Removing Urine Odor from Stored Lumber

Can the smell of rat urine be removed from stored rough lumber before milling it? Here are some suggested remedies. October 8, 2005

Rats have urinated all over a stack of red oak and maple lumber that I have stacked in storage. Does anyone have any ideas on removing the smell?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor A:
I have some red oak that I had stored in my Dad's barn and some cows got in and fouled it up pretty bad (both ways). I wire wheeled it off and then planed it down. Still, everytime I mill it, the smell is very strong. I do not notice it at all when finished. I am not sure how saleable it would be to the public though.

From the original questioner:
This is kiln dried, planed 13/16ths. I ran a piece through the planer and it stunk up the entire shop. It's only trace amounts, but thatís all it takes. I'm sure after finishing it will be fine, but I donít want to stink up my shop while processing it. I was hoping for wipe down with a rag and a solution, maybe lacquer thinner or something. I was hoping someone else had been down this road before.

From contributor B:
I don't believe you will ever get the smell out. It has sunk into the wood. It's possible to seal it in with polyurethane, but building with it is going to stink. There are also serious health issues with rat and mice leavings that you would be better off not dealing with. I think the lumber is a loss, unless used for a project like outside fence boards etc.

From contributor B:
Something else to add - Mice got into a box of Christmas ornaments years ago, old glass ones, and we tried everything to get the smell off the glass. We finally had to junk them. I'm never out of D-CON now, and no more mice.

From contributor C:
A solution of liquid laundry bleach (Clorox) (1 cup per gallon) will work. Caution - This may bleach the wood. Try it on a small area if bleaching may be a problem. The bleach must come in contact with the spot where the secretion was sprayed. Repeated applications may be necessary for large amounts of the rat spray.

From contributor D:
If you use Clorox, make sure you follow up that treatment with vinegar or other neutralizing agent to neutralize the bleach. Otherwise you could have serious problems with your finish in the future, i.e., the chlorine left in the wood will attract moisture and weep from the wood.

From contributor E:
Try 50-50 white vinegar or try the stuff they sell at pet stores to get rid of urine odors from pets (usually about $18.00/gallon).

From contributor G:
There are a number of enzyme treatments for urine available. Try one called Nature's Miracle, from Pets'N People.These enzymes actually break down the urine into odorless compounds that could be washed out of the wood.

From contributor H:
We get a product at Sam's Club called Odo-Ban. This seems to work pretty good on our pet odors.

From contributor J:
Before you bleach or plane your wood you may want to try a product that I have been using since 1995 and marketing since 1999. It's called OdorXit Concentrate. We have successfully used it extensively in housing rehabs where you run into all sorts of urine and feces. It works on wood, concrete, clothes, drywall, cars, trucks and a bunch of other material and odors. There is no staining, no bleaching, and no permanent odor. This is not a cover-up. It really gets rid of the odor forever.