Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine

Posted by: ScotM

Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 10/24/12 12:36 PM

Mouse pee is acidic and corrosive, and the smell can be so strong as to make a piano unusable. We recently picked up a little console which had been a mouse condo. The smell was so strong that our entire shop stunk! I have tried Febreeze & Odoban in the past, as well as natural remedies and even ionizing, but the smell always returned. Seeking to neutralize the urine rather than cover up the smell, I found an antique radio forum where baking soda was recommended for wood and bathroom cleaner/ calcium&scale remover for metal. Works like a charm! I made a barely damp paste of water & baking soda( note: -soda NOT -powder) and applied wherever pee stains were visible-notably the keys and keybed. Whithin an hour, the paste was discolored as if leaching the stain out. After vacuuming the dried soda off the next day, the smell is gone.
I had some tile cleaner handy, so tried that on areas of the plate which had rusted due to urine. That worked well also, although I had to do two applications. The discussion of the chemistry behind all this can be found @ Antiqueradios.com. I hope this helps someone.
Posted by: bkw58

Re: Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 10/24/12 12:50 PM

Baking soda is good for removing all types of odor, however, it is a corrosive as well and should be treated as such when used in a piano. Gloves are a must with mice urine and droppings as these carry nasty diseases.
Posted by: Grandpianoman

Re: Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 10/24/12 02:55 PM

I don't know if this product would work on mouse urine. I have had good luck with it for dog urine. Might be worth a look.

http://www.zeroodorpet.com/
Posted by: Emmery

Re: Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 10/24/12 03:00 PM

Tenting the piano in a high concentration of ozone will also help to get rid of residual smells that remain in the cloth and felt. This is done with pianos exposed to smoke damage with good effect.
Posted by: TunerJeff

Re: Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 10/24/12 05:15 PM

The ozone-tent treatment is something I have also seen in the field. A small grand two floors away from a kitchen fire was only exposed to the smoke, but that smell was strong!

The company called in to repair the damage was experienced and knowledgable. They had used the technique before, to good effect, and assured me that the piano would suffer no undue harm in the process. After wiping down the case, plate, soundboard, and keytops the piano was ready for them.

The instrument was tented in plastic and a small ozone generator was placed under the piano. The treatment lasted for about 30 hours (starting in the morning and ending the next afternoon). Excellent results. The very mild exposure to the smoke, which had left a definate odor in the felt of the hammers, keys, and dampers, was gone.

The only items that suffered from the ozone exposure were the rubber buttons and pedal-dowel ends. The plastic and rubber bits were crackled and dried out from the ozone. Easy fix.

Just my experience,
Your mileage may vary,
Posted by: Dave B

Re: Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 10/24/12 05:32 PM

Try wiping the entire piano down with ammonia cut 50% with water. Have to take all the keys out,etc. Has worked for me in the past.
Posted by: msks

Re: Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 10/24/12 10:12 PM

I once had to deal with a 'catbox" piano.. The best thing I found was coating the affected areas with Shellac. Other things were temporary. In damp weather the smell came back.. Beware.......
Posted by: OperaTenor

Re: Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 10/24/12 11:43 PM

Another sure-fire method for eliminating the mouse urine smell is to turn a skunk loose inside the piano. Close him up in there for a couple of hours, and you'll never smell mouse urine again, I guarantee it....









Now, about that skunk smell...
Posted by: David Jenson

Re: Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 10/25/12 07:33 AM

Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
Another sure-fire method for eliminating the mouse urine smell is to turn a skunk loose inside the piano. Close him up in there for a couple of hours, and you'll never smell mouse urine again, I guarantee it....









Now, about that skunk smell...
OK. Now I see why some other tuners make more money and drive newer cars than me. I NEVER would have thought of the Skunk idea. 'Gonna break out my live trap and find me a skunk!
Posted by: ScotM

Re: Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 10/25/12 09:56 AM

We, too, use an ionizer/ozone generator for smoke damage, but urine smell always came back. That's why I shared the baking soda. The ends of each key set were black where the vermin ran back & forth, & I gagged holding them @ arm's length the first day. Now I have to have my nose w/in a couple inches of the keys to get even a hint of odor.
Still mulling over how to deal with the action: first & last hammer of each section are stained, as are the wooden damper heads. Thanks for the tip on shellac: I had thought of sealing the odor in, & it's good to hear that it has worked for someone.
Regards,
Scot
Posted by: ScotM

Re: Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 10/25/12 10:05 AM

BTW, the point about what ozone does to rubber should be underlined. We left our good rubber- wheeled dolly in our moving trailer with a smokey piano & the ionizer over the weekend once. Just once: those Colson(sp?) castors are NOT cheap!
Posted by: Emmery

Re: Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 10/25/12 10:27 AM

There are not a lot of rubber parts in the piano and only some specific plastics are effected by ozone the same way as rubber. BTW there are several products that will easily protect these parts, both from long term exposure, or short tent treatments.

