Mice are common household pests. While some people may think they’re cute, they can wreak havoc in your home in areas like the kitchen, closet, or pantry. They can also spread diseases that are dangerous for you and your family.
Fortunately, you don’t have to live with mice forever.
In this blog, we’re sharing our top tips on how to get rid of mice in your home, including lots of field-tested products our experts personally recommend.
- Mice live throughout the world and can be found wherever people live – in both urban and rural areas.
- Getting rid of mice requires a multi-faceted approach that combines exclusion, trapping, and repellents.
- Mice can squeeze through very tiny openings, so you’ll need to seal or screen any hole the size of a US dime or larger to prevent them from getting into your home.
- For severe mouse infestations, professional pest management services may be the only way to decrease mouse populations.
What are Mice?
Mice are small rodents that are members of the genus Mus. Today, the name “mouse” is commonly used to refer to any of the 38 species within the genus.
The house mouse is the most common species of mouse. It is found worldwide, despite being native to Central Asia.
Mice have small, slender bodies, tapered or blunt muzzles, prominent ears, and feet with bald soles, although there is a great deal of variation among the subspecies. They weigh about ½ to 1 ounce as adults and are known for their semi-naked tails.
Why are Mice a Problem?
Because mice tend to live close to people and in densely populated environments, they’re often implicated in the spread of disease.
In fact, rodents have been responsible for the spread of 55 diseases in people and domestic animals over the last few centuries.
Mice also cause allergies and transmit flea- and mite-borne diseases.
In addition to carrying diseases, mice can damage structures by gnawing through building materials, damaging electrical wires, and building nests in areas that present a fire risk.
Mice can also damage personal items stored in boxes, attics, basements, garages, and more and contaminate food with urine, droppings, and hair.
Why do I Have Mice in my House?
The three main things that attract mice to your house are food, nesting material, and shelter. Here’s a quick breakdown of each:
Mice are voracious eaters. The average mouse eats about 1-10 oz of food daily. While they’re considered omnivores, they prefer grains and seeds.
Outdoors, they feed on weed seeds, insects, and other abundant food sources. In times of crisis, mice resort to cannibalistic behavior, eating their own young or consuming weak or sick mice.
Mice will eat human scraps, pet food, and stored grain and bread products inside buildings. And, believe it or not, they’ll even each chocolate!
“We had a customer call us about a mouse problem in their home. There were chocolate bars being eaten in their pantry. We also saw the telltale sign of mice, which is small, rice size black pieces of excrement on the shelves. We knew that mice were interested in chocolate so we took all the chocolate away but put it as the attractant in our traps. The mice were easily caught this way and we were able to eliminate the issue.” Zachary Smith, “The Pest Dude”
Although mice need ample food sources, they do not need free-flowing water to survive. They’ll drink about 1-3 ounces daily when free water is available.
When water is scarce, mice can easily survive without a water source. Instead, they’ll satisfy their water needs through their food sources.
2. Nesting Material
Mice need to build nests to reproduce and thrive. The nests provide protection and warmth to female mice and their pups.
Mice usually build their nests indoors in sheltered, quiet areas like the space behind walls or appliances. Outdoors, mice build burrows in the ground or use tall grasses to construct their nests.
They use bits of paper, insulation, and furniture stuffing to build their nests and will reinhabit them year after year.
Mice are vulnerable to predation by other animals, including domestic dogs and cats.
Because they’re so vulnerable, they tend to live in areas that provide them with plenty of protection and shelter.
They’re common in hidden places like wall voids, attics, and basements, to name a few.
What are the Signs of a Mouse Infestation?
Need help determining if you have a mouse infestation in your home?
Look for these telltale signs:
- Fecal pellets. Mouse droppings look like small, black cylinders. Mice produce about 30-100 of them daily, and most measure about ⅛-¼”.
- Mouse tracks. Mouse tracks are easy to see in moist or wet soil or anywhere surfaces are covered in dust. Mouse tracks are about ⅜” long or less.
- Food crumbs and debris. Food crumbs and debris in your pantry, on shelves, or in unusual places like the middle of the floor could indicate mouse infestation.
- Gnawing damage. Look for small, clean-cut holes about 1 ½” in diameter. This damage is common in cabinets, boxes, and bathrooms. Chew and scratch marks – especially on shelves and around food packaging – are other signs of a mouse infestation.
