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Thread: Cleaning Mouse feces and urine out of an old garage kept guitar

  1. #1
    Registered User David Houchens's Avatar
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    Default Cleaning Mouse feces and urine out of an old garage kept guitar

    No mandolin content but repair info. I have taken on a 30's/40's Gibson archtop that was kept in a barn or shed for some time. It had an old mouse nest in it and enough droppings built up to make me think it was his/her outhouse.
    The repair required the back to be removed so it's wide open.
    After literally scraping the droppings out with a small maple scrap it is still pretty nasty.
    The usual black urine stain and smell.
    What can I use to sanitize this to make it safe for the owner or his children.
    It's assembled with hide glue so I wasn't sure about alcohol.
    Wish I had pasted this one up but now I'm in it I might as well do it right. Thanks for any input on what has worked for you.Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    Registered User David Houchens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse fecesand urine out of an old garage kept guita

    Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #3
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse fecesand urine out of an old garage kept guita

    I don't know nuttin, but here goes anyway. Natures Miracle is a line of enzymatic products marketed at pet stores. Web site is http://www.naturesmiracle.com/ . I am not sure how applicable it is for unfinished wood, but if you can't get any good tips from folks who do claim to know more than nuttin, check it out. I have used it on the interior of an old mandolin to remove mold, mildew, and associated odors. It is water based so I sure wouldn't spray it on heavy, but as a last resort I would certainly give it a light spray, let dry, repeat several times.
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  5. #4

    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse fecesand urine out of an old garage kept guita

    Wear a mask and wash your hands. Hantavirus is a real deal, at here out west.

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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse fecesand urine out of an old garage kept guita

    We found Sylvester's home, after all this time. (The Mouse with the Musical Ear, anyone else read that as a kid?)

    I'd clean it well with distilled water and then leave it out in the sunshine. Then wash it out again with distilled water.
    Any chemicals you might want to use to neutralize the urea smell have risks associated with them.
    But if you have to try one, you might try a non-toxic rodent cage cleaner and deodorizer. Something like Nature's Miracle Cage Cleaner (NFI), it's supposed to dissolve away all the animal stuff and deodorizes by getting rid of the organic materials, not by leaving behind a bunch of perfumes.. Just an idea.

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    Registered User David Houchens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse fecesand urine out of an old garage kept guita

    Thanks All. I have never seen one this bad. I have the latex gloves handy for sure and a respirator.
    There might be a little hazardous materials fee on this one.

  10. #7
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse fecesand urine out of an old garage kept guita

    We've always used vinegar in my house for pet accidents... it can neutralize the smell... not sure how it would fare in this scenario however.
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse fecesand urine out of an old garage kept guita

    Baking Soda is a terrific neutralizer for urine smells ( or most smells for that matter). Pour as much baking soda onto the affected areas as you need, & really work it in using a paint brush. Let it 'soak' for 24 hours & then brush out the Baking Soda. If it needs it,give it another application(s) until the smell has gone,or near enough. I use old,large pickle jars for storage when they're empty. Soap & water just won't get rid of the smell. A teaspoonful of Baking Soda in warm water shifts it every time, with NO residual smell at all,
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    Registered User Vernon Hughes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse fecesand urine out of an old garage kept guita

    I believe i'd use any/all of the methods above and the seal the inside with shellac before buttoning it up.
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    Registered User Dave Fultz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse fecesand urine out of an old garage kept guita

    Re: smells
    Clean the best you can and then consider investing in a small ion generator.

    I have one of these
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...hps_bw_c_x_1_w

    Works great, just be careful, it can suffocate in closed areas.

    I de-perfumed a D18 and it’s case. Well worth it. Take the guitar parts into a bathroom, point the ion blaster at it. Shut the door behind you. It will remove a good bit if not all of the smell. And your bathroom will smell like a spring rain.

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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse feces and urine out of an old garage kept guit

    Or, stated another way, if it is an old no-name guitar you throw it in the trash. OTOH, if it is a vintage Gibson, you try everything you can to save it. Makes sense based on the value of the instrument.

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    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse fecesand urine out of an old garage kept guita

    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Hughes View Post
    I believe i'd use any/all of the methods above and the seal the inside with shellac before buttoning it up.
    I also know nothing, but I"d think that sealing the inside would prevent the wood from reacting properly to ambient moisture-- expanding and contracting.

