How To Dispose of Trapped or Killed Pests in the Home

mice trapped

There exists a common yet seldomly talked about issue in DIY pest control: what do you do with dead or trapped pests? Destroying indoor pests is a relief but there are some circumstances where the dead pests can still spread germs in the home. In addition, what do you do with serious pests like rodents or bed bugs that are trapped in holding containers to make sure the pests do not escape?

To dispose of dead or trapped pests, you have to make sure you dispose of the pest according to the pest’s behavior. Cockroaches and ants can be swept up and thrown into trash cans but pests like rodents or bed bugs need to be removed from the home completely to prevent reinfestation. 

In this guide, we will explore how to properly dispose of dead pests and what to do with trapped pests that are not yet dead. Some pests are easy to dispose of but there are also some safety precautions to keep in mind with disease-carrying pests. Additionally, trapped rodents or bed bugs can still be dangerous due to escape or reinfestation concerns, so this guide will explore all solutions for a wide range of indoor pests. 

How To Dispose of Common Pests in the Home

The first instinct many of us have when cleaning up dead pests is to simply sweep the pests into a dustpan and empty the contents into a trash bag. This is the common-sense method and is all you need for practically any dead pest. 

But dead pests can still carry diseases, and even attract living pests due to pheromones being released that draw them indoors. Let’s take a look at some of the common indoor pests and how to best dispose of them during and after treatment. 


Dead cockroaches
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Cockroaches come in many different varieties and sizes but by far the most alarming trait of these pests are the germs and diseases they can carry. When you kill a cockroach, these germs are still very much present and will continue to spread across surfaces and floors. 

Since cockroaches are a type of pest that hides and multiplies rapidly, residual insecticides are typically the most effective treatments against them. It’s normal to see roaches after extermination treatments, and it’s also normal to see baby roaches after extermination. When dying, they come out into the light, and eventually, you will stop seeing them as they all die. 

But the problem with wide-scale treatments and disposing of the pests is that you need to avoid cleaning after roach extermination so the pesticide has the best chance of killing as many roaches as possible.

How To Clean Up After Cockroaches While Avoiding Removal of Residual Insecticides

The day or even an hour after treatment application, cockroaches come out of the walls, woodwork, or wherever even in the daytime or even if the light is on. Could it be that the chemicals in the spray attract roaches? No. It’s a good sign when seeing roaches after extermination treatments, even if you see more roaches than you ever have in your life. This seeming invasion means the roaches are dying.

The poison in the pesticide, whether delivered in a spray or a food bait, messes with the roach’s nervous system. It may also affect its thinking process or what passes for thinking in cockroaches. Roaches will often run in small circles before they die. They often do not even run away from you when you lean over to kill them or suck them up with a vacuum.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, vacuuming kills the bugs and also offers a great way to dispose of the pests. Insecticide labels will usually give you a list of instructions for making sure the pesticide you sprayed has the best chance of killing the roaches. Because of the smell of the sprays, you may be tempted to clean the sprayed areas. Resist the temptation. 

Cleaning after roach extermination treatments removes the very stuff you just paid for to be put down to kill the cockroaches. One safe way to clean is to vacuum. It’s best to use gloves so you do not get into contact with roaches or their droppings, even if using a vacuum. Roach droppings can make you sick, so you do not want to touch them if at all possible. 

Be sure to empty the vacuum or change the bag after use, just in case a roach or roach egg just happens to survive and crawl back out of the machine. Roaches like floors because they know that’s where the food falls. Floors also provide many hiding places where they can zip to in an instant. That is why exterminators and DIY treatments concentrate on spraying the floors and baseboards and any cabinets at floor level. 

For roaches that die in these inaccessible areas, wait until the infestation is completely destroyed, typically between 2-3 weeks, and then reach the areas in the best way that you can to remove the dead roaches.


Just like cockroaches, dead ants can become numerous once you treat an infestation. Thankfully, ants do not carry as many germs and diseases as cockroaches. But it still makes for an unsightly mess and their carcasses can attract more ants due to the pheromones released along their trails. 

Since ant baits and gels work best in destroying ants at the source, your biggest concern would be cleaning up any dead ants that you sprayed with an insecticide. If the dead ants are on the floor, you can vacuum them up and then empty the contents of the vacuum canister in an outdoor trash bin. Alternatively, you could also wipe up the dead ants with paper towels. 

Next, you will want to clean and sanitize all areas where the dead ants were lying. You can use any all-purpose spray cleaner for this if the dead ants were on counter surfaces or, you can mop the areas on the floor after removing the dead ants.   


