A dead mouse anywhere in a home creates a serious odor problem, but it's even worse if the mouse also makes your clean clothes smell bad. A foul mouse odor coming from a clothes dryer isn't always caused by a mouse. This can be a relief for homeowners who don't want to remove a dead mouse but makes it a little more difficult to treat the problem.
Mice are not usually found in the dryer drum, where the clothes are placed, but in the dryer vent or somewhere behind the dryer panels. The only way to immediately eliminate the odor caused by a dead mouse is to remove it. Over time, the smell may dissipate and eventually go away, but it could take several months. Clean the entire vent system, starting with the hose at the back of the dryer and continuing all the way to the outside vent. If the mouse is not found, or this does not solve the problem, disconnect the power from the dryer and remove the front and rear panels. Inspect the interior of the dryer to locate the dead mouse and remove it, using gloves.
Built-up lint that absorbs moisture can begin to smell bad. Normally, it will smell musty, but sometimes the odor is stronger and can be mistaken for a wet or dead mouse. Clean the lint trap thoroughly, and spray it with white vinegar, then rinse and dry the filter before returning it to the dryer. Clean the vent and hose behind the dryer, removing any built-up lint. Wipe down all reachable surfaces in the venting with white vinegar to help remove the odor.
Water or Chemicals
Water used to wash clothes contains a number of minerals. Especially in cases of hard water, these minerals can sometimes be deposited in the dryer and eventually result in a foul, sulfurlike smell that could be mistaken for the odor caused by a mouse. The odor of chemicals used around the house can also be drawn into the dryer. Due to the heat and moisture, the dryer can sometimes change the smell of the chemical to a foul odor. If odors from water are suspected, clean the dryer drum thoroughly with white vinegar. Add vinegar to the wash cycle to help prevent future odors caused by minerals in the water. Move any chemicals away from the dryer, and limit their use near the dryer before it is operated.
Sometimes it's impossible to locate the source of a foul mouse odor coming from the dyer. In this case, the best solution is to thoroughly clean the dryer to eliminate the odor. Remove the lint trap and clean it with white vinegar. Clean the vents, rear hose and all duct work with a long brush, then cover the brush with a rag that has been sprayed with white vinegar to help remove any odors. Wipe the drum down with white vinegar. Disconnect the power supply and remove the panels from the front and rear of the dryer. Use an air compressor to blow out any dust or debris from inside the dryer, and carefully use a dust rag to remove any remaining dirt or dust.
- Repair Clinic: Dryer Troubleshooting (My clothes smell bad!)
- How to Clean Stuff: How to Remove Musty Smells from the Dryer
- 1001 Uses For White Distilled Vinegar: Cleaning (Remove the smell of a dead mouse)
- Michigan State University Extension; Homemade Cleaners (Laundry Products); June 2003
- Ira Pilgrim; Outwitting Mice; Ira Pilgrim; Aug. 2002
Carlye Jones is a journalist, writer, photographer, novelist and artisan jeweler with more than 20 years of experience. She enjoys sharing her expertise on home improvements, photography, crafting, business and travel. Her work has appeared both in print and on numerous websites.