11 Tips To Keep Mice Away From Your Home

Desperate for ways to keep mice away from your home for good? Read on!

Over the years we’ve had a lot of trouble with mice around the homestead. They get in the house, the vehicles, the trash cans, the workshop, the chicken coop. They chew into the bags of animal feed. They get into the food storage closet and poop all over the tops of our canned goods. They make nests in our stored clothes if a storage lid is askew. If we aren’t diligent about keeping them out they can become a real menace very quickly.

Not only do they chew stuff up and make a mess, mice also harbor diseases. Throughout history, rodents have been the carriers of dangerous diseases, viruses, and bacteria. From Hantavirus to the Black Death of the Middle Ages, the severity of the illnesses rodents can cause should be taken extremely seriously.

We’ve tried to be proactive in keeping mice away from our home, but anyone who lives in the country in a manufactured home will tell you it’s nearly impossible. If there’s even the tiniest gap (1/4 inch!) in the flooring or walls, they’re going to find a way in.

Currently we’re dealing with mice in our air ducts. Unfortunately, our home has standard Flex Duct which is easy for rodents to chew through. Evidently they’ve found their way in and are making a home in our vents. I hear them scurrying below the air registers at night.

I know this can’t be good for our health, and it’s of great concern to me. Our hope is to replace our air ducts with metal duct work eventually.  It’s expensive, though.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share with you what we’ve been doing to minimize the problem of mice in and around our home. If you have any suggestions or tips to add to the list, I’d love to hear them!

Here’s our checklist to keep mice away…

1. Keep Trash Away From The House

Obviously garbage is going to attract rodents. Keep bags of trash in sealed trash cans stored well away from the home (not up against it). Metal trash cans are better than plastic. Determined rodents will chew right through a plastic trash can to get to the goodies they smell inside. If you go with a metal can, put it up on cinderblocks if you don’t have an area to keep it up off the ground where it will eventually rust. Replace any cans that have cracks or holes in them, and make sure the lids fit securely.

Junk piles also need to be cleaned up and cleared out. If you have old stuff just laying around in piles on your property it’s time to clean up the mess. Remember, rats and mice carry diseases. You don’t want to do anything to encourage them to nest around your home.

 

2. Store Feed and Seed in Metal Trash Cans Off The Ground

Along those same lines, if you have livestock feed, bulk grains or seed, it’s best to store them in a metal container so that mice can’t chew through the can. Mouse droppings in your animals’ feed is dangerous for your livestock. Again, make sure metal cans aren’t sitting directly on dirt or grass, otherwise they’ll rust and pests will be able to get in.

 

3. Install Metal Air Ducts Instead of Flexi Duct

As I mentioned, Flexi Duct is easy for rodents to chew through and nest inside. If you can afford metal air ducts, although they have their own set of pros and cons, they’re the better option for keeping mice out of your duct work.

Breathing mouse droppings can be dangerous, and a house that smells like mouse urine is unpleasant and embarrassing.

If mice are a problem in your area or you think they could become a problem, consider replacing Flexi Duct with metal duct work to keep rodents out.

 

4. You Need A Mouser

Cats really do make a huge difference in your mouse population. Just the smell of a cat nearby might deter them. Since having a cat around the homestead our infestation problems have significantly decreased. Our cat, Gracie, is a huge asset to us. She kills mice, moles, voles, and other unwanted critters.

You want a cat that’s a good hunter, not a lazy one. Don’t leave a bowl of cat food out all day or overnight, which could keep her fat and happy and unmotivated to hunt (not to mention attracting more pests). Instead, put out food twice a day and only give your cat what she needs to be satisfied, then collect the food bowls to keep put up until the next feeding.

 

 

5. Don’t Kill Helpful Snakes

Some of you may remember when we were new to the homestead and I killed a black snake in our chicken coop. (In my defense, it was totally eating our baby chicks.) I’ve since learned how beneficial it is to have black snakes (and other harmless varieties) around our property to keep rodents as well as more dangerous snakes away. If you find a “good” snake in an undesirable place, consider carefully moving it somewhere you’d rather it be.

6. Protect Stored Food

Any food you have in your pantry, cabinets, or long term food storage should be protected from pests. If mice can smell food in your home you can bet they’ll be looking for a way to get to it.

