Vinegar vs. Dead Rat

Soon after moving into this area my husband and I picked up some pamphlets at our local library about the region’s flora and fauna nuisances. We got  quite a chuckle out of the one titled Roof Rats: Unnerving and Unnecessary. For time to time we would speak of anything not quite to our liking as “unnerving and unnecessary.” But lo and behold, we found that when the colder weather sets in here in Southern California (believe me, I know the term “colder” is relative!) the roof rats began to invade our home. I don’t like using traps that poison or bring the critters to a violent end, but I also don’t want to share our living space with them. We tried a variety of strategies and finally have had great success for quite a few years now using Riddex. It’s that “as seen on TV” gizmo that you plug in and somehow it uses the electrical wires make your place less hospitable. (My experience ordering Riddex from the company was beyond annoying, being forced to listen to over 20 minutes of advertisements for other products before being able to place the order among other inconveniences, but the product has been worth it.)

rattus rattus, image via Wikipedia

We live in a 4 unit condo however, and it seems my neighbors do use poison. It also seems that rats in their death throes don’t find Riddex quite so deterring and will crawl into our space before expiring. The first time it happened was just a couple weeks before Eli was born. Here I was getting everything ready to receive our newborn when a most putrid odor began seeping into the central hallway. It took me a couple of days of odor ripening to realize what exactly it was as I searched frantically for the source. Once it funk was identified I called our handyman, and then an extermination company to try to get someone out who would crawl up under the eaves and remove the noxious fiend. Nobody would come, and it was explained to me that most likely it was somewhere within the walls and the only way to find it would be to start ripping holes in the walls until it was located. The exterminator went on to explain that the rat wasn’t even certain to be right in the area where I was smelling it. All we could do was  wait for the rat to decompose and dry up and the smell would eventually dissipate. While this was not what I wanted to hear. (Who wants to have to live with THAT, especially with a baby practically en route?!) Thankfully nature had taken its course and the smell was gone before Eli was born.

Fast forward 21 months… yes once again that unforgettable smell is seeping into our living space. This time it is mostly in Eli’s room. We use that room mostly just to store his clothes, change his diapers and for his nap. Lately I just hold my breath before dashing in to get clothing from his closet.

Then two days ago came the appalling realization that  the stench had begun to ooze out into our living area. I decided to just put a bowl of vinegar in the room as I considered what else I might do. I have used that as a means of odor removal for a long time, but for smaller odors in the bathroom and kitchen, usually in enclosed spaces, such as garbage pails, or a “new” used refrigerator that came smelling of rotten meat. I didn’t expect it to be all that effective in this case, where I’m not really even sure of the location of the source of the problem.

But wouldn’t you know it… it WORKED! I can now go into Eli’s room with out nausea or breath-holding. And how inexpensive! I love a frugal and green solution!

I’m linking up!




  1. ReStitch Me said,

    November 19, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    I’ve never heard of vinegar for an odor eliminator! Will have to give that a try next time we have something smelling nasty! We had an animal (squirrel?) die up in the rafters of a farmhouse we were living in several years ago. It really was unpleasant! Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest!

  2. November 20, 2011 at 6:35 am

    What a great tip! Thanks! I use vinegar in my cleaning solution, and it definitely helps with the diaper pail. I am going to try leaving a bowl out next time my house is stinky!

  3. November 20, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Thank you so very much for linking up to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways:) I’m so happy to “meet” you! I am totally loving your blog and your posts!

    I really hope you make Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways a part of your Wednesdays! And keep the great posts comin’

    Very sincerely,
    Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable

  4. Shiloh said,

    November 21, 2011 at 11:36 am

    That is SOO good to know. We had a few rats a couple weeks ago, but I think we got rid of them, without any awful smells.:) I’m so thankful!
    Thanks so much for stopping by Everyday Gameplan.:)

    • November 21, 2011 at 5:54 pm

      Thanks for visiting and commenting! I think I may have raved about the vinegar prematurely. The essence of dead rat seems to have regrouped and put forth a renewed assault. I put out fresh vinegar, but now it just all smells like pickled dead rat. Maybe it is a bit less than it would be without, but I’m really hoping it all goes away before Thanksgiving dinner, as we are eating here! I’m glad you were able to get rid of your rats without this olfactory drama!

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