How To Clean Up Rat Droppings Safely

By: Contributors  | 
A close up of a big brown rat.
There's a right and wrong way to get rid of rat droppings. Corinne von Nordmann / Getty Images

It can be upsetting to find rat droppings in your home, but you're going to have to get rid of them. Whatever you do, do not sweep or vacuum up rat urine, droppings, or nesting materials. This will just stir up unsanitary dust. Here's what you should do instead:


The Risks of Rat Droppings in Your Home

Discovering rat droppings in your home can be a startling sign of a rodent infestation. These droppings, often confused with mouse droppings, or squirrel poop, pose serious health risks, as they can carry harmful diseases. It's crucial to identify rat poop and begin cleaning promptly but with the right approach to avoid spreading contaminants.


Identifying Rat Droppings and Understanding the Risks

Identifying rat poop is the first step in addressing a rodent infestation. Rat droppings are typically dark, pellet-shaped, and larger than mouse droppings. Fresh rat poop is softer and darker, whereas old droppings become gray and crumbly.

Understanding these differences is crucial, as rat poop dangerous contamination risks include rodent-borne diseases like hantavirus pulmonary syndrome and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome.


Why Sweeping and Vacuuming Are Not Safe Options

Sweeping or vacuuming rat droppings can aerosolize harmful bacteria and viruses, increasing the risk of inhaling pathogens. This method can disturb rat urine and fecal matter, which might contain rodent-borne diseases. Instead, the cleanup process should begin with more cautious measures to ensure safety and effectiveness in eliminating these health hazards.


Safety Gear and Cleaning Supplies You’ll Need

Before tackling rat droppings, equip yourself with essential safety gear. Wearing rubber gloves is non-negotiable, as it prevents direct contact with fecal matter and rodent urine. A dust mask won't cut it. It's best to wear a N95 or comparable face mask to avoid inhaling harmful particles. You should also wear a long-sleeved

shirt, long pants, and eye protection. Gather supplies like a bleach solution, paper towels and plastic bags. These items are fundamental in safely cleaning and disinfecting the affected area.


Step-by-Step Guide to Safely Remove Rat Droppings

Begin cleaning by ventilating the area. Don a pair of rubber gloves and a mask for protection. Gently mist the rat droppings with a bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) to reduce the risk of airborne pathogens. Using a paper towel, carefully pick up the feces and seal them in a plastic bag. This method minimizes the risk of spreading harmful bacteria and ensures a safe cleanup process.


How to Effectively Disinfect the Area

After removing the rat droppings, disinfect the area thoroughly to eliminate any lingering germs. Use a strong bleach solution or a commercial disinfectant designed to kill harmful bacteria. Wipe down all surfaces and leave the solution to sit for several minutes before rinsing with hot water. This step is vital to ensure complete sanitization and prevent future rodent infestations.


Tips to Prevent Future Infestations

To avoid a recurring rat infestation, seal entry points and eliminate food sources. Look for gnaw marks and urine stains as indicators of their pathways. Regularly inspect your home for signs of rodents and consider setting rat traps in strategic locations. Keeping your space clean and minimizing clutter can significantly reduce the likelihood of attracting rats.


Understanding the Health Implications

Rat droppings are not just unsightly; they're a health hazard. Rodent-borne diseases, such as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome and leptospirosis, can be transmitted through rat feces and urine. It's essential to recognize the danger of rat poop and take appropriate measures to clean and disinfect affected areas promptly.


When to Call a Professional

If you're facing a severe rat infestation or the cleanup process seems overwhelming, it's wise to call professional pest control. They can identify the type of rodent, whether it's roof rat droppings or Norway rat droppings, and provide targeted solutions. Professionals have the expertise and equipment to handle rodent droppings safely and effectively, ensuring your home is thoroughly cleaned and protected from future infestations.


Maintaining a Rat Dropping-Free Home

Keeping your home free from rat droppings is an ongoing effort. Regular cleaning, vigilant monitoring for signs of rodents, and preventive measures are key. Remember, the first sign of rat feces warrants immediate action to safeguard your home from the health risks associated with these pests.

This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.