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Home > General > How to Get Rid of Rat Urine Smell in a Car (3 Expert Tips)

How to Get Rid of Rat Urine Smell in a Car (3 Expert Tips)

hand cleaning car seat

There are a few reasons rats get into vehicles and do their business, but ultimately it comes down to the convenient shelter. You have to admit that easily accessible cars and trucks are a perfect spot to build a little nest and raise a family, permitting those pesky humans not to come back to bug you.

Whether you’ve left your car sitting for several weeks or are trying to get an old classic back on the road, getting any rodent urine out of the upholstery can be downright tricky. It seems the longer it sits, the more difficult it becomes.

Luckily there are some solutions to help you out. It might not be a fix-all, and it might take several applications or steps to get the urine smell out completely. But with perseverance, you can minimize or eliminate the smell of rat urine in your vehicle.


The 3 Tips on How to Get Rid of Rat Urine Smell in a Car

1. Leave It to Commercial Cleaners

man cleaning car seat
Photo Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock

There are tons of products on the market that can help you. While you can pick tons of DIY concoctions to mix up for urine odor problems, you can also cut corners completely. Try a commercial product designed to eliminate such smells.

There are men and women in lab coats right now trying different ingredients to get a favorable result in this category—the market for these types of products is ever-growing. Companies know just how tough it can be to get these odors out of fabrics and carpets.

Many companies take the approach of reducing odor-causing bacteria by using an enzymatic base to neutralize the area. Now, of course, not all products are created equal.

Some will be much more effective than others.

If you choose to buy a commercial product, we highly recommend thoroughly looking over the product reviews. But there is no better way to test the efficiency than to see what actual product users thought.

Also, remember that some products have the potential to discolor certain fabrics. Test your chosen method on a small piece of similar material before applying it to your car upholstery.

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2. Bleach Is Often a Cure-All

Powdered bleach spread on the table
Photo Credit: kropekk_pl, Pixabay

Bleach and water can be your friend, but we must warrant caution right away on this method. Bleach has color-changing properties on fabrics, so you must mix the concoction exactly as directed to avoid discoloration of your upholstery—even more so than some commercial products.

After all, causing cosmetic defects can make the rat issue much more stressful, and we think you’re already dealing with enough.

The general rule is to mix one part bleach with nine parts water. You can put this mixture in a spray bottle to liberally apply it to affected surfaces. You can even look up DIY blends online that use essential oils and other fragrances to spruce up the smell as you go.

Often, there is no need for scrubbing since bleach takes care of many odors on the spot. However, you can scrub the area with a textured sponge on problematic spots.

3. Try Deep Cleaning

man cleaning car seat
Photo Credit: peeonelove, Pixabay

You can scrub by hand all day long and still not get rid of the smell of rat pee. Even a good layer of chemical cleaner or bleach water doesn’t always do the trick immediately.

Especially for rat urine sitting in a spot long-term, you’ll need a much deeper clean than that. Depending on where they’ve been in the car (and they’ve probably been everywhere) you’ll have to clean every crevice.

Rats can easily make their way through air vents in the vehicle, pooping and peeing along the way. When this happens, the urine and poop get trapped in duct systems and blow out at you anytime you turn them on.

Reaching this can be a little bit complicated, especially if you are not a mechanically savvy person.

To clean the air ducts, you might have to dismantle part of your dash to reach. If that’s the case and you don’t feel comfortable performing this action yourself, you can always get a helping hand.

Also, carpets can be a little complicated as well. After a urine stain sets, it seems like it just has a lasting lingering scent.

If you own or have to rent a commercial carpet cleaner, that can be an excellent tool to help you thoroughly saturate seats and floors where the urine has been.


Additional Tips

  • Wear gloves and protective gear—rats can carry many diseases
  • Make sure to dispose of any waste and soiled materials once you finish
  • Remove nesting materials if you find any to prevent further infestation
  • If your car has sat a while, have a mechanic check for any chewed wires and other internal damage



Ultimately keeping rats out of your cars in the first place is the best-case scenario. But it seems like we never quite see it coming no matter how much you prepare sometimes. If the vehicle sits outdoors for any length of time, they can get all sorts of live-ins and visitors like mice, squirrels, rats, and even larger wildlife like raccoons.

It can be tricky to protect your vehicles, but possible. For now, focus on the scent–later you can try additional prevention methods.


Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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