Pesky mice find their way into the homes of plenty of people in search of food and shelter when the temperature drops and the fields are harvested before winter hits. Keeping them out of your home is a good idea since mice can be very destructive and carry infectious diseases. Thankfully there are some effective ways to naturally repel mice.
Dealing with mice in some form is a part of life for most of us, especially living in a rural area. They love getting in unsecured feed bins, pet food bowls, and dark corners where little crumbs like to accumulate to get their fill of all the human goodies they can manage.
While they love a lot of the same things we humans do, there are a few things that they don’t like. Learning a little bit about mice and the things they don’t like can go a long way to helping you keep mice out of your home and outbuildings and out in nature where they belong.
Do mothballs repel mice?
You’ll notice all of the remedies I mention here are natural, and mothballs aren’t a natural product, so I won’t suggest them anyway.
Regardless of whether or not mothballs repel mice is beside the point because using them is dangerous. Not only are you not supposed to use them outside of repelling moths from your closets and wardrobe areas, but placing them in areas where mice are present has the ability to harm your children, pets, livestock, and other wildlife you don’t want to harm.
So, I encourage you to not even try to use mothballs and use one of the remedies I suggest which are effective and won’t harm people or animals.
10 Natural Mice Deterrents that Actually Work
First, let’s talk about why a lot of these remedies actually work. Mice have a keen sense of smell and good hearing but fairly poor eyesight in comparison. Since they have such a good sense of smell and hearing, there are plenty of natural remedies to help keep mice out of your home. Some, of course, are more effective than others and they all require regular maintenance (adding more repellent, etc), but they’re all effective at repelling mice.
Secure Your Home’s Foundation
The first step to keeping mice out of your home is to keep them from getting inside in the first place. To do this, you’ll want to patch up any and all the tiny entrances where they can gain access into your home. This starts with checking your home’s foundation for cracks and holes. These could be where lines go into your home, a crawlspace or basement entrance, or simply your foundation materials.
Our first home was built prior to 1900 and the foundation was sturdy, but it was made of fieldstones and we frequently had to re-mortar areas. If you have air conditioning, electricity, phone lines, cable lines, or anything else that goes into your home on the side or in the foundation, make sure those holes are patched up and solid.
Remember, mice can fit into a hole or crack the width of a pencil or larger. That’s pretty small, so check, double-check, and be sure you don’t have holes in any of your crawlspace screens, etc.
After you’ve found their entry points, how do you patch them up? Steel wool is an excellent resource. Place this in any area where mice are getting through (pipes coming through the floors, anyone?). Pack it in tightly and it will block the entrance.
Mice can chew, of course, so they will try to chew through the wool to gain access to the areas they’re used to easily accessing, but they do not like the feel of steel wool on their mouths and teeth so it will deter them from continuing to try and they will find somewhere easier to get into (if you’ve buttoned up all the entrances in your home, it won’t be inside!).
Whether you plant peppermint plants everywhere, use potted plants in areas mice frequent, or simply use essential oils, mice don’t like the scent of peppermint. The smell is strong and messes with their olfactory system, making it so they can’t smell food or their little mates.
To use peppermint, you can plant plants around the perimeter of your home, but they are quite invasive. You can also grow peppermint in pots and keep it indoors. Simply place it or a few of the leaves in areas where you know mice are coming in.
To use the essential oil, you can spray it into the areas where mice frequent or add it to something and place it in a pouch. Something like cement powder or calcium carbonate powder works well as the mice won’t eat that when the smell wears off. Refresh the pouches every week or so with fresh oil, or if they’re outside anytime they get wet.
Mice don’t care for the stinging sensation or the overwhelming scent of cayenne pepper. You can simply sprinkle this in any area that mice frequent.
Some people suggest sprinkling it around the perimeter of your home, but one, that’s a lot of chili pepper and two, you’ll have to refresh it anytime it rains or snows. Sprinkling it anywhere you don’t want them will work, though.
