How To Get Rid Of Mice Naturally

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Almost everyone finds a mouse in their home at some point. Here’s how to get rid of them naturally and keep them away for good to prevent an infestation.

Gray mouse sits on sofa showing signs of mouse infestation including droppings and chewed upholstery

Finding a mouse in your home doesn’t mean you’re a bad housekeeper, but ignoring a mouse infestation does. That’s because mice carry at least 27 different diseases, all of which are dangerous to humans. In addition to the bacteria from their feces, mice droppings can bother those with allergies or asthma. Mice can also chew through wiring, leading to shorted electronics and even household fires.

Signs You Have Mice

If you’ve seen one mouse in your house, there are probably more that you haven’t seen yet. Mice like to hide in walls or behind furniture or appliances until they know the coast is clear — usually at night while you’re asleep. But seeing a mouse isn’t the only way to know you’ve got a problem. Other signs of mouse infestations include:

  • Finding droppings that look like dark grains of rice. (Bigger droppings indicate you’ve got rats.)
  • Seeing debris on your pantry shelves from gnawed food packaging or finding holes in cardboard food containers.
  • Discovering large holes chewed into blankets, furniture or mattress upholstery.
  • Finding pieces of fiberfill stuffing, tattered rags, or wood shavings in corners of unused rooms, under sinks, or behind appliances and heavy furniture.
  • Hearing scratching noises coming from your walls.
  • Finding gnawed electric wires or having your electronics suddenly stop working due.
  • Seeing your dog or cat stare at appliances or try scratching to get behind furniture.

How Mice Get Into Your Home

Like humans, mice want to live where they have access to food and water and can get comfortable without concerns about being disturbed. In colder or rainy seasons, your home is far more attractive to them than living outdoors. They don’t even need to wait for an invitation to enter: a mouse can enter your home through a crack as small as a dime.

How to Get Rid of Mice Naturally

Choose the Mouse Right Trap

When it comes to getting rid of mice, there’s really only one way to do it: with a trap. The type of trap you use depends on whether you want to do it naturally and without killing them or not.

Live Traps

These no-kill traps let you “catch and release” mice, but you must drive captured mice at least a mile away from your home before releasing them into the wild. This may require several trips if you have a bad infestation. Using these traps presents a health risk since you’ll necessarily come into contact with a mouse. For that reason, they’re not recommended in homes with pets or kids.

Snap Traps

These old-fashioned spring traps are easy to use and very inexpensive. You can find them in hardware stores. They almost always kill mice instantly, but seeing the dead mouse can be disturbing. Since the steel trap snaps shut so quickly, these traps are not safe for use in homes with pets or small children.

Electric Traps

These battery-operated traps administer lethal shocks to mice that crawl inside. They’re a little more expensive, but they’re also reusable. Unlike other types of traps, you don’t even have to see the dead mouse — remove the disposable chamber and dump it in the trash. This type of humane trap is safe for use around kids and most pets, too.

Bait Stations

This is poison in a dispenser. It’s a fairly quick, inexpensive solution if you have only one or two mice. But there’s a risk that a poisoned mouse will crawl into your walls to die, where it will start to smell for a few weeks. If you have pets, there’s a risk of them eating a poisoned mouse and getting sick, too.

Use a Bait that Attracts Mice

Although you may have seen cheese used to bait mouse traps in cartoons, peanut butter works better. Mice can smell it from a distance, and they love the taste of nuts, so peanut butter really is the best bait for mouse traps. If you don’t have peanut butter, try nuts or seeds — even birdseed. Whatever you choose, wear gloves when you’re loading the trap. Mice have very keen senses of smell and will stay away from things that humans have recently touched.

Where to Place Mouse Traps

Even the most effective bait won’t work if you don’t put traps in the right spot. You should, of course, put a baited mousetrap wherever you find signs they’ve been nesting. Other places to put traps include behind heavy furniture and appliances, in cupboards beneath sinks, along the base of garage or attic walls, and on top of kitchen cabinets if they don’t reach all the way to the ceiling.

Steps to Keep Mice Out of Your Home for Good

Once you’ve set traps for the mice that are already in your home, it’s time to focus on steps that prevent more mice and other rodents from getting inside.

Step 1. Seal Your Exterior

Mice can enter your home through tiny little gaps the size of a dime. So your first step to getting rid of mice naturally is probably the hardest: find and seal holes in your home’s exterior. Pay particular attention to places where utility lines (cable, television, etc.) enter your home, dryer and fan exhaust vents, and gaps in your home’s siding around windows and doors.

