How to Get Rid of Mice

Three Parts:Determine the Extent of Your Mouse ProblemCatch the MicePrevent Mice from Returning

Have you seen a fleeting, fuzzy form in your peripheral vision or noticed a scratching sound coming from the walls when you're trying to fall asleep at night? Finding a mouse in the house or apartment is a common occurrence, and there are many ways of dealing with the problem. No matter what method you choose, address the infestation right away, or the mice will multiply before you know it.

Part 1
Determine the Extent of Your Mouse Problem

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    Be aware of sudden movements. Mice are clever creatures that aren't easily spotted during daytime hours while people are around. You might notice a slight movement out of the corner of your eye and not even realize that what you noticed was a mouse. Next time you see a movement, take it as a sign that you should investigate further.
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    Listen for scratching. It's easier to hear mice at night when the house or apartment is quiet. You may hear a light tapping or scratching that sounds like it's coming from the walls.
    • If you hear sounds of mice running along the walls, that's a sign that you've got more than one creature to take care of.
    • If you hear squeaks, you may have a mouse nest full of babies on your hands.
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    Look for droppings. Mouse droppings are small, dark and seed-shaped. New droppings are wet and black, and older ones will have dried out to a lighter gray color.
    • Note which room you see the droppings in. The presence of droppings in a room should indicate that something in the room is attractive to mice.
    • The presence of droppings can also indicate that there's a crack or hole in the room through which mice can enter.
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    Identify runs. If you can determine the pathways the mice often use, you will be able to catch and track the mice more easily. Mice often establish runs and use the same pathways time after time. Usually the runs are not directly visible so the mouse is only visible as it traverses a few feet of open floor or counter top.
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    Look for a nest. Of course, it will be along the runs if you have been able to identify them. And you will probably find the nest near where you saw a concentration of droppings. Nests are usually built in the corners of cabinets or closets. Look in out-of-the-way places that don't often get disturbed.
    • Mice chew through cardboard boxes and items of clothing to use as materials for their nests. Look for tiny holes in the pile of clothes you've left sitting in the back of your closet.
    • A musty smell might also indicate the presence of a mouse nest.

Part 2
Catch the Mice

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    Try live traps. Mice are lured into these traps by the scent of bait placed inside it, usually peanut butter or cheese. They enter a small hole and get trapped in with the bait. Once a mouse has been caught, you can take the trap to a field or the woods and set the mouse free.
    • Make sure to always use surgical (or other) gloves when baiting or handling traps. Mice have an extremely good sense of smell and will not enter a trap that has been handled by humans or that smells "off," perhaps because of chemical smells or soap residue. Be aware of your handling from the time you start to unwrap the trap after your purchase and strive to not touch the trap directly with your skin, ever. This will assure best chances of trapping your target(s).
    • Set live traps in the room where you found mouse droppings or a nest. Live traps are more expensive than other types of traps, so you might want to start by buying just one or two.
    • If you have a bigger infestation of mice, it might not be practical to catch them with live traps, since you'll likely have to make a lot of trips to the woods to set them free.
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    Use sticky traps. These types of traps look like little cardboard houses. The bottom is lined with a sticky substance that attracts mice, then traps their little feet so they can't run away. Be aware that this often results in a still-living animal stuck on the trap.
    • Buy several sticky traps and place them around the room where you saw mouse droppings or a nest. Don't forget to put some in the cabinets and closets.
    • Bigger sticky traps can trap more than one mouse at a time.
    • Mice don't die right away in sticky traps, and unfortunately you may hear pained squeaks coming from the traps. You may need to humanely euthanize any living mouse that you have caught on it. Keep this in mind when you're deciding which trap to buy.
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    Consider old-fashioned snap traps. Snap traps are baited with a bit of peanut butter or cheese. When the mouse steps on the trap to eat the bait, its weight causes a wire to snap down on the mouse.
    • Snap traps are cheap, so you can buy a lot of them and place them wherever you think mice might be present. Place a piece of newspaper under each trap for easier cleanup.
    • Since snap traps kill mice instantly, they're actually more humane than sticky traps. However, they can be less pleasant to deal with. Make sure to throw out snap traps as soon as mice are caught, and sanitize the area afterward.
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    Set a cat loose. Cats are natural predators of mice, and they are as good at catching mice as any trap. Let your house cat spend time in the room where mice are present. It shouldn't take long for your cat to take care of the problem.
    • Some people borrow a friend's cat for this purpose.
    • Having a cat stroll around your property is a good mouse deterrent and may prevent them from coming inside in the first place.

