Mice are super cute in a Disney movie, but when they are in your house, it is a different story. The fall and winter months are the perfect time for rodents to try to get into your warm home, and it's never too early to start mouse-proofing.

During the winter, mice are looking for food, water, and shelter. And if you see one mouse in your house, chances are there are a lot more, because they don't mind living with humans, and they multiply quickly.

The Signs You Have Mice

mouse gnawing on a cord

Droppings

If you see trails of poop pellets on your kitchen countertops, there are probably mice in your house. Mice carry a ton of illnesses and bacteria, and a buildup of their droppings can make allergies and asthma even worse. Mice poop a lot, and if your infestation has gone on for a while, the mice droppings can cause a distinct and unpleasant smell in your home.

Wall Markings

Mice leave a scent and grease trail wherever they go, and since they tend to avoid open spaces, they travel near walls and baseboards. When a mouse rubs up against a wall, it leaves behind dirt and oils from its fur, and the smudges look like handprints on a painted surface.

Gnaw Marks

If you see gnaw marks on boxes and bags of food in your pantry, you may be hosting unwanted guests. But mice chew on more than boxes and bags: they can also chew through walls and wires -- and that can lead to a house fire.

How To Mouse-Proof Your Home

mouse on a dirty counter

When you have mice in your house, the best thing to do is to take action and get rid of them as fast as you can. Mice can start nesting quickly, and they may never leave after finding a source of food and shelter.

Unlike some other pest infestations out there, a mouse infestation is possible to take care of yourself without calling a professional. Start by eliminating what the mice are looking for: food, water, and shelter. Rodents are resourceful, and they can get water from leaks and can find shelter just about anywhere. That means that food is where you need to focus your plan of attack.

Eliminating food is crucial when it comes to getting rid of a mouse problem, and you can start by cleaning all food debris from surfaces and floors. Next, store your food in places that mice can't access, like the refrigerator or sealed containers that mice can't bite through.

This goes for pet food as well as people food. Make sure your pet's food supply is off-limits to mice, and only put out enough food for your pet to eat one meal at a time. Never let pet food sit out all day.

Next, add door sweeps and barriers to exterior doors, since mice often enter the house the same way you do. Make sure to look for unconventional entrance points, like holes or cracks. A mouse's skull is only the width of a pencil, so if you find a hole or crack that you can stick a pencil in, a mouse can get through it, too.

Close up all holes, especially the ones that you find near pipes or wiring -- they could easily become a mouse superhighway. And when you fill the holes, use high-quality materials like silicone caulk, stainless steel, or copper mesh so that the filling lasts a long time and doesn't rust.

Even if you haven't found evidence of mice in your home, these are great steps to take for prevention.

DIY Mouse Repellent Options

peppermint oil

There are a lot of DIY mice repellent ideas floating around on the Internet. While there is no evidence that these methods work, if you want to try some, the most popular are:

Peppermint Oil

One way to repel mice, some say, is to put cotton balls soaked in undiluted peppermint oil in the areas where mice would enter your home. You want the mice to smell the oil before they enter so that they don't come in. The oil supposedly masks the pheromone trail that the mice leave in your home -- the trail that tells other mice where to go.

You can also try spraying peppermint oil near the areas where you suspect mouse activity. To make the spray, mix two teaspoons of peppermint oil with one cup of water. Though peppermint oil may prevent mice from entering your home, once the mice are inside, the scent is not going to get rid of them.

Dryer Sheets

Mice have poor vision, but they have a fantastic sense of smell. They are sensitive to some smells, and you can use that to your advantage. Mice do not like the smell of dryer sheets, so to prevent them from entering your home, you can place strips of the sheets near entry points and along their trail. But, just like peppermint oil, dryer sheets won't drive mice out of your house if they are already living there. Instead, it is best to use dryer sheets as a repellent.

Cayenne Pepper And Tabasco Sauce

Another home remedy often recommended for mice removal is to sprinkle cayenne pepper or drops of Tabasco sauce near areas where mice can enter. Again, this is supposed to work because the mice don't like the smell. This remedy will work better as a repellent, however, because once mice are in the house, the human smells won't make them leave.

Mouse Trap Options

mouse in a trap

The only method that is sure to get rid of mice for good is using mousetraps. Here are some popular trap options:

Wooden Traps

There is a reason that wood and wire snap traps are a classic fix -- they work. The best option for getting rid of mice is to bait these traps with peanut butter, oats, or dried fruit and then place them where mice travel, like along walls and baseboards.

These traps are cheap, and trapping is an effective method that works quickly. Since your goal is to catch all of the mice within the first few days of setting the traps, you should buy several more traps than you think you will need and set out at least half a dozen to start. If you put out just one or two, it could take you weeks to catch all the mice.

Also, set your traps strategically instead of just setting them in random places. Try to figure out where the mice are living and building their nests, and then set your traps in those areas.

wooden mouse trap

Plastic Snap Traps

If you find that the wooden traps are too difficult to set, you can try a reusable plastic version. One of the best-rated mousetraps on the market is the Snap-E Mouse Trap.

Electric Traps

Electric traps are also a good option. They are quick and clean, and you don't have to touch the mouse.

Catch And Release

If you prefer a more humane mousetrap, you can use the Havahart Mouse Cage Trap, which circulates air in the cage until you can release the mouse.

Plastic-Enclosed Snap Traps

Enclosure traps are also an effective method, and they are safe to use around children and pets. Just make sure to bait this trap correctly so that the mouse stops long enough to trigger the snap.

The good news about finding a mouse in your house is that you don't have to call in a professional and spend a lot of money. If you don't mind spending a little cash, electric mousetraps are a fantastic option, but if you're on a tight budget, the plastic and wood snap traps work just as well.

If you don't want to touch the mouse, the enclosed mouse traps are the right option for you. And if you prefer a no-kill trap, then go with the catch-and-release method. Any of these traps will help you get rid of mice for good.

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