Cracks and Gaps Where Mice Enter

Mice won’t chew through caulk, so use it to seal small gaps or cracks. Caulk needs support behind it in larger holes, though. Since mice won’t chew through steel wool, stuff it into larger gaps before applying caulk. Backer rod can also work.

Leaving the door ajar while you’re in the garden is an open invitation to mice. Keep doors shut, and make sure they seal well. Add weatherstripping where needed — if a draft can get in, a mouse can, too.

Don’t Forget Pet Doors

Pet flaps provide easy access to mice as well as your dog or cat. If you like their convenience, switch to an automatic pet door that only opens when triggered by an electronic chip on your pet’s collar.

Tip for Cat Owners
Mice will avoid any area they believe a cat might be, so consider placing your pet’s litter box near common entry points like the garage door or in the laundry room since mice often crawl in through gaps around the dryer vent. You can also scatter used kitty litter around the perimeter of outbuildings if you’re having a hard time keeping mice out of barns and sheds.

Step 2. Tend Your Yard

Mice will seek shelter indoors in cold or wet weather. So, a good way to keep mice out of your home is by making your yard less attractive to them, too. That means regular mowing and yard maintenance, plus picking up storm debris and clutter that mice might use for shelter. Prune shrubs around your home’s foundations, too. And be sure to seal outdoor garbage cans or recycling bins so mice don’t see your home as an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Step 3. Try Essential Oils

There are a couple of smells that mice don’t like. Peppermint oil is one, and it has the bonus of deterring several other household pests, too. Try adding peppermint essential oil to homemade cleaners, or diffuse it in your fragrance warmers.

The smell of camphor also repels mice. Most people don’t like the scent of it, either. So, while you probably don’t want to use it in your home’s living areas, camphor makes a great pest control in seldom-used areas like attics and sheds. Try adding a handful of mothballs to an old sock and hanging it near windows in those places.

Step 4. Starve Them Out

Mice don’t need a lot of food to survive. In fact, they can live on as little as 3 to 4 grams of food each day. So what looks like crumbs on the floor to you is almost a feast for them. If they can’t find crumbs lying around, mice will gladly chew through cardboard food boxes or other food packaging to get to what’s inside. So, while cleaning thoroughly won’t get rid of mice, keeping a tidy home can help you avoid attracting them.

  • Store dry goods in air-tight containers. (You’ll also help prevent pantry moths, too.)
  • Discard old newspapers, magazines, and other items that mice can use for bedding.
  • Don’t let dirty dishes sit in the sink.
  • Wipe counters after meals.
  • Sweep your kitchen daily.
  • Pick up your pet’s food between feedings.
  • Empty the kitchen trash nightly.

Cleaning After a Mouse Infestation

Mouse droppings contain harmful bacteria and sometimes parasites. Their fur is often infested with fleas, too. So any time you find signs that a mouse has been indoors, you need to do some serious cleaning and disinfecting. First, clean the area with soapy water to remove dirt and then apply a disinfectant to kill pathogens. Be sure to wear disposable gloves and use materials you can discard after use so you don’t wind up spreading germs throughout your home.

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71 Comments

  1. Over the years I have cleaned out my kitchen cupboards with domestos cleaner and then sprayed surface spray and have a cat. This has worked for me over the years.
    I clean my pantry with domestos and air it out. It’s finding something that stinks to upset there noses.

  2. for mice can i used actual cloves , cracked open, and put them along where i think the mice are, and hide ?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I haven’t tried that, Garry, but you could certainly give it a shot. I suspect the scent of fresh cloves might fade fast, though. If that happens, consider switching to the oil instead since oil delays evaporation.

  3. Get a five gallon plastic pail, put grain or hard dog food in bottom. Put a board angled from floor to edge of pail. The mice will run up the board and jump in pail to get food but can’t get out. The downside to this is that you have to get rid of them somehow. Works like a charm .

  4. loy HARPER says:

    I have had a problem with mice in kitchen drawers. I bought a humane trap at walmart that is a plastic box with trap door. I put a piece of cookie in it . The mice go in two at the time and the door shuts. It doesn’t kill the mice but you still have to have a place to get rid of it. We live in the country so no problem. So far I have caught 35 mice.

