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5 Humane Ways to Get Rid of Mice

5 Humane Ways to Get Rid of Mice

It’s the time of year when my house starts to fill up with unwanted guests. Because I live on the edge of a big open space, the field mice naturally gravitate to my nice warm walls as the weather gets cold. My cat, unfortunately, appears more interested in chasing birds than mice–and the mice seem to know that. (I learned from Barbara Pleasant’s great article, “Rodent-Proof Your House,” that male cats, like mine, are more likely to go play the field, while females stay home to handle mice.)

I’d rather not kill the little creatures, even though they did show up uninvited and their droppings are an unhealthy mess. I scoured Mother Earth News’s archives to see how other folks handle this situation and found some great ideas.

1. Susan Womersley, a reader who lives in an old farmhouse in Topeka, Kansas, puts an empty box of peppermint tea in with her paper recyclables and noticed the mouse activity dropped dramatically. Now she places a few squares of cotton cloth sprinkled with peppermint oil in the pantry, refreshing them as needed. “No mice, and it smells wonderful!” she reports.

2. Norm Noe of Vancouver, Washington, places small, peppermint-soaked cotton balls around his kitchen and slips them into the walls behind plug sockets. “Twenty-four hours later, no sign of the mice at all,” he reports.

3. About once a month, Milton Ammel of Parker, Kansas, mixes a half gallon of apple cider vinegar with 2 gallons of water and sprinkles it around the outside of the house. “We haven’t seen mice in a long time!” he reports.

4. When Randy Orcutt of Hillsboro, Ohio, was having mice trouble in his camper, he  placed Bounce regular scent dryer sheets in the drawers and cabinets. “All the mice left quickly,” he reports, but generic brand dryer sheets didn’t have the same effect.

5. In “Rodent-Proof Your House,” Barbara Pleasant recommends taking the following preventive measures to seal your home against rodents.

• Seal all cracks larger than one-fourth inch (the space needed for a mouse to slip through) with hardware cloth, metal sheeting or mortar.

• Trim back tree branches so none come within 6 feet of your roof.

• In barns and outbuildings, seal rooms where you keep feed or put feed in metal containers with tight-fitting lids.

• Keep the areas around your house, barn and outbuildings clean to reduce or eliminate rodent hangouts, such as old appliances, trash lumber, junk vehicles, open garbage cans or dense thickets of weeds. Allow a margin of mowed open space between buildings and nesting sites, such as a woodpile.

• Inside your house, stack stored goods off the floor, on pallets or shelves, and leave some open space along the base of all walls.

• Forget about using ultrasonic devices to deter rodents with high frequency sound. There is zero scientific evidence that they work.

Cute but not welcome in our homes: Mice spoil food; spread salmonella, hantavirus and 17 other diseases, and chew essential house parts such as electrical wires, Barbara Pleasant reports in “Rodent-Proof Your House.” A pair of mice living in your garage can grow into a gang of 20 or more in just a few months.

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Read more: Health & Safety, Home, Household Hints, Natural Remedies, Remedies & Treatments, , , , , , , ,

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Robyn Lawrence

Robyn Griggs Lawrence is editor-in-chief of Organic Spa Magazine, an eco-lifestyle magazine that bridges spa wisdom with green living. Through print, online and phone apps, Organic Spa Magazine offers expert advice and inspiration on sustainable health and wellness, beauty and skin care, fashion and travel. 


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9:29PM PDT on Apr 17, 2015

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10:47PM PDT on Apr 13, 2015

A few drops of peppermint oil as needs works very well and smells good.

4:50PM PDT on Apr 28, 2014

Just sat watching a mouse run down my tractor and around in the shed where it's stored this afternoon LOL. Filling up every crack they can sneak in can be a bit time-consuming, since if it's even 1/8" wide, they can flatten themselves, and they're seeking dryness and warmth. Guess I'll live with them in the barn and shed, and try the solutions in the house. Can't stand mouse poison, because if they do get out and a bird gets them, both will be killed.

9:56AM PST on Feb 6, 2014

I would never kill mice as when we lived at our old house we had mice and my husband put down poison in the kitchen. The next day, standing by the sink I saw movement from the corner of my eye. There was a tiny mouse that crawled and stopped. He was panting so hard, I could see he was in agony and dying. This upset me so much I swore I would never ever poison them again. That's when we found out about cruelty free traps. If you use these you must keep checking if a mouse is caught as the trap fills with condensation from their breathing and they become soaking wet. Don't leave them for a day or they will die. It's a myth that they like cheese, they like chocolate and you'll find them whereyou keep washing powder. We had mice in our room above the garage where we store bags of stuff when we moved house. I emptied the bags gradually from time to time but the mice had eaten away at my clothes. I scoured the internet for ideas to get rid of them humanely. The best one I found was to go around your house checking for every little hole. Fill them up with wire wool then cover with expanding foam. That solved it for us.

1:04PM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

Thanks for the information

2:43AM PDT on Jul 11, 2013

thank you for sharing 11/7

6:29PM PDT on Jun 30, 2013

Can't seem to keep rodents out of my garage - will try the dryer sheets and peppermint oil.

3:21AM PDT on May 28, 2013

I have field rats off and on for the last month and have tried everything but rat poision. i am at my wits end. they run through the rv and are getting very bold. there is no food left out and i have put everything in frig and microwave. they wake me every two hours or every hour. i have two mating domestic parakeets and they eggs....they are my pets and sweeties not the pesky rats. i am buying rat poison today because this is the 5th night in a row that i have not slept. it is awful and these rodents spread all kinds of diseases....omg...move me back to the city in an apt. lol i live by an open field four blocks from the beach and renting an old rv with all kinds of open air spaces.... going bonkers.......poison today for these rodents before they try to eat my birds and their eggs or poison them with a disease.

11:16AM PDT on Apr 5, 2013


1:54AM PDT on Apr 1, 2013

I have a mouse which is avoiding the 2 humane catch & release traps I've set. I didn't know the answer was sitting in my kitchen all the time: peppermint tea and peppermint oil. Many thanks :)

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people are talking

Thanks, I think I have to try homemade ginger tea..Especially if it helps with migraine.

Nice, I like it.Thanks.

Good information, thank you!

Good to know, but IMHO the number one reason not to drink the stuff is that it tastes awful. I'd ra…


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