Four ‘effective’ and natural methods to deter mice in kitchens

This Morning: Alice Beer shares tips for removing pests

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According to a study conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), 45 percent of respondents reported rodent problems during the autumn and winter months. Of those respondents, 50 percent reported that pest issues occurred in the kitchen. As the weather cools, it’s important to be mindful of keeping these pests out of homes. Here are some ways to identify and address mice in kitchens.

Expert at Spectrum Pest Control highlighted several signs of mice to look for which include: mouse droppings in the kitchen, gnawed holes in kitchen walls, gnawing or rubbing marks around the kitchen, evidence of nesting materials in the kitchen, smell of urine in and around the kitchen, scampering or scratching sounds in the kitchen and unusual pet behaviour in and around the kitchen.

They said: “If you notice one or more of these signs, you should begin looking for potential locations mice may use to enter your home. Mice can fit through holes the size of a dime, so consider all small openings as possible entry points.

“Effective mouse prevention in your kitchen involves eliminating the resources these creatures seek, including water, food and shelter. Here are some specific actions to consider to help eliminate these sources in your kitchen and prevent mice.”

1. Store food away 

When food becomes scarce outdoors, mice may turn to kitchen for their sustenance. The pest pros said: “In the wild, mice eat seeds, roots, leaves, stems and insects. In your kitchen, mice will eat just about anything — including glue, soap and other common household materials. They can gnaw through plastic bags, plastic containers and cardboard boxes to get into food that appears to be protected and sealed.

“For this reason, one of the easiest and most effective ways to make your kitchen less desirable for mice is to store your food properly.” 

Items such as uncovered leftovers, exposed fruit bowls, exposed pet food and food in cardboard containers can become a feast for mice. 

Even for those who have counters and cabinets high off of the ground, they should mouse-proof their food items. Mice have sharp claws that enable them to climb surfaces like wood, metal and plastic. 

Despite their small stature, mice have the agility and build to climb on counters with relative ease. Make sure to store the food items on counters in heavy, sealed canisters to keep them out.

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2. Seal any holes or points of entry 

As mice can squeeze through coin-sized holes, they may be able to find or gnaw several entry points into a house. The experts said: “Locating and sealing these interior and exterior entry points can effectively help prevent the mice from getting into your kitchen.”

They suggested that when homeowners find small holes, they need to fill them with steel wool and use caulk to keep the material in place. 

The experts added: “For larger holes, use lath metal, lath screen, hardware cloth, metal sheeting or cement to fill the gaps. You can also use flashing around the base of your home to seal holes in the foundation.

“You can purchase any of these patching materials at a local hardware store to help with the hole sealing process. If possible, check for and seal existing holes before the fall and winter months to prevent mice from ever stepping foot in your kitchen.”

3. Prune the exterior of your home

Many kitchens face into backyards or gardens. While this may make for a scenic view of bushes and shrubs outside kitchen windows, it may also present an issue when dealing with mice. The landscaping homeowners have outside their kitchen and around the base of their home can make an inviting home for mice when unkempt.

The pest control gurus said: “Mice like to make homes in woodpiles, storage areas or hidden spots near food. They typically like to nest in soft substances like rags, paper or leaves. If you have any of these objects or areas near your home, mice may take up residence and be more likely to move inside when the weather gets colder.

“To keep your exterior protected from mice, remove piles of leaves and deep mulch from your property. In addition, keep your shrubs and bushes trimmed and keep mulch at least 15 inches from the foundation of your home.

“In general, take a look at the materials and plant life you have near the exterior parts of your home connected to your kitchen. If you notice any piles, overgrown bushes or soft substances mice may use for nests, consider pruning the area before the mice seek shelter indoors.”

4. Use essential oils

The experts said: “The scent of some essential oils work effectively to deter mice from entering your kitchen”. 

In a study conducted on natural rodent repellents, researchers concluded that chilli, wintergreen, bergamot, geranium and peppermint oils discouraged mice from visiting a testing area. Of this group, peppermint oil is one of the most commonly used and available for purchase.

The pest control pros advised: “Add several drops of peppermint oil to a spray bottle filled with water and spritz the mixture near any kitchen gaps or openings and areas that contain food. 

“You may also choose to add drops of peppermint to cotton balls and place them in and around gaps and food sources. This method not only protects your home, but it also makes your kitchen smell like a fresh candy cane.”

One of the benefits of this method is that it is safe for use around pets and children. If used by themselves, essential oils may not be enough to prevent these pests entering homes. However, when paired with other methods, essential oils can “make an excellent supplementary measure and eradicate mice completely”.

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