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How To Get Rid of Mice — And 7 Tips for Preventing Future Infestation

Taking care of mice doesn’t have to be overwhelming.


Mice can be more than just an annoyance to homeowners. They can become serious pests, making you feel uncomfortable and like your home is unclean. The droppings they leave behind can contaminate your food and can often be found alongside other pests and infestations. The result can be incredibly stressful. That’s why it’s important to get rid of mice when you notice them in the house, and to take steps to prevent further infestations. The more you know about mice control and management, the easier it will be to keep mice out of your home.

How do you get rid of house mice?

There are a few obvious signs of a house mice infestation. To start, they typically leave behind mouse droppings. These are small, black, and about the shape and size of rice. If you see droppings, it’s a good indication that you have mice in your home. You’ll also want to listen for scurrying, especially in attics and basements. Another indication of mice activity is scratching or gnaw marks on your baseboards, food containers, or around your windows. If you notice these signs, there are a few simple steps you can take to address the rodent infestation in your home. 

Pack up Holes

One of the least aggressive ways to manage an infestation is by making it difficult for them to get into the house. If you can find their entry point, plug the holes using steel wool, which they can’t chew through. Ideally, your mice will find a new place to pick up dinner and leave you alone. 

Set Traps

It’s possible that you won’t find all the entry points in your home (or the mice will dig more holes after you’ve plugged every hole). If you’re still struggling with rodent control, it may be time for traps. There are humane traps that capture mice instead of killing them. They can then be released a safe distance away from your house.

Bait your best mouse traps with food the mouse will want. Peanut butter is surprisingly effective, but they also like wet pet food, seeds, and nuts. Remember to wear gloves when you pick up your trap. You can never be too careful when handling a trapped animal. 

Get a Cat

Sometimes, you must call in pest control professionals — which can include nature’s exterminator, a cat. If no one in your family is allergic to cats, this pet can be an effective rodent deterrent. A cat will mouse-proof your house and hunt down any that have already made their way in.         

Hire an Exterminator

If you’re really struggling, don’t be afraid to bring in human professionals. Exterminators can do the job efficiently, so you don’t have to worry about how to get rid of mice from hard-to-reach places. Calling a pest control company and getting the job done right is easy. 

How can you prevent mice from getting into your home?

Once the mice are gone, there are steps you can take to prevent the mouse problem from recurring. These are some of the best DIY ways to prevent future mice infestations

1. Keep Food Tightly Sealed

One of the biggest reasons mice come into our homes is because they’re looking for food. The pantry is often the first place we see signs of mouse activity. To make your home less appealing to hungry mice, store food properly by removing food sources like rice, cereal, and pasta from their boxes and putting them in mouse-proof containers. Protect all fruit and fresh produce, and take special care with pet food, which can be very attractive to critters. Be sure, too, to immediately clean up spills and debris to avoid attracting mice. 

2. Close All Holes

Ensure all holes and openings are properly secured, using a material that mice can’t chew or gnaw through. Double-check areas you might not see every day, like baseboards, crawl spaces, and windows. When cold or hungry, mice try to chew through window and door screens, so make sure the screens are in good condition and reinforce them to prevent future mouse activity. 

3. Spray Essential Oils

Dabbing essential oils at common points of mouse activity can be a game changer. Like other pests and insects, mice are repelled by certain scents, including peppermint oil, lemon, and eucalyptus. To use this technique, cover cotton balls with essential oils and place them in spots that mice frequent. Be careful, however, if you have pets. Essential oils can be quite dangerous for pets, so ensure the area is kept safe for family animals. 

4. Plant Some Mint

In addition to essential oils, you can use natural deterrents like mint to keep the mice away. Mice come in from the outdoors, so if you create a barrier around your home, it will be easier to prevent intrusion. Mint irritates their nose and respiratory systems, and they try to keep a safe distance from it. For that reason, planting mint around your home, especially at common entry points, can be very effective. A word of caution, however, if you’re growing a garden: Mint grows extremely quickly and without much rhyme or reason, which is why it’s best to keep it in containers. If you don’t, you may find you have a garden full of just mint. 

5. Inspect the Items You Bring Home

Another way to prevent mouse problems is by always double-checking the products that you bring into your home. This is especially important if you’re purchasing items from nurseries, hardware stores, or big box stores, but it doesn’t hurt to also check the grocery bags and even the bags from the farmer’s market. There are many different ways that mice can end up in your home or yard, and once there, they can quickly become a problem. Avoid potential issues by giving your belongings a once-over before you bring them indoors.

6. Keep the Outside of Your Home Clean

You also want to ensure that there’s no easy place for mice to hide, find or use nesting materials, or reproduce. Consider moving firewood piles, tools, materials, and gear as far away from the house as possible. When these nests and safe havens are close to your home, it’s easier for mice to get inside undisturbed. Simply removing these items and piles can make a big difference.

7. Eliminate Pest Environments

One important step you can take to reduce the likelihood of developing a mouse infestation is to remove their source of food, which includes insects and other critters. Small bugs are often drawn to areas of dampness and darkness, and they may congregate or breed around leaky pipes or damp wood in the basement or attic. By removing the dampness and creating a dry environment, you eliminate the bugs’ gathering spots. This is a win for two reasons: It reduces the number of bugs in your home, and it removes temptations for mice seeking prey (and finding prey in and around your home). Try to keep small and dark spaces as dry as possible.

The End of Mice

Dealing with mice doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The good news is that there are a few simple steps you can take to manage the effects of mice in your home right now, like plugging up all their entry holes, setting traps, adopting a cat, or hiring an exterminator. You can also help to keep them away with a few simple steps and using ingredients you already have in the house. When you store food properly in airtight containers, it can help to prevent mice from looking for dinner and even has the added benefit of making your food last longer (which is one of my favorite perks).

Low-impact methods, like applying essential oils and growing mint, can also have a high impact on reducing the future appearance of mice in your home. When using this method, it’s especially important to ensure your pets and your garden avoid exposure to oils. You’ll also want to close up any holes where mice get in and remove any supplies or materials where mice might want to build a nest around the outside perimeter of your home. These are just a few of the ways you can really protect your family from mice and other infestations, but they’re all I’ve ever needed.

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