- Burrows or nests. Mouse burrows can usually be found along foundations or beneath debris like shrubbery. Indoors, nests are usually made of shredded paper, string, pet hair, or other soft, shreddable material.
- Runways. Mice tend to travel the same paths, known as runways. Runways outdoors are smooth, well-packed surfaces. Indoors, they’ll present as areas that are free of dirt or that smell musty, like mice.
- Grease marks or urine stains. Mice carry grease and dirt and will leave grease streaks along walls and the bottoms of joists as they travel. These paths look like dark oil streaks.
- The presence of live or dead rodents. Seeing mice – alive or dead – is a surefire sign of a rodent infestation.
- Odd pet behaviors. If your pet has recently started barking, scratching, or pawing at the space under your appliances, it may be because they hear mice moving around.
- Rodent sounds like squeaking or scratching. Mice are noisy creatures, and you may hear them scratching, squeaking, or chattering behind walls.
- Rodent odors, which may smell musty. Rodent odors can be musty or smell like ammonia.
How to Get Rid of Mice: A Step-by-Step Guide
Get rid of mice in your home or around your property with these tips:
1. Create a plan
What makes rodent control so tricky is that it’s situational. Controlling rodents effectively requires understanding what kind of mice you’re dealing with, where they’re living, and what they’re eating.
Once you know what kind of mice you’re dealing with, you can create an effective mouse control program.
For example, if mice are feeding on open bags of cereal, grains, and flour in your pantry, a good removal plan would include securing all pantry items in airtight, mouse-proof containers and setting some traps to reduce rodent populations.
2. Focus on sanitation
The best approach to long-term rodent control is sanitation. Again, mice are voracious eaters who need adequate food to survive and thrive.
This means that whenever there’s an infestation of mice, there’s also an adequate food supply.
- Start your control efforts by removing rodent food sources. Secure pet and dog food in mouse-proof containers, clean up spills promptly, remove birdseed, and pick up all ripe garden produce.
- Remember that good sanitation programs must include indoor and outdoor spaces. Remove organic debris piles from outside, seal garbage in mouse-proof cans, and keep compost in a rodent-proof compost bin.
- Remove all possible nesting materials for mice, including stacks of cardboard boxes, old magazines, newspapers, and similar materials.
- Keep stored clothing and textiles in rodent-proof bins.
3. Exclude rodents
Once you’ve removed obvious food and nest sources, focus on exclusion tactics that make it difficult for mice to access your structures.
Keep in mind that mice can squeeze through openings that are just ⅜” wide, so this can be difficult.
For best results, focus on sealing, filling, or securing all openings greater than ¼” for mice – that’s about the size of a US dime.
Use steel mesh (like this) to seal up holes in your home’s siding and foundation, paying particular attention to areas where utility lines penetrate the siding.
These gaps may require sealing with mortar or caulk or can be stuffed with copper mesh.
Mix the copper mesh with mortar to create a durable double sealant that mice can’t chew through for the best results.
Finally, seal or repair broken windows, warped doors, and unscreened vents, which are excellent access spots for mice. A word of advice from the Pest Dude:
“It’s important to remember on hot summer nights, if we leave our doors open, mice and other rodents will easily come in and embed themselves into our kitchens and pantries.” – Zachary Smith, “The Pest Dude”
Add door sweeps and kick plates to the area beneath doors and use metal guards to dissuade mice from climbing pipes on the outside of your building.
4. Deploy mouse traps
Trapping is an effective way to control mice. When it comes to traps, we always recommend choosing live traps over lethal traps.
Remember that if you trap mice in live traps, you’ll need to humanely euthanize them on-site or release them immediately in the vicinity of the area where they were trapped.
Wooden snap traps and T-rex traps (like these) are a common type of lethal trap used by homeowners everywhere, although they require the disposal of dead mice.
We also recommend multiple-catch traps, which are teeter-totter-style traps that catch multiple mice without killing them.
5. Use baits
As a last resort, baits can be effective. While they dispatch mice quickly, they also pose a potential hazard to pets, wildlife, and children.
Additionally, mice who consume the poison baits may die in wall voids or other hard-to-reach places, creating an awful stench.
