I Think There’s a Dead Mouse in My Wall

A wall in a home with a whimsical sticker of a mouse lying on its back
Note: The content of this blog is a little … gross.

The dead mouse smell is barely noticeable at first, then impossible to ignore – and it’s coming from a source you cannot find or figure out.


At first, you’re in a state of denial. The thought of animals decomposing behind your drywall is upsetting.

But while your options are limited and the situation is extremely unpleasant — don’t panic. The good news is that you won’t have to live with the smell of decomposition forever, and you don’t have to tear apart your wall or ceiling or put the house up for sale!

Below are some tips to help you best handle the issue …

First, What Does Dead Mouse Smell Like?

There are a number of foul smells that could take over a part of your home, but the scent of a dead mouse or other rodent is pretty specific. It usually starts with a rancid smell that is surprising for the area of the home. Then it starts to smell like rotten cabbage and has the characteristic scent of decay. We know … gross.

How Long Does Dead Mouse Smell Last?

Typically, a dead rodent — mouse, rat, squirrel or other — will emit a foul odor for a week to a couple of weeks.

The severity and longevity of the smell will depend on:

  • The size of the little guy.
  • The temperature of his final resting place.
  • The humidity of the space.
  • Its accessibility to decomposers.

How to Get Rid of Dead Mouse Smell

As nature takes its course, the smell will get worse before it gets better, then gradually improve and disappear altogether. So unless you want to rip apart your walls, the best course of action is to mask the scent and wait for it to go away.

The first thing lot of homeowners use is a room deodorizer to mask the offending scent, although sometimes air freshener scents blend poorly with the smell of decomp, making it — unbelievably — even worse.

A more dependable tactic is to place dry coffee grounds in the area. Coffee grounds are pleasant, powerfully aromatic and absorb odor. Other options that work on that dead mouse smell are charcoal deodorizer bags, Odor Remover Bags, pet odor enzymatic sprays and, if you’re willing to spend some money, air ionizer machines.

We’re very, very sorry there’s a dead animal in your wall, making a part of your home a temporary “no-go” zone. But it happens. Hopefully, one or a combination of the above-mentioned odor-absorption tricks works.

Preventing the Smell in the First Place

A “critter control” company can greatly reduce the odds of this unpleasant problem happening to you and your family again. They accomplish this by inspecting your home’s exterior to find entry points and sealing them up, often with metal mesh. Locations where pipes and wires enter the home are common access points for mice, bats … you name it.

If an animal control company or an exterminator finds a whole nest of mice (say, living in your attic space or ceiling), please keep in mind the harmful effects poisons could have on you and especially small children.

So, it’s best not to use poison in an around your home. Another point to consider is that poisoned critters may die – and decompose – inside your walls where they cannot be reached.

For these reasons, we recommend searching for a local pest control company that uses nontoxic methods or less-toxic chemicals. This article provides some tips on how to locate and work with a green pest control company and how to keep your beautiful home healthy for you and your family.

Remember, no matter how rancid the odor, this, too, shall pass, and soon everything will be back to normal again.

Although Molly Maid doesn’t specialize in critter control, we do know a thing or two about clean, fresh-smelling homes. If your home smells “not so great” without help from some poor varmint degrading in your wall, then contact your local Molly Maid to talk about setting up a flexible house cleaning plan that can help freshen your home!