How to eradicate smell of dead critter

July 17, 2005

A squirrel crawled under my shed and died. The smell is hard to take and of course it's adjacent to my veg garden, where I spend a lot of time. It's going to be hard to get the corpse out of there - any suggestions on something that will eliminate the odor?


Comments (53)

  • byron

    Can you blow some lime in the hole?

  • kittymommy

    I had the same problem once. This might not help with the outdoor smell but it may be useful for inside the shed. If you fill several plastic cups with vinegar and place them in different locations inside the shed the vinegar will absorb the ordor. Keep the jars away from other pets.We had a critter die in the attic once and the smell inside the house was horrible. It didn't get rid of the odor 100% but it we were able to live with it without gagging everytime we entered the house. I would say it made about an 80% improvement. I also burned alot of incense!

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  • organica

    Byron, any particular kind of lime? I have some horticultural lime left over, will that work?

    Thanks, folks, for these suggestions and stories. Not long after we moved into our house, an odor started to grow stronger and stronger in the bathroom. Turned out to be a dead mouse in a trap, thoughtfully left behind by the seller. We still haven't completely gotten rid of the smell but spraying bleach on it helped.

    There's nothing like that dead animal stink.


  • bpgreen

    I don't know if this will help with dead critter smells, but I once got a good hint from a flight attendant on dealing with (in her words) big smells in small rooms.

    She put the coffee filter pack for the coffee machine in the restroom, and it did a good job of absorbing all the offending odors.

  • organica

    I just scored a bunch of coffee grounds. In fact my husband and I were discussing the deodorizing power of same, but I failed to make this connection re the dead animal smell. Thank you!

    My husband's a former truck driver and he explained that coffee grounds were useful in eradicating the smell of the previous load. If for instance he had just hauled onions and was on his way to pick up strawberries, he had to get the onion smell out or the strawberry supplier wouldn't cooperate.

    I'll try it!

  • byron

    Any lime will work, Quick Lime works faster

    >There's nothing like that dead animal stink.

    Nothing worse than a dead human


  • bobkat13

    When my father was dying of cancer, he started to get bedsores and the smell was bad. We were nursing him with the help of the local hospice at home. We put 3 charcoal briquets around the room (the ordinary kind that you use to grill with) and the smell just about disappeared!

  • organica

    I tried the coffee grounds yesterday afternoon, and it seems that this morning the stink is gone! I just dumped them along the opening where the unfortunate squirrel crawled in.

  • ilovehorses

    I just bought a used freezer and thought it was great. Only after I got it home did I smell a "dead mouse" smell. (No, the smell isn't in my clean garage) I've cleaned it thoroughly and still can't bear the thought of putting my food in it. Also I vacuumed underneath after I cleaned the inside. About 20 minutes ago I tried pouring Clorox bleach down the drain located at the bottom-back, inside the freezer. Don't know yet if that will help. The freezer has been airing with door open in partial sun in the open doorway of my garage for three days. Don't want to spend another $50 to have it returned to the previous owner. I will also try the coffee and charcoal tips but will continue to watch this "dead critter" blog in hopes of getting even more good tips.

  • medontdo

    uhhh uhhh....the dead mouse smell is more than likely dead meat!! LOL your gonna have to spray that bleach up in the bottom of the under part, been there done that, when moms electricity went out, theyare truck drivers and we had to go check on stuff. forgot about the freezer downstairs. and when they got in... well lots of meat went to waste. and so we cleaned it good, but that smell!! so i had to spray the bleach up under and back and it finally worked. also letting the bleach drain down the hole was a great idea!! use a bathroom toilette brush to knock anything loose. it'll clean it good. then spray it one more time. then go ahead and give it a good spray with the hose. your done. but let it dry good befor ya turn it on. LOL i know. duhhhhhhh!!! LOL **big grinn*** its a mommy habit!! LOL ~Medo

  • thestopnshop

    Hello :-)
    We have "something" that died under our home and the smell is getting to where we are going to move in with the kids at their home until the "animal" death smell is gone or at least tolerable.

