Get those scurrying, squeaking pests out of your house without hurting them
No one wants to share their home with pests, especially mice. These critters might look cute, but they can cause serious damage to your home and can carry diseases that risk your family’s health. Here’s how to determine if you have this common pest in your home and how to get rid of mice as safely, humanely, and quickly as possible.
Why Do I Have Mice In My Home?
Mice and other types of rodents come into your house looking for food, water, and shelter. The cereal boxes in the pantry are easy to hunt for, and your home provides a warm place to nest during freezing winters or a cool place to stay out of the heat during the summer. Mice love snacking on grains, fruits, and seeds, which is why it’s essential to keep pantry items tightly secured.
How Much Does It Cost to Get Rid of Mice?
The cost of mice removal depends on how many mice you’re dealing with and whether you plan to get rid of them on your own or hire a professional. A professional pest control service costs around $200 to $600, based on the size of the infestation. DIY solutions like humane traps cost about $5 to $15 per live trap, and natural repellents may cost less than $25.
Signs of a Mice Infestation
When you have mice in your home, you’ll know it. Aside from seeing mice outright, there are many tell-tale signs of a rodent infestation.
Droppings: The unpleasant reality is that mice will leave droppings around the house. Mouse droppings are about ¼-inch long, while rat waste is typically larger.
Holes: You may see holes along baseboards, usually in places near food like kitchens and pantries. A mouse hole can be as small as the width of a pencil.
Sounds: If you hear scuttling around the room or in the ceiling, you may have mice or other pests in the house.
Musky smells: Like droppings, mice need to excrete urine, leaving behind an acrid or musky scent similar to ammonia or damp wood.
Damaged food packaging: If you find holes or tears in your snack bags, toss it immediately, as this is a common sign that mice have been into your food.
Mice sighting: Another clear sign of mice? You see one (or more)!
How to Get Rid of Mice
Mice can cause many problems for your home and family, including chewing through drywall and wires and contaminating your food. If you suspect mice in your home, here’s how to get rid of them humanely.
1. Use Natural Repellents
Mice dislike several strong scents, so you can use essential oils or homemade sprays to make your home a less appealing shelter for these creatures.
Some natural mice repellents include:
Cloves or clove oil
Spray made with one part water to one part apple cider vinegar
Spray made with red pepper flakes, sliced hot peppers, dish soap, and water
Douse cotton balls with liquid repellents and tuck them in corners where you suspect the mice live or frequent. With sprays, apply the spray outside of the house and any entry points inside. Refresh the repellent cotton balls every few days, and respray around the house at least once per month.
2. Set No-Kill, Live Traps
Many mouse traps kill the mouse either on contact or slowly. Either way, those products are considered inhumane. To humanely remove mice from your home, consider setting up live traps around the house. The mice can get into the trap to get the bait, but they can’t escape. Then, you can relocate the mice at least 1 mile from your home.
3. Consider Ultrasonic Devices
Like us, mice want a cozy, quiet place to settle down. Ultrasonic devices are designed to emit sounds that the mice and other pests can hear, creating an unpleasant environment that drives the mice out.
You may want to use these devices along with other repellent measures, like homemade sprays. Ultrasonic devices alone aren’t the most effective mice-removal method because walls and furnishings can block the sound. You can buy an ultrasonic product for about $12 to $50.
4. Fill Holes With Steel Wool
If you notice mouse holes or other entry points around the house, seal them with steel wool. Steel wool is difficult and uncomfortable for mice to chew through, so it will naturally deter them from your home.
5. Adopt a Cat
As long as no one in your family has a cat allergy, consider adopting a furry friend to take care of your mice problem. Cats can help catch mice, but their presence is also intimidating enough to turn your home into an unwelcoming shelter for mice. Mice can smell a cat and will be naturally repelled from your house.
How to Prevent Mice
Once you’ve driven the mice from your home, you’ll want to take steps to prevent them from returning. Remember, mice are looking for food and shelter, so make sure you’re not inviting them in with cozy, cluttered places to nest and unsealed food packages around the house.
Remove Food Sources
Mice can chew through cardboard boxes and plastic bags in their relentless pursuit of food. Make sure your family’s food, including pet food, is sealed and cleaned up to keep rodents out.
Remove flours, cereals, pastas, and other dry goods from their packaging and store them in tightly sealed, reusable glass or metal containers.
Clean up crumbs and spills from counters, tables, and floors daily.
Clean your pets’ food bowls after they eat.
Keep pet food in tightly sealed packages, or consider storing them in an airtight metal pet food container.
Clear Out Clutter
If you’ve been putting off decluttering, take this as a sign to get started. Those stacks of papers or clothing piles make perfect nesting sites for mice. If you want to keep mice away from your home, declutter your house to minimize nesting places and materials for these pests.
Take Out Recycling
Don’t let recycling pile up by the kitchen trash can. The layers of cardboard, mail flyers, and newspapers offer plenty of easy-to-access nesting materials for mice. Clear out the recycling pile daily to prevent mice from nesting in this spot.
Seal Entry Points
In addition to using steel wool to seal any mouse holes, you can also take preventative action by sealing other entrances around the house. Use caulk and weatherstripping to seal doors and windows, and consider using caulk and steel wool or metal sheets around any other gaps or holes. Mice only need openings about ¼-inch wide, so be mindful of sealing any gaps, even if they seem too small to you.
DIY Mice Removal vs. Hiring a Pest Control Service
Most DIY mice removal methods and repellants cost about $5 to $50. Live traps start around $5 to $15 each, while ultrasonic devices range from $12 to $50. You can make homemade sprays with chili peppers or essential oils for a low cost, especially if you already have the ingredients on hand.
But homemade solutions aren’t always effective, especially if a large family of mice has made your house their home. If you suspect a large infestation or DIY attempts aren’t doing the trick, you’ll need to hire a pest control service as quickly as possible. Professional pest control for mice costs about $200 to $600. You can hire a local pest inspection specialist to survey your home and provide a free estimate for removal services.
Live traps: Pest control offers live trapping and relocation for larger pests, like rats, starting at about $50 per animal.
Exclusion: The company will seal entry points for around $200 to $600.
Fumigation: Fumigation is a last resort for infestations that have become out of control. Fumigation services cost about $1 to $3 per square foot.
Ongoing service: You may request ongoing inspections and treatments monthly, quarterly, or yearly for $40 to $550 per visit.
Check out these answers to common mice control questions.
What smells will keep mice away?
Several strong scents will repel mice, including cinnamon, peppermint, vinegar, clove oil, cedarwood, mint, chili peppers, and eucalyptus. You may want to soak worn cloths or cotton balls in essential oils with these scents (or vinegar) to repel mice, but remember to resoak the materials every 2 to 3 days for best results.
Do mice go away on their own?
Mice are very unlikely to go away on their own. As long as there is food and shelter available in your home, they’ll call it their home, too. If your DIY efforts aren’t working, you need to hire a local pest control service to remove the mice infestation. Aside from carrying diseases, mice can chew through wires, insulation, drywall, and more.