How to Keep Mice and Rats Out: Tips for a Rodent-Free Residence

Home office with a rodent infestation

Mice and rats are among the most common pests troubling homeowners. Not only can they cause considerable damage to your property by chewing through walls, wires, and plumbing, but they also pose significant health risks by spreading diseases and contaminating food sources. Therefore, keeping these unwelcome guests out of your home is crucial. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to do just that.

Understand Your Enemy

First, it’s important to understand that mice and rats look for three things when they enter your home: food, water, and shelter. They can squeeze through incredibly tiny spaces (mice can wiggle through holes the size of a dime and rats, holes the size of a quarter), making any home vulnerable to infestation.

Seal Entry Points

The first step in keeping mice and rats out is to deny them entry:

Inspect your home and look for cracks, holes, and gaps around your foundation, walls, windows, and doors. Don’t forget to check where utilities enter your home.

Once you find the entry point, seal cracks and holes, and use steel wool and caulk to fill small holes, as rodents cannot chew through steel wool. Consider using metal sheeting, cement, or hardware cloth for larger gaps.

Eliminate Attractants

Rats and mice in a home office

Once you’ve sealed any entry points, you will also want to eliminate anything that is drawing the rodents into your house. 

  • Store Food Properly: Keeping food in sealed containers and not leaving any pet food out overnight will keep all types of pests away. 
  • Manage Waste: Ensure your garbage cans have tight-fitting lids and are emptied regularly.
  • Maintain Your Yard: Keep grass cut short and eliminate clutter. Store firewood away from your home’s foundation.

Set Traps

Setting traps can also be a great way to control a minor infestation:

Snap traps, live traps, and bait stations are all effective. The choice depends on your personal preference and the extent of your rodent problem. You can pick several different kinds up at a local hardware store, and are usually pretty cost-effective. 

Set traps along walls, behind objects, and in dark, secluded areas where rodent activity is suspected. Peanut butter is an effective bait for both mice and rats. For rats, consider using small pieces of bacon or fruits.

Consider Natural Predators

Cats and certain breeds of dogs can deter mice and rats. Additionally, installing an owl box can attract owls, which are natural predators of rodents.

Use Peppermint Oil

The smell of peppermint oil can deter both rats and mice. Soaking cotton balls in peppermint oil and putting them in areas of suspected activity is a great way to keep them away. 

Note: This method is more of a deterrent and may not be effective in case of an established infestation.

Regular Cleaning

Regular cleaning can help prevent mice and rats:

  • Declutter: Reducing clutter eliminates hiding spots for rodents.
  • Sweep and Vacuum Regularly: Keeping floors clean reduces food particles that attract mice and rats.
  • Regular Inspections: Periodically inspecting for signs of rodents can catch a problem before it becomes an infestation.

Professional Pest Control

If you’re dealing with a persistent or large-scale rodent problem, you might want to call in professional reinforcements. Professionals have specific tools and knowledge to effectively eliminate mice and rats from your home in the long term.

Preventive Maintenance

Keeping mice and rats out is an ongoing process:

  • Regularly Inspect Your Home: Make it a habit to inspect and maintain the exterior of your home.
  • Keep Your Home Clean: A clean home is less attractive to rodents.
  • Stay Vigilant: Even after taking all these measures, stay alert for signs of rodent activity.


Keeping mice and rats out of your home requires a combination of exclusion, sanitation, and vigilance. You can protect your house from these pests by sealing entry points, eliminating attractants, and setting traps. Remember, the key to effective rodent control is prevention. 

Regular property maintenance and inspection can save you from the hassle and dangers of a rodent infestation.

You might also be interested in: How To Identify Fleas – 5 Ways To Spot These Pests

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