How To Eliminate Mouse Smell In Your Corvette

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How To De-Mouse Your Corvette

Close-Up View Of Mouse
A house mouse. Olga Abramova / EyeEm / Getty Images

One of the worst experiences you can have is to head out to your garage after winter, open the door to your classic Corvette, and smell the unmistakable odor of a mouse. What you're smelling is the mouse's urine, which has probably been deposited all over your carpet and seats. Like most urine smells, this ain't going away soon, even if you manage to evict the mice from your car.

Getting rid of mouse smell is hard. The first thing to realize is that half-measures simply will not do the job. You can't sprinkle some carpet-fresh around or hang an air freshener from the rear-view and expect results. Mouse urine is the gift that keeps on giving. 

Note: Play it Safe

Note that in many parts of the United States, mouse droppings may contain hantavirus. Wear a respirator and rubber gloves, and immediately dispose of the mouse nesting materials and any droppings you find. 

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Pull Out The Interior

Mouse Droppings
This is an example of mouse droppings - you want to spray your Corvette's carpet or seats with disinfectant before handling this kind of stuff to prevent the spread of hantavirus. Photo by Jeff Zurschmeide

To get rid of mouse smell in carpet and seats, you have to start by getting all that stuff out of the car, right down to the sheet metal and fiberglass. Most important is the carpet pad. All liquids spilled in your car eventually migrate down into that pad. You can't get them out of it, but they'll emit odors no matter what you do with the top layer of carpet.

Start by pulling the seats, then pull out all of the carpet. It might be glued into place, but that doesn't matter. It really has to come out of the car. Do it carefully, because if you don't absolutely have to buy new carpet, you can still put this carpet back when you're done.

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Search & Destroy All Mouse Nests

Corvette Interior Cleanup
You need to really get into the car and look up under the dash and under the seats and in every nook and cranny - mice like a nice safe and secluded location for their nests. Photo by Jeff Zurschmeide

Here's the part that really stinks - you have to get into your dashboard and firewall. Depending on your year and model of Corvette (or any car), this may be more or less difficult. But you're looking for the stealth mouse nest, and stealth is what mice do best.

Most often, the stealth nest is a big fluffy bed that's been laid down right on top of your heater core. That little radiator provides a nice cozy spot for a home, with great access to the outside world and complete security to raise a family. Sometimes the nest is in your heater fan, and sometimes it's in the A/C system or somewhere else. No matter where it ​is, if you don't dig in there and eradicate it, you'll relive the mouse horror every time you use your climate control system.

You're also looking for chewed wiring - for some reason, mice love to chew on wiring, and they'll shred fiber-based sound deadener and carpet pads to build their nests.

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Clean or Replace Everything

1969 Corvette Detail
They're going through and steam cleaning all the carpets to dilute and remove the mouse urine. Even after this is done, we'll still be sniffing mouse smells for a couple months. I plan to replace the carpet soon. Photo by Jeff Zurschmeide

As previously mentioned, the mouse urine soaks into your carpet and the carpet pad underneath. The good news is that carpet pad is cheap, and you should plan to throw it away and replace it. Your carpet, however, may or may not be salvageable.

You can try having the carpet steam-cleaned at a detail shop. While you're at it, have the detail shop give the rest of the interior a good spray-down and cleaning.

You can also try a product called "Nature's Miracle." You can find it at most pet stores and many large supermarkets and home supply stores. It's got an enzyme that breaks down the odor-causing molecules. You need to really soak this product in, so it's best if the carpet is out of the car when you use it.

When this is done, hang your carpet outside in sunshine and fresh air for a couple days, then put it in a small box or a plastic bag for a day and let it get warm. If it still stinks, you need to dig into your wallet and replace that carpet.

If you found signs of mouse under your dash, you need to get up there and clean that area too. If the mouse nest was on your heater core, you need to really hit that hard with cleansers to get the dried urine off of all the surfaces of the core, and all the other surfaces nearby.

Another thing you can try is buying or renting an ozone generator and putting that in your car. These devices eliminate odors from the air, but they don't get at the root of the problem in your carpet and seats and under the dash. There are also solid odor absorbers that cost just a couple dollars. 

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Reassemble Your Corvette and Prevent Future Mouse Infestation

Mouse Hole
This photo shows the hole a mouse chewed in a plastic tote box, but they can chew their way into your Corvette just as easily. They only need a tiny hole (about the size of a man's index finger) to get in. Photo by Jeff Zurschmeide

When you've got everything cleaned or replaced, you can go ahead and reassemble your car. Put the new pad and the carpet in, rebuild your dash, and finally reinstall the seats. By the time you count up all the money you spent and the time it took, you should be steaming mad about the whole episode. So how do you prevent it from happening again?

  • You can start by never, ever - and I mean be really fanatical about it - ever leave anything attractive to mice in your car. Obviously, that starts with food of any sort, including chewing gum, candy, or tobacco. But it also includes anything made of fur, such as a lined driving cap or a pair of gloves. In fact, the safest rule is not to leave anything in the car that is not part of the car.
  • You can try the ultrasonic repellers. Opinions are mixed, but the generally accepted consensus is that they don't work. But they also don't hurt, so if you've got one, why not use it? If it repels just one mouse, it's worth it.​
  • Try a few drops of peppermint oil - but make sure it's the oil, not the extract! Mice apparently don't like the smell.​
  • Placetraps in your garage. It doesn't take a whole winter for mice to ruin your car - they can be into your 'Vette and setting up housekeeping in a weekend. Find out what bait works in your area and be proactive about it.​
  • Drive your Corvette regularly. You probably don't get mice in your daily driver, right? So keep that Corvette moving to discourage any creatures from viewing it as a house.

This is a hard story for those who have been invaded by mice, but it's the truth. Good luck.