How Do I Decontaminate My Attic After Rats or Mice?

Dealing with a rat or mouse infestation in your attic is stressful. From the moment the telltale signs start, the scratching noises, the pitter-patter of tiny feet, and the unpleasant odors, you know you’ve got a messy situation to deal with. Not only do these pests pose health risks and cause damage to your property while in situ, but they also leave behind a trail of contamination that can linger long after they’re gone. So whether you use traps, poison, or a professional pest control company to remove the rodents, your work doesn’t end with physically removing the vermin. A thorough rodent infestation cleanup is essential to ensure your home remains safe and healthy for you and your family. However, knowing the best cleanup approach to take with a potentially highly contaminated area in your home can be tricky. If you’re in this position, asking, “How do I decontaminate my attic after rats or mice?” rest assured, we are here to help! In this article, we will discuss the crucial steps you should take to clean up your attic after a rodent infestation to restore your home to a safe condition. 

rat on a plate of food

Do I need to decontaminate my attic after rats or mice?

Before beginning the decontamination process, it’s essential to understand the risks associated with rodent infestations. Rodents like mice and rats can carry and spread diseases through their droppings, urine, saliva, and even mites and fleas they might harbor. Altogether, approximately 30 diseases are known to be transmitted either directly or indirectly from rodents like rats. Some common illnesses rodents transmit include Hantavirus, Leptospirosis, Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM), Plague, and Typhus. Their droppings can also harbor parasites such as tapeworms. Therefore, even after the rodents themselves are gone, it’s essential to clean up any waste they have left behind and sanitize the whole area.

electrical wires with bite marks due to rodent infestation

How long do rat droppings remain infectious?

If it has been some time since the rodent infestation, or perhaps you have moved into a property and found old droppings, you may wonder if these can just be left in the space—especially if you’re not using the area. 

Although some viruses may remain in droppings for only a couple of days, others, such as Salmonella, can stay alive for weeks, and the droppings may harbor parasites, too. Therefore, even if droppings look old, you should treat them as a health hazard. We recommend you clean them up rather than leave them in place. Remember that diseases like Hantavirus in rodent droppings and histoplasmosis in bat guano are airborne, so you can still become infected even if you don’t touch the droppings. Therefore, when cleaning up even old droppings, follow the advice below.  

mice droppings on cardboard box

How do I decontaminate my attic after rats or miceStep-by-Step Guide to Decontamination:

What not to do

Before proceeding with rodent infestation cleanup, it’s important to note the following advice from the CDC regarding the spread of Hantavirus from rodents: “When fresh rodent urine, droppings, or nesting materials are stirred up, tiny droplets containing the virus get into the air. This process is known as “airborne transmission.” Therefore, they recommend you “avoid actions that raise dust,” like sweeping or vacuuming. You’ll also need to ensure you’re adequately protected – that brings us to step one: 

Decontamination steps:

  1. Safety Precautions: Before beginning cleanup, don appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, a mask, and goggles, to protect yourself from exposure to contaminants. The CDC advises using coveralls, rubber boots, or shoe covers if you perform cleanup after a heavy infestation. Additionally, your mask should have a HEPA filter or be a PAPR respirator with HEPA filters.
  2. Inspection: Begin by thoroughly inspecting your attic for signs of rodent activity, including droppings, nests, and gnaw marks. Identify areas that require cleaning and prioritize high-traffic zones.
  3. Removal of contaminated materials: Remove and discard any insulation, nesting materials, or other debris contaminated by rodent urine, feces, or saliva. Seal these materials in double-bagged plastic before disposal.
  4. Cleaning and Disinfection: Thoroughly scrub all attic surfaces with detergent and water. Then, follow up with a disinfectant approved against rodent-borne pathogens, ensuring complete coverage.
  5. Odor Elimination: Combat lingering odors with enzymatic cleaners or specialized odor-neutralizing products designed to break down organic matter and eliminate foul smells.
  6. Restoration: Once the cleaning and disinfection process is complete, assess your attic for any structural damage caused by rodents and make necessary repairs to prevent future infestations.
  7. Prevention Measures: To deter rodents from returning to your attic, implement preventive measures such as sealing entry points, installing rodent-proof barriers, and maintaining cleanliness.
attic cleanup technician in ppe before cleaning a dirty attic
Attic Clean up technician cleaning up animal fecal matter and decontaminating a attic.
person cleaning attic
Worker installing cellulose insualtion
sealing up holes in property exterior post - rodent infestation

Keep Your Attic Rodent-Free After Decontamination

Restoring an attic after a rodent infestation involves more than just cleaning up the mess left behind. Pay attention to replacing damaged materials such as insulation, wiring, and structural components that rodents may have gnawed or soiled. These repairs restore the cleanliness and safety of your attic and eliminate potential entry points for future infestations. Additionally, it’s crucial to check the attic regularly for signs of new rodent activity and clean your attic regularly to prevent future infestations.

It’s also advisable to thoroughly inspect the exterior of your property for any gaps or entry points in your building and carefully seal up any gaps you find. Some species of mice can get through gaps smaller than 1 cm in diameter, so this work requires meticulous attention to detail and can be tedious, but it is essential to keep rodents out for good! By addressing and repairing the damage caused by rodents, you fortify it against future infestations, ensuring a pest-free environment for years to come.

Do you need help with rodent infestation cleanup?

While DIY decontamination may be feasible for minor infestations, many cases require the expertise of professional services. Many households prefer to limit personal exposure to biohazards and entrust the work to professionals, such as our team at attic cleanup, who are well-equipped for this work. Our team of professionals are experts in handling hazardous waste. In addition, we have invested in sophisticated decontamination gear, including air scrubbing machines, to ensure that your attic materials are cleaned and the air quality is free from harmful bacteria and fungi. We are equipped to work at any height to access all building areas. This means we can effectively seal your building post-cleanup to protect it against re-infestations.

Consider the extent of the infestation, your comfort level with handling hazardous materials, and the availability of resources before deciding whether to tackle decontamination yourself or enlist professional help. Remember, prioritizing safety and thoroughness is paramount for pest control and rodent infestation cleanup. Whether you tackle the task yourself or seek professional assistance, investing in proper decontamination ensures peace of mind and a healthier living space for years to come.

Your Local Attic Cleanup Specialist,

Michael Koski

Michael Koski Attic Cleanup Owner

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