Chapter 4: How to Get Rid of Mice
If you’ve discovered a mice infestation in your home or business, try not to panic. There are ways to control the problem, and help is available if the infestation is large or difficult to pinpoint. The first step to getting rid of mice is assessing the infestation size and determining whether it’s large and spread throughout your home, or small and in one area. That way, you can place enough traps to reduce the population.
You’ll need to note feeding areas, droppings, runways and any nests you find. If you discover droppings of various sizes, you’re likely dealing with a growing mice population and need to take an aggressive approach.
The last thing you’ll want to do is try living with mice. Mice carry diseases and destroy structures, and a small infestation can grow into a big one quickly. We’re ready to help you take back your home, peace of mind and favorite snack drawer. This chapter will show you how to get rid of mice and keep them out of your house.
How to Kill Mice
If you were a mouse, where would you hide that would enable you to nibble on food throughout the night without traveling more than 20 feet from your nest? To eliminate mice in your home, it helps to think like a mouse. When you can put yourself in a mouse’s “shoes,” you can place traps strategically. One strategy is to set traps around the perimeter of an infested room since mice like to travel along walls and tend to avoid open spaces.
With that said, catching mice can still be tricky due to their feeding habits, where they hide and how they travel. For example, if mice live behind a stove and feed on crumbs, you may not be able to catch them by placing traps along the edge of the kitchen. Also, even though mice might stay within 10 or 20 feet of their nest, it doesn’t mean they won’t travel between floors or rooms within that territory.
Using poison bait can also be challenging. Mice nibble at various locations, so they may not take enough bait for it to have a lethal effect. However, the poison may cause some discomfort and teach the mouse to avoid the bait in the future.
Lastly, mice hide food to snack on later, so even if you take away their food sources, they may have enough stored away to survive on for a while.
If you have doubts, questions or struggle to control the infestation, you may want to call a pro. In the meantime, you can try trapping the mice in your home. Trapping is the primary method of rodent control and can be an effective way to catch and kill mice. If you have a large mouse population in your home, you’ll need to use many traps.
The three most commonly used traps include snap traps, glue traps and multi-catch traps. Here’s a little bit about each one:
1. Snap Traps
Snap traps are the standard wooden mousetrap and are considered the best way to control a small infestation. When a mouse steps on the trap’s trigger, a spring powers a metal bar that quickly kills the mouse.
You can place bait or nesting materials in snap traps to attract mice. You’ll want to focus on trap placement since that will impact your results the most. It’s also important to use enough traps for the infestation size. Here are tips for placing snap traps:
- Place traps in high-activity areas, such as along walls, in drawers and cupboards, near droppings and close to any nesting or feeding sites.
- Space traps 5 to 10 feet apart.
- Use boxes and other objects to create new pathways for mice leading them to the traps.
- If you don’t catch any mice within three days, move the traps around.
- If children or pets may come near traps, place the traps in a rodent bait station.
- Do not place traps directly above food or food preparation areas.
Baits work best when they are the preferred source or only source of food, so you’ll want to eliminate food access before placing traps around. Here are some bait tips:
- Set the trap with the bait treadle across the mouse’s path to make it easy for the rodent to grab the bait.
- Use bait with a strong odor, such as peanut butter or bacon.
- Frequently check the bait and replace it if it’s moldy.
- Consider baiting traps with nesting materials such as strips of cloth, cotton balls or string if food is already plentiful.
2. Glue Traps
Glue traps for mice are similar to those used for insects. They include a layer of sticky material that traps mice and usually kills them by suffocation. Many people would prefer not to use glue traps and consider them inhumane. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend glue traps because they can scare mice, cause them to urinate and increase the risk of disease transmission. However, glue traps have some advantages, such as being easy to place and inexpensive. If you decide to try glue traps, here are some tips:
- If you choose to place bait in the center of the trap, avoid greasy foods such as bacon as they make the glue less effective.
- Place glue traps in bait stations in extreme temperatures or in dusty or damp areas to maintain effectiveness.
- Make sure to place glue traps in bait stations if children or pets are present.
- Do not put glue traps in direct sunlight, extremely cold temperatures or near open flames.
- Avoid placing glue traps corners as mice might slow down and test the trap before stepping on it completely.
- Place glue traps lengthwise against the wall and not perpendicular to the wall.
3. Multi-Catch Traps
Multi-catch traps come in various styles and may use glue to kill trapped mice or simply contain mice to be released outside or killed. Multi-catch traps are usually metal or plastic boxes that appeal to a mouse’s curiosity. Once a mouse gets trapped, other mice smell the contained mouse and follow their lead.
Multi-catch traps may be ideal for businesses because they keep mice contained and out of sight. You can place multi-catch traps in dark corners, along walls or in stored materials. Since mice like to explore, they won’t hesitate to go into the dark entrance.
