Repel Mice

12 Natural and Highly Effective Ways to Get Rid of Mice

eastern house mouse
Written by John Wells

Contents

When the temperatures start to drop, mice start to look for warm places. Preferably somewhere with lots of food, like your pantry. Or the cereal cupboard. Whether they’re house mice, field mice, or rats, these 12 natural infestation cures will make your home inhospitable to them. All while keeping you and your family safe and cozy.

mouse in the house

 What is a “Natural” Mouse-Removal Remedy?

Here, we’re saying that anything that doesn’t use poison is natural. That includes everything from deterrents to traps and effective hole-patching methods. As long as the method is fairly harmless to humans and most common house pets, it gets the okay. 

Who really wants poison in their home? For most, there are just too many risks. Between the potential for pets or children to get ahold of it and the risk that the mice might store it in your bakeware, it’s just not worth it. That, and half-poisoned rats or large mice can go wandering into a neighbors home or yard, potentially being eaten by their pets. Mouse poisons can cause all sorts of chaos. And that’s only if the mice will even eat it. 

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint Oil

This “remedy” is first for a reason. If you have a serious mouse infestation, you’ve probably seen it on a dozen other lists and blogs already. The thing is, most of that information is wrong. Of every remedy out there, the ones using peppermint essential oil almost always contain misinformation.

Does peppermint EO work as a mouse deterrent? Yes, just not in the way most people say it does. If you have gardening experience, you may have heard of the term “companion planting.” That means you plant something, say peppermint, next to a plant that tends to get bugs on it, like squash. The mint smells so strong that the squash bugs can’t find your squash. It’s like camouflage.

Peppermint EO can do something similar to mice. It smells unappetizing. To that effect, the most useful way to use peppermint EO is to place a good amount on a few cotton balls and place them inside your pantry or around, on top of, and under cupboards used to store food. If the mice can’t find your food, the less they’ll have to eat and the less reason they’ll have to stick around.

Other Essential Oil Combinations

Don’t like peppermint or just don’t have it on hand? Other essential oils will do the trick. Most astringent EOs happen to be just as unpleasant to mice. Cloves are a nice scent for fall, especially around the holidays. Juniper is nice, too. It has a sort of balmy, medicinal or “clean” scent. You can mix and match them, too.

A word of caution: Don’t place soaked rags or cotton balls within reach of children or pets. Though they shouldn’t be fatal if ingested, they may cause upset stomach and vomiting. Further, all essential oil users should be aware that no EO should come in direct contact with skin, human or animal.

Cedar Balls and Wood Chips

Cedar Balls and Wood Chips

Prefer not to use messy oils? How about simply placing a few dry, cedar balls around vulnerable areas? These deodorizing balls or blocks of cedar can be purchased online but if you prefer a faster, local solution, farm stores typically sell cedar chips as animal bedding. These can be tied in a loose cloth bag or pillowcase and placed in the are that need protection.

Whether you prefer chips or shaped cedar wood, remember that the scent is just a cloaking mechanism. It won’t actually make the mice turn tail and run. Further, the longer the cedar wood sits out, the dryer it gets. Eventually, the compounds that create the cedar wood’s strong scent will dissipate and the wood will need to be replaced. Fresh cedar wood deterrents will need to be changed out every 18 to 24 months.

Traps – The Hands-On Approach to Being Mice Free

humane mouse trap

This can be a bit of a loaded topic. Suffice it to say, there are two types of traps, “humane” and “inhumane”. Both are arguably natural methods, though you really need to be careful while setting any traps, the worst you’re likely to get are sore fingertips.

“Humane” traps are typically traps that are set up so that, when the mouse or rat enters the trap to eat the bait, the animal is trapped inside. For one type of homemade humane trap, you can use an empty aquarium with a rod propped over top, hoping the mouse will fall. Another version has a box or bowl propped up with a pencil or coin so that any movement will cause it to fall over the mouse.

In either scenario, be sure that once you have caught your mouse and intend to release it, you release it at least a mile away from your house. Depending on your geography, you may need to drop it off 2 miles away or on the other side of a large body of water to ensure that it doesn’t return.

As far as “inhumane” traps go, classic “snap” traps are the most effective. Of these, the black plastic traps with the metal bar are the best value. Though they kill the mice instantly in most cases, if they happen to be caught the wrong way, or manage to partially flee, it may be a few minutes before they die. These traps may be reused and require no batteries.

There are also a few other, less effective types of “inhumane” traps. These include electric traps that shock the mice to death, glue traps that trap the mice on a sticky surface until they starve, and buckets of water with a dowel suspended over them so the mice fall in and drown. These are not recommended as not only are they cruel, they have the added bonuses of being much more likely to spread bacteria and disease.

