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How to clean out an attic after a rat infestation

Updated February 21, 2017

A rat infestation anywhere in your home is not only disgusting, it also exposes your family to serious health risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), rats can carry potentially life-threatening hantaviruses that humans can contract by coming in contact with infected waste. After a rat infestation in an attic, the best prevention against infection is to thoroughly disinfect all surfaces and to clean or discard porous items safely.

Ventilate the attic, if possible. If the attic has windows, leave them open for a minimum of 30 minutes to allow fresh air to circulate. Use electric fans to provide cross-ventilation.

Put on protective gloves, a respirator mask and shoe covers. The respirator cannot protect against viruses, but it can block mould and dust.

Fill a bucket with 1 part chlorine bleach to 9 parts water to make a disinfectant. Alternatively, use a commercial disinfectant. Pour some of the disinfectant solution into a large spray bottle.

Remove boxes and storage items from the attic and place them outside, in sunlight if possible.

Spray plastic storage boxes or tubs with disinfectant. Remove items from cardboard boxes and discard the cardboard in a plastic trash bag and seal it.

Spray nesting materials in the attic such as paper, tissue and cardboard that rats may have been in contact with. Soak them thoroughly and then use paper towels to place them in a plastic trash bag. Exposed insulation should be replaced. Put the contaminated insulation into a plastic trash bag and seal the bag.

Spray countertops, shelves and other hard, nonporous surfaces with the disinfectant solution. Soak them thoroughly and wash them down with a wet sponge.

Mop the attic floor with the disinfectant solution and allow it to air dry.

Wash fabric items such as clothing, curtains and bedding in hot water and detergent.

Wash gloved hands thoroughly with soap and warm water and then spray them with disinfectant. Discard shoe covers in a plastic bag and seal it. After the gloves are removed, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. Wash the clothes worn during cleanup in hot water and detergent.

Tip

Place books and other porous items that cannot be washed in a sunny area outdoors for about a week. Hantaviruses will not survive beyond that period due to the sun's ultraviolet rays.

Things You'll Need

  • Latex, rubber or vinyl gloves
  • Respirator mask
  • Plastic shoe covers
  • Electric fan
  • Chlorine bleach or household disinfectant
  • Large bucket
  • Mop
  • Spray bottle
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic trash bags
  • Sponges
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About the Author

Lee Weal began writing and editing online content as a corporate intranet administrator in 2000 and was also the publisher and editor of a monthly employee newsletter. Her articles specialize in children's issues and home improvement.