Dead termites
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Cleaning up dead termites is a bit tricky. There are many different life stages of termites in addition to a few different varieties. Let’s take a closer look at the behavior patterns of 3 different termite types and how best to dispose of them. 

Flying Termites

When termites are flying, they are either mating or seeking a new wooden structure to infest and colonize. It isn’t so much a matter of will they get into your home to eat wood, it is more a matter of they are actively seeking wood to start a new colony. Since the wood inside of your home is ample and undisturbed, they will seek this out.

Sometimes, you may find lots of tiny wings on the floor. After termites pair up to reproduce, they shed their wings and settle down to start a new colony. Even if you didn’t see the actual swarm of flying termites, you might find evidence of their reproductive frenzy in a pile of little termite wings on the floor.

But shed wings do not mean that these termites have died. After termites swarmers have completed the mating process and have successfully found a new structure to colonize, they will shed their wings and start to work on establishing a new colony. One positive thing about finding termite wings is that this usually means you are very close to the structure that is housing the new colony, which will make the inspection process much easier.

Therefore, you can easily clean up wings or even dead flying termites but this also means that termites are likely infesting nearby wood. 

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites live almost their entire lives exclusively in wood or underground. This means that it is very rare to see them even once you have effectively killed them during treatment. As long as any wood containing this termite species has been treated, you can measure the activity of the termite life cycle by if the wood is no longer suffering termite damage. 

There is also the nasty mess that can be made from termite frass. Once you have identified frass and droppings and used the process of elimination to know which insect you are dealing with, you can begin to clean up the droppings and frass before you begin your treatment. Cleaning is simple and can be achieved with a broom and dustpan. Always wear a mask and gloves to avoid breathing in or touching the substances.

Drywood Termites

The most common method of treating furniture infested with Drywood termites is to inject a termiticide directly into the wood and allow it to penetrate deep into the infested pieces. This type of treatment is generally effective in killing all active termites in your furniture. 

This can be done by saturating the furniture in the liquid and isolating it inside of a sealed contractor bag or container, or injecting the nozzle of an insecticide sprayer directly into all cracks and holes on the outside of the furniture and spraying the insides.

If DIY measures fail, a pest control professional can be called in to fumigate the termites inside of your furniture; fumigation involves surrounding the structure with a gas-tight tarp, releasing the gas inside the seal, and filling the structure with gas for a pre-set exposure time. Drywood termites will typically die inside of the structure they have infested so removal of the pests will not always be necessary. 

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Flies and Maggots

Cleaning up dead flies is usually easy and self-explanatory; simply pick the dead flies up with a paper towel or gloves and dispose of them. If trapped flies are stuck on sticky traps, this is not a pretty sight by any means, but unless the trap is filled you can leave it up to ensure the stuck flies die on the trap. Replace the traps once they become crowded. 

Maggots are much more difficult and unappealing to dispose of. If the maggots are still alive and crawling on surfaces, you can use a flying insect killer to spray the insects for a contact kill. With dead maggots, you will need to thoroughly spray the surface with a strong surface cleaner that also sanitizes. 

Remove all the maggots with paper towels and then spray the surface again and wipe up any residue and ensure the surface is thoroughly sanitized. 

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How To Dispose of Bed Bugs

Like termites, bed bugs are also a mysterious pest that remains hidden for most of their lives. Once you have effectively allowed residual insecticides or heat treatments to destroy an infestation, there will be instances where you will need to clean up after bugs. For dead bed bugs, the most obvious spots to clean will be the hiding places on the bed and its frame and headboard. 

You will have to make sure the bed bugs are in fact dead and this includes their eggs as well. If you disturb an active infestation, this can cause the bugs to run and hide and infest deep crevices in the walls and surrounding furniture. If you want to salvage your bed or furniture after the infestation is destroyed, you can use a surface cleaner to remove the eggs and bed bug waste, molted skins, and carcasses. Place all the waste in a trash bag and seal it before throwing the bag into an outside trash can. 

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Since any effective bed bug treatment will involve encasing the mattress and box spring, you will likely need to leave these on for at least 16 months since some bed bug strains can go this long without feeding. Many choose to leave these encasements on indefinitely until it is time to buy a new bed. 

There is also the issue of trapped, live bed bugs in products like bed bug interceptors. These products work to keep bed bugs from outside the bed crawling up the bed legs and into the bed to feed. 

Each day, you will likely notice live bed bugs in the bottom of the interceptor and there are a few things to keep in mind with this. 

