Piles of tiny droppings, scratching noises in the walls, tiny footprints on a dusty shelf, and holes chewed through food containers are all telltale signs that rats have taken up residence in a home. While poisons and traps are effective means for offing these little pests, lethal solutions aren’t always feasible for households with pets and children. Rat repellents offer a solution that’s safer, all natural, and more humane.
These products are either scent-based or sound-based solutions. Pellets, packets, and sprayers drive rats away by emitting strong odors that do not bother humans but that rats can’t tolerate. Ultrasonic repellents emit sound waves that humans and pets can’t hear but that cause rats auditory distress.
This guide will outline the advantages and disadvantages of these nonlethal rodent remedies and recommend the best rat repellent products for your property.
- BEST OVERALL: Fresh Cab Botanical Rodent Repellent
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Victor M756K Pestchaser Rodent Repellent
- BEST ULTRASONIC: Neatmaster Ultrasonic Pest Repeller Indoor Repellent
- BEST SPRAY: Natural Armor Peppermint Repellent
- BEST FOR CAR: Loraffe Under Hood Rodent Ultrasonic Rat Repellent
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Rat Repellent
Ahead, discover the pros and cons of ultrasonic and scent-based rat repellents and learn about the important considerations—including coverage and longevity—that shoppers should think about before purchasing one of these humane pest solutions.
There are two types of rat repellents: scent-based and ultrasonic repellents. Scent-based products are sold as sprays, pellets, or packets. They work by dispersing a strong smell, usually peppermint or pine, that rats dislike. Liquid sprays are applied to areas where rats enter the home, such as doorframes, windows, cracks, and crevices, leaving behind an oily residue. Packets are small pouches of dry ingredients and are ideal for positioning around the exterior or interior of a home.
Pellets are infused with a mix of nonessential oils and other odiferous ingredients. With pellets, users can fine-tune how much of the product is distributed—a sprinkling of pellets in smaller spaces, such as a drawer or cabinet, and larger quantities in a garage or bedroom.
Ultrasonic pest repellents use sound to send rats packing. Their sound waves are inaudible to humans but irritating to rats. Indoor ultrasonic devices are plugged into a standard wall socket and are similar in size to a plug-in air freshener. Ultrasonic waves cannot penetrate walls, so more than one unit may be required to treat an indoor infestation. Purchasing enough of these devices to treat an entire home could be costly, depending on the size of the home.
Outdoor ultrasonic repellents are essentially small transmitters that are attached to stakes and powered by a solar cell. Users drive these stakes into the ground just as they would solar walkway lights. These devices typically cover a radius of about 40 feet.
Scent-based repellents use natural ingredients—typically aromatic essential oils, such as peppermint, cinnamon, spearmint, and balsam—to drive off rodents. While the scents from these oils are offensive to rats, most homeowners rather like them. In a way, these fragrant oils sort of double as air fresheners. Packets and pellets use dry forms of these oils, while sprays typically dilute the liquid forms.
Unlike rat killers or mothballs, scent-based rat repellents don’t contain harsh chemicals or poisons, making them safe for use around humans and pets. They’re also safe for the environment.
Both scented and ultrasonic solutions have limited ranges. Scented sprays are only strong enough to cover the immediate area where the spray is released. Pouches are more potent and typically cover up to a 125-square-foot area. Pellets’ coverage ranges vary depending on how many pellets are used. A few pellets may be enough to treat a small closet, while a handful can create enough scent to protect a whole shed.
Most ultrasonic waves can travel up to about 40 feet or until they encounter a structure or other solid object. Using an ultrasonic device to remedy a rat problem inside a home usually requires multiple units because these sound waves cannot pass through walls.
Working Time and Longevity
Rat repellents work fast. Scent disperses quickly into the air, and the irritant drives rats away almost as soon as they encounter it. Ultrasonic repellents begin to work as soon as they’re plugged in, and the sound waves carry to where rats are hiding. A household can expect results from rat repellents within days, if not hours.
The length of time these rat-revolting products last has a lot to do with which product is used. Scent repellents eventually wear out but will continue to work after humans can no longer smell them. Expect them to be effective for 6 weeks or more. Rats have a more developed sense of smell than humans, which is why strong odors such as mint and pine are so offensive to them.
Though ultrasonic devices may cost more at the outset, they will last much longer because they rely on electricity or solar power to relay an audio tone—there’s no product to run out of. Ultrasonic repellents can last for several years before they wear out.
