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Mice in My Car

Brad's car pics 021Mice in Cars

Here is quite a story from my auto detailing days. It involves a big trick and little mice. One day a new customer came into the shop with an interesting problem. She had a large pickup truck that had some serious issues. It had mouse poop everywhere – and probably the little critters too. Read on and I will share how to deal with mice in cars.

So how do you start on a disgusting problem like this one – other than throwing up? The car just stank. The first thing to consider was whether there were any live mice lurking in the truck – up under the dash, under the carpets and seats, or even in the air vents. After pondering this for a while I got an idea. I would smoke them out! I went to the store and bought some bug bombs. I didn’t have anything to lose. I had the crew set off two of these babies inside the cab of the truck. Oh, one thing I forgot to mention was that the owner ran a dog kennel. She used the bed of the truck to store dog food. What rodent could resist a free meal?

After fumigating the truck for an hour, we didn’t see any mice running away. We figured we were good to go on the interior auto detail job. Of course we went through the rig with flashlight looking for dead mice – didn’t find any! So we were left with the smell and little mouse poops (and probably pee too!).

Virus in Mouse Poop

The first thing we did was put on the protective gear and respirators. I had heard somewhere along the way that there can be Hantavirus in mouse poop. Not something to mess around with. I sure didn’t want the guys to get sick. Next, they got out the shop vacuum with special filters attached. They spent about an hour sucking up every speck of poo and dirt from the truck. I am glad I had a stout group of employees – this was not a job for the meek. Check out my post about dog poop cleanup if you don’t believe me!

Interior Auto Detail for Mice Problems

Now it was time to tackle the shampoo job. We scrubbed the truck from top to bottom using strong interior shampoo, disinfectant and seriously hot water. We wanted to kill everything. Once the interior was cleaned, it was time to blow-dry it to speed up the process. We wanted to see if we had gotten all of the smell out, so it had to be dry.

The Moment of Truth

It was the time for the sniff test. A couple of the guys stuck their heads inside and checked it out. No! How could such little poops smell so bad? It still stank. It was time to bring out the big guns. The guys sprayed down the cloth seats and carpets again with an industrial disinfectant and added an enzyme odor remover (available at janitorial supply stores). We let this stuff soak in and allowed it to dry. The next desperate step was to set up an ozone machine. As I have mentioned before, these little machines produce a fog of charged ozone. Once this stuff had done its job of penetrating into the interior surfaces, we checked it out again.

Success Against the Critters

Well, after using all of the tools we finally had the truck smelling great. What a disgusting ordeal. Glad I had employees for this one. When the customer came back it was time to talk about storing dog food. The smell attracted the mice like a magnet. I explained that the mice must have been intoxicated by the wonderful abundance of dog food. She decided it would probably be best to store the dog food in big metal garbage cans – with the lids on. I have to say that this one ranked right up there with the customer who shoved soiled baby diapers under the seats of her car. We can only wonder why.

8 comments on “Mice in My Car

  1. I don’t have mice in my car, but my cat peed and pooped all over it. I’m cleaned it several times and it still wreaks. Any suggestions on how to get out the smell of cat piss?

    • Hi Sandra. Getting the smell of urine our of a car is extremely tough. This came up at the old detail shop frequently. I would shampoo the interior with some Simple Green all purpose cleaner. It come highly concentrated. I like to mix it down to one part cleaner and three parts water. Put it in a clean spray bottle. Wet down the area with the mixture and gently scrub it in using a nice soft brush. Let it sit for a few minutes. Next, take some clean terry towels and rub off as much moisture as possible. Let it completely dry. At this point I would spray down the areas you cleaned with some Fabreeze odor remover. Allow it to soak in for five minutes then blot up any excess liquid. Let this dry fully as well. Once it is fully dry give it a smell. If this does not do it I would recommend a professional detail shop for steam cleaning, extraction and an ozone treatment. Good luck.

  2. A family member of mine has had a hoarding problem in her car. Mainly empty food wrappers and bottles. We recently cleaned it out and found mouse poop on the floor in the back and in the trunk. There is a nest in the compartment where you put your spare tire. How do we clean the car to sell it and get rid of the mouse nest (which is the size of a basketball) ?

