Mouse infestations are no joke. Whether you’re deathly afraid of rodents or not, a mouse infestation is a detriment to your home and health. Mice can chew through expensive wiring, cause structural damage by eating wet or rotting wood, and spread dangerous and hard-to-treat diseases from bacteria such as Clostridium difficile, E. coli and salmonella — so infestations should be addressed quickly and aggressively by following these steps.
First, you need to block entry points into your home. Mice can eat through wood, rubber and thin plastic, so the best material to use to block entrances is metal screening, or steel wool in smaller spots. Even the tiniest entry points need to be filled. Mice can fit through openings as small as a dime.
Look for openings around pipes that enter your house, cracks in your foundation or vents. Mouse droppings and food scraps in odd places can also identify where mice may be entering and exiting. There are numerous places mice and other pests can hide in and around your home. Trapping will have little effect if mice can enter and exit your home freely, so blocking entrances is important.
Next, you want to set up traps. There are many different trap options that either kill mice in the process of trapping them or leave them alive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend against live traps because mice may urinate in fear when trapped, which could spread disease. Keep in mind as well that mice trapped alive will need to be transported more than 2 miles away from your home in order to keep them from returning. Poison baits should also be avoided because mice can leave the trap and die in walls or other spaces where their bodies are hard to retrieve and end up rotting (and then smelling) in there.
Place the traps you selected against walls where you know mice are traveling, since they often stick to the same routes. Look for mouse droppings and food scraps to find where they’re moving and place traps perpendicular to those walls so that mice run over the trap where they’re designed to be caught. Cheese is the stereotypical bait, but peanut butter, oatmeal, bacon or chocolate will often work better. If you don’t catch a mouse in a trap within a couple of days, you probably won’t in that location, so move it somewhere else.
Finally, focus on cleaning up food scraps as soon as possible. Mice will eat almost anything, and can survive on tiny amounts of food per day, so a few crumbs and the moisture contained in food scraps can be all they need. Clean up spills and messes as soon and as thoroughly as possible in order to make your home a less attractive place for mice to nest.
Don’t hesitate to call in a professional if you’re still seeing signs of an infestation. Professional exterminators have more experience tracking mouse movements and better knowledge of possible entryways, and they are trained to use more dangerous poisons and repellents safely. In the meantime, keep your kitchen clean of food scraps that mice like with these 21 all-natural cleaning tips for your home.