Sunday, November 30, 2008

The source of that smell

My family teases me about my nose. No, it's not large or funny shaped, or even particularly small or adorable. My nose is just very sensitive. One might even call it HYPER sensitive. Some close to me think it's really funny to roll their eyes at me when I mention things I smell. Others simply tell me that I'm "imagining things". Regardless, I am known for my nose.

I can detect scents and odors where others will remain oblivious. So, when others in my home begin to mention that they smell something bad, I know things have gotten really out of hand.

But let me back up a bit.

When we moved into our house last January, I noticed a bit of a, shall we say, funky smell in what was to be my youngest son, Aidan's, room. I probably should have been suspicious when I found *this* in his closet:

It's one of those scented stick-ups, you know, that is supposed to mask nasty odors? It's stuck to the wall, about one foot up from the ground, just inside the closet door. I recall thinking at the time, "Hmmmm...the person who lived in this room before must've had really smelly shoes".

Unfortunately, this wasn't the case. The smell began to get worse. Soon, Aidan mentioned the smell, too, and I knew I wasn't crazy. Eventually, Jim, too, had to admit that there was, indeed, a horrible smell emanating from our 16-year-old's bedroom (and it was NOT the 16-year-old!).

Then we started to hear it, a rustling and bumping from inside one of the walls. It's an odd wall for a sound to be coming from, though, as it's the interior closet wall that extends into the room itself:

After running my super power nose along the entire circumference of Aidan's room, there was no doubt that the smell was coming from there. Then, the smell began to get worse. It took on an almost cyclical would go from bad to worse and then wane a bit, only to get bad again. Since we kept hearing the noises, I thought something was actually living, and had possibly built a nest, in there.

Finally, after months of trying to mask the smell and hoping that the problem would just go away, we gave up and, the other night, finally cut a hole in the wall.

This is what we found:

What is it, you ask? I'll spare you the extreme close-up, but this is what sixteen (yes, 16) dead and decomposing mice look like:

Apparently this section of the wall acts as kind of a "chute" that the mice are falling down into and are then unable to get back out. How do we know there were 16 in there? Jim counted tails as he pulled them out. Sometimes, it was only the tail that was left.


After thoroughly cleaning out the mouse CHUTE OF DEATH, we cut another hole the next stud over to make sure it was just that one section that the mice were getting stuck in:

Yup. No other mice to be found. Now we have two holes in the drywall. But wait...what is that SMELL?!!

Well, the upside is that we seem to have located and isolated the problem. The downside is that the smell is still there. Rotting mouse stench (known in educated circles as R.M.S.) has apparently permeated the drywall. Lysol, a constantly -running dehumidifier and plenty of ventilation is not even touching the odor. Now what?


I double-dog-dare them to laugh at my nose again!


  1. Wow. Just... ew. My nose is super sensitive too, so I can only imagine how miserable it is for you! I wish I knew what to tell you to do about the drywall. Have you tried setting a dish of vineagar in there to soak up some of the smell?

  2. OMG. But, believe it or not, the smart goat has a suggestion for you. You see, the first owners here had a dog kennel that had a shower stall in it. The mice got behind it and oh, the smell! The painter told us if we would paint over it with shellac based primer, it would kill the smell. We did and it works! That was two years ago and no smell has returned! Definitely worth a try (along with finding the opening to the 'Shoot of Death' or else insert a little ladder. :)

  3. My grandma told me many years ago that the plain (not the kind that has the lighter fluid on it) charcoal for grilling would take odors out of some cupboards in an apt. I had moved into.

    It worked! She suggested I put the charcoal briquets in and leave them for 24 hours, in the empty closed up cupboards, and then replace with new briquets (maybe 5 or so per shelf) each day until the odor was gone.

    I don't know if it will work for you, but it's a very inexpensive thing to try. Good luck!!

  4. I bought a car that had belonged to a smoker. Friends who recondition RVs told me to get an ionizer and run it in the car for a couple of nights -- it works like a charm. So you probably need to evacuate the 16 year old for a couple of years -- no make that days -- and run an ionizer. You can probably rent one.