Bags and boxes of food should be stored in such a way that mice can’t even smell them. Plastic or metal storage containers, and cabinets that close securely with no gaps are a must.

We’ve had trouble with mice chewing on the plastic lids of our #10 cans of freeze dried foods. Even though they can’t get into the metal, they’re leaving droppings all over the tops of the cans and chewing up a useful plastic lid. To help mitigate the damage, I’ve begun storing our #10 cans  upside down on the shelves, sometimes in the original shipping box, so that at least the mice can’t chew the plastic lid and if they leave droppings on the cans it will be on the bottoms of the cans where I won’t be opening them (and possibly contaminating the food).

For home canned foods I have several JarBoxes that keep my jars protected from mouse droppings. Jars with metal lids are especially vulnerable to rust when mice pee on them, so protecting them is critical if you have a mouse problem. You can also stack the jars with a board or piece of cardboard between them, and then store the very top layer of jars upside down so that mice can’t get on the lids.

Large plastic buckets are great for bulk food storage. I’ve had mice try to chew through them only to give up. I’m sure a particularly determined mouse could get through given the opportunity, but so far we haven’t seen that happen.

 

 7. Plant Peppermint?

I read somewhere that planting peppermint around your home’s foundation will keep mice and ants away. Yeah. That hasn’t worked for us in either instance. Maybe peppermint essential oil would work better? It would be something you’d have to constantly be applying. Anyone tried this and found it to work?

8. Keep Your Vehicles and Outbuildings Clean

Mice will look for anywhere warm and cozy to nest and multiply. Vehicles and outbuildings make great breading grounds for rodents.

Make sure you keep your vehicles clean from food, crumbs, and wrappers which might have food scent on them. Also remove trash, paper, clothing, or anything else that mice might be able to chew up and make a nest in.

Remove old vehicles and unsalvageable items (such as old appliances or sofas) from your property. They’re a haven for mice.

Keep your outbuildings neat and properly store clothing, blankets, towels, hats, gloves, etc. Keep anything cloth (even shoes) in plastic storage totes with secure lids to keep mice from chewing them up and nesting in them.

 9. Keep The Grass Mowed and Hedges Trimmed

Mice love to hide in tall grass and overgrown shrubs. Keep grass trimmed and plantings neat around your home so that you don’t provide cover for mice and rats. By opening up their hiding places you expose them to predators, forcing rodents to nest elsewhere.

Hedges should have clearance beneath them to discourage mice from making their homes there. Keep shrubs trimmed and neat so that anything scurrying beneath them will be exposed to predators.

10. Install Door Sweeps in High Risk Areas

Install heavy duty door sweeps on all exterior doors with a gap of 1/4″ or greater. Also install sweeps on interior doors leading to food pantries or other high risk areas. Make sure you use a high quality, thick door sweep. We initially went with cheap stick-on ones and the mice pushed right underneath them.

11. Seal Up Holes Around the House

When we first moved our modular home onto our property, we were almost immediately overrun with field mice. It should have been expected seeing as we’d just cleared out their homes and habitat.

After doing a thorough inspection of where the mice might be coming in we discovered that there were huge gaps in the flooring around the plumbing under our sinks that went straight through to the ground. We stuffed steel wool into the holes and sprayed Great Stuff Gap Filler over it all to keep out pests as well as drafts. So far in the eight years we’ve been there no mice have made it back through those holes. Knock on wood.

Unfortunately for us, there will always be holes that we won’t be able to get to. Mice get into our walls and even our ceiling because of the small gaps in the framework. There’s no way to seal the gaps unless we completely tear the house apart. Our best bet is to do the best we can to keep from attracting mice to our home in the first place. (More cats??) Once they’re in, we use snap traps and live traps to catch and kill them. Poison has not worked well for us because they just die in the floors or walls and stink up the place.

We’re gonna get a quote for the metal duct work to see if it’s something we might be able to afford. Although I expect it to be a significant investment, I don’t think we have much of a choice considering the health consequences of breathing in mouse excrement when the A/C is blowing.

I know I’m not the only one out there with these problems! Tell me your mouse story and what you’re doing or have done to help remedy the issue. 

