Struggling to Keep Mice Out of Your Home? Here's What to Do

Lisa Gauthier Mitchison
Updated September 30, 2021
Cat watching mouse hole
Daniel Grill vis Getty Images

Keep mice from settling into your home with these easy fixes

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Any home can become infested with mice, especially in the fall and winter when mice are looking for shelter and food. You may think your home is sealed up tight against pests, but mice can squeeze through a hole that is only one-fourth of an inch wide. If you spot tiny black droppings, nests, gnawed-on cereal boxes, or suspicious holes in your baseboards or inside your cabinets, you might need to take steps to protect your home against little Mickeys and Minnies because these mice are no fun.

1. Try Essential Oils

Using essential oils to deter mice from taking up residence in your home is a safe, natural pest control method for those with small children or curious pets or for anyone who wants to avoid chemicals. Peppermint oil is great to try as the first line of defense—plus, your house will smell great. If the mice don’t get the hint, you can always move on to something more aggressive. 

Find the entry points the mice use and apply peppermint oil—directly or diluted with water—to the area, or you can soak cotton balls in the oil and stuff them into mouse hidey-holes. Change out the cotton balls once a month to keep the smell potent. Mice dislike peppermint’s strong scent, but you can also try citronella, eucalyptus, and lemon.

2. Seal Holes and Cracks

Outside door with metal kick plate at bottom
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Prevent mice from moving in by making it as hard for them as possible. Mice are masterful at finding tiny openings in your walls or foundation. Inspect your foundation and close off any open areas you can find with the appropriate sealant or black foam. Also, check all cable wire entry points and seal where needed or install a rodent guard.

3. Check Closures

Make sure window and door openings around your home close properly and screens are intact. Seal up gaps at the bottom of a worn door with a metal kickplate; remember how little space a mouse needs to squeeze its way in. Mice burrow, and they are masterful climbers. Get your chimney inspected annually, and make sure it has a working vent cover.

4. Repair Damaged Fascia

Inspect areas where the gutters connect to the fascia board. Cracked or rotted boards will not only let in mice, but bigger rodents, too, such as squirrels, and of course, water. Get fascia repaired as soon as possible.

5. Cover Fans and Vents

Mice are smart, and an exhaust fan or dryer vent can look like a welcome mat to them. Cover exhaust fans and vents with a galvanized metal or copper screen with small enough mesh to keep rodents out. Check the screens annually to make sure nothing has gnawed on them.

6. Trim Trees

Exterminator spraying kitchen
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Remember that mice are good climbers? Tree branches reaching over your home are bridges for rodents. Keep tree branches trimmed, so mice don’t use them as direct pathways to your roof and home.

7. Call an Exterminator

When all else has failed, it’s time to call in the pros. Hiring an exterminator will take the stress off you, and a professional knows just where and what to look for. They can make recommendations for repairs or remediation as needed.

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