Mice can bring serious health hazards into your home, so it is important to know how to get rid of mice and start treating the problem immediately upon noticing signs of an infestation. If you see one mouse scurrying around, you can be certain that a host of friends and family are nesting nearby. This guide will teach you how to get rid of house mice effectively and how to prevent mice from returning.
What Attracts Mice?
Mice seek out warm nesting areas with proximity to food and water. As a result, your house, garage, shed or garbage bins can all look like perfect homes for a mouse. Common house mice tend to nest in warm, out-of-the-way areas such as near refrigerators, water heaters and furnaces. They can squeeze into impossibly small spaces; a 1/4-inch hole, crack or gap is enough to allow a mouse to pass through. Given the opportunity, a mouse will sneak through one of these openings into the warmth of your home, especially during cold winter months.
What do mice eat? Mice prefer to eat nuts, cereal and grains, but they will eat whatever food they can find, including produce, chocolate, pet food, bird seed and cheese. Their sharp teeth allow them to easily gnaw through paper and plastic food packaging. Mice may also wander your home in search of nesting materials, with a preference for soft things like bits of cotton and shredded paper.
Once they gain a foothold in the home, getting rid of mice can be difficult, so it’s important to act quickly. On average, a single mouse will reproduce 10 times per year, so just a few fuzzy freeloaders can quickly become an infestation with serious health repercussions. A buildup of rodent waste can aggravate allergies and asthma; mice also can spread illnesses, including Hantavirus, Lassa fever and leptospirosis.
How Do You Identify a Mouse Infestation?
Whether or not you currently have a mouse problem, it’s good practice to stay vigilant for signs of a potential rodent infestation.
- Claw or chew marks on and around food packaging and shelves. You may also notice claw and chew marks on wood baseboards and doorframes.
- Food debris on shelves or in unusual places.
- Sudden shorts in lights or other appliances. Mice are notorious for chewing on and damaging wires.
- Droppings that look like small oblong specks and can collect in cabinets, under sinks or near appliances. Mice droppings may be hard to see, so use a flashlight when searching for them in cabinets and other dark corners.
- Nests made of shredded paper, string, fabrics or other pliable materials.
- Scratching noises in the walls at night may indicate a rodent or other pest infestation.
- Odd pet behavior such as barking, alertness or pawing under appliances and furniture could be a response to mice in the house.
How Do You Get Rid of Mice?
Getting rid of mice completely can take some time, but by attacking the problem methodically using multiple solutions, you can get excellent results. Learning how to get rid of house mice starts with identifying and eliminating any existing and potential mouse entrances.
Check for entrances in common spots for mouse activity:
- Where pipes enter the basement.
- Pipes that connect to appliances, such as under the sink or behind the oven or refrigerator.
- Along basement foundations.
- Chimney openings and vents.
- Along baseboards.
- High points where walls meet.
- Outdoor storage, such as sheds, garages or compost bins.
Use a physical barrier to cover over any gaps you may find. Mice can't chew through steel, so use a wire mesh screen to close off any opening you find outside, and steel wool and caulk for any mouse holes you find indoors.
Once you seal off all the possible entrances, the next step in getting rid of mice is choosing and strategically placing traps. There are many different types of mouse traps, so weigh the pros and cons of each and select the best traps for your situation.
Safety Tip: The CDC has advised against the use of glue traps and live traps. Trapped mice can be frightened into releasing urine, which can spread germs and diseases.
What Are the Different Types of Mouse Traps?
Where and How Should You Set Mouse Traps?
Regardless of which types of mouse traps you choose, you need to set them correctly to successfully trap mice.
- Always wear gloves when handling traps and bait. Not only is wearing gloves important for your health and safety when dealing with pests, but also mice can detect your scent and may avoid the traps if you handle them without gloves.
- The best bait for mouse traps is a highly attractive, calorie-dense food like peanut butter, hazelnut spread or chocolate. In the winter, you can also choose to bait traps with nest-building materials such as a cotton ball, yarn or twine.
- Use only a small amount of mouse bait to ensure the mouse triggers the trap. Note that if you use sticky mouse traps, you do not need to use additional bait, since they are one type of pre-baited mouse trap.
- Set traps close to walls and if possible in concealed areas such as in the back corners of cabinets and pantries, under appliances and other areas you see signs of mice.
- Set many mouse traps close together, about 2 to 3 feet apart. In especially high-traffic areas, you can set mouse traps as close as a few inches apart.
How Do You Prevent Mice?
While it's important to know how to get rid of mice, it's also important to keep mice out for the future. Indoors and out, there are a number of preventative steps you can take to make your home less hospitable to mice and decrease the chance they'll return.
Perform upkeep to make outdoor areas less inviting.
- Add squirrel guards to bird feeders and hang them away from your house.
- Keep outdoor cooking areas and grills clean and free of food debris.
- Locate compost bins and woodpiles at least 100 feet away from the home.
- Store grains and animal feed in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids.
- Do not leave animal feed or water dishes out overnight.
- Elevate garbage cans, hay and woodpiles at least 12 inches off the ground.
- Cut back shrubs and low branches within 8 feet of the house.
- Keep grass cut short within 20 feet of the home.
Rethink food storage.
- Keep food in airtight containers made of metal or thick plastic.
- Do not leave produce out on counters or tables.
- Do not leave pet food or water out overnight.
- Consider limiting food consumption to one area of the home.
- Clean up spilled food right away.
- Wash dishes and cooking utensils immediately after use.
- Store trash and food waste in rodent-proof containers and empty frequently.
- Clean indoor garbage containers frequently with soap and water.
- Vacuum regularly to ensure no stray crumbs are left in carpets or rugs.
- Discard items mice may use for nesting materials, such as newspapers and old magazines.
Tip: When trying to prevent mice infestations in outdoor buildings such as sheds and barns, consider using a mouse repellent.
Now that you know how to get rid of mice, you can act quickly to get them out of your home before they multiply. Remember to eliminate mouse entrances and take preventative measures to ensure there are no repeat infestations. Ready to get the supplies you need to get rid of mice? The Home Depot delivers. Just say when, where and how.