If you want to explore less common options to get rid of mice, here are a few more to consider:
Electric Box Trap
An electric box trap is more expensive than snap traps or glue traps but kills mice quickly. With an electric box trap, mice run into the battery-powered device to catch the bait. Once they enter, they step on a plate with an electric current running through it, and it instantly electrocutes them. Electric box traps can be a good option to protect pets and children in the house, and it’s considered a more humane way to get rid of mice.
Another way to kill mice is to place poison baits, or rodenticides, outside of the home, as long as you can keep them away from pets and children, such as in a locked shed or garage. Rodenticides come in several forms, such as baits, tracking powder and fumigants. Rodenticides are effective for killing rodents before they get inside the house. Rodenticides are best used by professionals.
Clean Up and Seal Up First
Before you bother trapping or killing mice, it’s essential to take steps to keep mice from entering your home. This includes cleaning up food and clutter, sealing food in thick plastic or metal airtight containers, and sealing gaps and holes around your home.
How to Get Rid of Mice Naturally
If you want to try to get rid of mice using home remedies, first, seal up your home and keep mice from entering. Be sure to keep the yard clean and clutter-free as well.
To get rid of a mouse without killing it, you can create a trap to catch the live animal and put it back outside, or purchase a live trap for capturing small creatures. To use a live trap, place it in the same areas as you would snap traps. To keep the trap humane, make sure it is protected from harsh weather elements and predators. Check the trap every morning to keep mice from dying of starvation or dehydration. If you want to kill a trapped mouse humanely, experts recommend applying a quick, heavy blow to the back of the mouse’s head.
Unfortunately, live trapping is not the best way to get rid of mice for several reasons. First, mice may re-enter if you did not seal up your home. They have a great sense of direction and can find their way back to your home even if you release them some distance away.
Also, the CDC does not recommend using live traps. Like glue traps, live traps can cause mice to urinate out of fear, and increase your risk of being exposed to germs.
Lastly, live traps usually are not the most effective option for large infestations.
Once you’ve removed mice from your home and closed openings, you can deter them from re-entering by applying spearmint, peppermint or eucalyptus oil to runways and entryways.
How to Get Rid of a Dead Mouse
If traps are successful and you find a dead mouse in your home, the CDC recommends taking these steps to dispose of the rodent:
- Wear rubber, vinyl or latex gloves.
- Spray the dead mouse with a disinfectant and let it soak for five minutes.
- Place the dead mouse in a plastic bag and tightly seal it.
- Throw the bag into a covered trash can.
- Remove the gloves and thoroughly wash your hands.
How to Keep Mice Away
The best way to prevent another infestation is to keep mice from entering your home by sealing up holes and gaps. You’ll also want to keep your home as clean and clutter-free as possible to remove hiding spots and make your house less attractive to mice. To prevent mice from entering your building or home, take these steps:
- Determine if you can seal holes with caulk, and if so, use the appropriate material.
- Install chew-resistant barriers over gaps, such as a wire mesh, or wedge stainless steel wool into openings.
- Seal openings around doors and windows with door sweeps and weather stripping.
- Install a squirrel guard around bird feeders to deter mice.
- Trim bushes and trees to keep mice away from the house.
- Close burrows with rocks and dirt after you get rid of mice in your home.
- Keep garbage covered with tight-fitting lids.
- Remove hiding spots outside such as trash, weeds, piles of wood or rocks.
- Avoid piling wood against your home.
- Remove clutter within the home to eliminate hiding spots.
- Secure all food in metal, plastic or glass containers since mice can chew through bags and cardboard.
- Clean up uneaten pet food, and do not leave pet food out overnight.
- If trash contains food or wrappers, empty it every day.
- Keep dishes clean and free of food residue.
- Put leftover food away and clean up spills immediately.
- Fix plumbing leaks and do not leave glasses of water sitting out overnight.
What Scent Will Keep Mice Away?
Mice generally do not like the scent of peppermint, eucalyptus or spearmint. However, even though they may not like the smell of these oils, it doesn’t mean they won’t find a way into your home. The best way to keep mice away is to seal holes and keep the inside and outside of your home clean and clutter-free.
Does Vinegar Get Rid of Mice?
Although vinegar has a strong scent, it won’t likely keep mice away and won’t eliminate them.
Do Mothballs Keep Mice Away?
Mothballs may temporarily deter mice, but eventually, they’ll find new paths to avoid the mothballs.
Do Dryer Sheets Repel Mice?
As with mothballs, mice might avoid dryer sheets at first, but eventually, their search for food and shelter will be more important than avoiding strange smells.
What Is the Best Mouse Deterrent?
Unfortunately, there is no magic mouse deterrent to keep mice away. On the bright side, you can prevent an infestation by removing entry points, food sources and shelters.
Can You Fully Get Rid of Mice?
It is possible to get rid of mice completely, but it will take time, effort and continual monitoring. Since mice are excellent at squeezing into small places and hiding, it’s hard to tell if you’ve caught every mouse. It can also be tricky to find and adequately seal every opening in your home.
A professional can identify mouse entry points, help you control the problem and prevent future infestations. It’s always best to contact a pro for a widespread pest problem.