Our Top Picks
Below are the choices for the best rat repellent products in packet, pellet, spray, and ultrasonic forms. While these products may employ different means, they will all help drive rodents from your property.
Many rat repellent solutions don’t just drive away rats; they’re also offensive to humans (we’re looking at you, mothballs). This botanical isn’t just an effective rodent repellent; it also functions as an air freshener. Fresh Cab Botanical Rodent Repellent’s main ingredient is balsam fir oil, which is an appealing scent to humans but encourages rodents to steer clear of your homestead. This product is all natural and is thus both safe for use inside the home and easy on the environment.
Fresh Cab is super easy to use: Simply place a pouch or two in every room (one pouch treats about 125 square feet) to create an effective rat-repelling barrier. Although Fresh Cab is one of the more effective means of keeping a home rodent-free, it’s also one of the pricier options because it may take 20 pouches or more to protect larger homes. Fresh Cab comes in packs of 4 and 12 pouches.
Ultrasonic sounds cannot pass through walls, which is why outfitting an entire home with plug-in ultrasonic devices for each room can get pricey. Victor’s set of six ultrasonic Pestchasers offers terrific value for money: There are enough gadgets here to outfit an average-size home, and they each have a lifespan of 3 to 5 years. This set offers very good value for money because it costs about the same as a single ultrasonic device from another manufacturer.
When plugged into a standard electrical outlet, each unit emits a high-frequency noise that is loud enough to cover a medium-size room. The sound is inaudible to humans but really irks rodents. The units are low profile, measuring less than 2 inches by 2 inches, and emit a soft blue glow—they’re essentially rat repellents and night-lights in one compact device.
For homeowners who don’t want scented repellents and don’t mind spending a little more to solve their rat problems, this ultrasonic device from Neatmaster is an excellent option. It measures less than 5 inches tall and about 3 inches wide and plugs into a standard wall outlet.
One of this unit’s main advantages is that it can be set to one of three ultrasonic sound frequencies. The green and blue settings are for minor to moderate rat problems. At these levels, the Neatmaster emits sounds that are inaudible to humans. The red setting is for severe infestations, and the sound emitted is actually audible to humans. Colored LED lights indicate which setting is activated. Remember that ultrasonic waves do not pass through walls, so you’ll need a Neatmaster for every affected room.
The active ingredient of Natural Armor’s spray-on solution is peppermint oil, which drives rodents crazy but leaves a pleasing aroma behind for us humans. Applying the spray to areas where rats enter the home, including doors, windows, vents, pipes, and cracks, will create an effective barrier against rats and other rodents. This product does not contain chemicals, so it’s safe to use around pets and children and isn’t harmful to the environment.
Natural Armor comes in a 128-ounce bottle, which includes a trigger sprayer for application. One bottle covers about 4,000 square feet. While this product will not stain woodwork or furnishings, it will leave an oily residue on surfaces.
Rats can wreak havoc on an automobile, chewing through wiring or even building a nest inside the vehicle. Loraffe’s device repels rodents by deploying a two-pronged strategy: It emits a high-pitched sound and flashes three LED strobe lights, and rats detest both the noise and the lights.
This repellent installs under the hood of a vehicle and attaches to its 12-volt battery via a simple, two-wire installation. The emitter uses minimal battery power but will automatically shut itself off if it senses that the battery’s voltage has dropped below 10.5 volts. This product is not suitable for hybrid electric vehicles.
FAQs About Rat Repellents
If you’re wondering how nontoxic repellents can rebuff rodents from property or are trying to determine if rats have invaded your home, read on for answers to these important questions.
Q. What are the signs of a rat infestation?
There are numerous warning signs that indicate there might be a rat infestation on your property. The most common evidence is rat droppings. A single rat can produce up to 40 droppings per night, so this is one of the best ways to identify a rat problem. You might also notice damage to walls and food containers, which could be signs of rats chewing through walls and packaging to get food or gain access to the home. Other indications include scratching noises in the walls or ceilings and tiny footprints in dusty areas.
Q. What are natural repellents for rats?
Essential oils are some of the best natural rat repellents. Rats have a highly developed sense of smell, which makes strong odors such as pine oil, cinnamon oil, and even peppermint oil offensive to them. Cayenne pepper, cloves, and ammonia will keep rats away as well.
Q. What frequency keeps rats away?
Ultrasonic sound waves with frequencies above 20 kilohertz cause rats auditory stress and thus ward off the pests.