Basically, most any silicone emulsion product will work, such as the ones available for the rubber seals and weatherstripping on your car. Vappro Rubberplast is probably the best of the bunch out there, specifically made for ozone/oxygen exposure protection. It is what the military uses on vehicles/ equipment and such in order to keep stored items in good working readiness.

Also, ozone generators and ionizers are apples and oranges to each other and do completely different things. The trick with ozone generators is to tent the item and use extremely high concentrations but for a shorter period of time. This requires an industrial quality generator, such as the ones used in morgues and laboratories.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 10/25/12 11:29 AM

This is my idea of an especially choice thread--- you guys have brought a vivid experience back to life. Is it not a strange thing that buyers of old uprights always do their best to blow it off when I suggest they take off the bottom panel and look for signs of mice? There is a lot of resistance to this idea, for some reason.

"...the smell can be so strong as to make a piano unusable. We recently picked up a little console... I had some tile cleaner handy... In damp weather the smell came back, Beware... plastic and rubber... crackled and dried out... urine smell always came back... ends of each key set were black where the vermin ran back & forth; I gagged holding them at arm's length... an industrial quality [ozone] generator, what the military uses... such as the ones used in morgues and laboratories..."

Morgues and laboratories, you say.

"...Gloves are a must with mice urine and droppings as these carry nasty diseases..."

Yes. Diseases like bubonic plague (it's still with us), treatable if diagnosed in time, and hantavirus, which is highly pathogenic and for which there is no treatment. The American Plains Indians had a hard-and-fast rule that anything a mouse might have urinated on, no matter how desirable or costly, be burned immediately. It was because hantavirus was so dangerous.
Granted, they did not have tile cleaner or morgue-grade ozone generators back then. I admire these suggestions, actually; there's a lot of ingenuity here. BTW, gloves are not enough; dust breathed in from droppings is as deadly a vector as touch.

Fire strikes me as the perfect treatment for "...a little console... black where the vermin ran back & forth... I gagged holding [the keyset parts] at arm's length..."
Posted by: Emmery

Re: Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 10/25/12 11:45 AM

Something not mentioned about mouse urine that deserves comment is the fact that when handling the clean up it would be advisable to wear a decent quality respirator mask and rubber gloves which get properly disposed of after the task. The urine will also be on the dust and dirt in the piano.

It is not unreasonable to understand that feces or their residue from prior cleanups is also present with the urine. I use a rubber respirator type mask that is rated for fine dust/asbestos when I work. If preliminary clean up is with a vacume cleaner, make sure it has a hepa filter somewhere on the exhaust or fine particles of dust will be blown around to settle elsewhere or be breathed in.

If Hantavirus a concern, exposure to sunlight for 3-5 hours will kill it. UV sanitizing lights will also work well and much faster. I have a UV wand I got from Costco a few years back for $50 that will kill 99% of the germs in a minute of exposure. Charge accordingly for your clean up. An old piano coming into a clean house is not a hard sell for a clean up job, especially after you show the owner what is inside accompanied by a fact sheet on what diseases mice and their little presents carry. Its definately not one of the nicer parts of our work but customers truly appreciate it being done.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 10/25/12 12:22 PM

Originally Posted By: ScotM
BTW, the point about what ozone does to rubber should be underlined. We left our good rubber- wheeled dolly in our moving trailer with a smokey piano & the ionizer over the weekend once. Just once: those Colson(sp?) castors are NOT cheap!


If you have a good supplier, you can buy the wheels separately.
Posted by: ScotM

Re: Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 10/25/12 04:53 PM

"Any day you have an excuse to buy a new tool is a good day". So...got to thinking about the baking soda, and went out and bought a small soda blaster. Tried it out on a spare junk action, then went after the stains on the mouse condo action. 20 min later it looks brand new. Smells fine, too.
I agree that, ideally, it would have been burnt, but it is a great platform for these(to us) experimental treatments. If it still works well and doesn't stink after a couple of years, we'll call it a success.
Plus, now I can go after that rust on my 'classic' car!

Cheers!
Scot
Posted by: Lone Ranger

Re: Getting rid of the smell of mouse urine - 11/19/12 11:58 PM

After cleaning the piano - wiping and removing all the dirt and stain ( of course you need to use gloves)the piano might still have the stink in it. For this it is best to use an adsorbant material such as charcoal. Another cheap adsorbant is a cut Onion ( yes ONIONs smell but a cut onion will adsorb the smell), try it and see, it has worked for me.