How To Get Rid Of Mice In Your Home (Homeowner’s Guide)

Last Modified on July 15, 2022 by Zachary Smith

The Pests Stop Here!

(408) 871-6988

You’re a gracious host, but if there’s one group you’d prefer not to share your home with, it’s mice. In addition to damaging your home, mice carry diseases and can put your family’s health at risk. Fortunately, learning how to get rid of mice is easy.

Here at Smith’s Pest Management, we specialize in helping people get rid of mice in their walls, ceilings, insulation, and more. Our team offers various humane and eco-friendly rodent control services, and we know a thing or two about how to remove mice from your space.

In this post, we’ll share a few of our top tips and help you find the best way to get rid of mice in your home.

Let’s dive in.

What Attracts Mice To My Home?

mice infestation at home

Right now, experts estimate that there is one rodent for every person in the U.S. These hardy creatures live in virtually every country and every type of terrain, from grasslands to forests and everything in-between.

While mice are good at making homes in the wild, they’re also happy to enter a warm home if given a chance. Here are three main things that attract mice inside:

1. Shelter

As the weather cools down and winter sets in, mice make their way inside homes, seeking shelter and warmth. Thanks to their small bodies, they can fit through spaces as small as ¼ inch.

2. Food

Mice need consistent food sources to stay alive. That means they’ll set up shop any place they can find enough food to sustain them.

3. Nesting materials

Mice make nests to birth and rear their babies. They prefer soft materials like shredded paper and cotton but will also use pet hair, insulation, and anything else they can get their paws on.

How Do I Know If I Have A Mouse Infestation?

While mice are tiny creatures, the clues they leave behind tend to be noticeable. Look for these sure-fire signs of a rodent infestation:

  • Chew-or scratch-marks on shelves and around food packaging. You may also notice telltale scratches on baseboards or around floor trim.
  • Food crumbs or debris on shelves, in the pantry, or unusual places – like the middle of the floor.
  • Mouse droppings, which look like small, oblong pellets. These are common in well-used mouse corridors, under sinks, in the backs of cabinets, or in the corners of rooms. Use a flashlight to spot droppings more easily.
  • Nests made of fabrics, shredded paper, pet hair, string, or other soft, shredded material.
  • Noises like scratching or squeaking in the walls at night.
  • Odd pet behavior such as barking and scratching or pawing at or under appliances. This may indicate your pets are aware of a pest infestation.

7 Ways To Get Rid of Mice Naturally And Humanely

If you have a mouse infestation in your home, it is possible to eliminate the animals without killing them.

natural way to get rid of mice

Here are a few humane, yet effective tips:

1. Remove all food sources

Mice only need small amounts of food each day. To get rid of them in your home, remove the things they like to eat. Store all grains, pet food, and other dry goods in glass or metal containers, which keep food secure since mice cannot chew through them.

To avoid attracting mice to your property, seal all potential food sources in tamper-proof bins, avoid leaving pet food out for long periods, and clean up all spills and messes promptly.

Pros: Affordable, humane

Cons: Labor-intensive, must be maintained continuously, not 100% effective

2. Get rid of nesting materials

Ensure mice won’t find soft nesting materials by storing all fabric, rugs, and blankets in heavy-duty plastic storage bins. Remember that mice will also chew up cardboard, paper, or lightweight plastic to make nests, so it’s wise to dispose of your household’s recycling quickly.

Additionally, pay some attention to the outside of your home. Remove foliage and tree branches within three feet of your home’s foundation, and keep both the inside and outside of your home tidy and free of garbage.

Pros: Protects your textiles and fabric goods, easy

Cons: Time-consuming, inconvenient to have bedding and rugs in storage, will not get rid of existing mouse populations

3. Seal entry points

As the temperature dips, mice will try to make their way inside. Block their entry by using caulk or weather-stripping to seal tiny holes in your foundation, siding, and doorways.

Cover holes with duct tape, and poke steel wool into vent openings to dissuade entry without restricting airflow. Steel wool is impossible for mice to chew through and will naturally deter the rodents.

Pros: Effective, eco-friendly, humane, safe for kids and pets

Cons: Labor-intensive, must be maintained and checked regularly

4. Use natural mouse repellent

Mice have a strong sense of smell, and you can use that to your advantage to get rid of them. Try these natural mice repellant options:

Wondering what smell will keep mice away? Try any of the following options:

  • Apple cider and water. Make a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water. Put it in a spray bottle and spray it around the perimeter of your house, as well as in any indoor access points. Re-apply any natural deterrent you use at least once a month.
  • Fabric softener sheets. Stuff these sheets into entry points to stop mouse traffic immediately.
  • Hot pepper solution. Mix chili flakes, sliced habaneros peppers, dish soap, and water to create a spicy pepper spray that will deter mice. Spray the mixture anywhere you’ve noticed mouse activity. While this mixture is not poisonous to people and pets, it can irritate the eyes, nose, and mouth, so be sure to avoid clothing, furniture, and any place people or pets frequent.

