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A family member accidentaly vacuumed up some mouse droppings, and I was wondering what I should do with the vacuum to prevent the spreading of Hanta virus and similar nasties. It's a shop vacuum with a HEPA filter, and I have already changed the dust bag and the normal air filter. Should I also change the HEPA filter, or is that more than what's needed?

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From the Illinois Department of Public Health

The hantavirus is destroyed by detergents and readily available disinfectants such as diluted household bleach or products containing phenol (e.g., Lysol®). Choose an agent that is compatible with the item, object or area to be cleaned and disinfected.

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I would change all filters, bags etc, clean out all dust that you can, and spray in an amount of liquid disinfectant with the vac running so it dissipates through the system, BEFORE fitting the new filters/bag.

(although you dont specify if this is a vac capable of handling liquids, a little spray disinfectant is unlikely to cause any damage)

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Unless you have a certified HEPA vac, the viruses pass right through the filter, you're only capturing the ones adhered to larger material. Spray some spray Lysol into the vacuum inlet while it's running. Enough to dampen the passage ways, not to get it soaking wet. That amount of moisture will not hurt anything. Let it fully dry in a warm dry place before using it again. – bcworkz Oct 16 '13 at 2:26
Just a note, DONT use any sort of flammable liquid (eg alcohol) when you do this!!! - I can see the whole thing exploding if the fuel/air mixture is right!! – Digital Lightcraft Oct 16 '13 at 9:18
@DarkcatStudios What would be the ignition source? – Tester101 Oct 16 '13 at 10:00
@Tester101 - the motor! – Digital Lightcraft Oct 16 '13 at 10:11
@DarkcatStudios If the dust and dirt goes through the motor on your vacuum, you should return it. The motor should be isolated from the junk flowing through the vacuum. – Tester101 Oct 16 '13 at 10:13

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