Mice are also intelligent creatures, and getting them to ingest the bait may be challenging.
6. Repel mice
Mouse repellents can be an effective way to keep mice away from your property. Here are a few potent DIY repellent options:
- Apple cider vinegar and water. Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 1 part water in a spray bottle and spray it around the perimeter of your home and any place you’ve noticed mouse activity.
- Fabric softener sheets. Mice have a strong sense of smell and will avoid scented fabric softener sheets. To repel mice, stuff fabric softener sheets into entry points to reduce mouse traffic.
- Hot pepper repellent. Mix dish soap, water, chili flakes, and fresh, sliced habanero peppers in a spray bottle and spray the mixture anywhere you’ve noticed mouse activity. Keep in mind that this mixture can be irritating to pets and people, so it should be applied carefully.
- Essential oils. Strong-smelling essential oils are excellent at repelling mice. For best results, soak a few cotton balls in peppermint or clove oil, and place them anywhere you’ve noticed mouse activity.
While people claim they work, options like ultrasonic and electromagnetic spikes DO NOT HELP DETER mice. Neither do domestic cats and dogs.
The reason is that mice will eventually get used to these deterrent tactics and find other ways to enter your home or access their nests.
Your Mouse Control Product Arsenal
These are the go-to products Pest Dude and our pest control team use in the field. We’ve tried all of them and found them effective and fast-acting.
This durable stainless steel mesh fill fabric is excellent for patching small holes and creating a mouse-proof barrier.
In fact, Zach (the owner of Pest Dude) relies on this product for 90% of his rodent exclusion work.
It’s easy to handle, but you should wear gloves to protect your hands as you place it. For best results, stuff this material into any openings in your home to prevent rats and mice from passing through.
It’s rust-proof and tough for rodents to chew or pull out.
For larger openings consider adding a little spray adhesive foam to help it stick.
We love to use this product when driving rodents out of confined spaces.
We recommend spraying a good amount of this product behind the fill fabric you use for exclusion and around other entry points.
This repellent can also be sprayed in sheds, garages, and storage areas. Reapply several times a week until signs of rodent activity decrease.
We love these mousetraps because they’re easy to set up and they feature a superior design. They’re easily triggered by mice and will make quick work of even large rodent populations.
If you prefer a live trap, look no further than this option. This model is safe for mice, easy to handle, and easy to open and clean. If you’d prefer not to deal with live mice, pair this trap with glue board traps for a comprehensive solution that works quickly.
How to Prevent Mice
Keep mice out of your home with these simple prevention tips:
- Keep your attics, basements, and crawl spaces well-ventilated and dry.
- Replace worn-out weatherstripping around your home’s windows, doors, and foundation.
- Add durable wire screens to chimneys, vents, and other gaps that could allow mice into your home.
- Install door sweeps on your exterior and garage doors.
- Keep your home’s doors and windows closed as much as possible.
- Create a mouse-proof barrier around your home by sealing all access points with steel wool, metal sheeting, or other chew-proof material.
- Eliminate sources of moisture, including leaking pipes, clogged drains, and dripping faucets.
- Inspect all items brought out of storage before you bring them into your home.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet from the house and keep all shrubbery and outdoor bushes trimmed back from your siding.
- Clean up food scraps and spills promptly.
- Contact a pest management professional at the first sign of a rodent infestation.
Are Mice Destroying Your Home? We Can Help
Mice can be destructive, troublesome pests. Fortunately, you don’t have to live with them forever. If your DIY attempts have failed or you’ve run out of options, it’s time to contact a reputable pest control company.
Fortunately, we have a broad network of reputable partners in your area that can help.
Call us at (844) 598-0241, and we’ll connect you with our partners today!
Mouse Control FAQs
To pick up dead mice outside, first put on rubber or plastic gloves. Place the rodent inside a plastic bag, seal it, and dispose of it in the garbage. For dead mice inside, follow the same procedure. Wash your hands thoroughly once you’re finished.
There’s no one-size-fits-all rule, but it usually takes about 1-3 months to get all mice out of your house. This depends on the source and severity of the infestation.
You’ll know you’ve dealt with your mouse infestation when the signs of damage and rodent noises are gone, and when you no longer smell mice.