How to Get Rid of Mice for Good in 14 Steps

Scuttling in the walls keeping you up at night? Here are tips for getting rid of mice—without resorting to cruelty.

By Donna Boyle Schwartz and Evelyn Auer | Published Sep 30, 2022 10:58 AM

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How to Get Rid of Mice

Photo: istockphoto.com

A mouse infestation can be enough to make anyone skittish. Those pesky critters can carry a plethora of dangerous diseases and cause plenty of damage to your home, tearing up walls and wiring. Homeowners wondering, “How can I get rid of mice in the house?” will be pleased to learn that there are a variety of simple mouse infestation solutions.

First, prevention is key. Seal up the cracks and holes in which they can enter the home, and remove any food and water sources that may attract them. Keep outdoor clutter away from the home’s foundation and garage to minimize environments in which they might nest. Encouraging natural predators can help keep the population of potential mouse interlopers down. Build an owl box on the property—a barn owl can eat up to 1,000 mice a year! Owning a cat can also help keep mice at bay; not only are cats great hunters, but just their scent alone will discourage mice from taking up residence.

Should prevention methods fail, various manners of trapping can be effective in getting rid of mice. If you’re wondering how to get rid of mice in the house fast, check out this collection of methods that prioritize safe and humane practices. Not keen on removing these rodents yourself? Consider calling one of the best pest control companies like Terminix, Orkin, and Aptive to do the dirty work for you.

Time required: 1 week to 3 months, depending on the severity of the infestation
Difficulty: Beginner
Estimated cost: $10 to $200

Before You Begin…

How to Get Rid of Mice

Photo: istockphoto.com

Mice are nocturnal animals, so they tend to stay out of sight during the day. For this reason, it might not be obvious right away that mice are taking up residence in a home. Keep an eye out for streaks of dirt along floors and walls, noises in the walls at night, droppings around the house, or the smell of a dead mouse. Keeping the home clean and free of clutter will make it easier to spot these unpleasant signs of a mouse infestation and make it a less welcoming space for rodents.

Tips for How to Get Rid of Mice

  • Identify and fill in gaps where mice can enter the home.
  • Eliminate potential food sources like crumbs.
  • Utilize natural deterrents such as peppermint oil.

Safety Considerations

  • Use caution when handling mouse droppings or dead mice as they can carry harmful diseases and bacteria.
  • If it is absolutely necessary to use pesticides, be sure that they are placed out of reach of children and pets.

STEP 1: Plug all holes.

Mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a nickel, so stay vigilant by carefully inspecting your home’s interior and exterior walls as well as the foundation for holes. Large holes or cracks should be repaired; small ones can be filled with steel wool or copper scouring pads. Secure the plug to the sides of the hole so the mice cannot pull it out.

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STEP 2: Keep up with home maintenance.

Replace cracked or broken weatherstripping around doors and windows to ensure that pests (and drafts) cannot enter. Cover the dryer vent or any other exterior vents with ¼-inch hardware cloth. Make sure to seal up any spaces around window- or wall-mounted air conditioners.

How to Get Rid of Mice

Photo: istockphoto.com

Mice won’t stick around a home that doesn’t offer a steady supply of food and water, so get rid of the obvious sources of sustenance first. Store all food (especially pet food and birdseed) in airtight containers, wipe up stovetop spills promptly, and fix any leaky faucets. Equally important, seal all trash cans tightly, and empty them frequently. Then, move your exterior trash cans as far away from your home as possible to avoid attracting pests.

STEP 4: Clear outdoor clutter.

Keeping the outside of your home clean and tidy removes potential hiding places for mice around the house, garage, and yard. Don’t allow weeds, brush, or trash to pile up near your foundation, and keep firewood well away from the house. Look into natural ways to kill weeds, or consider hiring a professional to keep the exterior of your home looking presentable.

STEP 5: Clean out your garage.

Mice aren’t too picky when it comes to choosing a place to nest—their priorities are shelter and access to food and water. If they can find those elements in a garage, or even under the hood of a car, they will make their home there. Reduce clutter where mice can hide their nests by storing items on shelves or in sealed containers. Make sure any holes or gaps in the garage’s siding are patched. This is especially important for houses with attached garages, as the garage can serve as an easy entry point to the home. Also consider moving any extra food or pet bowls that are stored in the garage to another location that is out of reach of rodents.

How to Get Rid of Mice

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 6: Try a natural deterrent.