*This site has some really interesting information about rodent diseases and more ways to keep your home rodent free (including recommendations for keeping wood piles 100 feet from the house). Good tips.

Kendra
About Kendra 1123 Articles

A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.

20 Comments

  1. We are in the city, where rats are a common & ongoing issue. Since we have 3 indoor cats, we’ve only seen 1 or 2 in the 14 years we have lived here (1 was a dead one inside the house that our cats killed, and we had a mouse get into our vent-a-hood once in the kitchen – quickly dispatched by our cats). The problem for us is that we enjoy feeding birds, and birdseed/messy bird feeders attract rats. It’s a real frustration to have to constantly sweep up after the birds and take the feeder away each night. If you feed birds, you need to be very careful about cleaning up daily. Rats will go and stay where there is a food source and/or water source. I would also recommend planting anything edible far away from your home’s exterior. Rats also like grains, oils & fats, so if your compost heap contains any of those, it could also be an attraction for them.

  2. Stacked firewood provides tempting shelter for rats and mice. Years ago, I found that keeping the wood pile ~100 feet from the house goes a long way toward keeping the wildlife out of the house.

    Long ago, I lived in an apartment complex where mice were always around. The complex manager told me that mice are hyper-sensitive to chlorine. So when mice invaded, he’d put a little bleach on a plastic desert plate and place it in known mouse hiding places. He claimed this made them leave his apartment. I suppose the 2 lb packages of pool chlorine would work as well. Lay it in the pantry when you know the mouses are about and store it in the tool shed after they leave.

  3. We have mental ducks and the mice used to hide in them and a couple made it into the funance and fan. Heated old mouse meat and blowing air was enough. We had no choice but to install a metal grates over all the vents, incoming air and outgoing.

  4. I use essential Peppermint oil on cotton balls in my closet and in the bathroom. I renew it every few weeks.

    Now in the garage, I sweep, vacuum, and mop weekly and drip peppermint (essential) oil on the floors, lower walls, and on shelves.

    It **appears** that the rodent population has since moved out of the garage and laundry room and on to other, greener, taller pastures. The previous owners of this place use to keep bird feed, uncovered, in the garage. The bushes and trees were very overgrown and right up to the house. The garage door has a gap between the edge and the floor of the garage. I will get to fixing that.

    It **appears** that the rodent population is no longer in the house. The previous owners had a different “clean” and “lifestyle” than I do.

    I think there may be some rodents in the attic, but I haven’t tackled that part of the house yet. I’ve been aggressively cleaning, and recleaning, and recleaning many parts of the house and trying to do repairs as I find what needs to be done. (The home inspection was sadly lacking in quite a few things!)

    Another thing that has worked well in the past (different house) was to make a border, about a foot wide, all around the house of white, jagged rock. (I think it was marble.) Rodents stand out on the white rock and allegedly, it hurts their feet.

    Got animals on this homestead, so I am careful to put manure, shavings, etc into the sealed compost bin. I rotate pastures and go behind my husband cleaning up and reminding him that we SHOULDN’T do this or that because it attracts rodent. *insert eye roll*

    Anyway ya look it, it’s a continual job to keep the rodents under control and out of the house.

