Best Ways to Get Rid of Mice Around the Home
By : Rita Stadler
Once a homeowner has noticed signs of mice or seen an actual mouse in their house, it’s hard to focus on anything else besides getting rid of these pests.
These sneaky creatures often make their way into your home, barn, or farm equipment during the cooler months when they are looking for a place to stay warm. Not only are they unsightly, but they can also be a health risk.
There are plenty of repellent products and traps available to help get rid of mice, but not all of them are safe (or effective, for that matter). We’ll take a look at some of the best DIY and natural ways to get these pests out of your home, along with some we don’t recommend.
Don’t let their cute little faces fool you – mice can pose a threat to your family’s health and safety. Here’s why.
Mice and other rodents carry a number of diseases and bacteria, including, but not limited to, hantavirus, Lassa fever, leptospirosis, and plague. You don’t have to come in direct contact with a mouse to get sick; eating or drinking anything that’s contaminated with their urine or feces puts you at risk. You can even contract some of the illnesses from breathing contaminated air. This means if you discover signs of these pests in your home, it’s important to follow the Centers for Disease Control instructions on cleaning up after an infestation.
Aside from spreading illness, rodents have a remarkable ability to chew through all sorts of materials. From drywall to insulation, these little critters can cause some serious damage to your home. In fact, a mouse infestation may even increase the chances of house fire since they’re capable of chewing through wires.
With all this in mind, a mouse problem is not something you should ignore. If you notice any signs of mice living in your home, it’s important to take prompt action before the problem gets any worse.
How They Get in the House
Like most critters, they are attracted to warmth, shelter, and food. Fall and winter are popular times for them to migrate into human abodes, so it’s especially important to be vigilant about looking out for them during these seasons.
They can enter a home in a number of ways, including vents, chimneys, utility lines, and an existing hole or opening. You might be surprised at how small of an opening mice can squeeze through – about a quarter of an inch! – so it’s imperative to pay attention and seal off any holes or cracks you may find, no matter how big or small. Steel wool makes an effective sealant, as it’s one of the few materials that they can’t chew through.
How to Get Rid of Mice
There are different ways often used to help get rid of mice naturally. Here are the methods we will explore:
- Botanical rodent repellents
- Sealing all entry points
- Thoroughly cleaning your home
- Taking away their food sources
- Peppermint oil
If you’re concerned about using harsh chemicals or poisons in your home, there are several other repellent options to explore. Fresh Cab® and Stay Away® Rodent are botanical rodent repellents made from fast-acting, plant-based ingredients.
Rodents have terrible eyesight but a great sense of smell and they don’t want to nest in a place where they can’t smell danger coming. These convenient pouches slowly release an odor of balsam fir, lavender, and other essential oils that is offensive to rodents but pleasant to humans.
They are also easy to use. Simply place one pouch per eight square feet wherever you’ve seen rodent activity. Replace after 30 days or when the scent diminishes. Once an infestation is cleared, to prevent them from coming back, place one pouch per 125 sq ft. in areas you want to keep rodent-free and rest easy while you enjoy 30 days of protection.
Seal Off Entry Points
Do a thorough inspection of your home and seal any holes or cracks that you find. You want to cut these rodents off at every point of entry. Fill any openings the size of a quarter or larger with steel wool since mice can’t chew through it and the material actually irritates their teeth. Reinforce this by sealing the area around the opening with caulking.
For large openings, the CDC recommends using cement, lath metal, hardware cloth, or sheet metal to keep mice out.
Aside from cracks or holes in your home’s walls or foundations, here are some other common ways they can enter your home and how to seal them:
- Doors – It may seem obvious, but open doors invite rodents to enter the home. Use a screen door during the summer months if you prefer to keep your door open (make sure the screen is fully intact).
- Windows – Inspect your windows for cracks or gaps, and check your screens to make sure there are no holes or tears.
- Vents and Chimneys – Install screens into these areas for additional protection.