Pros: Effective, affordable, humane, safe for kids and pets

Cons: Requires regular re-application, will not get rid of large existing mouse populations

5. Get a cat

Cats are some of the most effective mouse deterrents out there. If you can adopt a cat to help keep your mouse population down, do it. If you live in a place that doesn’t allow cats, find a friend that has one and place tubs of used kitty litter at the entrances to your home. Mice may vacate the premises upon smelling cat urine.

Alternatively, go to the store and buy some pure ammonia. Ammonia smells like the urine of a predator and will deter mice. Leave ammonia-soaked cotton balls in places the mice like to frequent.

Pros: Effective way to get rid of mice

Cons: Not applicable to people who live in homes or apartments that do not allow animals

6. Try live traps

You can purchase live traps at hardware and home goods stores. Set them up anywhere you’ve noticed mouse activity, and bait them with peanut butter, cheese, or popcorn.

Once you’ve caught a mouse, release it at least a mile from your home. Otherwise, it may come back again. Be careful to wear heavy gloves and avoid touching the mouse directly.

Pros: Effective, humane, can make quick work of existing mouse populations

Cons: Labor-intensive, must set, bait, check, and empty traps regularly 

7. Use sound

Ultrasonic units can be effective at keeping mice away. Plus, these deterrent devices are safe for kids, pets, and other animals. Find them at your local hardware store and place them anywhere you’ve noticed mouse activity in your home.

Pros: Effective, low-profile, low-maintenance

Cons: Requires altering the aesthetic of your home, ultrasonic devices must be checked and placed manually

8. Use essential oils

Essential oils with a strong smell, such as peppermint and clove oil, can repel mice.

For best results, soak cotton balls in the essential oil of your choice and put them in areas you’ve noticed mouse activity – such as drawers, cupboards, and under sinks.

While the smell won’t eliminate mice, it can be an effective deterrent when combined with other methods.

Pros: Easy, affordable, safe for kids and pets. 

Cons: Won’t get rid of mice on its own, cotton balls will need to be re-soaked and refreshed every few days. 

3 Conventional Methods To Get Rid Of Mice

If you’d like to take a conventional approach to get rid of mice, these methods are an option:

conventional mouse trap

1. Trapping

Trapping is the fastest way to get rid of mice. While live traps catch mice and allow you to release them, other traps kill the mice on contact, making quick work of mouse populations.

Classic wooden snap traps are adequate for light mouse infestations, while bait traps and multiple-capture traps are ideal for larger mouse populations. Traps can be baited with peanut butter, bacon, or dried fruit.

Pros: Effective, fast-acting

Cons: You may have to set multiple traps to catch just a few mice, you need to check traps and dispose of dead mice, glue traps are inhumane, baited traps may attract household pets and other animals, mice frightened by traps may spray urine, thereby spreading toxins and disease such as hantavirus and lymphocytic choriomeningitis. 

2. Baiting

Bait stations are sealed packets containing poison meal or pellets meant to kill mice. These packets are sealed in plastic, paper, cellophane, or other material mice can chew through easily. When the mice eat this bait, they die.

Smith’s Pest Management does not use or condone bait stations. If you live in California and want to use bait stations, be sure you understand California’s laws surrounding the use of rodenticides.

Pros: Effective, fast-acting

Cons: Dangerous, expensive, inhumane, requires application only by a licensed professional, may harm kids, pets, and other wildlife, you must search the house to find dead mice who have consumed the poison, mice may spread or spit out poison in different areas of the home.

3. Repellants

While there is a selection of natural repellents available to deter mice, Smith’s Pest Management also uses professional repellants for severe infestations. We place these repellants strategically to get rid of rodents and help you reclaim your property.

Pros: Effective, humane, eco-friendly

Cons: Requires re-application, time-intensive

How Do Exterminators Get Rid Of Mice?

mouse exterminator in the bay area

When it comes to rodent control, our team uses various tactics, depending on the situation.

Here are the three steps Smith’s Pest Management takes:

1. Initial consultation

Each project we begin starts with a phone consultation and onsite inspection.

During this phase, our team will identify the access points mice are using to get into your home, look for signs of mice, such as droppings and damage, and gauge the severity of the infestation.

2. Action plan

Once we’ve gathered that information, we’ll establish a management plan using a selection of practical, natural, humane, and holistic methods.

3. Rodent control

Finally, we’ll deploy our selected rodent control method so you can get life back to normal. We rely heavily on trapping, which contains and removes mice without risking wildlife, pets, and children.

