The occasional appearance of a mouse scurrying around an apartment was not out of the norm while living in Boston. The centuries-old infrastructure and densely populated areas made Boston the second-highest rated area in the United States for mouse and rat sightings in 2017. I don’t usually think of mice when I think of Boston Strong, but being a city dweller has taught me how to get rid of mice!
When my family and I changed scenery by moving to a charming 1800s New Englander in the white mountains, it was only a matter of time before mice tried to move in for the winter. Thankfully I had some tricks up my sleeve. Follow along for my best tips and tricks on how to get rid of mice in your home.
Prevention Is Key
It’s a common misconception to assume having mice in the home is a result of being unclean. However, that is not always the case. Mice can be found in the cleanest homes, often resulting from easy access outside of the house.
But, unkempt homes will indeed attract more mice. Food waste such as crumbs on the floor and countertops, encourage mice to stick around. You must take a proactive approach and create a cleaning schedule to stay on top of any mess.
- Clean your dishes.
- Put away your produce.
- Wipe down your countertops.
- Sweep, vacuum, and mop daily.
- Store your foods such as cereal, pasta, or rice in airtight containers.
- Make a habit of doing your laundry frequently. Dirty piles of clothes on the floor will attract rodents, as they will nest there to stay warm.
- Keep pet food in airtight containers rather than in bags.
- Clean up leftover birdseed.
- Make sure garbage and compost piles are tightly sealed.
- Firewood should be elevated above the ground and stored at least 20 feet away from the home. Mice love to build nests in woodpiles.
- Keep your yard clean, free of debris. Leaf piles attract mice as it provides shelter and warmth.
- Empty any containers in the yard that hold standing water. This includes forgotten toys from the summer (water tables or buckets) that may be collecting water. Standing water will attract mice.
Sealing Up The House
Homeowners often wonder, “How do mice enter homes?” Mice are incredibly agile and can fit through a hole the size of a dime. Thus, homeowners should check the outside of their homes thoroughly for any cracks in the foundation. Other than cracked foundations, mice can also access homes through air vents, baseboards, attics, windows, ceiling, floors, and sewer lines. These sneaky critters will also find their way into your home through the sink or bathtub drains if the drainage pipes have not been sealed properly. Yikes!
As the temperatures drop in the fall and winter months, mice will seek out shelter. Now is the time for homeowners to mouseproof their homes. But, one look down the silicone caulking and sealants aisle at your local hardware store, and you’ll quickly come to realize that your in and out trip for caulking just got a bit more complicated. There are dozens of brands and types available and they’re all specialized for different things.
One of the biggest target areas for mice is gaps where your siding meets the foundation. This is especially true in older homes. Use an exterior rated product such as DAP Dynaflex Ultra Exterior Window Door and Siding Sealant to close those gaps and prevent mice from entering.
For interior caulking, something paintable and multipurpose like DAP Alex Flex White Premium Trim and Moulding Sealant works wonders. It’s perfect for gaps, trim, and around the baseboards. It can be painted once dry. For large interior and exterior gaps where mice and other pests can enter, look to a foam sealant such as Great Stuff with Pest Block. It’s specially formulated to help keep mice and other pests out and can cover large gaps. Layer the application with steel wool or screening in very large gaps.
How To Get Rid Of Mice When You Already Have Them In Your Home
Okay, so the thought that a mouse can enter your home in so many ways and wreak havoc with a mini-army is terrifyingly gross. If you happen to spot a mouse in your house, know that there is no such thing as having only one mouse. There are likely several more mice in your home that you’re not seeing. A female mouse can produce up to 25 to 60 offspring in one year. That’s not good news! So, how do you get rid of them if you already have them? You’ll have to set some traps.
I understand that for animal lovers, the thought of harming a mouse can seem upsetting. But, mice do pose serious health risks to you and your family, as they spread germs and disease. The most effective mouse traps are classic snap traps.
Although using poison is a popular choice amongst many homeowners to rid their home of a mouse infestation. I would recommend homeowners use a different method. Poison is considered an inhumane option, as killing rodents with poison can be slow and painful. Also, the use of poison can be a potentially dangerous threat to children and pets. It’s possible for mice to spit poison out and or track it throughout the home, making it easily accessible for a young child or a pet.
Additionally, when I mouse successfully ingests poison, they may travel to their nest within your walls, under your stairs, and die, creating a terrible stench. This rotting smell is not easily fixed unless you take down your wall or remove a floorboard. You could, however, wait until the smell passes. Yet, I don’t believe this would be a popular option. Repeating this cycle is anything but ideal, which is why I recommend snap traps.
Traditional snap mouse traps are the preferred way of ridding your home of mice as they are easy-to-use, quick-killing, and low cost. Even though the snap trap may not be the best solution for those that are squeamish, it is highly effective.
Although more expensive than the classic mousetrap, electronic mouse traps are an excellent alternative for those sensitive to seeing a dead mouse, as the box is enclosed. Along with its concealed design, the electronic mouse trap has a high success rate, as it quickly kills mice with an electric shock. These reusable mouse traps are ideal for home with children and pets.
Always wear gloves when setting up your mouse traps and placing bait. A mouse can detect your scent and will avoid the traps if you failed to wear gloves. When choosing mouse bait, forget the cheese. Lure the mice in with irresistible mouse trap bait, such as peanut butter, chocolate, or Nutella. You’ll find that some mice prefer meaty baits, such as dried sausage or SlimJims. Just be sure not to use too much bait because you’ll want the mouse to trigger the trap. Place mouse traps in areas where there is a high probability for mice, under the stove, under the kitchen sink, or baseboards.
Things To Consider When Using Live Traps
Live traps, though well-intentioned are discouraged by the CDC. When a mouse is caught within a live trap it may frighten them, causing the mouse to urinate and possibly spread harmful germs and disease. The CDC also warns against glue traps, as they also pose a serious health hazard. The CDC recommends a snap trap instead.
Natural Mouse Repellants
Aside from mouse traps, there are other steps you can take to control mice. You can use the following natural mouse repellent methods:
- Lavender, peppermint oil, cayenne pepper, or cloves: Sprinkle or place the scents on cotton balls and scatter in several places around the home.
- Adopt a cat: The presence of a cat will also help keep mice away, as mice tend to build homes where they feel safe. A house with a cat is not at the top of that list. Although having a cat will not solve your mouse problem, it will undoubtedly ease it.