  5. Maybe we have tough mice, but mothballs don’t work. We get mice in our RV and that hasn’t worked.

    1. sheila torguson says:

      I use mothballs but you have to get the good ones, and you have to use a lot, I would use 2 boxes at a time, didn’t have mice for 3 years, and never had them in my house, but my cats were bringing me one or 2 a day, these are 2 things I have learned and seem to work, cheap, strong, dryer sheets, I put them in drawers,cabinets, under stove ,also learned potato flakes, the boxed , mice eat them and flakes swell up inside and die, I would put piles in garage, when they were gone put more until piles weren’t touched and seen dead mice hope this helps

  6. Donna Doucette says:

    I close up a camp. I need something that last 5 mos.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Donna,
      I’d try the mothball approach.

  7. I had a professional come out and he plugged up all the holes and he said he couldn’t find any way for them to get in except for they came in through the doors the cat goes crazy so I tried Vicks rub on cotton balls that seemed to help a little bit today I was down in my living room and my son’s cat was going crazy again I have a peppermint flea spray so I sprayed that right now so I could get some Vicks.

  8. Darlene Evitts says:

    Where do you purchase peppermint oil
    Oil

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Darlene,
      Peppermint essential oil is available at many stores like Walmart or Target. It’s also available online.

  9. Frank Angel says:

    Hi — I live in an apartment building and so keeping them out is not an option — they are already in the building IN! I have tried all the normal thing to plug up holes and make sure the pipe and cable entry points, but while I not see them very often, it is inevitable that on occasion one while pop his head in-between the cabinet and the sink or once one actually had the nerve to show himself while I was watching TV. Amazing thing was, he just looked at me as curiously as I looked at him. Thing is, the little guys don’t upset me that much — would I rather not share my habitat with a creature who’s not paying his share of the rent, sure, but if I had my druthers, I would happily cohabitate with a mouse or two rather than a roach. Roaches make me go immediately insane. I will rip the place apart if I see and miss killing because they are faster than cheetahs and seem to have the ability to literally disappear when you wack them…somthing I am loath to do. Now I have filled windex spray bottles with rubbing alcohol and keep one at hand in every room so I have a weapon should I see one on the sink or table. Spray them with it and they are dead in about 30 seconds. An alcohol will evaporate without leaving residue so it’s much better than all those poisons which I don’t want spraying where I live. I know, the roaches have been around for billions of years before us and probably will be here long after our species is gone, but that doesn’t make me feel any less skeeved by them. Oh, sorry, I got way off topic.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Frank,
      Sounds like you’ve found an approach that works for you! Be careful spraying alcohol, though, especially around flames, electrical outlets, and electronics. It’s highly flammable! 🙂

  10. Was reading the comments and will be trying peppermint oil to get rid of them I can’t seem to finish them and it’s very annoying.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Don’t forget to look for cracks and holes where they might be getting into your home.

  11. Hi yes what about lemon pledge if I use that on the walls and counters will that get rid of mice and bugs

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I would never advise using Lemon Pledge on walls, and it’s not really made for counters, either.

  12. Oh please, I have done all of these things and the mice hop and jump right over all of it wherever you put bait or traps or the peppermint oil they just go in a different direction so I am moving into something brand new with no cracks and no holes

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Well, if you’ve done all these things (including caulking up cracks and holes) and still have problems, that sounds like a good idea.

  13. Kathleen Freeman says:

    I would like to say thank you to you and the others who have offered solutions on how to rid your home of mice. We live in a 5th wheel mobile home in the Mohave desert. So we have a lot of field mice that we have to put up with. We are going to try peppermint. Since the darn mice are so smart now that they know how to get the bait off the traps. We have tried peanut butter, cheese, small pieces of meat, you name it and we have tried it. But these critters have gotten so smart they have figured out how to remove the bait without setting off the traps. So now we have to try to think of something that will work on the traps that does not come off easily. Do you have any suggestions as to what we can bait the trap with that can’t be removed easily? We have loaded these traps by even wrapping the bait around the place where the bait goes, and they still manage to remove the bait and not set off the trap. And another question that I have does it matter if we use peppermint extract instead of peppermint oil? Thank you for you attention.

    1. Roseanna Mosley says:

      Put down two traps with peanut butter. For 3 days they ate the peanut butter without setting off trap. Took a peanut & gently pressed on to the little prongs (causes a little tug when eating which wiggles trap). Put a little peanut butter on top of the peanut (thought it would draw them to trap better) upped to 3 traps and snapped one mouse per night for 4 days. Hopefully that was the whole family. They were chewing a hole to enter under the bottom edge of where hangs over foundation. Going to try the steel wool method to keep them out. ??&?? It works.

    2. Katie Berry says:

      That’s a favorite entry-point for mice and other pests, too. A great way to keep things from crawling through it is by caulking the gap. If it’s a very large gap, though, you might need to add backer-rod first.