8 Tips to Help Keep Mice out of Your House in the Winter

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated October 26, 2021
Family keeping a kitchen clean and tidy
Photo: kate_sept2004 / E+ / Getty Images

Follow these tips to keep your home squeaky-clean of rodents this winter

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Winter is high time for Mickey and all his friends to infiltrate your home—after all, you’ve got all the warmth and tasty morsels a mouse could ever want. But you’re not an Airbnb for rodents, and you don’t have to leave your door open for those squeaky little intruders. Follow these tips to learn how to keep mice out of your house this winter.

1. Scope Out Any Easy-Access Entry Points

The best way to get rid of mice is to make sure they never get into your house in the first place. Perform a regular perimeter inspection by walking around your house a few times and examining the lower foundation and mid-structure for gaps, crevices, and cracks. 

Remember: These crafty creatures can fit into openings the size of a dime, so keep a sharp eye out, and don’t forget to put on your glasses.

2. Seal Off Any Holes, Cracks, and Openings

Should you spot any potential entry points, seal your house from mice post-haste. You’ll need a caulk gun and some exterior-grade caulk. Following the directions on the tube, squirt the caulk directly into the gaps. This will close off any small openings that a mouse might view as a “vacancy” sign.

3. Keep Your Home’s Exterior Clear of Edible Items

A woman petting her cat on the sofa
Photo: lisegagne / E+ / Getty Images

Mice are opportunistic, so anything edible is fair game to keep them full all winter. This includes birdseed, outdoor trash cans, and anything else that can provide sustenance.

During the winter, try to keep birdseed to a minimum. If you don’t want to stiff your feathered friends, keep your feeders as far from your home as possible, or try switching to hard seed cakes that won’t see as much spillage. 

Outdoor trash cans should go in your garage if you have one. If that’s not an option, be sure they stay tightly sealed so the mice don’t turn the space into an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.”

4. Clean Up Any Crumbs

Stray crumbs on your kitchen floor are like Santa’s cookies for mice. Since the only “presents” they leave behind are their own droppings, don’t offer them any incentives to stay. This means keeping up an extra-diligent cleaning schedule and making sure all of your food items are inaccessible to their prying claws.

Here’s your daily cleaning checklist to help keep mice out of your home this winter:

  • Wipe down your counters

  • Clean up food spills ASAP

  • Mop or vacuum floors

  • Seal all food in airtight containers

If you don’t already have a handheld cordless vacuum, this is a fantastic investment for quick and easy cleanup, especially around the oven and your pet or toddler’s food area. Work smarter, not harder, you know?

5. Consider Getting a Pet Cat 

Woman with grey cat on couch in front of fireplace
Photo: lisegagne / E+ / Getty Images

Tom and Jerry are no indication of the true relationship between a cat and mouse. Cats have keen predatory instincts and a sixth sense for rodents. They’re also great companions who will work for food and cuddles, so it’s something to think about if you think they’d be a fit for your household. 

Bonus: Cats are also an ultra-threatening presence for rodent vagabonds looking for a spot to set up camp.

6. Rid Your Home of Any Hiding Spots

The phrase “If I fits, I sits” applies to mice as well. These creatures love having little stuff-piles and hidey-holes to scamper around securely while the homeowners remain none the wiser.

Remove any clutter around your home and on your floors, such as your “not clean, but not dirty” laundry pile, those coupon flyers you haven’t clipped yet, your child’s stuffed animal parade—anything that could provide shelter for the rodents. 

You’re aiming for wide, open spaces that make a mouse feel like they’re uncovered (and an easy meal for the cat).

7. Set Live or Poison-Free Traps

Setting a mouse trap remains one of the most effective ways to get rid of mice. However, glue traps sentence mice to a painful death by hunger, and poison is far less kind (not to mention dangerous for your children and pets). Poison traps can also negatively impact the environment, so they’re not a green mouse-removal solution.

Live traps are the most humane option, as they trap the rodent inside without harming them. However, don't forget to check them regularly; a mouse will die of starvation inside if trapped for too long. When you release them outdoors, make sure you do it in a place where (unoccupied) shelter is available.

8. Hire a Rodent Exterminator 

If you’re spotting signs that your house has a rodent infestation, it might be time to call a professional. Developing a rodent plan with a local pest control service is the only way to get the three blind mice—and all their pals—out of your swamp for good. 

Be sure to ask about humane mice removal if you are concerned about that, and to ensure humans and pets stay safe during the process without the use of harsh chemicals or poisons.

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