Cinnamon Essential Oil
Mice don’t care for strong scents and cinnamon oil is another effective way to repel mice and like peppermint, it has the added benefit of making your home smell nice.
We like to make satchels of peppermint, cinnamon, and concrete powder and place them in our camper and outbuildings to keep the mice out during the winter months, every few weeks I add a bit more oil to the satchel.
While mice can smell the urine of larger animals and will typically steer clear, fox urine seems to be one of the most effective ways of protecting the perimeter of your home.
Since foxes are a natural predator of mice and mice have a keen sense of smell, they’re intelligent enough to run the other way if they smell the urine of a fox.
Fox urine is available for sale at many farm supply and hunting stores. You can simply purchase some and spray it around the perimeter of your home, barn, or anywhere else you don’t want mice. Simply respray after it rains or snows.
Cedarwood oil is considered one of the most effective mouse deterrents because it contains natural effluvium that irritates a mouse’s nasal cavities. It also contains phenols that are harmful to a mouse’s health.
Like the other essential oils mentioned, put it directly in spaces that you want to repel or put it in a satchel with something like concrete powder. I don’t recommend using cotton balls because if and when the smell dissipates, the mice are likely to just eat them.
Clear the Clutter
This is so difficult, especially on a homestead. So often we have piles of wood or other necessary piles that attract mice. Mice like places to find shelter and they don’t mind messes. In fact, they prefer them. It gives them an easy way to hide and stay away from anything trying to get it because it can squeeze through tiny crevices.
So, inside and out you need to make sure you have everything cleaned up. Don’t leave piles of wood, cardboard boxes, paper, garbage, anything lying around inside or outside your home. This will just attract the mice and then you’ll have a problem on your hands. Not only with mice, but with snakes, too.
We have started putting our woodpiles up on sawhorses to keep them off of the ground. This seems to help quite a bit.
Trim Back Shrubs & Bushes
I am not against a beautiful raspberry bush or blueberry bush. In fact, I love them. And they can be a great way to add some edible landscaping to just about any yard. But, don’t grow them near your house or let them get out of hand.
Whether you have edible landscaping or ornamental landscaping, it gives mice an easy way to hide and gain access to your home. Keep them trimmed and off of your foundation so that they aren’t attracted to find the smallest hole they can and try to gain access to your home.
Keep Feed Tightly Closed
We have a shed that we used for the goats that we have converted into a feed shed. We keep our rabbit and chicken feed all out there and tightly closed. But, before we converted it into a feed shed, and after the goats were out… it was a mess in there.
We had an entire family of mice living in it. We like to use good, tightly closing metal trash bins to keep our livestock feed dry and rodent-free. We also have a couple of fantastic, tightly closing bins that my husband managed to get for free. But, whatever you use… make sure to use airtight containers to store all feed, animal, and human.
A Good Cat
There is nothing wrong with a good barn cat. They can be great mousers. We don’t have any personally because my dog would probably go crazy (he does go crazy over the few barn cats that have wandered over from the neighbors). But, we do have neighbor cats that roam around from time to time.
Another problem with cats, even if you don’t have a dog, is sometimes the cat will leave you gifts. Gifts in the form of dead, half-eaten mice. Yuck… I’m not personally a fan of those types of gifts, but my dog has brought me a few wonderful gifts over the years. Does anyone want a deer spine?? I found one for you. Sigh. animals.
If you must kill them…
I highly recommend a good snap trap baited with peanut butter. Please don’t use poison, not only is it dangerous, but if they do die, they could wind up crawling in a place you don’t want and smelling, even months later when it warms up… If they do die in the open, a pet or other animal could potentially eat the poisoned mouse, which in turn, can poison them. It’s simply not worth the risk.
When we moved into our house last year, we wound up with a terrible mouse problem. But, once we remedied it and utilized some of these natural repellents, we’ve nipped the situation in the bud. There are definitely several ways to keep mice out of your house, but these are the most effective methods I’ve found.