Do not flush the bugs since there is the possibility the bugs could float back up into the toilet. The best method is to use Diatomaceous Earth or Cimexa powder lightly sprinkled into the holding tray of the interceptor. Within 24-48 hours, these products will kill the trapped bugs and you can then dispose of them in a sealed trash bag. 

When it comes to bed bugs, you want to make certain these pests are dead before attempting to clean up. 

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How To Dispose of a Mouse in a Trap

One of the biggest concerns many homeowners have with pests is how to dispose of a dead or living mouse in a trap. There is also the bigger problem of what to do with a living trapped mouse. 

For dead mice in traps, the most important thing to keep in mind is sanitation. Rodents can carry diseases, therefore, always make sure you are wearing gloves when attempting to dispose of them. 

If you want to continue using the trap, you will have to pry the dead mouse off of the trap and dispose of it in a sealed trash bag. Otherwise, you can dispose of the trap and the mouse and be sure to double-bag the waste and tie it down so no air can escape and pass germs. 

Always spray the area with a mixture of bleach and water or a powerful antibacterial spray. 

For a live mouse on a glue trap, you can place the mouse on the trap in a container and travel at least a mile or two from your home or any desolate or wooded area at least this far. Place the mouse and trap on the ground and pour some sort of oil on the trap and the mice’s feet to loosen the feet from the glue. This will allow the mouse to escape into the wilderness. 

Dispose of all containers and the glue trap.  

How To Dispose of Rats

Disposing of rats is a bit more alarming since rats carry potentially lethal diseases and can be aggressive. You can repeat all of the above processes for handling dead or live mice but you will need to take extra precautions. 

In addition to wearing sturdy gloves, make sure you also wear a mask with a filter to ensure you do not breathe in a dead rat’s fumes. Once you dispose of the dead rat in sealed trash bags, thoroughly clean the area surrounding the dead rat with bleach solution.

For a live rat, it is best to contact a pest control professional to handle this situation unless you can be extra careful to ensure never touching the rat. 

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Can you get sick from breathing in dead pests?

When it comes to dead rodents, there is the possibility that you can breathe in certain germs or particles that can lead to sickness. Always wear a strong and durable mask when cleaning up after dead rodents, and it may help to do the same when cleaning up dead cockroaches. 

Be sure you are wearing durable gloves and always clean and sanitize the area. 

Do dead bed bugs attract live bed bugs?

Certain dead bugs inside the home can emit pheromones that may attract other insects, specifically insects of the same species. Since most insects are curious by nature, this can draw in live bugs to see what it was that was attracting the dead bug to the area. 

Is it okay to vacuum rodent droppings?

It is advisable not to vacuum up rodent droppings since the waste can contain many different germs and pathogens that can cause illness. You can vacuum up droppings if you vacuum has a container that can be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after disposing of the droppings.

Can you get sick from a dead rat smell?

The smell or odors emitting from a dead rat are unpleasant, but generally, you have to be very close to the dead rat to breathe in any germs or pathogens. Once you have disposed of and cleaned up after a dead rat, opening all windows and doors in the home is suggested to allow the smell to escape.

How do you clean up dead pests behind walls?

Many types of pests will die in areas that are not commonly accessible, such as behind walls or within cracks and crevices. For rodents that die behind walls, the bad news is that unless you want to go through the process of removing the walls or drilling into the foundation of your home, the only real option is to try and neutralize the odor as much as possible. 

Insects do not usually emit a powerful odor during the decomposition process, however, there may be instances where a strong odor is present once something like a bed bug colony has been eradicated. You can clean up these areas with a powerful cleaner and it will also help to open all windows and doors in the home to ventilate the house. 

Overall, the best way to eliminate smells from dead pests is to try your best to locate the dead carcasses and remove the bodies from the home. If this isn’t possible due to inaccessibility, ventilate the home and try to neutralize the odors. 


In summary, disposing of indoor pests is not as easy as just sweeping and mopping. Some pests, like bed bugs and rodents, require special measures to ensure that no live-trapped bugs or rodents escape back into the home. Always be sure to wear gloves and a mask if disposing of dead rodents and this can also be helpful when cleaning up after cockroaches.

If you do not want to tackle the mess on your own, you can contact a pest control professional to come and handle the situation for you and help to prevent insects from infesting your home in the future. 

Mike Henderson
Mike Henderson

Mike is a pest control operator from New York with over 15 years experience dealing with a wide range of pests. He shares his knowledge on this blog and provides useful information to help you combat pests on your own.

For severe infestations and professional advice you can also request a free pest control quote here.

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