    On the other hand, why not seal the inside of all wooden string instruments to stabilize the wood's movement? I'm sure if it was a great idea everyone would be doing it,but I'd like to know why not.

    Someone mentioned using vinegar. I'm not sure how something that acidic would affect the wood.
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse feces and urine out of an old garage kept guit

    I’m with Ivan as far as baking soda is concerned but, the ion generator is probably the best finishing step I can think of.
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    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse feces and urine out of an old garage kept guit

    You're dealing with 2 problems. Smell and potential infectiveness. Who knows what pathogens live in old mouse feces? I don't.

    I'd ozone the heck out of that thing before I did much with it. That's just me.
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse feces and urine out of an old garage kept guit

    Sometimes you just have to say NO! Kerry

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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse feces and urine out of an old garage kept guit

    Unless it's autographed by Elvis, I think I might abandon the project. As my Mama used to say, "Too much of anything's enough." It makes no sense but actually makes good sense.
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse feces and urine out of an old garage kept guit

    Well it'll make for some interesting stage banter if the owner ends up performing with it
    "Did y'all know this here guitar used to be a mouse outhouse?"

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  32. #18
    Registered User David Houchens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse feces and urine out of an old garage kept guit

    Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. I have a product from AirX that will really help the smell but I was more concerned with the sanitary side of it. I can take precautions but I worry about kids playing with it down the road.
    I'll contact the owner and see if he still wants to dump that much money in something that might be worrisome to play.
    I will check into the ion generator.

  33. #19
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse feces and urine out of an old garage kept guit

    As I remember from microbiology class (over 40 years ago!!), not much in the way of pathogens can survive for very long when conditions are not in their favor. Bacterial spores and some virus particles being exceptions.
    UV light can sterilize, and fortunately, we have a cheap source of that: sunlight.
    If you get it clean and dry then give it plenty of sun exposure that should get rid of any live bacteria and probably viruses. A UV booth might be even better, but it might not go over too well if you go to a tanning salon and ask to tan that particular guitar...

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse fecesand urine out of an old garage kept guita

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Busman View Post
    Someone mentioned using vinegar. I'm not sure how something that acidic would affect the wood.
    You can read all about vinegar and wood cells on the interweb and elsewhere, if you're interested. It does affect wood cells, but I don't think the effect is necessarily bad for a musical instrument or a piece of furniture.

    But keep vinegar far away from hide glue joints or aliphatic resin glue joints! It's not a good solution for the task David has here, IMO. Only thing I use it for in the shop is to loosen stubborn glue joints ...
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse feces and urine out of an old garage kept guit

    The wood inside that guitar will be so dry as to be like blotting paper !. I'd keep any form of moisture well away from it. As for using vinegar,that's fine if you can then wash it away afterwards,but in this case,you can't. IMHO you'd be replacing the urine smell with the smell of vinergar - fine on your fries,but not inside a guitar. You could always try an activated charcoal odour remover,but i think that the cheapest, & from experience,possibly the best stuff,is Baking Soda - at least that would be my first choice. If it doesn't work then try something else,
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  39. #22
    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse feces and urine out of an old garage kept guit

    An alternative approach might be to leave that stuff in there and tell people that Bill used to put mouse turds in his mandolin along with rattlesnake rattles. You might start a trend, albeit a smelly one
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  41. #23
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse feces and urine out of an old garage kept guit

    Vinegar smell will dissipate quickly. It's used here in the midwest for mold and after cleanup it is recommended to spray vinegar lightly and leave it to prevent the mold from coming back. A few hours and the smell is not noticeable on a floor let alone the small area of an guitar. As John says the sunshine is also a friendly cleaner.
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse feces and urine out of an old garage kept guit

    I am with Sunburst, as long as you clean it there is a very low risk of pathogens. There is, as others have pointed out, more of a risk to you in cleaning it. I would go with light scrubbing with water and sunlight as you best bet. You can always up the game if that doesn't work.

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    Default Re: Cleaning Mouse feces and urine out of an old garage kept guit

    I am going to be the devil's non-advocate on the ozone generators. I was involved in an industrial setting where ozone generators were used to try to remove outgassing from tanks in a molding operation. It was abandoned after controlled experiments were done capturing and chemically analyzing the results. The ozone generators did not do anything more than fresh air ventilation. The ozone generators are all sales hype and marketing nonsense.

    The warnings about protecting yourself from contact are important. A friend of mine has permanent disability from hantavirus cleaning up bat dropping in an attic at a hunting cabin.

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