    We have had 2 men go under the home and cannot find the "animal". They said there was a lot of "poop" but it was hard and not fresh.

    Since they could not find the "animal" there was really nothing they could do!

    Any help will be wonderful. We've already called Christmas Dinner off and having at the kids house.

    Thank You,

  • organicguy

    Baking soda is an old standby for eliminating odor. Either throw some on the body, or if you can reach it, mix up a storng solution with water and spray it on with a garden sprayer. Do it every day or so until it rots away. Baking soda works wonders with odors.

    The Garden Guy
    ** See the new Garden Journal on the Blog today!

  • greenbean08_gw

    Not completely related, but close...

    You can use baking soda on your carpet as well, but don't do what I did...

    I had a sick dog (I had some red onions curing, and the box got moved from it's higher location, and i suspect he ate some). Let's just say, he's a big dog, and it was not pretty, what I woke up to find in the morning. So, now I had a couple spots to clean on my carpet. After I cleaned up and shampooed it with my little green machine, there was still a pretty unpleasant odor. I had a really big box of baking soda, and dumped quite a lot on the moist carpet. Then I brushed it down into the carpet with a scrub brush.

    The odor was gone (thank goodness!!) but I'm still working on getting the baking soda out. I have vacuumed. I have "rinsed" by pouring clean water on and sucking it back up with the little green, many times. I've poured water and used a towel to absorb it. It's become an ongoing project. I need to work on it some more this week...

  • rootdoctor

    Three words on dead animal smells. LIME, LIME, LIME

  • janie-k

    I'm so grateful for all the advice in this thread! We have something dead (probably a mouse) in the basement wall. The whole basement is filled with dead animal odor and unfortunately for us the heating system is sucking that dead animal smell all over the house. YUCK! We can't get to the problem without ripping walls open and we're not quite sure where it's even coming from. After living with the smell for 5 days, I found this thread. This morning I puts cups of vinegar, a bunch of charcoal briquets around and 2 boxes of baking soda. I found a small hole in the wall where some of the smell seemed to be coming from and shoved a few briquets in the wall and left one in the hole. Anyways it's been a few hours and I would say that the smell is about 80-90% better! YAY! Thanks again!

    I'm going to try the coffee grounds too... does anyone know if they should be wet or dried out?

  • barbsharon_aol_com

    First of all, thanks to everyone who posted on this page. My husband and I walked into our house almost two months ago (coming home from work) and it hit us. That is the worst smell imaginable. I tried everything on these pages, and I have to tell you that none of them really worked very well. We had people come in and try to find "the critter." It was in the basement, but not behind a wall (we broke through a wall, not there), but under the cement floor, and it would have been too costly and disruptive to break through the cement floor. So, we waited. Used all kinds of "deodorizers" -- coffee grounds, baking soda, charcoal briquets, vinegar, air fresheners, nothing really helped. I did pour some lime down the hole (there was a small hole behind the wall in the cement) and that may have helped a bit. It does go away eventually, and it is easier once the warm weather comes because heating system seems to blow it all over the house. There is a product called OdorCide and that does help if only temporarily. Keep spraying it every few days until the odor goes away on its own. It was a nightmare. But it did make it easier to read about everyone else's trials and tribulations with this problem. And to anyone who has this problem, let me just say that IT WILL GO AWAY with time.

  • katlilore

    We buried our sweet cat just shy of 4 weeks ago in our garden, though about 18-19" down we hit a bedrock of sorts, having broken one shovel & one pickaxe. We lined his grave with straw, then carefully placed Colby, then more straw...and mounded dirt on top, finally surrounding his grave with stones. One caveat - he's in our veggie garden; I intend to plant flowers on/around his grave, but am also curious about just how far away is far away enough to consume produce grown near an animal's grave...?

