How to Safely Clean Up After Rodents
Spring is finally here, which means it’s time for some much-needed cleaning! As we begin to clear out the clutter and tackle our to-do lists, it’s important to remember that there are certain tasks that require special attention. One such task is cleaning up after rodents. Whether you’ve spotted a mouse scurrying across your kitchen floor or you’ve discovered evidence of a rat infestation, it’s important to take proper precautions when cleaning up after these pesky pests.
When I started Issaquah Pest in February 2018 it was around the time we had several hantavirus cases in Western Washington. We made our name by offering free rodent inspections for those concerned about deer mice and potential exposure to hantavirus. We make it a point to never use scare tactics since cases of hantavirus and other diseases are so rare. But still, proper care ought to be taken when spring cleaning!
– Todd Bosteder, Founder and CEO
Why is cleaning up after rodents so important?
There are several reasons why cleaning up after rodents is crucial, especially if you suspect that they may have been carrying or transmitting disease. Rodents such as mice, rats, and squirrels can carry a variety of diseases, some of which can be transmitted to humans through contact with their urine, droppings, or saliva. Here are just a few of the diseases that rodents can transmit:
- Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome: This rare but potentially deadly respiratory disease is caused by exposure to the urine or droppings of infected rodents, particularly deer mice. Symptoms can include fever, muscle aches, coughing, and shortness of breath.
- Leptospirosis: This bacterial disease is transmitted through the urine of infected animals, including rodents. Symptoms can range from mild (fever, headache, muscle aches) to severe (kidney and liver failure).
- Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM): This viral infection is spread through contact with the urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents, particularly house mice. Symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle aches, and vomiting.
- Salmonellosis: This bacterial infection is transmitted through contact with the feces of infected animals, including rodents. Symptoms can include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.
These are just a few of the diseases that rodents can transmit, but there are many others as well. In addition to the risk of disease, rodents can also cause damage to your home or property, chewing through electrical wires and insulation and leaving behind a mess of droppings, urine, and nesting materials.
Cases of Hantavirus Around the US
Disinfectant Bleach Mixture
How to clean up after rodents according to CDC guidelines
If you’ve discovered evidence of rodents in your home or suspect that they may have been present, it’s important to take proper precautions when cleaning up. Here are the steps recommended by the CDC for cleaning up after rodents:
Step 1: Put on protective gear
Before you begin cleaning, it’s important to protect yourself from exposure to any potentially harmful materials. This includes wearing gloves, a mask, and goggles to prevent contact with rodent urine, droppings, or nesting materials.
Step 2: Ventilate the area
If possible, open windows and doors to provide ventilation to the area you’ll be cleaning. This will help to minimize your exposure to any airborne particles.
Step 3: Clean up droppings and urine
Use a paper towel or disposable cloth to pick up any rodent droppings or urine. Avoid sweeping or vacuuming as this can stir up particles and spread disease. If the droppings are on a hard surface, use a disinfectant spray and a scrub brush to clean the area thoroughly.
Step 4: Dispose of materials
Place any materials used for cleaning (such as paper towels or disposable cloths) in a sealed plastic bag and dispose of it in an outdoor trash bin. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after disposing of the bag.
Step 5: Disinfect the area
Use a disinfectant spray to thoroughly clean any surfaces that may have been contaminated by rodent urine or droppings. This includes countertops, floors, and any other surfaces that may have come into contact with rodents.
Step 6: Launder any fabrics
If any fabrics in the affected area, such as bedding or curtains, have come into contact with rodent urine or droppings, it’s important to wash them thoroughly in hot water. Use a disinfectant laundry detergent, if possible, and dry them on the highest heat setting. If the fabric cannot be washed, consider disposing of it instead.
How to keep rodents from returning
In addition to taking these steps to clean up after rodents, there are also several preventative measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of a rodent infestation in the first place. These include:
- Calling Issaquah Pest Control 🙂
- Keeping food stored in airtight containers and cleaning up spills or crumbs immediately.
- Removing any clutter or debris in and around your home, as rodents like to hide in cluttered areas.
- Keeping garbage cans tightly sealed and stored away from your home.
- Sealing any gaps or cracks in your home’s foundation, walls, or roof.
- Keeping your home well-ventilated and free of excess moisture, as rodents are attracted to damp areas.
By taking these preventative measures and following proper cleanup procedures, you can help protect yourself and your family from the potential health risks associated with rodent infestations. So as you tackle your spring cleaning to-do list, be sure to add “clean up after rodents” to the top of the list and follow these guidelines from the CDC to ensure a safe and effective cleanup.
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