spotted the corpse, gear up in your rubber gloves, a mask, goggles, and inessential clothing. The protective wear ensures that you don’t catch diseases or contaminate other areas in your home. Place the corpse, droppings, and nest, if applicable, inside a sealable plastic bag. Be careful not to expel the air inside the bag, as this could cause a health hazard. Place the sealed plastic bag inside another one, carefully tie it up and throw it away. 

Step 2: Disinfect the Area

To start the disinfection process, prepare a bleach and water solution. The ideal ratio for the mixture is nine or ten parts water to one part household bleach. Spray or pour the solution over the area and wipe it with wipes or tissue paper. Additionally, you could spray a store-bought chemical disinfectant over the household bleach solution. Repeat the process twice or thrice until you are satisfied and the area looks clean. Using both ensures the place is wholly disinfected and reduces the risk of disease transmission. 

Step 3: Deodorize the Affected Area

The foul odor may remain even after disinfecting the area, so you must deodorize. You can use several household ingredients to neutralize a dead rat’s smell. Some examples include vinegar, baking soda, ground coffee, and charcoal briquettes.

If you settle on vinegar as a deodorizer, you should simmer a pot of vinegar on the stove for a few minutes. Afterward, pour the vinegar into cups and place them around the affected area and wherever the odor has traveled. The vinegar should absorb the smell. Repeat the procedure for some days until you are satisfied. 

Baking soda is the most common odor neutralizer because it absorbs odors from nearly everything. All you need to do is make a solution with the soda and some boiling or lukewarm water. Pour the combination into a spray bottle and apply it onto the affected area. Although the following method receives a lot of skepticism, it works. Due to coffee containing nitrogen, sprinkling ground coffee or hanging coffee beans around the area effectively absorbs and neutralizes the odor. 

Charcoal briquettes absorb foul odors and trap them while releasing carbon dioxide. Place the briquettes in bowls around the affected area and affected rooms. Swap them out as regularly as you see fit for a few days. Once you’ve neutralized the smell, you can toss the charcoal. Alternatively, you could purchase odor-neutralizing bags and place them around the foul-smelling area. You can also use all these methods at once. 

Step 4: Air Out the Area

Open all the doors and windows to flush any remaining foul odor out. If the space is carpeted and close to a window, let adequate sunlight in to dry the area. You can also use a fan near the area and a window to flush the scent out quickly.

Another option is a ventilating system if you can afford to install one. Leave the site uninterrupted for twenty-four to forty-eight hours, and make sure it stays dry. Additional moisture could cause worse odors or destroy the surface. 

Step 5: Clean Yourself Up

Throw away the protective gear (gloves and mask) you used while handling the rodent. Throw away the inessential clothing as well, if you can afford to. Thoroughly sanitize and wash your hands with soap to eliminate any excess bacteria. Take a hot shower, ideally paired with disinfecting soap. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the dead rat smell last? 

The period depends on how long the dead rodent was in the affected area. Therefore, there is no exact answer. It could last between forty-eight hours and four weeks, but thorough cleaning up can speed up the process. 

How do you know if a rat died in your wall? 

When you notice a rotten smell in an area on the wall or around the house, it’s usually a sign. Other indicators include flies hovering in that area and stains or holes where the rodent could’ve entered. If you pick up a ‘new’ stench, carefully cut out through the wall – observing safety measures – or seek professional help. 

Can someone get sick from breathing in a dead rat smell? 

Though unpleasant and unrecommended, smelling a dead rat won’t make you ill. However, the fumes released by a carcass may awaken dangerous airborne bacteria. Therefore, ensure you wear a mask and gloves when inspecting a dead rodent site or handling one. 

Do dead rats attract more rats?

Rats can be pretty social. Therefore, if you find one, there is a high chance that there are others nearby. However, dead rats don’t naturally attract other rats. Instead, they attract maggots and flies and can carry parasites. As a result, rats may cause various diseases, so getting rid of them and potentially others is always the best option. 


Finding a dead rodent in your house can be a traumatizing experience. Moreover, the hard-to-forget odor can make your home very uncomfortable. The stench is challenging to get rid of, but adequate cleaning supplies and some ventilation could solve your problem.

You must thoroughly disinfect the area before ventilating and deodorizing because there is a high risk of disease transmission. If you’ve followed the steps mentioned above, but the smell persists, consider getting help from professional pest control.

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