  5. I have one of those super sensitive noses. Yikes, rotting mice! I know Oxy Clean works wonders, but not sure about adding moisture in this case. Maybe, just place a damp sponge soaked in oxy clean in this area, changing twice a day, I'm not sure. Good luck with whatever you try.


  6. I have no suggestions just sympathy. That is gross!


  8. Oh, you poor thing! That is so gross! I really hope you'll figure out a way to get rid of THAT smell.

  9. Hi Danni,
    I don't guess my nose is super sensitive but I have smell that R.M.S. before and it is not good.
    I have a suggestion. clothes pins.
    Yep, clothes pins on that super sensitive nose. lol...
    No really, maybe baking soda would help.
    Good luck with it.

  10. That's inspiration for a murder mystery - she hides the chopped up body of her husband in the wall, (he didn't like her chickens and he threatened to butcher her 'em). Now he has vanished, nobody but her knows his whereabouts. :-)

  11. Wow, that's a distressing discovery! I have noted mice in my barn but I don't want a cat because I'm afraid it will go after the small chickens (the 10-12 week old ones). I liked the ladder suggestion someone else made. How will you stop it from continuing? Did you patch up the entry? Hope you can sort out the smell!

  12. Danni,
    Orange peels. Its my only suggestion for RMS.I know. Its lame, but with that nose of yours, what more can I do? I bow down to you. That really is whats important isn't it? There, I bowed twice.


  13. Eeeeeeeuuuuuu! I hope one of the recommended remedies works for you! I so glad you finally discovered it, though, so you can figure out a way to get rid of the "mice death chute!"

  14. Yuck, yuck, yuck. I was going to suggest baking soda or vinegar, others have suggested it already. Good luck.

  15. Oh. My. Gosh. Now that is a story to tell............thank goodness you found it out!

    I once noticed a horrible stench in my kitchen. I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned and it was still there. I narrowed it down to my dishwasher and then I cleaned that and ran a few cycles with only hot water and vinegar.

    The stench was still there, if not worse. My husband could not smell it, at least didn't think it was that bad. I was pregnant and he thought I was over reacting.

    I convienced him to pull the dishwasher out because it HAD to be under there.He really thought I was crazy.

    He pulled it out and then looked at me, shook his head, and started laughing. I assumed there was nothing there.....until he pulled out a dead mouse.

    Each time I ran the dishwasher, I kind of just cooked it a little bit more...........making the stench worse. Go figure. *blech*

  16. I can only imagine that scent, ugh! Your tale of the mystery stench was great, and the comments everyone left is even greater!

  17. Oh Danni I know exactly what you are going through. We did finally find out the cause of our stench. A dead mouse was in our furnace vent under the house. Farmer had to crawl around under there until he smelled the right place....directly under our hallway vents. Periodically we get mice in our walls and attic. I keep d-con there. My nose is ultra sensitive as well and most people don't smell what I smell. It drives them nuts when I am smelling something they can't because I can't let it go until I find the source. Maybe we should start a sensitive nose club. ha ha

  18. Yewwww!!!
    Danni that wall HAS to GO!!
    I think you have something to keep you busy!

  19. I don't have a remedy for the smell but if you get one of those habitrail tubes for hamsters, you could patch it from the chute of death, swing it around the room, make a hole in the wall and out to freedom. Not only will your son have a limitless amount of free pets, it could keep Roxy entertained as well. ;-p

  20. Coffee grounds work too--they both absorb the bad odor and mask it. They use coffee grounds in shipping and airlines to get rid of smells between trips (like if you hauled onions and now need to haul fruit or something). Good luck--I can only imagine the stench!

  21. Good GRIEF cupcake! Who would have thought your life would take on such adventures!!:-) I vote for taking out the drywall and making Jim put up new, clean and fresh smelling drywall!!

  22. I'd rip all that dry wall outta there and redo it...but then I would also install a mouse habitat from the chute of know, little tubes and a rolly ball, maybe a wheel. If you are going to have critters inside, you would at least know the moment they arrive!

