How to Keep Rodents out of Your Home or Apartment

Mouse in mouse hole
Tetra Images - Mike Kemp / Getty Images

No one wants mice or rats in their home. Not only are they unsanitary, but they can also be destructive and surprisingly loud. Fortunately, there are simple methods for preventing rodents from entering your home, even if you're in an area where rodents abound. To stop an infestation before it happens, you'll need to spend some time examining your home and making repairs or changes to make your home rodent-proof.

Check for Ways Rodents Can Enter Your Home

If you think your home is impenetrable, think again. Mice and rats are astoundingly clever, and they can fit into very small spaces. They also have sharp teeth that can cut through rotted boards or soggy drywall. Be sure to check these possible entryways:

  • Look for small gaps in the corners where walls meet the foundations of your home, and in spots where siding is poorly secured. Even a quarter of an inch gap can be big enough for a mouse to enter. Once inside, they can easily get into your attic and walls.
  • If you have an attic, check the ridge vents. Gaps here are accessible to rodents, and attics are nice, quiet spots loaded with soft materials for comfy rodent homes.
  • Brick homes sometimes have "weep holes" installed to allow ventilation. While you want to maintain ventilation, you may also need to install products in these holes to keep mice out.
  • If you have air conditioning, a sprinkler system, water lines, or other systems for managing air and water, you have holes that are perfectly sized for rodents looking for a warm winter home. 
  • Door and window screens are easily damaged, and even a small hole in a screen can become a "welcome" sign for mice or rats.
  • Rotted woods around your foundations or windows can make it easy for rodents to get inside. Their sharp teeth are adapted to gnaw through, leaving holes big enough for the whole family.

Remove or Properly Contain Rodent-Friendly Items

Mice and rats are attracted to places where there are spots to hide in and plenty of food and bedding. While you can't completely rid your home of edibles or soft, quiet locations you can minimize its attractiveness by following these tips.

  • Avoid leaving dirty dishes or food out. In addition to putting away dirty plates and bowls, sweep up crumbs and clean your sink.
  • Be sure garbage cans are sealed, especially if they contain food. Do your best to keep edible trash outside in a sealed garbage can.
  • Keep boxed and dry food in hard plastic containers. It may seem silly to repackage your cereal, flour, sugar, rice, and so forth, but keeping them in unsealed paper or cardboard containers is an invitation to hungry rodents (and insects, too).
  • Avoid opening doors and windows unless there's a screen in place. You may think you'll see a mouse entering by the front door, but mice are tiny and willing to wait until the coast is clear.  
  • Double check to be sure that screens are properly secured to window and door frames, and that the frames themselves have no gaps or rotting wood.
  • Move wood piles and other mouse-friendly materials away from the foundation of your home. At the same time, check for standing water and clutter which can also provide mice with hiding places, food, and water.

Secure Your Home with Rodent-Proof Products

When you find potential mouse or rat entries (and you will!), you'll need to close them up properly. Bear in mind that closing up rodent holes shouldn't mean closing up vents or access pipes, as they are important to your safety and convenience. 

  • Caulk gaps between windows and window frames as well as doors and door frames.
  • Repair rotted wood around windows, doors, and your foundation.
  • Repair window and door screens, and replace any screen doors and windows that don't fit snugly to their frames.
  • Use a product like Ridge Guard to keep mice out of ridge and attic vents without losing necessary ventilation.
  • Use steel wool or a product like Xcluder to fill construction gaps so that mice can't chew their way in.