Clay and Plaster of Paris Mixtures

The point of clay or Plaster of Paris mixtures is that the mouse with eat them and then become dehydrated. Once they are dehydrated they should go in search of water. If you’ve done a clean sweep of the house and sealed up any places that the mice could get water, chances are that they’ll head outside to find it. If they can’t get out and remain dehydrated, they may become lethargic and confused, making them easier to catch. They may also die.

The best mixtures combine a liquid, a flavoring agent, and your dry clay-like powder or choice. The mixture should be set out on squares of cardboard or paper thick enough that the mixture won’t seep through. Place the squares in places that the mice frequent.

Common mixtures come in two flavors: Peanut Butter and Chocolate. In either case, combine 2 parts clay or Plaster of Paris and one part cocoa powder or peanut butter. Add a little water, a drop at a time, if needed, to create a paste. The paste should be harmless to most humans and average-sized pets if accidentally ingested in very small amounts. If you have dogs and ingestion may occur, even accidentally, you may want to opt for the peanut butter version and eliminate the risk of exposure to chocolate.

Cats and Guardian Animals

cat catch mouse

You can’t get much more natural than housing a natural mouse predator inside your home. Adopting a cat or another mouse hunting pet is a good way to keep your home pest free. However, not all cats or rat-hunting dogs have great instincts. If adopting a pet, consult with its handlers. If purchasing a puppy or kitten, ask the breeder about its parents predatory tendencies. In any case, a mouse-catching shouldn’t ever be the primary reason you adopt a pet.

Further, mice can pass on a variety of diseases. If you do decide to allow your pet to hunt them, make sure your pet has every possible vaccination. Do not allow them to eat the mice.

Better Storage

One of the easiest ways to keep your home mouse-free is to store your food better. As attracted to heat and shelter as mice are, the promise of an all you can eat buffet is much more tempting. Choose airtight containers or bins over leaving food on exposed shelves in it’s original packaging. By sealing your food away, you trap it’s scent, removing the temptation and save yourself the disappointment of having to throw out spoiled food later on.

Another useful tip: clear away brush around your house. Trim your hedges, sweep back mulch, and pull weeds. If you have any trees leading to upstairs windows or onto the roof, make sure your siding and window frames are air tight. Keep trees and shrubs trimmed to cut off any additional pathways mice have into your home.

Better Patching Materials

Search your home for access points and patch every hole. Even if it seems too small, a mouse can probably squeeze through. Remember, mice can squish through the grating in most standard heating and cooling vents- holes that your fingers may not even fit into. Stopping up those gaps and sealing your home will ensure a swift and lasting victory.

When you do patch those holes, remember to full them with something the mice can’t chew through. If a mouse can remember an access point, chances are they’ll try to use it again, even if it takes a little chewing. Steel wool or a wad of tin foil can be your best friend in a situation like this. Stuff them into cracks or holes before patching over them.

Check and Screen Your Vents and Chimneys

eastern house mouse

If you’ve ever had a mouse nest in your air vents, you know how very, very important this step is. Anyone that lives in a rural community or has a serious mouse problem must screen their vents and chimney, no questions asked. Further, make sure the screen is fairly easy to assess. If you don’t clean the screens regularly (quarterly), you’ll have a whole host of other problems to worry about.

This home remedy will keep your home free from reeking of mouse urine and, potentially, rotten mouse bodies. Many times, if poisoned or injured, a mouse will go home to die. If you’ve screened your vents, at least home won’t be in a primary air flow channel.

Use a Predator’s Scent

Keep in mind, this is a deterrent and deterrents have limitations. Best used in combination with a thorough sealing up of the home, spraying a predator’s scent around your home can discourage mice from trying to make their way in again.

All you need to do is go to a pet store or animal shelter and ask for some predator’s waste. Snake droppings and cast off skin or used kitty litter works best. If you happen to have either as a pet, at least you won’t have to bring it home in your car. The scent giving material may be lightly dug in the ground near any places vulnerable to mouse invasion.

Plant Some Herbs

Similar to how predator scents and EOs work, herbs, whether in beds near your door, window-boxes, or in pots placed strategically around the house, will camouflage more tempting items. Herbs with strong smells like mint or basil work best. Parsley, given it’s mild scent and flavor, may be eaten by the mice rather than put them off.

Deep Clean Everything

mouse on food

More than any other remedy on this list, make sure to keep your home clean and your food put away. The better the state of repair your house is in, the less likely a mouse will be able to find it’s way in. That means to no food waste, nothing to clean up after, and no need to set or empty any traps. The effort you put into maintenance before the mice get in will seem worth it when all your neighbors get mice and you, blissfully, have none.

Want to Virtually Guarantee You Have No Mice?

No one can say that you’ll have absolutely no rodents in your house. However,  these methods are the most effective available. If you’ve seen one mouse, chances are you have half a dozen. By using a combination of the methods listed above, your chances or cleaning up the infestation and preventing any in the future greatly increases.

About the author

John Wells

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