How To Get Rid Of A Dead Rat Smell

Rodent Guide
Written By Rodent Guide

I believe in treating all creatures with respect. My mission is to ensure everyone understands how to protect their home from rodents without using cruel methods.

So, you have been through the process and know that you have, or at least have, HAD rats in your home. The signs are there.

Over the last day or so, a pungent smell has come from somewhere in your home, and you think it might be a dead rat.

Here I give you 7 tips if you need to know how to get rid of a dead rat smell from your home.

How To Get Rid Of A Dead Rat Smell

Locate The Rat

2 people looking at map, locating
Locating the rat will be the biggest challenge to getting rid of the dead rat smell!

Your first job is to find out where the dead rat is. You must take precautions to hunt down the rat because rats can carry some nasty diseases. Here is my list of things you will need:

  1. Head Torch
  2. Rubber Gloves
  3. Strong Shoes
  4. A Stick (to move floor items out of the way)
  5. Trash Bags
  6. Dust Mask
  7. Heavy-Duty Scrub Sponge

There is some good news and there is some bad news. Let’s begin with the good news:

If you have a good sense of smell, it is simple to hunt down a dead rat. All you need to do is follow the smell until you find the dead rat. Simple, right?

The bad news:

The bad news is that rats use cavity walls to navigate your home. Because they are used to traveling in this area of your home, it is also a place they may die in. That is bad news for you and your wallet.

Retrieving a dead rat from inside your cavity walls is not a simple task, and it will require you to hire a professional to do it for you.

Remove The Body

face mask, bio-hazard
Removing the body is key to getting rid of the dead rat smell!

Removing the body is key to getting rid of the smell of a dead rat. After all, that is where the smell is coming from.

You have some rubber gloves, so double up if it makes you feel better.

Prepare a trash bag, pick up the rat by its tail, and place it in the trash bag. Look around the area to see if there is anything else you can put in the trash bag, too, such as chewed-up items or rat feces.

You might not want to hear this, but you must be prepared. Dead rats will attract flies, and flies result in maggots. I have found dead rats that are covered with maggots. You will also need to get rid of these for obvious reasons.

When the dead rat is in the bag, ensure that you tie the bag up and double up if necessary. Now take the rat outside and place it in the trash.

Open The Windows

open window, tree
Open the windows so the dead rat smell can escape!

The smell of the dead rat must go somewhere, so why not open as many windows as possible to let some fresh air in and the smell out?

I mentioned above that there is a possibility that the rat’s body will be infested with maggots. This is because the smell of a dead rat will attract flies. With your windows open, you may get a few flies in, but at least there is no longer a dead rat for them to find.

Clean The Area

cleaning equipment to clean area where rat was dead
Ensure that you thoroughly clean the area where you found the dead rat!

Now that the dead rat has left the building, it is time for the cleanup operation.

There are two options here that I use to clean up after a dead rat:


Bleach is an excellent weapon for cleaning up after a dead rat and ensuring you still have rubber gloves when using it!

Mix up some bleach with water, and ensure you clean the entire area where you found the dead rat. Use the scrub sponge to work the bleach into the area and rinse afterward.

Always ensure you are working in a well-ventilated environment when cleaning the area where you found the dead rat. Open the windows and doors, and always wear a respirator.

Rats can carry all kinds of diseases, so you need to protect yourself, and when using bleach, the smell can get pretty strong.

Vinegar and Water

You should use a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water to clean areas that you should not clean with bleach.

Follow the same process as above, use the scrub sponge to work the mixture into the area, and try not to worry about the vinegar smell; it will not last long.

When cleaning the area, it is vital that you cover at least a 1 ft radius and always check the area for rat droppings because they need to be cleaned too.

Getting Rid Of The Dead Rat Smell

Ground Coffee

How To Get Rid Of A Dead Rat Smell ground coffee
Coffee will soak up and mask the dead rat smell!

Not only does coffee smell strong, but it has also been used for many years to neutralize odors around the home. Add ground coffee to the area to help get rid of the dead Rat smell.

You can always add ground coffee into small bags and hang them up in the space where the rat died.

Air Purifying Bags


Air purifying bags are a great way of getting rid of the odor of a dead rat. Natural ingredients such as Charcoal and Bamboo have been used for years to clear up bad smells in homes.

These low-priced air purifiers are well worth a small investment because they will speed up removing a dead rat smell.

Air Fresheners

Air fresheners work differently from air purifiers. Instead of absorbing the odor, they mask the smell until it has gone.

I prefer not to use air freshener sprays because they do not work, and an air freshener that you add to a room and leave.

Instead of air fresheners, you can also use incense sticks or scented candles.

How long has the rat been dead?

Rats will begin to smell within days of dying. The smell will begin but will remain localized as time goes on; the smell with become stronger and spread to more areas of your home. If you can smell a dead rat in your home, it is likely to have been dead for at least 1 week.

Rats can take several weeks to decompose completely. The length of time depends on the environmental conditions too. The warmer it is, the quicker to rat will completely decompose.

If you can smell a dead rat and have traced it to your cavity walls, you have a decision to make. Do you leave it until it completely decomposes, or do you take the wall apart to remove it? That is a decision only you can make, but remember that if it is warm, it will decompose more quickly.


When you need to know how to get rid of a dead rat smell, the advice above will certainly help you out. There are some things that I need to recap here, though:

  1. Always protect your health when looking for a dead rat
  2. Ensure the area is well-ventilated when cleaning
  3. Always look for ways that a rat can enter your home and block them
  4. Always wear suitable gloves when handling the dead rat
  5. Do not be scared to pick the dead rat up. It will not bite you

I have been in a position where I needed to get rid of a dead rat smell before, and here is a picture of the culprit:

Dead rat attic
This rat was found dead in my attic! The rat had been there for at least 2 weeks, so the dead rat smell lingered in my house for days after clearing it up.

It was an easy rat to find. He was very considerate and died in a place I could easily get to. What a nice guy!

Good luck finding the source of the smell in your home, and follow these tips to get rid of the smell easily.


About the Rodent Guide

I’m an expert in do-it-yourself rodent control. For more than 20 years, I’ve dedicated my life to helping people live harmoniously alongside these critters by sharing rodent control solutions that are effective and kind.

I believe in treating all creatures with respect. My mission is to ensure everyone understands how to protect their home from rodents without using cruel methods.

2 thoughts on “How To Get Rid Of A Dead Rat Smell”

  1. It’s great to know you talked about how to get rid of the dead rat smell after you’ve managed to catch one but…you can’t find where the little pest is so you ended up having the stench of rotting rat all over the place (eww). One thing to do is to have a systematic sweep of the area, and the rat’s body should be disposed of right away once found. If I had to look for a dead rat, all I can say is to follow the smell and be prepared to throw it out!

  2. I liked that you explained that a mixture of water and vinegar can help you get rid of the smell of dead rats. I wonder if that works on other bad decaying odors as well. It might be smart to get an expert cleaning company to help with this.


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