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Ovens can sometimes smell like urine or strong ammonia. This might only be when your stove is turned on but also when it is not in use. Naturally, there will be some concern as to what is causing this pungent smell, especially because it is related to your food.
Your oven probably smells like pee because mice are urinating inside of it. They are attracted to the spilled food and warmth inside the oven, and their urine will create a pungent odor when you cook food. A deep cleaning with bleach or a dedicated urine cleaner should fix the problem.
This article explains what steps you should take to check for mice and how to clean your oven. Depending on the type of oven you have, there might be alternative solutions to both the urine smell and the mice which caused it.
Checking for Mice
If mice are camping in your oven, they will come from somewhere.
Your oven may not be the only place you have mice, nor will it be the only place it smells like urine. Further still, you will probably have mouse droppings too. It is important to check for urine, droppings, nests, and other types of tell-tale signs that these rodents are sharing your home; if there is a smell to begin with, chances are they have been there for a while.
Where To Look For Mice
Mice like to nest in warm and/or cozy areas with soft materials such as clothing, tissues, wood chips, and anything other material they can build with.
Be sure to check these places:
- All Drawers
When you check your home, be sure to also look for any kind of access-point from the outside, where mice can get in. Fix or block these areas accordingly.
What To Look For
Mice leave behind many things that will tip you off with reasonable certainty that they are there or have been recent.
Here is what you should be on the lookout for:
- Grease marks on baseboards
- Footprints (especially in dusty areas)
- Droppings (in clusters of 50 to 80)
- Scratching noises in the walls
- Shredded materials (paper, cloth, etc.)
- Strong urine smell
If you indeed find a lot of these signs, contacting your local exterminator for treatment options is the best way forward to assess a proper plan in the future and the relevant costs associated with it. Check out Angie’s List page for The Top 10 Rodent & Mice Control in Your Area.
Why It Smells So Strong
What is it that makes the urine stink so bad?
Scientific studies show that the strong, pungent smell of mouse urine comes from a chemical they produce (more specifically, the male mouse) called “Trimethylamine.” Through this chemical signal, they can communicate and repel other predators such as rats and other rodents.
Another reason the smell is so distinctive is the protein they have also found in male mice called “Darcin,” which is used to mark territory to attract female mice. These scent markings are what causes mice to return to the place where other mice urinate frequently. It is shown that female mice return the most frequently, whereas the male ones typically come back to strengthen the scent or make sure another male has not marked the same spot.
This is a good indication that if your oven smells like pee, mice may very well be mating there and birthing other mice. The female mouse can have multiple litters each year, birthing six baby mice as soon as 25 days between pregnancies. That totals to about 35 babies in a year per adult female mouse to become a problem quite quickly.
Removing Urine Smell From Oven
There are several products that can be used to get rid of the strong urine smell of mice. There is, however, the condition that they have not urinated in the fiber-glass insulation of your oven. There is a solution to this as well, but it requires that your model has removable panels so that you may replace the insulation if it is soaked with urine.
To begin, here is a list of reputable urine removal products:
- Clorox Urine Remover (available on Amazon.com)
- Resolve Urine Destroyer Spray (available on Amazon.com)
- Biokleen Bac-Out Natural Enzymatic Oder & Stain Remover (available on Amazon.com)
For procedural instructions on how to properly disinfect, read the CDC’s info page on Cleaning Up After Rodents.
With Self-Cleaning Feature
Some ovens have a setting to make your job easier.
Suppose you have the luck of having a self-cleaning oven. In that case, you can set it to a high heat cycle to help, but remember to clean the oven by hand and make sure there is no urine in the fiber-glass insulation first; otherwise, the heat could make the smell even stronger while filling up the entire kitchen or possibly the entire home.
Without Self-Cleaning Feature
You may need to put more time in and use more products.
While a good once-over may be sufficient, you may still discover that the odor remains after you’ve begun to cook again. Provided that you’ve made sure there is no fiber-glass affected, try cleaning your oven more rigorously before considering any other options.
To check the insulation, please contact your appliance supplier for the proper instructions on how to remove the panels, and ask them how much fiber-glass replacements cost. While you are speaking to them, ask how you can safely check the electric wires to ensure the mice have not chewed through any of them. Then you can proceed to clean your oven.
Here is a step-by-step list:
- Unplug your oven.
- Remove the racks from the oven.
- Place something on the floor beneath to protect it.
- Put on some safety equipment (glasses, gloves, mask, etc.).
- Spray the cleaning agent throughout (avoid heating elements).
- Let it sit for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Take the racks to the bathtub and spray them with a cleaning solution.
- Scrub the oven walls from the top down.
- Wipe the walls again with the water-filled cloth to rinse.
- Repeat steps 7 and 8 for the racks.
- Put the racks back into the oven.
Although it is unpleasant to deal with a urine-soaked oven and a general mice problem on top of it, most of these steps are easy to do and could save you from a lot of trouble. Resuming the steps mentioned, make sure you check over your entire home to take care of any mouse infestation to prevent this from happening again! Then make sure the fiber-glass is not affected. Cleaning your oven should be enough afterward.
Prevention is also important. Remember to clean your oven once every three to six months, depending on how often you use it. Have a look behind your oven every now and then to clear it from food and grease, which attracts rodents and insects, to begin with.