How to Eliminate the Smell of Mice in Your Corvette

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 mice. 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 won't go away soon, even if you manage to evict the mice from your car.

Getting rid of mouse smell is hard and 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. 

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Play it Safe

Close-Up View Of Mouse
Olga Abramova / EyeEm / Getty Images

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 on rag.

Jeff Zurschmeide

Start by getting everything out of your car, right down to the sheet metal and fiberglass. The carpet pad is the most important as all spilled liquids eventually migrate down into that pad.

First, pull out the seats, then all of the carpet. It might be glued into place, but that doesn't matter--it really has to come out of the car to remove the odor. Do it carefully, because you can put it back in when you're done if you don't want to buy new carpet.

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Search & Destroy All Mouse Nests

Man cleaning car steering wheel.

Jeff Zurschmeide

Next, you have to get into your dashboard and firewall. Depending on the year and model, this may be more or less difficult. 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. Among other places, sometimes the nest is in your heater fan or the A/C system. Regardless, if you don't dig in and eradicate the source, you'll relive the mouse horror every time you use your climate control system.

You're also looking for chewed wiring. 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

Man cleaning 1969 Corvette inside shop.

Jeff Zurschmeide

Mouse urine soaks into your carpet and the carpet pad underneath. The good news is, carpet pads are cheap. Your carpet, however, may or may not be salvageable.

If you're not comfortable doing it yourself, you can have your carpet steam-cleaned at a detail shop. There you can also give the rest of the interior a good cleaning.

Try a product called "Nature's Miracle," which contains an enzyme that breaks down odor-causing molecules. You can find it at most pet stores and many large supermarkets and home supply stores. 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 you've finished, hang your carpet outside in the 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 find signs of mice under your dashboard, you need to clean that area too. If the nest was on your heater core, you need to really scrub it down with cleansers to get the dried urine off of all the surfaces of the core, and all the other surfaces nearby.

You can also try buying or renting an ozone generator and putting that in your car. These devices eliminate odors from the air, but they don't get to 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 in plastic container.
A mouse hole chewed into plastic. Mice can chew their way into your car just as easily.

Jeff Zurschmeide

Once you've got everything cleaned or replaced, it's time to reassemble your car. Put the carpet and pad in, rebuild your dash, and reinstall the seats. The effort and price of eliminating the smell of mice from your car can be extremely frustrating.  So how do you prevent it from happening again?

  • Start by never, ever--be really fanatical about it--leave anything attractive to mice in your car. Obviously, that starts with food of any sort, including chewing gum, candy, or tobacco. This also includes anything made of fur, such as a lined driving cap or gloves. The safest option 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. However, 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.
  • Place traps in your garage. It doesn't take a whole winter for mice to ruin your car, they can be in and nest in a weekend. Find out what bait works in your area and be proactive about it.
  • Drive your Corvette regularly. Keep that Corvette moving to discourage any creatures from viewing it as a house.