Mice migrate into people’s homes in search of food, warmth, or shelter. They reproduce fast and can spread diseases. They often cause damage by chewing on wires, books, and toys, or getting into cupboards and spoiling food by gnawing on storage bags and even plastic containers. Mice leave traces of urine and feces, which contain bacteria and viruses.
Read on to find out how to get rid of mice if you have them in your home, and how to prevent an infestation if you don’t.
7 tips to get rid of mice
Mice can get through tight spaces because of their small size. Cracks even as small as 1/4 of an inch need to be sealed. If you have mice in your home, knowing their preferred locations will help you get rid of them faster. The black fecal pellets they leave behind are a giveaway of their whereabouts. Keep food away from these areas, and store everything edible in containers that can’t be chewed.
Once you’re familiar with the whereabouts of your mice, try one of the following ways to get rid of them.
1. Get a cat
If no one in your family has a cat allergy, getting a cat might just be the easiest way to get rid of mice. If a cat isn’t an option, buy cat litter and spread it in areas most frequented by the mice. This can act as a deterrent. Be sure to keep cat litter out of the reach of children.
2. Use essential oils
The strong smell of peppermint oil and clove oil seems to repel mice. Saturate cotton balls with these essential oils and put them in areas that attract mice like drawers, cupboards, and home entryways. Although the smell alone won’t be enough to get rid of mice completely, it can work in conjunction with other methods.
3. Set humane traps
Humane traps keep mice alive so you can release them. Place traps in the areas of your home most frequented by mice and check them every morning. Mice generally come out looking for food at night. Examples of yummy treats to attract mice include peanut butter, cheese, and buttered popcorn.
Be sure to release any mice you capture at least a mile away from your home, and preferably not in an inhabited area. Don’t touch the mice directly in order to avoid any diseases they might be carrying.
4. Try a hot pepper solution
Poison baits may seem like an easy solution, but they can also be risky. Poison can sicken pets and children in your home, so it’s safer to stick with nonpoisonous baits and treatments. Try a concentrated hot pepper solution. Spray it in spots out of the reach of children and pets, but where mice frequently visit, such as under the stove or behind cabinets.
5. Build your own humane trap
If you’re crafty, try to build your own easy-to-use live traps using household items:
- Bucket, stick, and plastic cup: Skewer the cup with the stick and lay the stick-and-cup contraption across the open top of the bucket. Smear some peanut butter on the cup to act as bait. The mouse should run out to the cup, and then fall into the bucket. Release the mouse in the morning. Repeat as needed.
- Glass and coin: Using a large glass with peanut butter smeared inside, balance one side on an upright coin. When the mouse runs in for the peanut butter, it should knock down the coin and become trapped inside the glass. Repeat as needed.
6. Pack spaces with steel wool
Pack steel wool into the tight spaces mice like to sneak into. Steel wool is impossible and unpleasant to chew and will create a natural deterrent for the little buggers.
7. Block with duct tape
Once you identify some of the entry points mice are using, such as under your sink around the pipes or at the back of cupboards where there are wires, cover them with duct tape.
For a severe infestation
Humane trapping is the best way to go. In general, traps are preferred over poison bait as they are less hazardous to children and pets. But if you’re dealing with a severe infestation that can put your family at risk, consider using spring traps or calling a professional pest control company. They can carry out the task faster for you.
Diseases spread by mice
Mice are small and cute. Some people even have them as pets. However, the reason you don’t want them creeping inside your house is because of the diseases they carry. These include:
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome and lymphocytic choriomeningitis: Breathing in dust that contains mouse urine and droppings can cause these diseases of the respiratory and neurological systems.
During their nightly visits, mice leave urine and feces everywhere they go. This is why you need to thoroughly clean any areas where mice might roam. If you find an area with a lot of droppings, use a mask and gloves to clean it up, and wash your hands thoroughly after.
Direct contact and, less frequently, bites from mice can also spread these diseases.
Leptospirosis: This infectious disease caused by bacteria can spread by drinking water that contains traces of urine from infected animals. Pets can be at risk for this disease, too. If you have mice in your home, remove your pet water bowl overnight and clean it daily.
Salmonellosis: Caused by bacteria, salmonellosis can affect anyone, but children younger than age 5 are especially at risk. It transmits through mouse feces.
Plague, typhoid, and pox (Rickettsial infections): Mouse fleas and mites can spread these diseases. While treatments are available, it’s better to prevent these diseases by avoiding direct contact with mice and their droppings.
Preventing future infestations
The best way to prevent mice infestations is to keep your home clean. Here are some tips:
- Make it a rule that all eating happens at the table.
- Store food items such as grains, seeds, beans, and flour in glass or metal containers.
- Wipe eating and cooking surfaces at the end of the day. Vacuum up any bits of food that fall on the floor, under furniture, and around appliances.
- Remove your pet’s food bowl after meals and seal pet food bags.
Mice can spread diseases, so act quickly. Their high reproduction rate makes it more challenging to control an invasion the longer you wait. Use traps and deterrents to make your home mouse-free as soon as possible.
Depending on how severe the infestation is, it may take between a day and a couple of weeks to rid your place of mice. During the trapping period, make sure you thoroughly clean any surfaces the mice might climb on during the night in order to minimize health risks.