    Yesterday I went down to cut some mint (a good 15 feet away from where he was buried), and was hit with that distinct 'dead animal' smell. I didn't investigate; I was in a hurry & didn't confirm that the smell got worse the closer to Col's grave one got...though obviously I'm concerned that that's the case and that it's not another unfortunate animal. We live in Altadena (a suburb of Los Angeles) - it's August & the heat ain't going away any month soon. That being said, I'm hoping that it will make his decomposition happen faster (gruesome, but there you have it - life, and death, do what they do).

    So - should I be making baking soda / lime solutions & soak his grave? Should I pour (possibly diluted) vinegar or coffee over the area? Or, heaven forbid, do we need to rebury our poor baby? I'm at a loss. I can put charcoal also around his grave; that might be a first start.

    Any insight would be most welcome!

  • area51

    I have a dead squirrel somewhere in the wall and I need to ask about the coffee grounds to help with the odor.

    Am I putting the grounds out in a plate or bowl of some sort in the area of the odor?


  • btrinbvi

    My experience with dead animal smell was similar to some of yours we had a squirrel that found his way into our attic for storage of nuts, he was good at hunting around and found his way into a wall where he eventually was trapped - dead squirrel is not a good smell for the house. We found odorknockout a fogger that is used at car dealers to get rid of cigarette smell and gave it a try. It take a couple of hours but destroys all the smell. I recommend it for cigarette smells or dead critter smells. It is manufactured in Tennessee

    Here is a link that might be useful: Odorknockout

  • ga_karen

    A lot of times baking soda will work too!

  • dcoplin

    So, over Christmas I went home to my parents just as they had this awful dead mouse smell. They said they had discovered it the night before, and had vacuumed a dead mouse out of one of their floor vents, but the smell seemed to keep lingering/coming back. We would run the whole house fan and freeze out the house, but every time it kept coming back. Over the week I was there we tried EVERY suggestion on here. They helped some, plus my mom put out eucalyptus oil and candles, which combined with the vinegar basically created a pickled dead mouse smell that was slightly fainter. I went home, and the smell got worse for them. Two weeks ago they finally tore into the wall to try to find it, and nothing, but again the smell eased up. Finally, they were at the point that many other mice had been found dead, the dog refused to go into the house, and my mom said the mouse smell had started to have a chemical edge to it that my mom was concerned about going inside at all, let alone sleeping. Turns out, they had a propane leak. Propane is apparently scented to smell like dead mouse so that people will notice leaks. They had checked for leaks not knowing that propane is dead mouse scented, but had missed the bendy pipe which is where their leak was. I'm posting in response- just in case some future person has this smell that will not go away to be aware that you might check for propane leaks. They had visited home improvement stores several times trying to get help about the smell, and no one there knew, and I'm not sure that most people will think to search for what else smells like a dead mouse. Anyhow, hope this might help the next person.

  • Joylife02_aol_com

    my family found a mouse running around in our house so finally I went out and bought some stuff to the the mouse wher he was coming out of well i haven't seen him lately and now i have a horrible nasty fowl smell coming from my bathtub drain and i don't know what to do. I don't know if he underneath the house or in my bathtub drain and I have tried everything you can't even go into the bathroom. luckily we have 2 bathrooms. Please help me to get rid of this smell.

  • posieh

    Maybe you can use a strong soda solution or sal soda or even some lime in the drain. A soda paste will remove lots of odors. I always hate the way my pot holders smell like rancid grease. Soaked them in a strong soda and water solution and bravo, they smell nice again. Just washing doesn't seem to do it. I also have a guaranteed solution if you have skunk odor in the house.

  • bjeanturk_gmail_com

    I just moved out of my mobile home into a house about a week after I moved out i encountered a foul smell coming from the bathroom. Pretty soon the whole house smelled I shampooed the carpets 3 times I used 4 gallons of vineger the last time. I paid some one to find the root of the smell said he found a mouse under the garden tub,smell still there. So i decided it must be from the tub drain. so I put mr plumber down the drain followed by several gallons of hot water followed by half a bottle of pinesol followed by a plug,smell is still there . help please trying to sell the mobile

