Dead mouse odor (C) Daniel FriedmanGuide to Keeping Mice out of your Building

  • GET RID of MICE - CONTENTS: How do mice get into a building, where do the mice go and how do you get rid of mice. How to keep mice and rats out of your buildings.How to Find & Close the Source of Animal Entry Points in buildings. How to Keep Mice and Rats and Squirrels and Raccoons out of Your Home. What do we think of sonic mouse repellers, spring traps for mice, glue traps for mice, and catch-and-release traps for mice?
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to keep animal pests out of buildings

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How to get rid of mice & keep them out of your home:

Six effective steps to getting rid of mice & keeping them out. This article describes the signs of a mouse infestation and continues by describing how mice get into buildings, where they like to hang out, and how to get rid of mice and keep mice out of your apartment or home. We describe both effective and some ineffective or otherwise not-recommended mouse control measures and we include real-world practical tips based on seventy years of field and lab experience with mice

This article series discusses how to find where animals are getting into your building and how to keep them out, including bats, birds, rats, mice, and squirrels and even raccoons. This article series focuses on removing pet or other animal odors from buildings due to pet urine, pet feces, wild animal urine, or even human urine on and around buildings or on clothing and other soft materials.

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Mice Indoors: Let's Get Rid of the Mouse in the House (Many Mad Mice Are Not so Nice)

Dead mouse odor (C) Daniel Friedman

[Click to enlarge any image] Above is a dead mouse found in a building wall cavity during a home inspection.

Mouse droppings and urine in building insulation (C) Daniel Friedman

While above in a more subtle (at least visually subtle) clue indicating rodent infestatino, we illustrate finding mouse urine and feces in building insulation. Here are mouse-specific tips on how to get rid of mice in your home and how to keep them out.

How do I Know if I've Got Mice in My Apartment or Home?

It's helpful to know that mice living in your apartment or house generally occupy a surprisingly-small area, sometimes less than 50 feet in diameter. A sip from a dripping sink faucet and a nibble on fallen Kibble is enough to keep a mouse family in fat city for quite a while.

How do you know if you've got a mouse problem? You may not see the mice personally, but they're not very discriminating about where they poop and they never clean up after themselves. Or as you'll read later in this article, sometimes the mice get quite brazen, stomping their tiny feet across the living room or leaping into your cereal bowl. Really!

Ample signs of mice in a building shown by this mouse poop (C) Daniel Friedman

Early in my mouse-fighting career (which has been intermittent over seven decades) I played with cute pink and hairless blind baby mice nesting in a wooden Coca Cola bottle crate in the basement of our Dunsville Virginia farmhouse.

A little nest of shredded newsapaper formed their comfy home but Mom objected when I elevated the status the infants to upstairs. Later that day mom took the pink-ones for a swim in the Rappahannock. Later my parents put mouse poison in the basement to create an island of mouse-death of sufficient diameter that we no longer found their tiny footprints in the Jello.

Watch out: today we no longer recommend such hands-on attention nor direct contact between you and your mice. (Mills, 1995)

Six Steps to Effective Mouse Management: How to Get Rid of Mice Indoors

In the middle of my mousecareer (not the Disney type) Katheren L., a Fishkill attorney called me to demand mouse-action. After months of tolerating mouse droppings throughout her home, that morning she'd sat down still half-asleep to begin a dozy-breakfast in the kitchen.

Opening a box of Corn Flakes she began to pour it into her cereal bowl. A mouse lept out of the cereal box right into the milk! That was the final straw. Here are the mouse-removing steps that we implemented:

Evidence of mice below the kitchen sink (C) Daniel Friedman

  1. Remove the mouse-food: clean up spilled pet food or those carrot ends you dropped in the kitchen. Keep boxed or bagged mouse-edible food that is not in your referigerator sealed in secure containers such as jars or heavy, tight-lidded plastic containers. Mice are particularly attraced to homes with pets, perhaps because pet food is so readily available. (Langton 2001)

Steel wool used to close rodent entry point below a kitchen sink (C) Daniel Friedman

  1. Close the mouse-doors: as we advised at KEEPING ANIMALS OUT of BUILDINGS, close off openings through which mice are entering your home. It's tough to find all of these, especially if your home includes a hard-to-access crawl space but close as many openings as you can. Take a look around areas wher you are seeing mouse droppings.

