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Can you wash clothes that had mouse poop on them?

Discovering that your clothes have been contaminated by mouse droppings can be an unsettling experience. While the prospect of salvaging clothes exposed to rodent feces may seem daunting, proper cleaning methods can allow you to safely wash most garments. Care must be taken, however, as dried mouse droppings can present a health hazard if inhaled or touched without precautions.

Assessing the contamination

The first step is to evaluate the extent of the contamination. Are the mouse droppings dried and crumbled or still moist? How many droppings are present and how widespread is the contamination? Is it isolated to certain garments or found throughout the closet or dresser? These factors will determine the cleaning methods required.

Dried mouse droppings present a higher contamination risk as particles can be dispersed into the air during cleaning. Take care not to stir up dust while inspecting clothes. It’s advisable to wear gloves and a protective mask when handling heavily soiled items.

Removing droppings from clothes

For clothing with just a few dried droppings, the first cleaning step is to gently shake out any loose debris outdoors or in a contained area. Small crumbles can then be removed with a vacuum hose attachment. Rubbing or scrubbing fabric will grind particles deeper into the fibers.

For heavier dried contamination, it’s best to lightly mist droppings with water or a vinegar solution before attempting removal. This helps bind particles to limit airborne dust. A damp cloth or paper towel can then be used to lightly dab droppings off fabrics.

For moist or fresh mouse droppings, scrape off any clinging debris using a dull utensil or the edge of a stiff paper card. Avoid smearing the feces into fabric as much as possible. Any remaining stain can then be dabbed with detergent or an enzymatic cleaner prior to washing.

Sanitizing and washing clothes

Once all visible traces of mouse droppings have been eliminated, clothes will need to be sanitized and washed to complete the cleaning process. There are several effective methods to choose from:

  • Soak in bleach solution – Letting clothes soak for at least an hour in a bleach and water solution will kill any lingering bacteria from mouse feces.
  • Run a sanitizing cycle – Washing machines with built-in sanitizing cycles reach temperatures high enough to sanitize clothes without harming most fabrics.
  • Dry on high heat – An hour or longer drying cycle on the highest heat setting can sanitize laundry.
  • Iron on high setting – Ironing fabrics on the cotton or linen high heat setting for several minutes per area can also sanitize clothes.

After sanitizing, wash clothes as normal with detergent on the hottest recommended water setting. Always wash contaminated clothes separately from other laundry.

Can you salvage all mouse droppings contaminated clothes?

Most machine washable clothing and fabrics can be successfully cleaned after mouse droppings contamination. However, there are instances where clothes may need to be safely discarded:

  • Heavily soiled and fouled clothing – Garments caked with feces may not be salvageable if stains and odors cannot be fully removed.
  • Extensively chewed or nested in items – Mouse nesting materials and chewed spots saturated in urine and feces generally cannot be adequately cleaned.
  • Valuable textiles – Intricate embroidery, heirloom linens, or other delicate fabrics can be challenging to sanitize without risk of damage.

Assess how prone your clothes are to damage and how thoroughly you feel they can be disinfected before attempting to salvage extensively soiled items. When in doubt, it may be best to cut your losses and throw away contaminated clothes that pose a health risk.

Steps for cleaning contaminated clothes

Follow this checklist when cleaning clothes exposed to mouse droppings:

  1. Put on protective gloves and mask.
  2. Inspect clothes and evaluate contamination level.
  3. Remove all visible droppings through shaking, vacuuming, dabbing, and scraping.
  4. Sanitize clothes via soaking, washing cycles, heat drying or ironing.
  5. Machine wash clothes with detergent in hottest water safe for fabric.
  6. Ensure clothes are fully dried on highest heat setting after washing.
  7. Safely dispose of heavily fouled, tattered or delicate items.
  8. Thoroughly clean the contaminated storage area before returning clean clothes.

Health risks of exposure to mouse droppings

Fresh mouse droppings pose relatively minimal health risks. However, dried mouse feces can transmit a number of dangerous diseases:

  • Hantavirus – Rare but potentially fatal respiratory disease. Transmitted by breathing in contaminated dust particles from mice nests or droppings.
  • Salmonella – Common food poisoning bacteria. Can be acquired through direct contact with feces.
  • Leptospirosis – Bacterial disease causing flu-like symptoms. Transmitted through contaminated water or direct contact with urine and feces.

To avoid exposure when cleaning contaminated clothing:

  • Wear gloves and protective mask or respirator.
  • Do not stir up dried mouse droppings into the air.
  • Disinfect any surfaces soiled by droppings.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after handling contaminated clothing.

See a doctor if flu or respiratory symptoms develop within 3 weeks after cleaning mouse droppings, as this could indicate a serious infection was transmitted.

Preventing future mouse contamination

To avoid having to salvage mouse droppings laden clothes in the future, pest-proof your home and storage areas with these tactics:

  • Seal entry holes inside and outside the home.
  • Install weather stripping beneath doors.
  • Keep food sealed in chew-proof containers.
  • Clean up clutter and hiding spots mice can nest in.
  • Use humane traps and deterrents to catch and evict mice.
  • Limit food sources by cleaning up crumbs and spilled ingredients.

With diligent prevention and prompt removal of occasional invaders, you can keep mice out of your house and out of your wardrobe.


Clothes contaminated by mouse droppings require careful cleaning but can often be salvaged. Dried feces pose the greatest risks, so take protective measures during removal. Sanitize clothes using heat, laundry sanitizing cycles or chemical disinfectants before washing. Heavily nested upon or tattered items may need disposal. With caution, most clothes can be cleaned after light mouse droppings contamination. Combine cleaning with preventive pest-proofing tactics to avoid repeat exposure.

Contamination Level Cleaning Methods
Light/Few droppings Shake outdoors, vacuum, sanitize, machine wash on hot
Moderate/Numerous droppings Dampen droppings before removal, sanitize, machine wash on hot
Heavy/Nested upon May not be salvageable, attempt sanitize and wash, dispose if required