  • bjeanturk_gmail_com

    I just moved out of my mobile home into a house about a week after I moved out i encountered a foul smell coming from the bathroom. Pretty soon the whole house smelled I shampooed the carpets 3 times I used 4 gallons of vineger the last time. I paid some one to find the root of the smell said he found a mouse under the garden tub,smell still there. So i decided it must be from the tub drain. so I put mr plumber down the drain followed by several gallons of hot water followed by half a bottle of pinesol followed by a plug,smell is still there . help please trying to sell the mobile

  • lynette_dregallo_yahoo_com

    For those having trouble finding the smell:

    We had the same problem. We couldn't find it anywhere. Finally DH tore the side of the cabinets off. A small groundhog had died under the cabinets!! EWWWWWW

    We are still dealing with the smell a little. I will surely be trying some of the tips here. I had to clean out a small storage space next to the cabinets because the stuff in there picked up the smell. Now I need to get the smell out of there too.

    Thanks for the tips

  • avrider_cox_net

    The dead animal is somewhere in a rock retaining wall under my porch. I can see where the flies are congregating, but I can't take the wall apart to get the animal out. How do I use lime to get it into the spaces between the rocks? Is it liquid or granular?

  • elajaf_earthlink_net

    Yuch! Last night there was a dead animal smell in a corner of my bedroom, today the whole bedroom stinks. A critter must have died in the attic. Not small, this is a huge smell. I thought about gas but then the first floor would have the smell also. I'm going to put coffee grounds and vinegar around the room. I have an air filter going. I'm sleeping in the den tonight. Thanks for the suggestions.

  • elajaf_earthlink_net

    Thank you, thank you for great suggestions. I put baking soda in 1 dish, vinegar in another, coffee grounds in 2 more and turned on a room air filtering machine. Of course windows are wide open. AND...smell is diminishing. Hot dog! Thank you! It's working! May not sleep there tonight, but could be ready for sleep tomorrow.

  • candy_nursingsolutions_com

    For the person with the stinky freezer... stuff the freezer with crumpled newspaper, with the freezer turned on, and close the door. Don't know how it works but my aunt taught me this trick and it works in about 3 days.

  • brenda81966_yahoo_com

    i think we have a dead animal under our house, but the hole that u use to go under, me or hubby cant fit,we are not that big of ppl,just a small hole. So is the coffee grounds used or not used coffee grounds, and the Lime, where do you buy that, i need to do something ,everyone that comes in the house, walks right back out, i am not kidding you, it is so bad... i am ready to call someone but dont know we to call. thanks for all you help....Brenda

  • brenda81966

    i read on here to use coffee grounds ,do i use ,used or not used coffee ground, and what is Lime, i have a dead animal under my house, the smell is so bad, people walk right out if they come in the house thats how bad it is...HELP Brenda

  • dicot

    Brenda, agricultural lime can be found at any box home improvements store for a reasonable price, just bury the source of smell under a thich coating of this, if you can't remove the source.

    (not suggesting brands, just for info)

  • Huntergreen815

    I'm so glad I found this thread! Living in Florida makes dead things uber stinky. This dead mouse is going down tomorrow!! Thanks for the tips!

  • albert_135   39.17°N 119.76°W 4695ft.

    When I worked in a teaching hospital morgue we had Mentholatum on hand for visitors who got a little bit queasy and had to view the body. Just a little bit inside the nose will mask considerable smell for quite some time.

  • claudia1973

    Just had this problem with a dead animal, mouse, mole or chipmunk in my brand new car! Somehow it got into the car, toyota took the car apart, and i mean they gutted it. They couldnt find a thing! They said it must be in the frame of the car. It smelled so bad, i couldnt drive it anymore. I am sure it it is bad for your health too. 3 weeks later they decided to put the car back together again. I will find out tomorrow if it still smells. If it is i dont want it anymore, it has only 20,000 miles on it and i feel like it is ruined! But yes, it smells bad and i might have to use vinegar and coffee grinds, ;) and did i mention i have two kittys now?!

  • jolj

    Baken Soda & charcoal will remove the smell,coffee grounds & cinnamon will cover it up. You can use both.

