Although they are small, mice can cause big problems when they enter your home. They can carry and spread disease and, since they breed quickly, they can do damage to your home and your belongings if left unchecked.
No one wants to think a mouse infestation is in the home, but if you are seeing any of these signs, you may have a rodent problem:
- Unexplained tears, holes or shredding in clothing, fabric, insulation or other materials.
- Small holes in desk drawers, kitchen cabinets and other furniture.
- Mouse droppings; these are black, granular in shape and are three to six mm in length.
- Strange rustling and scratching noises in the walls, especially at night.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mouse poisons account for thousands of calls to poison control centers each year, and research shows that remnants of these highly toxic substances can linger around your home for years, posing a danger to your family members, your pets as well as plants and wildlife.
You have probably seen cartoons throughout your life of mousetraps wedged with bits of cheese, but you may be looking for other ways of removing these pests from your home and then keeping them out.
As is the case with many pests, including insects, ridding your home of mice can be a bit of trial and error. However, here are some effective – and natural – ways to get rid of them.
Peppermint oil is a natural product that is safe for both humans and animals, but mice hate the smell. Simply place a few drops of 100 percent pure peppermint oil on some cotton balls and then leave the cotton balls in areas where you have seen evidence of mice.
Other options for deterring mice with mint are to place mint plants or mint leaves around your home or even to smear mint toothpaste along baseboards or cabinet corners where mice have been. Another idea is to brew some strong peppermint tea and place it in a spray bottle. You can then spray the tea in areas where mice have entered your home.
The smell of mint will lose its effectiveness in a day or two, so be sure to replace the oil, mint or toothpaste several times a week for best results.
Bay leaves also have a strong odor that mice dislike. Try scattering some bay leaves in your pantry, kitchen cabinets and on shelves where mice have been active.
Mice also detest the smell of cloves. As you did with the peppermint oil, you can put several drops of clove essential oil on cotton balls and place the cotton in areas mice have gathered. Another option is to place whole cloves in a cotton mesh bag and set or hang the bags in trouble spots.
It may sound a little unusual, but mice do not like aluminum foil. They cannot chew through it easily, and they do not like the sound it makes when they walk on it. Therefore, you can place aluminum foil in areas mice have entered, or cover areas they have walked with sheets of aluminum foil.
Similarly, scented dryer sheets are a good mouse deterrent. You also can use them to seal cracks and crevices where mice may have entered or place them in areas where you suspect mice congregate at night.
Another safe way to deter mice is with baking soda. Simply sprinkle baking soda in trouble areas. You can sweep or wipe it up in the morning and reapply in the evening for best effectiveness.
Now that you have gotten rid of the mice that have taken up residence in your home, let’s look at ways to keep them out.
The bad news is that mice can enter your home through gaps, cracks and openings in your home that are as small as a dime. Your first line of defense is to find and seal these openings. Be sure to examine areas where utility wires (such as for cable TV or the phone) enter your home. Also, look at areas around exhaust fans and dryer vents as well as the edges around windows and doors.
You can stuff steel wool into larger gaps before sealing them with caulk. Mice have difficulty chewing through steel wool, so it serves as a deterrent.
Mice are nocturnal and are constantly foraging for food and for bedding materials. Here are some tips for making the interior of your home less attractive to mice:
- Store food –including cereals, rice and flour — in airtight containers.
- Wipe down counters and sweep floors of crumbs at least once a day.
- Pick up pet food bowls after feeding.
- Keep sink and counters free of dirty dishes.
- Empty kitchen trash at night.
- Keep outdoor trash cans away from home entrances.
- Remove and recycle old newspapers and magazines.
Finally, one of the best ways to keep mice away from your home is by adopting a cat. Cats are natural predators of mice.
Additionally, mice have strong aversion to the odor of cat urine and stay away from a home when they detect the smell. In fact, even if your cat is lazy at hunting mice, placing tubs of used kitty litter around the perimeter of your home can do the trick of keeping mice away
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