Does Peppermint Oil Control Mice? Here's How to Use It
Many online sources will tell you that peppermint oil effectively controls mice, but does it really work? If you're eager to try your hand at mouse control, know that peppermint oil and other repellents are not completely reliable or effective for controlling mice.
Mouse control is far more complicated than just product applications. So, what should you do if you're worried about mice in your house, and where does peppermint oil fit into the plan? We're sharing how to incorporate peppermint oil into your pest control plan for a safe and effective way to rid your home of mice.
Before You Begin
First, you'll need to learn how to think like a mouse. That way, you can use their pesky and destructive behaviors against them. There are a few key steps to maximize your chances of mouse control success, and if you've been applying peppermint oil religiously, you should stop for the time being.
Ultimately, peppermint oil and other repellents can force mice out of one area and into another, but mice aren't likely to go away just because they smell peppermint—they won't be scared away that easily. To keep mice away for good, you must come armed with the proper tools, knowledge, attitude, and game plan.
Expect the mouse control process to move in phases:
- Inspect and identify
- Create a treatment plan
- Perform exclusion
- Place traps
- Modify the surrounding habitat
- Have a plan for sanitation and maintenance
What is Exclusion?
Exclusion is the process of sealing mice and other pests out of the home using various materials, including hardware cloth, metal flashing, and steel wool.
Using peppermint oil to get rid of mice seems more straightforward than following a multi-step mouse control plan, but ultimately, the peppermint oil alone won't work. In the meantime, waiting to address the problem adequately will allow time for the issue to worsen—and become more expensive.
The mouse control process can be dangerous. From exposed electrical wires to infestations inside your walls, mice can be destructive and challenging to deal with, and your safety is paramount. Before performing your own mouse control, be honest with yourself and assess your ability to climb ladders, crawl in small spaces, or clean up mice and droppings.
Pest control is a big undertaking, and you may want to hire a pest professional to help you if you're not feeling confident with the task at hand.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- PPE (long sleeves and pants, boots, work gloves, hat, eye protection)
- Steel wool
- Chocolate Syrup or peanut butter
- Yard tools, including pruning shears
Inspection and Identification
- 250+ lumen flashlight
- Disposable gloves (ideally nitrile)
- Mechanic's mirror
- Frye Inspection Tool (F.I.T.)
- 1/2"-1" screws with a large head (look for self-tapping or self-drilling)
- 1/4" hardware cloth
- Metal flashing
- Escutcheon plates
- Mouse traps
- Rat glue trays
- Pea gravel
- Homemade cleaner made with peppermint oil
Inspect and Identify
- Use a bright flashlight to illuminate the roofline and foundation of your home, looking for gaps, damage, and holes. Be on the lookout for damaged screens and vents.
- When inspecting the attic, crawlspace, and garage, look for evidence of nesting, including droppings, soiled and disturbed insulation, shredded plastic, and other nesting materials.
- Take a walk around the perimeter of your house, using your mechanic's mirror to check for gaps between the siding and foundation. This is a common place where mice enter the crawlspace and walls of the home.
- Use a Frye Inspection Tool to measure gaps around your house, from door frames to window frames and openings in the siding. If the tool fits, so could a mouse.
- Don't forget to check your yard for burrows, runways, and tunnels.
Create a Treatment Plan
Use your inspection information to come up with a step-by-step plan.
- Prioritize any repairs and exclusion, including moisture-damaged wood, chewed door sweeps, holes, gaps, and the spaces around your utility cables.
- Place mouse traps immediately after sealing the holes to ensure you catch any mice that might be sealed inside.
- Consider the factors around your home that could attract mice to your property, like food, water, and ground cover. Then, try to remove them, or at least move them away from the house.
Stay away from spray foam, as mice and rats can chew through it like circus peanuts. Instead, opt for chew-proof supplies, like hardware cloth, metal flashing, and steel-reinforced caulking. Hardware cloth cut to size is excellent for covering holes, and metal flashing can be cut with tin snips and used on corners that would be hard to seal otherwise.
Use self-drilling screws to attach the hardware cloth or flashing in place. These will allow you to screw through all kinds of materials, including metal. Seal around utility lines and pipes with escutcheon plates and caulk. For smaller holes, pack them tightly with coarse steel wool instead.
The edges of metal flashing and hardware cloth can be dangerous to work with, especially once cut. Consider wearing sturdy work gloves when handling these materials.
Once entry points are sealed, you'll need to place traps to ensure no mice are trapped inside. Make sure to use mouse snaps for mice and rat snaps for rats—they are not interchangeable.
Mice use the walls as a guide as they run around. Keep this in mind and place traps perpendicular to the wall, with the trigger (also called a catch or bait plate). You can bait snap traps if you want, but if they're placed correctly, and mice are present, you shouldn't need to bait them at all.
Place glue trays in areas where you suspect mice are coming and going frequently (like the garage, attic, or crawlspace). Glue trays work well because they can trap multiple mice without needing to be reset or replaced. Also, it can help to put a little drizzle of chocolate syrup in the middle before placing them.
Repelling mice with peppermint oil is unreliable and won't force them out for good. At best, it might keep them away from specific spots, but if your traps are close to where peppermint oil was applied, the mice might avoid coming near them.
Modify the Habitat
If you've had mice inside, focus first on areas where you know they've been feeding and nesting.
- Clean up and remove soiled food items and properly seal or remove other food items, such as pet food and bird seed.
- Ensure that messes stay cleaned up, including food wrappers and even crayons. Mice aren't picky.
Next, take your mouse control efforts outside.
- Trim back any trees or shrubs that touch the house. Mice are good climbers and could use these plants as mouse highways.
- Remove dense grass, plants, and vegetation from the perimeter of your home.
- Avoid storing items and piling clutter along your foundation, including woodpiles. Objects around your foundation provide mice with hiding areas close to your home's inviting warmth and tempting smells.
- Remove as many food and water sources as possible. For example, keep lids on the garbage, keep your compost contained, and remove or reposition bird feeders away from the house.
Have a Plan for Sanitation and Maintenance
Once the house is sealed, the interior population is eliminated through trapping, and the habitat is adjusted to reduce food and water sources, it's time to do the final cleanup. This step can involve peppermint oil if you want.
The key to using a mild repellent like peppermint oil when there's a mouse issue nearby is ensuring the mice are completely out of your house before using it. The last thing you want is to drive mice further into the walls of your home.
- Clean-up should start by making sure your insulation isn't heavily damaged, and nesting sites have been cleaned. If the inside of your home reeks like mice and has evidence of nesting, it could be difficult to keep additional mice away. A crawlspace or attic cleanout might be necessary in severe cases.
- Once the severe mouse mess is cleaned, and damage is repaired (and you're sure there are no mice inside), you can use a homemade cleaner with peppermint oil to give the place a final cleaning. Not only are you sanitizing, but you're removing any lingering mouse scents that could draw more mice in.
When to Call a Professional
Mice don't just cause property damage. They also carry disease and are known for heavily soiling their nesting and feeding sites.
Suppose your home needs to have your insulation repaired or replaced. In that case, it's worth calling a company that specializes in cleanouts and insulation.
If you are overwhelmed or underprepared to conquer your mouse issue, don't hesitate to call a local, trusted pest control company. After all, your health, safety, time, and stress are worth the cost of knowing the job was done right, and the mice are gone!
Handbook of Pest Control: The Behavior, Life History and Control of Household Pests, Mallis, Arnold, and Dan Moreland.
Controlling House Mice. University of Missouri Extension.