Part 3
Prevent Mice from Returning

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    Clean the house. Scrub every nook and cranny to get rid of mouse nests and materials that mice might want to make into nests. Throw out old boxes, bags, books, magazines and any other paper or cloth materials you might have lying around.
    • Sanitize any areas where you found droppings, a nest, or trapped a mouse.
    • Don't store your possessions in cardboard boxes sitting on the floor, since mice can chew through cardboard easily. They can even chew through plastic or wood and will do so if they have a reason. For example, they smell food or think they might be able to create a secure hiding place.
    • Clear out general clutter, especially in corners of your house or apartment that aren't frequently used.
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    Remove mouse food. You might not think of it as mouse food, but mice are attracted to all types of edible substances they can find on the ground, on counters and in cabinets.
    • If your trees drop edible nuts and berries, make sure you rake them up frequently.
    • Clean up spilled birdseed from under the feeder a few times a week.
    • Make sure your outdoor garbage can has a tight lid, and always keep it covered.
    • Don't let cat or dog food sit out all day; clean it up after your pet has eaten.
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    Start a new food storage system. Make sure all grains, nuts, and other dry goods are stored in tightly sealed plastic, glass or metal containers.
    • Half-used boxes or bags of food are attractive to mice, be it human food or pet food. Store the remaining food in an airtight container and recycle the box or bag.
    • Don't leave bread or fruit sitting out on the counter for more than a day or two. If food items you leave on the counter or on top of the refrigerator become a problem, tighten up. Use a metal bread box and work out a storage method for fruits and vegetables that you do not like to refrigerate.
    • Clean your pantry and cabinets often. Make sure crumbs, dried juice, and other stray bits of food don't sit on your kitchen floor. Remain vigilant and observe any signs of pantry raiding by the pesky critter, then provision to eliminate the opportunity for the mouse family to dine.
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    Seal entryways. Make sure the gap under your door isn't providing a convenient entrance for mice. You can buy materials to seal the gap at a hardware or home and garden store.
    • Keep your windows closed or screened.
    • Seal any cracks or holes you find in your walls, especially exterior walls. Steel wool is a cheap material you can stuff into crevices to deter mice.
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    Use mouse repellent. Place a substance known to repel mice in the corners of your home and around doors, cracks, and other places mice may enter.
    • Peppermint and other strong oils contained in "strewing herbs" repel mice. Cut a sponge into 1" (3cm) squares and saturate each with peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil, then place these strategically around your house and kitchen.
    • You could plant some mint around your windows and doors and use the herb in teas and in sachets to freshen your cabinets and closets.
    • Bay leaves also repel mice. Crush them up and sprinkle them around your house, or tuck whole leaves in the corners of your pantry and cabinets.
    • Mothballs are an effective repellent, but these are toxic[1] and can cause problems for children and pets. Naphthalene is a pesticide and sublimates readily so you should think thrice before employing this method. Additionally, moth balls are more expensive, require replacing often when the balls sublimate, and are not as eco-friendly as herbs or herb-based essential oils. Make sure children and pets are kept away and closely monitor them for signs of a reaction to the mothballs should you decide to use them.


  • Sprinkle baby powder in areas where you suspect mice might spend time. If a mouse runs through the powder, you'll be able to track it to its nest.
  • If you haven't caught mice in your traps for a couple of days or a week, wash the traps well with baby shampoo and rinse them thoroughly with plenty of running water, then set them outside in the sun to dry to further eliminate the human odor. Do not touch the traps with your bare hands during this process. Instead, use surgical gloves. Place the traps in a new location near the mouse "runs."


  • Mice can carry diseases, so don't handle them without wearing gloves. Dispose of mouse traps as soon as the mice are caught, and sanitize the area afterward.

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Categories: Mice and Rats