How to Keep Mice Out of Storage Units
One out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage.
When we store away our belongings, we expect them to be safe and damage-free until the next time they are needed. Sometimes we end up with an unpleasant surprise when we go to retrieve our stored goods, though. Pests love to infest undisturbed places that provide protection from the elements; places like storage units, sheds, basements, attics, and garages.
We put together information on signs you may have pests in your storage area, and how to keep them away.
Pests Can Cause a Lot of Problems
Rodents are the most common pests found in storage units. Mice and rats, in particular, find their way into storage units and quickly multiply. Experts in stealth and acrobatics, rodents are able to squeeze through the tiniest cracks and crevices, entering without attracting any attention. Rodent teeth are surprisingly tough, and even if there is no apparent entry point, oftentimes they can gnaw on wood and chew through drywall to make their own private entrance.
Once inside, these pests will nibble on just about anything including furniture, bedding, cardboard, plastic, and electrical wiring. They chew constantly to shred the materials they need for nesting and because it feels good on their teeth.
Aside from these destructive habits, rodent infestations pose a number of health threats, too. A single mouse can produce 40 to 100 droppings per day, damaging property and spreading diseases like salmonella and Hantavirus. Their droppings and dander can also cause problems for people with asthma and allergies.
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Ways to Keep Mice Out of a Storage Unit
Most people don’t frequent their storage units, giving rodents plenty of time to destroy personal items. This can put a huge burden on your checkbook when it comes to cleanup or replacement, not to mention any heirlooms that may be irreplaceable.
Storage facilities are often blamed for rodent infestations occurring on their sites, but there isn’t much they can do to prevent tenants from bringing in items that ultimately attract these pests. Additionally, most laws prohibit operators from entering a rented storage unit. This is why most contracts state that the facility is not responsible for damages caused by vermin and other forces of nature.
Fortunately, you can rely on the power of prevention to help stop pest problems before they begin. Natural pest control is safe, easy, and effective — especially when you plan ahead. Taking a few extra steps when storing your personal property will ensure that you can retrieve it in the same condition as when you left it in storage. Here are some tips to consider:
- Examine the space before using it for storage, looking for any evidence of unwanted pests or insects such as pawprints, droppings, or foul odors.
- Clean items before placing them in storage to remove anything that rodents or insects may find attractive, like food residue and crumbs from kitchen items or pheromone trails from other pests.
- We recommend that you don’t store food items. But if you absolutely must store food, go with canned food. Also, consider a climate-controlled storage room to prevent cans from freezing or heating to the point of bursting. If you store other foods like freeze-dried food or pet food, use sealed containers with airtight lids.
- Store items in airtight, chew-proof metal or plastic containers if possible, and avoid cardboard boxes. Plastic totes are affordable and can hold a lot of belongings.
- Utilize shelves, tables, racks, and even pallets to keep your items off the ground. Mice have more trouble crawling up slippery objects like table legs so this adds an additional obstacle.
- Protect items with fabric such as upholstered furniture with tightly wrapped plastic. Bugs and mice love to dig through the fabric and will ruin your furniture if it’s not covered.
- Create an invisible barrier that no rat, mouse, or bug will want to cross with a scent-based repellent like Fresh Cab®. Our pouches are made with botanical ingredients including balsam fir oil and other essential oils that work to create a smell that’s offensive to rodents, but not to humans.
Another consideration is to look for an insurance policy that covers rodent damage to your stored items. If the storage company doesn’t cover rodent damage (and many don’t), look for a 3rd party insurance policy.
Know the Signs of a Mouse Infestation
If you’re thinking you already have a pest problem in your storage space, here are the signs to look for:
- Gnaw marks on your storage containers, cardboard boxes, wood items, and the like are evidence that something has been looking for food or sharpening its tiny teeth.
- Nests, or piles of shredded material hidden in sheltered spots like under cabinets and dressers or behind appliances. Rodents like to be cozy and warm and will use whatever they can find to build themselves a comfortable nest to call home.
- Tracks can often be found on and around your items which will help you identify what type of pest you’re dealing with. Mice have the smallest feet and rats drag their tail, so look for a long dust-free line between the feet marks. Since most people don’t spend a lot of time cleaning self-storage units, there should be plenty of dust to help you play detective.
- If your pets accompany you to your storage unit, there’s a good chance they’ll set off the pest alert alarm for you. Pets tend to get excited if there are critters lurking nearby.
If you discover the issue in your storage area, it’s time to start working to get rid of the mice. Thoroughly cleaning everything and following the CDC guidelines for cleaning up mouse droppings should be the first step.
Consider placing Fresh Cab® pouches in your storage unit to help get rid of the pests and prevent them from returning in the future.