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Is it Safe to Vacuum Mouse Droppings?

Imagine you’re standing in front of your kitchen island enjoying a hot cup of coffee on a crisp Monday morning. You suddenly spot small cone-shaped pellets by the base of your cabinet. 

Unfortunately, my friend, those pellets are mouse droppings, and they’re a sign that a mouse and his buddies have invaded your home. 

Mice can be difficult to manage in a home or business, depending on your particular situation. Whether you have a minor or major mouse problem, you should deal with it as soon as possible mice can reproduce very quickly. Not to mention, they also carry a variety of diseases, including Hantavirus, which is a severe, potentially fatal illness.

Before you pick up a broom or vacuum to get rid of the droppings, you should understand proper precautions for cleaning up mouse droppings. Read on as we discuss the safe ways to clean up mouse droppings, as well as answer the question, “Is it safe to vacuum mouse droppings?”. 

Is it safe to vacuum mouse droppings? 

The simple answer is no. But why isn’t it safe to vacuum mouse droppings? Let us explain. 

Mouse droppings can spread diseases

Deer mice are the primary carriers of diseases such as hantavirus, although the common house mouse can also transmit the disease. One of the common ways these infected rodents spread diseases is through their urine and feces. 

How do mice spread diseases to humans through their droppings?

It probably makes you want to pick up your vacuum faster to clean up the droppings. 

Not so fast! The problem is that the urine and feces infect humans when the particles become airborne. 

When you vacuum mouse droppings, they can break up, producing virus particles into the air where they can be inhaled, infecting the person doing the cleaning. 

Has someone contracted Hantavirus from cleaning up mouse droppings before?

Breathing in bacterial particles and contracting Hantavirus just from vacuuming mouse droppings may seem like an unlikely risk, but there is evidence supporting this. Given the severity of the disease that may be present in the droppings, it is best to take precautions. 

A man from Everett, Washington contracted Hantavirus after cleaning up the mouse droppings with a broom. A few days later, he experienced flu-like symptoms: muscle fatigue, body aches, and fever. These symptoms intensified over the next few days. 

The unfortunate fellow was subsequently diagnosed with Hantavirus and hospitalized for 13 days. The unfortunate fellow spent ten of those days in the intensive care unit. Thankfully, he did survive.

Although cases of Hantavirus in Canada are relatively rare, they do occur. Yearly case numbers range from zero to 13. As of December 2021, the total number of confirmed cases in Canada is 109. The mortality rate among these infected individuals is approximately 30%. The majority of cases occur in the spring and early summer, indicating seasonally-associated risk factors for viral exposure. 

Would it be safe to vacuum mouse droppings if the vacuum has a special filter? 

There are claims that a HEPA filter on your vacuum makes it safe to vacuum up mouse droppings. 

HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. In theory, HEPA filters should capture a minimum of 99.97% of particles as small as just 0.3 microns (equal to .0003mm).

Although a HEPA filter sounds like an effective solution, it will still allow some air to escape back into the room. This escape happens when airborne mouse-dropping particles make their way around the filter.

There is no regulated standard to support vacuum filter engineering. Consequently, merely employing a HEPA filter with your standard vacuum cleaner should not be considered sufficient protection against contaminated particles when cleaning up rodent droppings.

How to Properly Clean Mouse Droppings

Man dressing in protective clothing to prepare to safely clean up mouse droppings

While we’ve explained that it’s not safe to vacuum mouse droppings, there are safer ways to clean them up. Please read on to learn more.

The equipment you need to clean up mouse droppings

  • Sturdy nonabsorbent rubber, latex, or vinyl gloves
  • Coveralls (disposable, if possible)
  • Rubber boots or disposable shoe cover
  • Protective goggles;
  • A disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water. – The recommended concentration of bleach solution is 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.
  • An appropriate respiratory protection device, such as one of the following:
    • A half-mask air-purifying (or negative-pressure) respirator with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter
    • A powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) with HEPA filters.
  • Paper towel
  • Mop
  • Steam Cleaner
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Plastic garbage bags

The steps to clean up mouse droppings

Step one: Remove residents and pets while cleaning

If you’re living with pets or another person, it is suggested that they are not present when you clean up the droppings. 

Unless they are also wearing protective gear, they are at risk of inhaling any airborne particles during cleaning. 

Step two: Wear protective clothing

Ensure that you’re wearing all necessary protective clothing before cleaning. This includes nonabsorbent rubber gloves, disposable coveralls, rubber boots or disposable shoe cover, protective goggles, and an appropriate respiratory device.

Step three: Check all areas of your house for mouse droppings

You should check your entire home for mouse droppings. Mice travel in corners, areas with food, ventilation systems, dark spaces, and even in your furniture. You should be diligent in identifying all of the areas with mouse droppings to be sure to clear your living spaces of them thoroughly. 

Step four: Ventilate the area before cleaning 

Open doors and windows to allow the area to ventilate at least 30 minutes before starting. Stay away from this area when during ventilation. 

Step five: Soak droppings with a disinfectant

Wearing rubber gloves, thoroughly soak droppings, nests and dead mice with the bleach/water solution or a household disinfectant. Let the bleach water soak the droppings for five minutes. 

DO NOT disturb any droppings, nests, or dead mice, before soaking with this bleach solution and waiting for the full five minutes for it to absorb. 

Step six: Clean up the droppings with paper towels

Pick up the bleach-soaked dropping with paper towels and place it immediately into a plastic bag. Each plastic bag can be sealed inside another plastic trash bag. 

Step seven: Clean the surface area where the droppings were

Using a mop soaked with a disinfectant solution, clean up the area thoroughly. 

Step eight: Remove all the protective clothing

Wash your gloves before removing them. Get rid of the mask, gloves, goggles, shoe coverings, and coveralls in a tightly sealed bag.

Step nine: Sanitize your hands

Wash your hands several times after removing the gloves. Use a hand sanitizer to ensure that your hands are clean. Be sure to scrub between your fingers and under your fingernails.

Step ten: Properly dispose of all garbage bags

Place the bag directly into a garbage container with a tight-fitting lid. The garbage can should be outdoors, or you can also dispose of the bag in a landfill. 

Step eleven: Ventilate area after cleaning

If possible, expose the newly cleaned area to fresh air and sunshine for several hours. 

How a Pest Control Professional can Help

Hopefully, this article will help you understand the steps you need to take to get rid of mouse droppings. 

Remember, if you have mouse droppings, you will also want to manage the source.That’s where we come in! One of our helpful technicians can help you control mice at your home or business. After inspection and treatment for mice, our tech can offer advice on preventative maintenance to help control potential future mouse problems. If you think you have a mouse infestation, or require ongoing control for your business, give us a call! We’re here to help!

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