  • SoTX

    Call me strange, but the smell of a dead animal beats the damage the animal does.

  • Barble1234

    Thank you for all the great ideas! I live in the country and the mice this year with all the flooding have been horrible. I used mice pellets and, no, mice don't go outside for water! They die in behind the cupboards. I will put baking soda, vinegar, charcoal briquettes and coffee grounds in hopes of getting rid of that smell! I have also tried different types of mouse traps-the ones with glue on them, the old fashioned ones, the upgraded dual ones with glue but the mice just aren't interested. I discovered them eating the dog food and put that up at night but don't have any other food around. Anybody have any good mouse trap brands?

  • xXAaron04Xx

    I have a dead rat smell in our house and I have no idea where it is coming from. We have gone under the house, in the attic, and under the house smells terrible. In the house is even worse. This smell doesn't let anyone sleep. We have looked for dead mice or rat but have found no source. Any ideas?

  • elisa_z5

    We had this problem last year, and finally the dog found it.
    So, borrow a dog if you can and let him sniff it out.
    Best thing for the smell was then contractor strength bleach, sprayed on the offended area (after the racoon was removed.) Had to pull apart the house a bit to get the dead racoon out, but was well worth it. Good luck!

  • alanis

    Can't find the dang critter...but it sure does stink in the basement! Has anyone ever tried essential oils for this? Thanks!

  • emily94941

    I just read through ALL these helpful posts because our house has yet another dead mouse (drafty cabin in the woods with 2 cats that like to play with -- but not actually KILL -- mice). This time I think it went into our ceiling to die, and I know the smell goes away in time, but I wanted to share our successful strategy for past mice, especially because it's halfway between living with the smell and tearing out your wall/floor/ceiling.

    Find the place the smell is coming from. I literally go around sniffing power outlets, light switches, and gaps in the floorboards. If you find the animal, as others say, get rid of it and treat any lingering smell, great suggestions here.

    If you can isolate the smell to a specific section of wall -- like, once a mouse had died between two joists in our TV room -- seal off the outlets. We have used plastic wrap and tape, but since some of our walls are smooth, I actually slapped a big square of Glad Press-n-Seal over the outlet and light switch and left it there for a few weeks.

    Every week or so I peeled back a corner and sniffed, and when the smell was all gone, I took off the plastic.

    This time, the smell is in the ceiling and became stronger when I plugged up a hole by the wall with steel wool, so I realized it was leaking down out of big crack between two ceiling panels. I covered that guy up with a long strip of blue painter's tape and so far, so good.

    Off I go to place strategic bowls of coffee grounds around the house! Thanks for all the useful info.

  • SouthernAZ

    Hunters use a product called 'Dead Down Wind'.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Dead Down Wind

  • gaviotagal

    More than one person has credited open bowls of vinegar be used. Is that distilled white or apple cider vinegar? If my dog drinks any of it is that dangerous? Also, my mother always swore by white vinegar down gopher holes to get rid (they may just move out of the area but it has worked on my one acre property) and to wipe up ants (they die but the scent of the vinegar keeps others away successfully. I feel for all of us with this problem. It is a sickening smell. Thanks for the advice.

  • Gary James

    I'm sort of dense, but are these USED coffee grounds or fresh? :-)

  • bpgreen

    In the case of the flight attendant who told me about it, it was fresh coffee grounds.

  • jolj

    Putting Vick's vaper rub under your nose, is what LEOs use when they find a body.

  • Anita Fleming

    Small possum got into the house and died in a seldom used bedroom. We have cleaned the remains out but the smell is still in the carpet. Is there any way, besides removing the carpet, to get rid of the smell? The Vicks worked great to be able to remove the critter.

  • hauses7

    Our pet ball python got out and found his way to the attic where he died. He was there for 2 1/2 years before we just now located the body, all dried up. The smell has been horrible for the past 2 years and still is, even after removal. A professional attic company put their deodorizer up there but nothing seems to work. Maybe some of the odor is being absorbed by the insulation. Would it be best to remove or spray the insulation with vinegar?

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