    Under the kitchen sink you may find pipe passages that give mice an easy access from basement or crawl space into the main food area of your home. Even a vert tiny hole, perhaps just a half-inch across, is enough for some mice to shinny into your apartment.

Below are more examples of mouse access points into a building. My friend Paul Galow puts his mouse traps right next to the mouse-doors he's found in his home (below left): in this case a heating baseboard pipe opening in a wall that abuts a utility room and crawl space.

Mouse trap placed by a point of mouse entry (C) Daniel Friedman

Below you can see examples of harder-to-find mouse access openigns around the heating or cooling ducts in an older home.

Rodent openings into the duct work (C) Daniel Friedman

Watch out: a mouse or rat infestation of the air conditioning or heating ducts can leave urine and fecal waste that may contain pathogens that could make someone sick. Below you see the remains of a mouse in the air handler of a central air conditioning and heating blower compartment. I often find dead mice in this location, an event that suggests that no one has been changing air filters nor cleaning the unit for a time.

At CRAWL SPACE SAFETY ADVICE we describe a Hanta Virus risk encountered in crawl spaces where there has been mouse or rat activity.

Dead mouse in the air conditioning or heating furnace air handler (C) Daniel Friedman Real Kill mouse killing poison in a protective pouch (C) Daniel Friedman

  1. Poison the mouse-pests: using mouse baits or poisons is effective and if properly done can be safe for children or pets. You cannot possibly kill all the mice in your neighborhood, but you can create an island of mouse-death around your apartment or home by strategic placement of these mouse killing products.

    The Mouse Killer poison in the white pouch shown at above right is a Real-Kill product that has the advantage that you don't have to handle or touch the poison directly. The mice use their cute tiny noses to sniff out this bait and their sharp nasty little teeth to gnaw their way in to their fatal reward.

Below are two examples of putting down "bait" or mouse or rat poison.

D-con mouse poison under a sink (C) Daniel Friedman

I prefer types of poisons that don't encourage the mouse to die in and stink up the walls and ceilings of my home. Some poisons take effect when the mouse steps outside to its local pub for a drink.

Exterior mouse or rat poison container (C) Daniel Friedman

Watch out: to protect children and pets from possible illness or death from eating mouse or rat poison be sure that you follow the manufacturer's instructions for placing the bait or poison.

  1. Trap and and release or trap and kill the mice: Personally I prefer giving a quick painless death to my mice (Paul's conventional mouse trap shown earlier above and in close-up just below). Paul uses peanut butter as mouse bait, or chees, or as some experts suggest, a cotton ball dampened with water - an innocent bait that's good for about a day.

    Little plastic mouse-hotels (they check in but they can never leave) also work but having seen a few gnawed-off legs and frantic attempts to gnaw out of a plastic mouse-hotel, I don't find those methods very charming even if they're quite effective.

    My friend Barb W. (since our break-up she's changed her name to Adrienne - don't ask me why) left mouse hotels in her Rhinebeck NY home where spilled dog food was inviting mouse conventions each week. The idea was that the mouse would snuggle into the little plastic mouse-box, the mouse door slams shut, and you're supposed to carry the mouse over to your neighbor's yard to release it.

    But if you leave the mouse in her hotel for days it's a different story - it becomes not trap and release the live mouse, but trap and toss a stinking dead one. The trapped mouse had gnawed the plastic mouse trap enough to make a hole in it but the mouse didn't live long enough to gnaw a hole big enough to escape.

    Or maybe it died from eating those plastic chips. It was up to me to take the mouse hotel outside, cross the street to a distance of at least 50 feet from Barb's house, open the mouse-hotel latched door, and sling the dead mouse into the weeds. Ick.

