No mice or rats allowed – two
In this post I’m listing as much as I remember about making a house less attractive to mice and rats. You may think mice are only a country pest but big cities are full of them too. I never was successful at keeping mice and rats out of the old house because of the neighborhood but I’m determined none shall move in here. In my posts I’m writing mice but it applies to rats as well. Hopefully you’ll find something useful here if you wish to prevent them at your own home. If you have anything to add please tell all of us with a comment below. Click any photo for a closer view. Exterminators are expensive and only temporary fixes. You would do much better putting the money into DIY mouse prevention because you can do the same thing for nearly free.
- Expect a battle. Keeping a house mouse proofed is a lot of work. You must start by getting everything super clean and keep it that way… no matter how tired you are of cleaning.
- Mice can sniff out even the tiniest crumb of food. Being super clean is no guarantee the mice won’t move in anyway if they find good nesting materials.
- Mice can survive several days without food while they wait for you to make a mistake of leaving food for them. Be vigilant! One slip up and the mice know they can wait you out.
- Never leave any food out overnight on counters or elsewhere. That includes the empty snack chip bags where you watch tv, pet feeding bowls, or fruit not suited for refrigerator storage. I never leave dehydrated food in the dehydrator if the drying is finished.
- Eating in bed is an invitation for rodents to come share your bed at night as they follow the smell of food crumbs. The box springs could be a nice hiding place while the mice wait for a nightly meal. As I said before, nothing is more creepy than making your bed in the morning to find mouse poop on the pillow where your head lay the night before.
- Never leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight. Always put clean dishes away so any wandering, searching rodents won’t be soiling them by walking over the dishes as they search of food scraps or water.
- Keep the stove and counters super clean. I admit my stove could be cleaner but I do have a nightly habit of wiping down the stove and counters as soon as the dishes are done.
- Sweep the kitchen floor every evening after the last meal. Crumbs have a sneaky way of landing on the floor during meals. Especially if you have small children. Mice think crumbs on the floor are your way of telling they are welcome here.
- Mop the kitchen floor as soon as it gets dirty. I mop my floor once a week. More often if something has been spilled.
- Use a cloth covered yard stick or broom handle to sweep under the stove and refrigerator if they sit close to the floor. You’ll catch any food that may have accidently found its way under there as well as clear up any dust. Mice like undisturbed dusty areas to travel. In the beginning days of refrigerators (ice boxes) they had legs to raise them above the floor or were set on stands above the floor so there was no hiding place underneath for mice.
- Be sure to clean the corners of the floor where dust and hair may accumulate. Mice use dust and hair as nesting materials. Mice have been known to chew up small areas in corners of carpet for nesting materials too.
- Take out the trash every evening. My new grocery bag holder makes this easier to do. If I don’t have a large trash can I won’t be tempted to wait until its full to take out. If taking the trash outside isn’t possible then be sure the inside trash can has a snug fitting lid.
- Move outside garbage cans away from your house if possible. Mice will be attracted to the smell of food in the can and be tempted to check out your house for nesting options close to the outside food source. Cans should also have a tight lid. Our city furnished trash cans don’t have tight fitting lids but the lid is heavy.
- Store bread and other baked goods in glass or metal containers with tight fitting lids. Some of us may be old enough to remember wooden or metal bread boxes and glass cookie jars in every kitchen. I remember glass cake plates and pie plates, both with glass covers. A plastic bread bag or paper donut box won’t keep mice out. Mice can smell food through paper and plastic so they will chew through them to get at the food. You may notice tiny holes that look like simple pin holes; those are mouse feeding holes. I bake my own bread but I slice it and put into the freezer the day its baked. I take out only the number of slices I need for my meal.
- Inside the refrigerator is a good place to store things where mice won’t get to them, even if the food doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
- Produce that doesn’t require refrigeration should also be stored inside metal or glass containers. I found that the aluminum cans which cookies, pretzels, or popcorn are sold can also be good metal containers to use for storing produce on counters. Caution, do not put foods into a metal container then forget about it. The closed space will trap the ripening gases and make the food go bad quicker.
- Put all stored pet food in sealed glass, heavy plastic, or metal containers too. I’ve got my furry kid’s food in a heavy duty plastic container. I put his feeding bowl and water bowl in the center of the room when he eats because rodents are less likely to look for food out in the open. I always empty, wash, and put his bowls away before bedtime.
- Mice are attracted to forgotten corners of the basement, garage, shed, closets, attic, or other long forgotten undisturbed areas. Keep storage areas clear of clutter. Don’t store things in cardboard boxes. If you must store things put them into containers with tight fitting lids. Move everything around often to confuse the mice scent trails. If you haven’t moved the stored stuff for a long time maybe you don’t need it anymore? Now might be a good time to get rid of that old couch stored in the basement or garage. Now might be a good time to donate old clothes or craft items you haven’t looked at for months.
- Have you found tiny holes in clothing you haven’t worn for awhile? What about tiny holes in your craft fabric? Those tiny holes could be moth damage but it may also be mice testing or gathering the fabric for nesting materials. Sort through stored clothing often. A rarely opened dresser drawer or storage box of off season clothes could be just the right place to birth a litter.
- Storing things up high will not prevent mice from getting at it either. Not even the top of the refrigerator or a closet shelf is safe storage. Mice can jump really high and will find a path to anything they can smell. This includes climbing strings, electric cords, clothes on a hanger or jumping from place to place.
- If you have a dedicated pantry space consider painting it white or very light color to avoid creating dark, welcoming corners for mice to hide. If possible leave the pantry door open so human activity is in full view.
- Keep the outside of your home clear of any junk that may be attractive hiding places for mice.
- If you have fruit trees or nut trees clean up any that’s fallen to the ground. Ok, I admit it may be tempting to leave the fallen pieces for the outside critters but it will attract mice too. When that food banquet is gone all those mice will be searching for more food. Maybe inside your house.
- Keep the grass cut low to let in plenty of sunlight at the ground.
- Move bird feeders away from your house. The seeds the birds eat are very attractive to mice too. Store extra bird feed in a sealed container too.
- If you keep bags of grass seed in a garage or shed next to old furniture or boxes of books the mice will love you. Put the seed into thick plastic cans with lids.
- Mice are like water. If there is a way in they will find it. Mice have flexible bone structures and can fit through a crack only 1/4 inch or a hole as small as a pencil eraser. Stuff any crack or crevice where mice may find a way into your house with steel wool pads. Not the kind with soap. Be sure its stuffed in such a way that they can’t simply push it out of the way.
- If you can stand the smell, mothballs are sometimes a temporary solution for keeping mice away. I can’t use mothballs. I get extremely nauseated at just a mere hint of moth balls. I can’t even walk past packages of it in a store without getting very sick.
- Cedar can be a good smelling deterrent for mice and moths too. I keep pieces of cedar in drawers, hanging in closets, and
Now for a bit of history about the mouse problem at my old house. Here is a link to a post I wrote early in 2015. Aww..gee whiz
TO BE CONTINUED: