How To Vacuum the Attic to Get Rid of Animal Waste


10.24.2003 - This attic was infested with rats. They left thousands of droppings throughout the attic. The homeowner wanted his attic cleaned, but did not want to pay for complete insulation replacement. Thus, I cleaned the attic manually.

It involved several steps. The first is to physically remove as many of the rat droppings as possible. This attic had rolled-out BAT insulation, which is easy to vacuum, unlike the blown-in loose fill insulation. In the above photo, we see that I'm vacuuming rat droppings off a duct and into a small portable vaccum. This type of vacumm is good for use in attics, because I can carry it about to all of the small nooks and crannies, and the suction power is not so strong that it sucks up insulation. It's good for picking off rodent poop off of the isulation.

After I remove as many droppings as possible, I fog the attic with an enzyme-based waste cleaner, such as BioShield or Bac-Azap. This destroys the remainder of the animal waste in the attic, and destroys the odor as well. The attic is now sanitary and the odor, which would have attracted new rats to the attic, is eliminated.

Do it yourself: Visit my Attic Decontamination page for tips and advice.
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Cleaning your attic is a big part of pest animal removal. It is not enough to simply remove the animal from the home; all evidence of it must be cleaned from the site. Certain animals leave pheromones in their waste, and leaving any traces will result in other animals being attracted to the location. Cleanup is also important if you wish to eliminate the smell that accompanies wild animals. Only when all remnants of the animal have been removed will you be free from the odor, and even then sometimes the smell lingers. It is difficult to remove liquid from porous substances like plywood. If you use an enzymatic cleaner on these areas, it will make a significant difference. The other thing to remember about cleaning your attic is that you are eliminating the potential for disease. Feces carries with it certain illnesses, but the mold that grows on left over excrement will also be bad for your health. The last thing you want to do is to become hospitalized from breathing in Hantavirus particles. Make sure any items that can be thrown away are removed. This includes insulation which will hold on to urine and wet waste indefinitely.

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If you have recently noticed that a wild animal has been living inside your attic, you will want to devise a plan to get rid of them as soon as possible. The longer they are there, the increased chances you will have contact with their urine and feces, which carry diseases and infections. Wild animals leave a trail of feces wherever they go inside the attic. They also cause damage to wiring and insulation as well as furniture and clothing that may be inside the attic. When they move in, they will make a nest where they will have their babies and take care of them until they are able to wander around within your home. Before this situation gets out of hand, call a professional or remove them yourself but hurry up and get them out quickly. Animals will eat, poop, urinate, sleep, and have babies in the same location. They also carry diseases, fleas, body parasites, and mites. Once an animal uses the insulation as a place to use the bathroom you can no longer use it safely. Over a few times of using the bathroom, the insulation will absorb the odor and smell up the entire room.

Preparing for the Cleaning

Once you have discovered the location, you will need to wear a mask and gloves that will provide you with protection while you cut out and remove the insulation from the walls that were contaminated. You will also want to throw away all materials used inside the attic because it is most likely contaminated as well. This may take some time to do but you don't want to take too long to do it so you are not risking yourself over a long period of time. If you don't feel as though you can clean the area safely or efficiently, you may want to contact a professional that will come in and do it for you.

How to Clean the Attic After Wildlife Removal

Supplies you will need to clean the attic include

  • Vacuum
  • Hand broom and dustpan
  • Trash bags
  • Box cutter or knife to cut insulation out
  • A can of antimicrobial spray
  • Deodorizer

Step 1: Remove as much of the animal droppings as you can with a vacuum

Step 2: Remove larger pieces of droppings using a dustpan and hand broom and dispose of them in a bag

Step 3: Remove nesting material and food left around the nest and place in a bag

Step 4: Remove all insulation that has been soiled and place it in a bag

Step 5: Fog the attic with an antimicrobial spray that will clean and kill any bacteria on the surface

Step 6: Allow the attic to sit for a few days to remove the odor

Step 7: Place a safe deodorizer in the room that will clean the air.

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