Mice have three main motivations for invading a home: seeking warmth, safety, and food. Once they enter your home, they tend to nest in concealed areas such as wall cavities, air ducts, and crawl spaces. While consulting a professional exterminator remains the most effective solution, there are reliable home remedies for mice in walls.
Generally, peppermint oil, mothballs, eucalyptus, and citronella repel mice due to their strong scent. Even steel wool can serve as a deterrent in the form of a barrier that is difficult for these critters to chew through and gain entry into the home.
Home remedies for mice in walls
Incidents of unintentional rodenticide poisonings mean people have to be cautious about the chemicals used for pest control at home. Unfortunately, poisons meant for mice can inadvertently kill non-target wildlife. For example, a young bald eagle succumbed to second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide poisoning in late July, as confirmed by the officials from MassWildlife and wildlife veterinarians from Tufts Wildlife Clinic.¹ Unfortunate incidents like this are the more reason you should embrace non-toxic remedies as alternatives for controlling mice.
Moreover, poisonous substances can have a severe environmental impact. Thus, the need for eco-friendly alternatives that are not only safer for their families but also better for the environment. Natural solutions are often cost-effective, as they typically consist of common household items readily available. All that said, below are the best home remedies for mice in walls:
Mothballs are almost 100% active ingredients, and the active ingredient may be either naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene.² They slowly turn from solids to toxic vapor that disrupts the ability of blood cells to carry oxygen. When mice come into contact with the odor emitted by mothballs, the tissues in their nasal passages can deteriorate, leading to inflammation of the lungs.
Nevertheless, the primary drawback of mothballs as a home remedy for mice in walls is their strong and offensive odor. Even humans dislike the smell. The unpleasant scent tends to persist even after the mothballs have been removed or dissipated.
2. Peppermint oil
Peppermint is an essential oil that contains menthol and methyl salicylate as the main ingredients.³ It releases a potent mint fragrance humans find enjoyable but that mice in the wall find repulsive. The strong scent of peppermint oil can irritate the nasal passages of mice, discouraging them from approaching the area where the natural repellent is applied.
There are several methods of using peppermint as a mice-repellent home remedy. One simple approach is to get a bottle of peppermint oil and apply a few drops onto a cotton ball. These scented cotton balls can then be placed in areas of the wall with signs of mice activity, such as droppings and gnaw marks.
Alternatively, you can create a diluted solution and spray it onto wall gaps and openings.
Eucalyptus works similarly to peppermint oil in deterring mice nesting in your wall. However, it has the added advantage of producing a milder scent, which makes it a preferred choice for some households. Even a 5% solution of eucalyptus oil is enough to repel rodents.⁴ For persistent repellency, you need to ensure a daily application of 5 and 10% eucalyptus oil.
Citronella is widely known as a mosquito repellent, but it has also been observed to have mouse-repelling properties. In addition to irritating their nasal passages, citronella has been found to reduce the appetite of mice. Citronellol and geraniol are major components of the oil of citronella.⁵
When mice inhale citronella oil, specifically β-citronellol, it decreases body weight by decreasing appetite, without any marked changes in liver enzyme concentrations.⁶ Make sure to only apply a diluted solution of citronella oil to the walls affected to discourage their presence.
Alternatively, you can plant citronella grass in your yard to function as a natural deterrent, keeping mice away from the outside.
5. Steel wool
In contrast to other home remedies for mice in walls that target the sense of smell, steel wool seals holes in walls that rodents might use as entry points. Mice feature powerful teeth capable of chewing through various materials, but they find it difficult to gnaw through steel wool.
Mice can enter a home and establish nests by squeezing through holes as small as a dime. Therefore, inspect the walls to identify any tiny gaps that these rodents could use as entry points. Fill the holes with steel wool and secure them with caulk to prevent mice from re-entering.
6. Used kitty litter
Although not one of the desirable home remedies for mice in walls, used kitty litter can deter mice. However, strategic placement is necessary, both for effectiveness and your convenience. Place used kitty litter discreetly near identified rodent entry points to discourage them from nesting in your wall. With the mere whiff of kitty, experts claim that mice will turn in the opposite direction for safety.
