How to Keep Mice Out of the House

Mice may seem like cute, fuzzy, harmless little creatures that have been humanized as the lovable characters of many children’s books and cartoons, but when real mice enter your home they pose a major threat and become one of the most troublesome household pests for homeowners.

Mice spread disease and can also be quite destructive. They build nests in walls and chew on anything in their way, including electrical wires. They get into human and pet food and leave their feces on every surface they touch, spreading diseases such as hantavirus and bacteria such as salmonella.

Sometimes it’s impossible to keep mice out of your home, especially if you live in a warm or wet climate where they thrive year round. But there are a number of measures you can take to help mouse proof your home. As with many household pests, when it comes to keeping mice at bay, prevention is the best method.

Tips for Keeping Your Home Mouse Free

There are a number of easy preventative measures you can take to help discourage mice from taking up residence in your home, and some of them may even help improve your home. For example, sealing up holes and cracks where mice can get through can help keep your heating and cooling bills down too.

Get rid of the things that attract mice: You’ll find signs of mice most often in the kitchen, because mice are looking for food. You’ll have fewer mice by keeping the kitchen clean and limiting the food items they prefer.

  • Mice will gnaw through items like cereal boxes and bags of grains, so keep these items stored high off the ground. Try storing your food in airtight containers such as Tupperware and mason jars that mice can’t penetrate.
  • Keep dishes out of the sink, the countertops clear, and prep surfaces like cutting boards clean at all times. Mice are nocturnal and come out at night when humans aren’t around, so make sure you leave a clean kitchen behind before retiring for the night.
  • Keep food in the kitchen in order to contain the things that attract mice the most to one room in the house. Don’t allow your kids to take food into other rooms and set a good example by doing the same.
  • Watch out for pet food that may attract mice. Pets usually eat down on the floor and sometimes leave bits of kibble around that can attract mice. Clean the area around your pet’s food bowl daily and remove any food left in the bowl after meal times. Store your pet’s food in an airtight container too.

 Secure your structures: Solid construction is a good mice deterrent. When a home is airtight, mice have a much harder time taking up residence inside. Keep in mind that the average house mouse weighs only half an ounce and has a body that’s only a couple of inches long. Most mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime or through a crack the width of a pencil.

  • Seal cracks around windows and doors. Use the flashlight test at night to identify spots where your home isn’t airtight. You’ll need to have one person on the outside of doors and windows with a flashlight and one person on the inside to mark the spots where the light shines through. Perform the test a second time to make sure you’re all sealed up.
  • Mice can enter homes through spots around plumbing and pipes, such as the areas underneath your bathroom or kitchen sink. You can fill in these gaps with spray foam insulation.
  • A leaky roof, untreated wood, rotting siding, and structural damage to your home’s exterior can all be invitations to unwelcome mice. If mice can get inside a damaged wall they can take up residence there and create further damage. Replace any dilapidated materials around your home’s exterior.
  • Freestanding sheds, garages, and other structures around your property can also harbor mice. Securing these structures keeps mice off your property and even further away from your home. Move wood piles away from the home and clean up piles of brush and yard waste.

Population Control

Mice multiply quickly. Most mice live for under a year, and a female can have fifty or more young during her lifetime. Her young can begin reproducing when they’re less than a month old. There are a few tactics for keeping mice populations down, in addition to prevention techniques.

  • Dogs and cats are excellent mousers. Encourage your pets to hunt mice by sending them outdoors to the spots where you see signs of rodents. Adopting a barn cat to live on your property can help keep mice away from your home, while indoor cats will hunt the ones that make it inside.
  • Trapping mice with traditional or live traps can get rid of a mouse problem before it escalates out of control.

Photo Credit: “Field mouse at bay” by Zorba the Geek


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