Should You Try This “Trick” for Preventing Mice Using Peppermint Oil?
When the weather gets cold, you probably want to curl up in your warm home under a cozy blanket and eat lots of snacks. The bad news? So do mice. These critters often make their way indoors as the weather cools in fall, so it’s not uncommon to see signs of them in the depths of winter. There are lots of recommendations for how to get rid of mice online, including one method of using peppermint oil for mice as a deterrent.
Does peppermint oil prevent mice?
No, peppermint oil doesn’t get rid of mice, and any prevention benefits are short-lived at best. If you have mice at home, call a pro to get rid of them and make sure to eliminate any entry points and tempting food sources for them.
While peppermint oil may smell lovely, does it actually have an alternative use? Can you use peppermint oil for mice as a way to get rid of them or prevent them from returning? Not really, says Meg Pearson, training manager at Critter Control.
“Quick, scent-based repellents are popular and regularly touted as effective online, but in practice, their efficacy is spotty and short-lived at best,” Pearson explains. “If you have a mouse problem, it’s best to call a wildlife control professional that can provide a long-term solution.”
So how did the popular myth that you can use peppermint oil for mice come to be? And what should you do instead to prevent and control a mouse problem? Here’s what you need to know.
Risks of Mice at Home
Some pests are more ick than actual danger, but mice are both. Mice spread disease and leave unpleasant parting gifts like droppings, oily residue, and an ammonia-like smell.
Beyond that, mice can cause actual damage to your home by chewing through soft items like insulation and even wires, which can increase the risk of home fires.
It’s helpful to understand what might make your home vulnerable to a pesky and unwanted pest like a mouse — or, worse yet, an entire colony of them.
Pearson says any type of clutter inside or outside of your home can make you vulnerable to rodents moving in. “Keep an eye on your food, including wrappers, junk food packaging, and pet food bags,” she says. “Mice love to eat, but they also love to nibble and taste — and are known to take little bites of lots of different food options.”
Signs of Mice
If you think you might already have a mouse problem in your home, be on the lookout for signs. You’ll want to listen for squeaking, scratching, and scurrying inside the walls.
Additionally, look out for signs that they’ve been munching on your food. You may see chew marks or holes chewed in food packaging, especially if food is left out.
If you notice that there are tiny food scraps strewn about areas of your kitchen or pantry, you might have a mouse problem.
“Pay close attention to your home, specifically wood and electrical wires: mice will gnaw on everything,” Pearson says. “So, if you see gnaw marks or holes that have clearly been chewed on, odds are they came from a mouse.”
Does peppermint oil control mice?
Pearson reiterates that scent-based repellents, like peppermint oil, are rarely a solution for mice and other critters trying to get into your house. (You might have heard of other scent-based solutions, too, like using Windex to kill ants.)
The popular theory is that peppermint oil smells bad to mice, so they avoid going anyplace that smells like it.
When used as a preventative measure, peppermint oil might be effective in holding mice off from entering your home for a period of time — but it won’t last long. Eventually, mice get used to the smell and won’t be bothered enough by it to not enter your house.
“If there’s available food or a warm, dry place to nest, they will quickly overlook the scent of peppermint oil,” Pearson says.
If you already have mice living in your house, don’t expect the introduction of something like peppermint oil to be powerful enough to convince them to leave. Once they know they have a reliable food situation set up for themselves, it will take more than an odorous scent to convince them to leave and not return.
How to Inspect Your Home for Signs of Mice
So where should you look for signs of mice? You’ll want to identify any potential access points that allow mice to make their way into your home.
If the sights (holes) and sounds (scratches) seem to indicate a problem, you’ll want to call for professional help right away because mice reproduce quickly and commonly settle in colonies, Pearson says.
“If you are seeing the mice themselves, or their activity, it’s likely there is already more than one,” she explains. “One mouse can give birth between five to ten litters a year, and each litter typically has five to six mice.”
Mice may leave a residue if they are coming and going from the same entry point continuously. Be sure to pay attention to your kitchen appliances, as that’s the room many mice often spend most of their time in.
Mice have the capability to chew on wiring, and this can result in not only expensive replacements, but could also bring about dangerous electrical fires, Pearson adds.
How to Get Rid of Mice and Where to Place Your Traps
As part of your comprehensive strategy to get rid of mice, a pest management professional will help you decide where to place your traps and will provide multiple methods of colony removal, preventative measures, and maintenance.
“This includes trapping, exclusion — or sealing current and potential access points — and ongoing rodent population control methods,” Pearson says.
Mice often live in and around areas with readily available food, so your kitchen and pantry can be good places for traps as long as they are not accessible by pets or children; traps can pose a risk of injury or poisoning.
Mice are likely to live in crawlspaces and attics, so those are good places to install traps, as well.
“Trap placement will be in the areas of activity, but exact placement will vary and is determined upon inspection by the pest professional,” Pearson says.
How to Prevent Mice
What does it take to prevent mice from invading your home in the first place?
“Mice don’t typically enter someone’s home to admire the architecture and decoration style,” Pearson says. “They come in search of food and shelter, and if they can find an accessible abundance of it, they’re going to stick around as long as they can.”
With that in mind, there are a few key moves she recommends you employ to prevent mice from accessing your home.
- Store food properly in mouse-proof containers; this prevents rodents from accessing and destroying pantry items.
- Keep floors and counters free of food, including crumbs.
- Remove clutter to eliminate potential places for mice to build nests or gather nesting materials. Be sure to keep clutter to a minimum both inside and outside your home.
- Seal all openings (potential entry points) mice can use to gain access to your home. This is best done with the help of a professional, who can properly identify the tiny, hard-to-find openings that mice are able to squeeze themselves through.
How to Make a Sanitation and Maintenance Plan
Be consistent in the cleaning of your kitchen and pantry, Pearson says: “Don’t leave that half-eaten snack lying around. It’s also best to get in the habit of keeping all food sealed tightly to reduce food aromas.”
The same goes for outside your house: keep your grass consistently mowed in the spring and summer, keep your leaves raked in the fall, and keep clumps of sticks and other brush cleared from your property year-round. The more clutter there is around your house, the more opportunities mice have to make a home.
When to Call a Professional
Pearson recommends calling a professional upon the first indication of a mouse problem. Mice themselves are not typically difficult to humanely trap and remove, but they can spread disease and replicate quickly.
“It’s important to have a professional who can assess the situation and provide sanitization services if deemed necessary,” she adds. “Also, they will be able to inspect the ins and outs of the home and provide recommendations for exclusion — sealing any current or potential entry points for mice — and will be able to discuss with you ongoing maintenance to control the rodent population on the exterior of the home.”