- Utility Lines – Any openings for utility lines in your home should be sealed with caulk to prevent unwanted guests from entering your home.
Cleaning Your House Thoroughly
Getting rid of mice starts with keeping your home clean. Clutter offers these pests many places to hide and nest, while food scraps and spills make for an easy meal. The trick is to make your home as uninviting to them as possible so they must leave to find food and housing elsewhere.
Clean your house as thoroughly as possible. Wipe down your countertops and sweep your floors. Clean up any crumbs or other tasty morsels these pests may find. Vacuum often and wipe up any spills promptly. Clean every nook and cranny that a mouse may want to call home. Keep your home organized and free of clutter and debris by cleaning well and often.
If the mice can’t smell anything inviting or find a safe place to hide, they will be less likely to try to come in.
Seal Your Food
Where there is food, there are mice. Don’t encourage them by offering up snacks. Keep all of your stored food items, including pet food, in glass, metal, or plastic air-tight containers. While it’s unsettling to think about rodents coming into your kitchen or pantry—it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Other ways to help prevent them from finding food include:
- Use animal-proof garbage bins
- Store your garbage and compost far from your home—if possible
- Eliminate water sources like leaky faucets and pipes
Ensuring all of your food is stored away safely will help to take away their food sources.
Peppermint essential oil is a natural product that can work for repelling mice indoors or outdoors, but there are a few issues with this method. It can help to repel them, but it may not work so well for existing infestations.
The common approach is to add five to six drops of pure peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball and leave one in each area that’s prone to mice. Once they smell the strong scent of peppermint, they will likely scatter.
The oil will dissipate quickly on the cotton balls, so you will need to replace them up to a couple of times a week (when you stop smelling the peppermint, it’s time to replace them). If you have a mouse problem outside, the cotton balls will need to stay dry in order for them to hold their scent.
Make sure that the peppermint oil you use is labeled as 100% pure — otherwise, it won’t give you the results you want.
Methods We Don’t Recommend
There are other methods often used for pest control that we don’t recommend.
There are two main types of mouse traps: snap traps and glue traps. Snap traps are triggered when a rodent walks across the trap, causing it to snap shut on them. Glue traps feature a sticky adhesive that binds to the unsuspecting critter as it walks across. The mouse will eventually die if it is trapped long enough.
The biggest downsides of traps are the mess and cruelty. You’ll have to deal with a dead mouse, which is not only disgusting but it also puts you at risk of contracting disease. Between setting the traps and cleaning up the ensuing mess, they can be a lot of work.
Mothballs, although toxic, are an inexpensive method often tried.
The approach usually taken is to remove several mothballs directly from the box and place them in the areas inhabited by rodents, specifically in attics, pipes, garages or basements, and away from human and pet traffic.
It’s important to exercise caution with this method. Mothballs contain harmful chemicals and should not be used in non-ventilated areas. This method can be extremely dangerous to not only humans but pets as well. If a child or pet eats a mothball, they can become very sick.
Commercial rat poison is typically made of a combination of chemicals that are designed to kill rodents. The active ingredients range from anticoagulants (blood thinners) to bromethalin (a central nervous system toxin) to cholecalciferol (vitamin D3).
Unfortunately, rat poison poses a danger to your other furry friends, too. Cats and dogs are susceptible to ingesting the poison, and the consequences can be fatal. If you suspect that your pet has ingested rat poison, contact the Animal Poison Control Center’s emergency hotline immediately.
Prevention Is Key
When you’ve discovered mouse droppings or have seen these pests running around your home, it’s time to take action. Getting rid of the problem is step one, and then preventing them from coming back is just as important.
Stay Away® Rodent’s mix of plant-based ingredients creates a fast-acting way to get rid of mice and prevent them from returning. It’s a Naturally Smarter® alternative to poisons and traps that’s safe to use around kids and pets when used as directed.
Place pouches in your basement, pantry, closet, attic, crawl space, and any other place you want to prevent them from entering.