  5. My son is renting my house and from last fall to spring this year, he had a tremendous problem with mice, rats, rodents, them all. He lives in the city too so you wouldn’t think this issue would be so bad, but his was. Every time I walked inside the place, I was so overwhelmed by the nasty smell of these critters that were taking over there. He told me it was nothing for him to turn on a light in kitchen and there would be several on the counters. So, what did he do to get rid of them, he set traps and put out poison everywhere. Oh he caught a bunch night after night after night, but never did they go away. Finally, we solved the problem by having him put everything I mean everything in seal tight containers. No more dog food left out either. The solution to his problem was to remove their food and they left. Nothing is going to stick around if they have nothing to eat. In a months time, no more rodent problem. Now here where I live, we do have rats and I see their little signs everywhere. We also have cats, so putting out a bunch of poison is not an option. We just do the best we can and hope for the best. I do not that rats are incontinent which means they drip pee everywhere they go, so I don’t remove a clean stored dish out of my cabinets without giving it a thorough hot soapy wash down first before I use it. I do know you can’t go around sealing up every tiny crack in your house. Impossible and you wouldn’t want it not to be able to breathe either. So, rats I guess we will be sharing our happy abode with you but on one condition, you stay out of my bed. Oh and before I go, I have to share this funny with you. Couple of weeks ago, I go into my guest bathroom to do something. No one goes in there hardly ever and door stay closed to keep out cats. Well, I kept hearing this weird little noise inside the tub, so I pulled back the curtain and there under the faucet was a tiny wee little mouse. It turned and looked up at me and I almost heard it said, sorry but I was thirsty. Faucet leaks a drop or 2 occasionally. Well I called in reinforcements to help me get this mice out of my tub. Carrot! Carrot! Come here! Carrot came running and immediately jump into the tub. That tiny mouse evaded him. Right through his legs and down the drain pipe it went. Well I thought it was gone, but no the next morning I went to see and there it was sitting in the drain pipe but on top of those little metal bars that prevent anything from going down pipe but water. So, I went and found a old plastic pair of tongs, got me a jar and plucked it out of drain hole, stuffed it into the jar, took it outside to the pasture and set it free. It was soaking wet too. I know I should have killed it, but I figured if it survived Carrot and the drain hole, then I would give it another chance to survive the rest of my cats outside. At least I didn’t have to be the one to cause its demise. Sorry for being so long winded. CYL, E

  6. This must be incredibly frustrating. We moved into a 100 year old house in town. So far I haven’t seen any sign of mice. You have great ideas and your list is very thorough. It makes me want to go out and clean out the garage. I know this must be a haven for mice with the way it is right now.

    • I hope you don’t ever see them, Michele! They’re terrible trouble makers. Good idea to be proactive and keep things tidy and uninviting. 🙂

  7. When we first moved to our hobby farm, I was amazed at how intense the mouse population out in the country is. It’s crazy!! All good tips. We have several barn cats, and two indoor cats. I’d say this has been our best defense against the mice.

    Sealing up cracks and keeping things ultra clean has also helped a lot. We also have traps set in the garage and a couple in the house where we’ve seen mice before.

    • I wish we had indoor cats. That would help a lot. I can’t stand the smell of a litter box in my house, though ;). Sometimes I bring our cat Gracie inside to hunt a mouse when I see one scurry across the floor. She’s a fantastic mouser.

  8. We have had mice chew through the wiring in our minivan! Huge bill, and major huge inconvenience. After we got the wiring replaced, we thought about taping a packet of TomCat somewhere on the engine to kill them off.

  9. i stopped the mouse problem we had by dropping bounce dryer sheets around the interior of the garage, storage shed, attic basement , you get the idea I try to replace every 4 months or so.
    Got this tip from a horse lover friend she has been using them for a few years. Added benefit is chipmunks don’t like it either. Hope this helps.

  10. We live in a 1700s farmhouse with a stone foundation, and mice love to spend the winter with us. The worst part of a mouse invasion is that mice don’t climb over electrical wires in the walls, they eat their way through them. We’ve had a bunch of wall fires since we moved here, and lose a few outlets each year. The mice ate through all our flex ducts, too. We had a contractor remove the first few rows of siding on our house and spray in foam insulation topped with cellulose in the wall cavities. That stopped the mice on the first floor in that section of the house. They still manage to get into the crawl space, however. I left the plumbing holes around my kitchen sink open and filled the sink cabinet with reusable DeCon (the rectangular ones, the round ones don’t work) mouse traps. One against each wall, and then one adjacent and just offset from each of those. I can catch up to five mice a night. Reusable traps are good because the smell of dead mouse attracts live mice. We also have a new neighbor with a lot of cats, and that has helped tremendously with the squirrel, chipmunk, weasel and mouse populations. I keep everything in glass containers, and open and check all drawers containing fabric items as frequently as I can. Some local farmers told me to leave all cabinet doors open in the garage, basement and barn to stop nesting. Your tips are excellent! Good luck!!

    • Oh gosh, gigi, I’m sorry to hear of your mouse troubles! So far we haven’t had any chew through electrical wires (that I’m aware of) but it does worry me. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Good luck to you!

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