    • Hi Jacob. This is never a fun thing to run into. First of all, go to the “story” section of my blog and read the post titled “Mice in a car.” It will give some good info on this. The one thing to worry about when dealing with mice is the hantavirus. It is sometimes found in mouse droppings. Back at the detail shop we would wear a mask or respirator, wear gloves and coveralls. The first thing to do is get in there and pick up the nest and throw it safely away. Next, get a good wet/dry shop vac with a hepa filter element. If you do not have one I bet you can go to a tool rental place and get one. Spend some serious time vacuuming every square inch of the car and trunk. Also, if you have not done it yet, open the hood. Mice and rats are known to nest in the engine bay. They often chew up wiring to use in their nests. Pretty important if you are selling the car. The next thing to do is shampoo the carpets and perhap the seats – to kill any odor. They don’t just poop…they pee too. I like to mix up a solution of Simple Green all purpose cleaner (1 part cleaner to 4 parts water). Put it in a spray bottle, scrub the areas with a soft brush and towel out all the liquid you can. Now grab that shop vac again and go over everything you cleaned. Last step, spray the carpet with some Fabreez odor remover. That should do it. If this sounds like more than you want to tackle I would suggest taking the car to a professional detail shop. I always recommend having any car detailed to prep it for sale. Clean cars sell for more money – every time. When a potential buyer comes and sees a dirty car they most often walk away because they get the impression that the car was not well cared for during its life. I hope this helps and good luck! Bradley.

  3. Very nice article on the mice. I have a Mercedes Benz 280SLK that I store for the winter. Something is nesting in the engine bay and chewing on the wires. It is ripping out the insulation from the doors and using it as its nesting material. I am going to clean it out and stuff the area with steel wool. I am going to douse the places where they chew with peppermint oil. I have industrial poison bait by the buckets. I don’t know what else to do. Do you have any other suggestions for me. So far, your article is the best I have found online but it doesn’t help me prevent it. Detailers won’t touch the engine bay for me. I wish they would but they won’t. Thank you.

    • Hi Dawn. Thank you for checking out my blog and commenting. Getting rid of them is the first and biggest step. If none of the detailers in your area will take on a good sound pressure washing there is only one thing to do. First of all go buy an OSHA or State safety department approved mask or respirator. The chance of inhaling any mouse droppings is real. This is how people can catch the Hantavirus. This may be one of the reasons your local detail shop wants no part of the job. Put on a good set of heavy duty gloves and remove all the nesting material under the hood that you can reach. Get absolutely as much of the stuff out as you can. Spraying the area with cleaners and things like peppermint oil are a great next step. The next thing to do would be to use a strong wet/dry shop vacuum that has a HEPA filter installed. Vacuum out anything that remains. The second fear detailers often have no days is the potential risk of cleaning a modern cars engine with high pressure water. Many things under the hood are protected from moisture – but not the onslaught of high pressure water. Things can really go wrong – engine computers and sensors can be damaged, fuel injectors can get wet. The list of potential damage is large. Keeping the mice away is a whole other problem. You can always open the hood daily and remove any nest materials that are building up. The peppermint spray should help some. Your best bet may be to get a tough old barn cat. A good cat will keep all kinds of rodents away. You might get some “presents” left by the garage door. Now you only have to worry about the cat climbing on top of your clean car! That’s what a car cover is for. Best of luck, Bradley.

  4. Recently I found a small mouse in my car and I’ve tried sticky traps with cheese, I’ve also tried peppermint oil. Nothing is working and I need my car to get around. What do you suggest? I’ve called so many pest control and exterminators in my area but no one will come out since it’s inside my car. Please help!!

    • Hi Amanda. Mice in the car is a big problem. I do have a lengthy post on this topic here on my blog. I do have a trick to get them out. In the past at the detail shop we would set off a bug bomb fogger in the car – with all the windows up and doors/trunk shut. This drives the critters out. This stuff is toxic so do it with the car parked outside in the fresh air. Let the bug fogger run its course. Let the car sit for an hour – stay away so any critters trying to exit are not disturbed by your presence. After the hour is up open all windows, door and trunk to let the car air out. I would suggest shampooing the whole interior so any toxic residue is removed. As always I suggest taking precautions to protect yourself – wear gloves, a mask and eye/face protection. At the very least take a damp towel and some all purpose cleaner and wipe down all the interior surfaces. So now the mice have fled. You have removed any toxic residue. The next step is to find out where they are getting in. Seal up any holes they have used or chewed to get into the car. A lot of people cover access points with steel wool. They say rodents do not like to chew through it. I would suggest you take the car to your dealership or to a good auto upholstery shop if you need help finding and plugging any entry points. Remember, in some areas of the country mice and rodents carry the hantavirus. It can be transmitted in their poop – so clean it up and disinfect so no one gets sick. Good luck! Bradley.

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