do-it-yourself mouse repellent

Nobody wants to share their home with pests. As a result, people develop all kinds of ingenious methods to discourage mice. None are foolproof, however. It is worthwhile considering whether a do-it-yourself mouse repellent you are considering might do more harm than good.

Mothballs as a Do-It-Yourself Mouse Repellent:

Q. I just found out that my landlord put a whole box of mothballs under my house because my mother told him she saw a mouse. Are mothballs toxic to animals? I have two dogs and a bird. Also, are they toxic to us?

A. People have come up with all sorts of strategies to try to keep mice away: mothballs, peppermint oil or fabric softener sheets. There is little scientific evidence to suggest that any of these DIY techniques actually work.

Mothball Toxicity:

The pesticide in most mothballs is para-dichlorobenzene (PDCB). Older products contained naphthalene. Both compounds can be toxic to pets and people.

One reader reported:

I have a problem with mice and I’ve been using mothballs to get rid of them. I may have used too much because I have symptoms like headaches, nausea and eye irritation.”

Getting Rid of Mice:

A far safer way to try to get rid of mice is to have your landlord seal the places where mice are getting in.

One reader reported success with this tactic:

I totally solved a mice infestation in our fourth floor condo by stuffing (extra fine) “0000” steel wool in any little space that a mouse might try.”

Mousetraps can be useful, but be sure not to leave them where the dogs can get to them. If you don’t want to kill the mice, there are live traps.

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  1. Joe
    South Dakota

    I have used dryer sheets (fabric softener type) and mouse traps with a lot of success over the years, including in my travel trailer each winter. I have also used shavings of Irish Spring bar soap with a great deal of success. Personally I do not believe that it is possible to seal a house and make it 100% impenetrable to mice, no matter how hard you try. A mouse is supposed to be able to get in through a hole as small as a lead pencil. They are probably in your attic (like mine) and crawl up and down between floors in the wall cavities. Trap them, deter them, poison them and make up your mind to live with any that penetrate your defenses.

  2. Sallye
    Friendswood, Texas

    I have an old house on the dunes near a beach. Mice were a problem for a while until someone told me to stuff very fine grade steel wool in any place that gave any access to the inside of the house. You pull it apart once you get it into the space, sealing the entrance spot. When they stick their noses into the space with the steel wool it hurts their nose and causes them pain. They will not force their way through the steel wool. I have no more mice. As long as I keep the steel wool in place, I continue to be mouse free.

  3. Walter
    Concord N.C.

    All this is interesting, though think I have found a solution that works for us, I saw a advertisement for electronic pest control, It’s called : Pest Reject ; I feel sure you can find it on Google, since using these past six months have found no sign of mice or bugs anywhere in our home. They were not expensive but seem to work very well.

  4. Grandma Goose

    I used “Fresh Cab” balsam fir oil in small room in barn. Mice did not come back. I don’t think it would be so effective for a larger area.

  5. Brent B
    NW IL

    Peppermint tea bags worked like a charm for us. One night I literally had a mouse running over my bed, but the night after putting tea bags in key passageways, it was like a ghost town! You can also use the essential oil and those enteric-coated softgel capsules are also handy. Someone in the pest control business should definitely commercialize this since it really worked for us!

  6. Bob
    Riverton, UT

    Entry points can be hard to find. We once lived in a house that had a small void in the concrete foundation between the garage and the basement. This seemed to function as a superhighway for spiders and mice. Food (including pet food) needs to be in mouse-proof containers. Mice are quite good at climbing and jumping. One of them found some unprotected chocolate on the third shelf of our pantry.

  7. Marla
    Dallas, TX

    We sell Bug-Bouncer, a line of all natural insect repellents, and when we’re at shows people are always telling us about their “pest” problems – bugs, rodents, etc. Several people have told me that mice hate peppermint oil so they put soaps or cotton balls soaked in essential oil around their house. I’ve also heard that the electronic repellents (you plug them into an outlet) work pretty well.

  8. Leslie

    Using mothballs outside is illegal in many states (read the box) because they contaminate the water supply. There are many covered traps that are safe where pets are present. Sealing gaps is the best defense and put food away in mouse proof containers.

  9. Gerry
    North Fl

    Cedar shavings sold in bales at walmart for kennel bedding (so I guess not bad for animals) is the same smell as mothballs. Don’t know if this would help. I know I was told to use it to deter snakes, and it also worked to keep those cane toads out of my enclosed patio in S. Florida. I made long cloth “snakes” to put under the edge of the patio door, same idea as cloth “snakes” to keep out cold but filled with the cedar bedding material.

  10. Joe

    There is a real simple way to get rid of mice. It is called a “Red Neck Mouse Trap.” Get a 5 gallon bucket, a plastic bottle, a piece of wire, some peanut butter and a long stick like a paint stick. At the top of the bucket drill holes on either side between where the handle connects so it won’t be in the way. Then drill holes in the top and bottom of the bottle. Place the wire though the bucket and the bottle and bend over the ends. Spread some peanut butter on the bottle. Then put little dabs on the bottom, middle and top of the stick, just enough to attract the mice. Lean the stick against the bucket where the top of the bottle is. When the mice climb the stick, they smell the peanut butter on the bottle and climb onto it. The bottle spins and the mouse falls into the bucket. If you want to let it go just take it outside, and release it. I keep one in my shed year around to keep them out of my house.

  11. Dave

    The steel wool idea is good, but will rust over time. Instead use some copper mesh which will not rust. You can use those copper scouring pads. Be carefully when handling, as the fine copper strips are sharp.

  12. Rob

    I found it very difficult to breathe when travelling in a car with mothballs.

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