Our professionally-trained staff has years of experience in the pest-management world and is specially equipped to help you navigate your pest control issues with humane, no-kill methods.

How Do I Keep Mice Out Of My House?

mouse proofing home

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Instead of coping with a mouse infestation once you have it, follow these tips to keep mice out of your home in the first place:

1. Use a mouse-proof barrier

When you find mouse access points in your home, seal them with steel wool, metal sheeting, or other material mice can’t chew through. A combination of caulk and steel wool also works well.

2. Mind your weather stripping

Worn-out weatherstripping is an invitation for mice to enter your house. With this in mind, replace loose weather stripping around your home’s windows, doors, and basement foundation.

3. Add screens

Place durable wire screens over vents, openings to chimneys, and any other gaps. Consider also installing door sweeps on all exterior doors and repairing damaged screens.

4. Place a dehumidifier

Make your home a less appealing mouse habitat by keeping attics, crawl spaces, and basements dry and well-ventilated by placing a dehumidifier in these places.

5. Keep exterior doors closed

Keep exterior doors closed tightly at all times, or install a screen door to keep pests out.

6. Be mindful of what you bring in

Before you bring in the holiday decorations or last season’s ski clothing, inspect all items carefully to ensure mice aren’t living within them.

7. Keep your landscaping neat

Store all firewood at least 20 feet from the house, and keep shrubs, trees, and other landscaping trimmed back from your foundation and siding.

8. Only eat at the table

The fewer food sources you have around your house, the easier it will be to deter mice. With this in mind, make it a rule to only eat at the table.

This reduces crumbs and scraps throughout the house and makes it harder for mice to find anything to eat in the other rooms of your home.

Mouse Control FAQ

how to get rid of mice

1. Do mice ever go away?

While getting rid of mice may seem like a never-ending task, it is possible to get them out of your house for good. The trick is to use a combination of methods that are effective for your specific infestation.

For example, trapping mice won’t be enough if you have an active entry point allowing mice into your home. You’ll also need to seal the entry point and eliminate all existing mice.

The fastest and most efficient way to get rid of mice is to hire a professional pest control company like Smith’s. We’ll work with you to identify the source of your infestation and stop it as quickly as possible.

2. Where do mice hide during the day?

Mice spend most of the day holed up in their nests or shelters. Most live in cool, dark places like the space between walls, the backs of pantries or cupboards, in attics or crawl spaces, or in clutter like old boxes and stacks of paper.

These areas offer shelter and protection for mice and keep them safe from predators like cats.

3. How do you know if mice are gone?

The first thing you’ll probably notice is a lack of new mouse droppings. When the mice are gone, the signs and destruction they leave behind will be, too.

After the droppings disappear, you may also notice that you don’t hear the mice any longer, or that you’re not cleaning up the debris or nests they leave behind any longer.

4. What do mice look like?

The house mouse is the most common mammal in the world. While they’re native to Central Asia, the mouse came to the Americas on the first European ships to arrive on the mainland. Today, they live in every state across North America.

Adults have small, slender bodies that weigh between 0.5-1 ounce. Their ears are large and almost hairless, while their tails are long, sparsely furred, and covered in scales. The fur is light brown or gray, with white or buff undertones. While mice in captivity live up to two years, wild mice live between 9-18 months.

Mice are highly adaptable and agile. They can jump twelve inches or higher and have excellent senses of smell and touch. While they have poor eyesight, their peripheral vision is adept at detecting movement, making them difficult to catch.

5. What do mice eat?

Mice eat a varied diet. They prefer cereal, grains, and nuts but will eat whatever is available, including produce and pet food. They have sharp, durable teeth that allow them to chew through plastic packaging and rubber materials. This means they can access even sealed containers.

Are Mice Taking Over Your San Francisco Bay Area Home? We’re Here To Help!

Few things are as frustrating as a mouse infestation. Fortunately, the team here at Smith’s Pest Management can help you identify and cope with mouse problems—reclaiming your space once and for all.

Our team helps residential and commercial properties in Northern California get rid of mice and protect their space. We also work with commercial facilities to eradicate mice in an eco-conscious way.

Ready to get rid of mice on your property for good? Get a free quote today: (408) 871-6988

Author Bio: Zach Smith

Landscape Pro Turned Gopher Pro: Owner, Zach Smith, graduate of Cal Poly’s Horticulture program worked nine years as a landscape professional- dealing with gophers, moles, and ground squirrels and was quickly recruited by other local gardeners. Fast forward to the past 10+ years, where Zach and his team trap and remove burrowing pests from residential, municipal and commercial properties throughout the San Francisco Bay area, from Marin to Monterey.