7. Apple cider vinegar
Prepare a diluted solution of apple cider vinegar by mixing it with water. Spray the solution along the walls of your home to get rid of mice. You can use the same spray outside, specifically targeting the entry points. Apply this spray once every month to keep it active.
8. Fabric softener sheets
Dryer sheets as a mouse repellent is a subject of intense debate. While some people firmly believe that it’s effective, others argue that mice may simply use them as nesting materials to build nests.
If you have a lake cabin that tends to attract mice when you’re away, these fabric softener sheets might be the way to go. Place Bounce dryer sheets around the cabin. One on each bed, one on the floor in each room, and so on—you should no longer spot any mice with this dryer sheet trick. Make sure to put more sheets down when you leave for the winter, and occasionally add a few in between weekends. Don’t rely solely on dryer sheets—combine them with one or multiple home remedies for mice in walls.
9. Instant mashed potatoes
An economical approach to eliminate mice from your home. You need to sprinkle instant potatoes. Once they consume the potatoes, they will enlarge their stomachs due to the expanding flakes. Some people will argue that this method is inhumane since it is typically intolerable and fatal for the mice.
10. Practice a healthy food storage routine
Mice are opportunistic feeders that enter your home in search of readily available food sources. Just a few crumbs or leftover scraps can be all it takes to attract them to your kitchen. Make sure that dry goods like pet food, cereal, and grains are securely stored in tightly sealed containers made of metal, glass, or plexiglass to keep mice at bay.
Mice also eat cardboard boxes housing cereal or crackers, so consider transferring such food items into bins resistant to mice tampering.
11. Block all entries
Eliminate any accessible entry points that mice could use to enter your home, and potentially get into your walls. Mice can squeeze through even the tiniest openings, so sealing the cracks is ideal. Also, enhance weatherstripping around windows and doors, and fill vented holes with steel wool. Don’t hesitate to inspect the plumbing areas for openings—pipes can be direct gateways for mice into your house.
12. Get rid of nesting materials
Other than food, mice also search for shelters to grow their offspring. The home remedy is to store fabrics, rugs, and blankets in tightly sealed storage bins to keep mice from locating hiding and nesting spots such as your wall. A clutter-free environment, including the garage, yard, and other areas of the house will also minimize mice presence. You’d also be mindful of how you handle materials such as paper, cardboard, and lightweight plastic—mice are attracted to them. The rule of thumb is to dispose of household recycling to discourage mice in the first place.
13. Take your landscape maintenance seriously
Don’t hesitate to prioritize exterior maintenance. You win this battle by fortifying the sources of mice entry. Mice can inhabit overgrown shrubs and rely on long branches to access your windows and other openings. The solution is to trim your trees and hedges regularly and maintain a 3-foot clearance around the foundation of your home.
Why do mice hide in walls?
When mice invade a home, they typically prefer wall cavities for hiding during the day. Walls are typically secluded and dimly lit areas, providing them with a suitable environment for resting and staying away from predators, including humans and pets.
Your walls also offer them convenient pathways for navigating to different areas throughout your home undetected.
Do home repellents work at all?
Some natural home remedies for mice in walls do live up to their expectations. However, while they may keep mice at bay, it’s only temporary. Therefore, you can’t rely solely on these methods when dealing with severe mouse infestations.
The effects of these repellents are transient and lose their efficiency once mice become used to the scent or are no longer deterred by it. Mice are intelligent and adaptable creatures. They have an innate understanding of the numerous predators in the wild, leading them to seek refuge in homes that offer shelter and food.
Despite the effectiveness of natural repellents and their associated scents, mice can eventually tolerate these odors and resilient nest in your walls. This suggests a severe infestation, which means you should give your local pest control a phone call to expertly remove mice from your walls.
- “Eaglet dies from rodenticide poisoning.” Commonwealth of Massachusetts
- “Health Effects of Mothballs.” National Pesticide Information Center
- “Peppermint.” Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
- “Potential of Eucalyptus Oil as Repellent against House Rat, Rattus rattus.” National Library of Medicine
- “Oil of Citronella.” National Pesticide Information Center
- “Effects of Inhaled Citronella Oil and Related Compounds on Rat Body Weight and Brown Adipose Tissue Sympathetic Nerve.” National Library of Medicine