  23. Well it looks like you alredy solved your problem with any new they won't be trapped inside the wall ;)
    now all you need to do is get a hamster habitat cage and mount it to the wall for a constant supply of pet mice.
    Or just get a cat for your son to keep in his roomand trade one smell for anothe :)

    My suggestion is the baking soda and then maybe a generous application of KILZ paint in the inside of the "chute" as far up as you can reach. However you may just have to replace the drywall to get to the top of the chute to seal it up. In any case apply a good wood sealer to any exposed wood before applying new drywall.

  24. Me too Me too! I developed that hyper-smell sensitivity when I became pregnant and it never went away. Of course, the down side is you get to smell that RMS (gak!) before everyone else and you're ALWAYS the sniff checker. You know...."Here, smell this... is this still good?"

  25. OMG, I can relate. Years ago I kept smelling (off and on) a terrible odor. After several weeks we found that a mouse had been caught in DH's recliner. "Well, I guess I'll go to bed now (as he puts the foot rest down)." Snap!! Gotcha! Ewww, after that I never could understand how people could collect those "cute" little mouse knick-knacks for their kitchens! LOL

  26. Eeew....

    What a horrible death those poor little mice fell victim to.

    Will you have to take out the entire wall and replace it with new drywall?

    Maybe you should become a sommelier and put your nose to good use in more esteemed circles where it will be better appreciated.

  27. Oh Danni, that is just bad!!! We had that happen in a rental we lived in. Very not pleasant. I had no idea what the smell was so I kept using clean linen scented air fresheners. To this day I can't stand the smell of them. Reminds me of dead things!

  28. Eeww, sound like some scene out of an Indiana Jones movie.
    I love to google, and it looks like you should be using something with an enzyme action to it---usually found in the pet aisle at the grocery store. You need something to break down the bacterial decomposition that is hanging out in the walls.
    Also, someone else mentioned KILZ. You should maybe paint the walls of the closet with it.
    I too, suffer from the sensitive nose problem. I can't go near scented stores (candles, Abercrombie, perfume)--I get a headache immediately.

  29. I comment twice on this post but it didn't show up...was it something I said and you moderated me out? I'll try to be more appropriate next time:)
    I know what it got soooo many comments you had to get rid of a few..right..that's it!

  30. Well, I read your post and then I read all of the great ideas to get rid of the smell.

    Personally, I agree with Warren, that I would tear out a big section of the drywall and replace it.(both sides) I think there has been so many of them that the smell is permanent. I would seal up the studs with some kind of polyurethane in case it got absorbed into the wood.

    I don't think you can ever get out the smell of dead things.

    Is there an attic above this wall? Or is there an upstairs? If there is an attic, that is easier to get up into to see how the mice are getting in. If there is an upstairs, you may need to punch a hole near the ceiling of the chute to see if you can seal the opening at the top.

    Ok, long answer, sorry.

  31. Oh yeah - I know that smell! You see I used to live at this old camp that was built in 1919... about 80 years later we found where the mice - and RATS - went to die.

    Not pretty. In any way, shape, or form.

    I'm so sorry.

    And yes, you're right. It does permeate everything - we had to replace some of the studs, tons of drywall, repaint, etc.

    Not fun.



  32. Holy Crap...and I don't say that lightly!

    That is just the worst thing I could have imagined causing that smell, and I have a very vivid imagination...bleck, that is all I can say BLECK!

    You didn't happen to see what kind of mice they were? Our NW deer mice are notorious carriers of a terrible virus. I don't mean to scare you but we had a death around here lately from it, so please always use masks and gloves and dealing with anything mice related. Kim, your concerned northern neighbor.

  33. I think you should install a "rat/mouse" box that is removable from the inside. Unless you fix the problem they are going to continue to fall in there. so you could use it as a mouse trap. when you hear one thumping around push the button to close the lid, flip the locks and grab the handle and pull it out of the wall with the rat inside. Ooooo you could patent it! People would install them in houses they are building, you could be rich and all because of your nose!


I ♥ it when you leave a comment.