The best way to get rid of a dead animal smell in or around your home is to do something about it as soon as possible. Remove the source of the odor and open all the windows if you can to get rid of the problem quickly. In some cases, you may not know what's causing the odor, such as when a rodent or other animal dies within a wall or crawlspace. In such situations, call a professional that has the proper equipment and knowledge to locate and get rid of the carcass.
How to Remove Odor After Removing the Animal
If you've spotted the source of the odor and got rid of the creature on your own, you've already removed a major part of the odor. Fluids may be left behind, though, contributing to a lingering smell.
Step 1: Ventilate the Space
Open all the windows in the area to remove the odor from the air. If the odor is in a car or a garage, open the doors to maximize airflow. If inside the home, turn on a ceiling fan and use box fans or portable fans on either side of the space -- one bringing fresh air into the home, another blowing stale air out.
Step 2: Hose Down Garage Floor or Outdoor Spaces
Hose down the area if the smell is on a cement floor, paved driveway or outdoor space that can be washed.
Step 3: Wash With Disinfecting Cleaner
Wash a hard surface floor with a disinfecting cleaner suitable for the surface, such as a pine- or lemon-scented cleaner on cement floors or on moppable surfaces.
Step 4: Cleaning Carpets or Car Upholstery
For a carpeted area or car rugs and upholstery, use an enzymatic cleaner safe for carpets and upholstery, or wash the area with 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap per 2 cups of warm water. Dip a sponge or soft cloth into the water, then wipe the affected area from the outside toward the center to avoid spreading the problem.
Step 5: Vinegar to Disinfect and Remove Odors
Wet the area with equal parts white vinegar and water, allowing the liquid to sit for several minutes before patting it dry with a lint-free rag. Vinegar may be used on carpet, upholstery and most hard surfaces except some natural soft stones such as marble. Vinegar disinfects and helps remove odors.
Step 6: Prevent Lingering Odors
Set bowls of vinegar or baking soda near the problem area to help absorb lingering odors. If pets or young children share your space, place the bowls well out of their reach.
- Always wear rubber gloves and clothing that covers your body completely while cleaning up dead-animal areas. Dispose of the rubber gloves afterwards and wash the clothes without adding other items to the washload if the clothing came into contact with dead animal fluids.
- Keep children and pets out of the problem area until you've thoroughly cleaned the space and the odor is gone.
What to Do When You Can't Find the Animal
In many cases, wild animals such as rodents or raccoons crawl into an area where you may not be able to see them, such as spaces between the walls or tiny areas in an attic. While the odor may go away on its own, this could take months. Call an animal control professional to both locate and remove the carcass. Many specialists will also disinfect the area and replace soiled materials such as attic insulation so the odor and germs go away permanently. Ask your local animal control department representative for recommendations if unable to find an exterminator animal removal specialist on your own.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.