For a chemical-free repellent that leaves your house smelling sweeter, head to the supermarket. A few drops of peppermint oil on cotton balls strategically placed at any potential entrances to your home should be an effective mice repellent. Alternatively, you can make a spray to address these same spots using 1 teaspoon of peppermint oil and 3 cups of warm water.

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STEP 7: House a purr-fect predator.

Find a tomcat for your Jerry by visiting your local animal shelter and asking to foster or adopt nature’s own mouse-control system: a cat. Even the most pampered princess will turn into a huntress when confronted with a mouse. Plus, you get the added benefit of a warm and fluffy companion long after mouse-hunting season is over.

STEP 8: Reuse and recycle.

Scoop used kitty litter and scatter it outside around your home’s perimeter. Mice will smell the cat waste and stay away. Dried snake poop from a pet store also gets the job done. You may want to place the waste products in containers so that children and pets don’t play with the mess.

STEP 9: Zap ’em with ultrasonic sound.

Try using ultrasonic electronics to keep mice at bay. Available at hardware stores and home centers, these units emit ultrasonic beeps or whines that ward off rodents. These sounds will also annoy dogs and cats, though, and work only if the mice are in close proximity.

STEP 10: Have a heart and consider a humane approach.

Rather than harming the mice, consider a humane approach by catching and releasing the critters using a commercial box trap. Or, make a similar device on your own: Place some chocolate on a tray and cover it with an inverted large bowl. Lift one side of the bowl, and stand a quarter or half-dollar underneath to keep the container tilted. When the mouse scurries underneath for the chocolate, it will knock over the coin and cause the bowl to drop. Once you have the mouse trapped, release it at least 1 mile from your home, preferably in a wooded area.

How to Get Rid of Mice

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 11: Trap if you must.

The best mouse traps, while old school, can be effective when other methods fail. Conventional snap or glue traps can be baited with peanut butter or cheese and placed where there are mouse droppings, especially under sinks, inside drawers, and behind furniture. Check the traps daily, and use plastic gloves or a plastic bag to remove any mice—do not touch a dead mouse with bare hands. Deposit immediately in an outdoor trash can.

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STEP 12: Carefully consider pesticides.

When researching “what can I put down for mice?” a common answer is one of the best mouse poisons or pesticides. Although many rodent poisons line the shelves of home improvement stores, some mice can be resistant to arsenic or anticoagulant poisons like warfarin. Moreover, rodent poison is extremely toxic to humans and other animals, and it shouldn’t be used around children or pets. Remember: An animal that eats a poisoned rodent can become sick or die. Think twice about this option before picking up a box of pellets, and consider consulting a professional to make sure they are used safely.

STEP 13: Consider hiring a professional.

It’s stressful enough to realize that mice have infiltrated your home and will not leave of their own accord. If the problem is severe or feels overwhelming, enlisting an experienced pest control specialist is a great way to make sure the problem is taken care of for good. Mice aren’t just a nuisance; their presence can also be a health hazard. Pest control technicians have both the tools and the experience to remove mice and their droppings without further contaminating the home. They know how to get rid of mice in the walls and other areas that are difficult to access. In addition, many professionals carry humane lethal traps or use capture and release methods that are kinder to the wildlife than traditional traps or pesticides.

STEP 14: Prevent future infestations.

If you’re looking for the best way to get rid of mice in your house, eliminating the conditions that attracted them in the first place is essential. Mice have a unique ability to wiggle through what seem like impossibly small spaces wherever they can find them. First, repair any gaps in doors or siding with duct tape, caulk, or steel wool. Keep up on maintaining grass and shrubbery, as an overgrown lawn can attract all kinds of critters—not just mice. Inside the home, repair any leaks or damp areas in basements and attics. Don’t forget to double-check packages or other containers that have been outside for stowaways before bringing them indoors.

Mice are notorious for reproducing very quickly, so time is of the essence when it comes to dealing with a mouse infestation. Even if you have only seen one mouse, the odds are that more are nesting nearby. Taking the actions outlined above should discourage these unwanted visitors from becoming permanent residents. But if the problem persists, it may be worth scheduling an appointment with a pest control service that knows how to get rid of mice in the house for good. Remember that while mice are not dangerous or aggressive creatures, they have the potential to contaminate the home with viruses, bacteria, or even additional pests like fleas and mites. For the health and safety of everyone in the home, it’s important to be sure that mice are removed as soon as you become aware of the problem.

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