Victor mouse trap in use (C) Daniel Friedman

Cats vary in their ability to keep the mouse population down. We certainly kept cats in the barn where they stayed fat on mice when I was a kid. But in our country house (Goochland County, Viriginia) Suki, our girl-cat, wasa terrifed of mice and ran like hell whenever she saw one.

What about glue traps for mouse control? Below we see an entire family of mice of various sizes found their last meal in a glue trap placed in a building in northern Minnesota.

Watch out: the New York Times has a nice mouse control article that supports our disaffection with glue traps for mice, including a more authoritative opinion that we quote:

Mice stuck in a glue trap in Silver Creek Minnesota (C) Daniel Friedman

"Glue or live traps should also be avoided, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [US CDC], as they can scare mice and cause them to urinate. 'Since their urine may contain germs, this may ioncrase your risk of being exposed to disease,' according to the C.D.C. Rodents trapped by glue also die a slow death, usually from hypothermia, ..." - Michelle Higgins, "Of Mice and Apartment Sales", The New York Times, p. RE B-1, 14, 8 Nov. 2015.

Really? In my opinion this is nonsense: any trapped mouse may pee and the mice pee where they please, whenever they please hen they're not trapped too.

They pee and poop all over the place. Running a household vacuum cleaner (a non-HEPA rated unit) risks areating unhealthy or contaminated dust and pathogens in mouse urine and feces regardless of whether you touch them, and probably at a greater health risk. Don't do that. Do use disinfectant sprays or cleaners to clean up mousy surfaces and do wear gloves or other protective gear as appropriate. You don't need to carry the mice bodies to their funeral in your bare hands.

  1. Repel the rest of the mice: using electronic devices you might have success with this non-toxic mouse repellent strategy. My experience with sonic mouse and rodent repellilng machines has been mixed.

    Really? At the Rhinebeck mouse convention I sat watching the most-expensive, biggest electronic mouse repeller that Barb could buy. A cute little mouse walked right up to the electronic mouse repeller and sniffed at it. Either that mouse was stone deaf or ... no, readers, the electronic mouse-repeller was indeed plugged in and turned-on.
    See REPELLENTS for ANIMAL PESTS for a complete list of what repellants are effective for mice.

    Other mouse repellent methods (besides the silent scream of the mouse siren) are mouse repellent such as Shake-Away granules or Stay-Away rodent pouches. From my own field tests I report that mice also don't have a high opinion of mothballs.
    See MOTHBALLS: Proper Use and Alternative Controls for Clothes Moths - [PDF]

    Watch out: don't over-do the mothballs or you'll have to see MOTHS, MOTHBALL ODORS
  2. Bring in the Mouse-Terminator: you won't really need to bring in a robo-cop nor Arnold Schwarzenagger, but you may need to hire a professional pest exterminator, particularly if you don't feel up to the job yourself, or if you have tried the steps we list above and you've still got a mouse-invasion going on. Be sure that the pest control professional you hire is licensed.


If your building odor complaint source is found to be outdoors, see URINE ODOR REMOVAL at BUILDING EXTERIOR.

Mouse Control Research

Watch out: in addition to their common role as allergens, animal feces, urine, even hair can offer serious health hazards including from various pathogens: bacteria, viruses, even possibly rabies.

Watch out: also for wild animal bites, bacterial and viral hazards when entering confined spaces where invaders are or have been present. The author (DF) became temporarily ill after (foolishly) working in a "clean looking" crawl space that later he realized had a heavy contamination of fecal and urine contaminated mouse dust. Bat and rodent droppings as well as bird droppings can be a source of a pathogen potentially dangerous to humans, the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum.

Watch out: before sealing up a hole in a soffit or wall where squirrels or bats are entering your building, make sure the animals are not going to be trapped inside where they will be mad, frightened, hostile, even dangerous (like a rabid raccoon), or ultimately dead and another source of stink.


Continue reading at ANIMAL ENTRY POINTS in BUILDINGS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.



Or see BLACK STAINS from ANIMALS for a description of the cause and cure of various types of stains caused by pets or other animals in buildings.

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