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Do Mothballs Keep Mice Away?

Mice seem cute when you see someone’s pet mouse, or when you spot one during a walk. Mice in your house, that were not invited, is a whole different story. A mouse infestation can lead to chewed wires and drywall, mice chewing into your boxed food. They also leave their feces, which can spread disease. If you have a cat or live in an area highly populated by owls or hawks, a mouse infestation may not be an issue.

If you live near an open field or there is a scarcity of predators around you may get an infestation. You may hear the mice before you see them. Scratching in the walls or squealing, are obvious signs. One of the first signs of a mouse infestation is their droppings. By the time you see their droppings or spot a mouse, they’ve established themselves.

If you can’t, or don’t want to own a cat there are ways to keep mice away, before they colonize your house. Some preventative are more effective than others at keeping mice away, and there are some supposed preventatives that are not only not effective, they’re also dangerous to you. Let’s start with one of the most commonly recommended remedies.

Do mothballs keep mice away?

There is a long-standing belief that mothballs are an effective way to keep mice away from your house. Unfortunately despite the anecdotal evidence, mothballs are not effective at keeping mice away. The concentrations needed to effectively repel mice would be toxic to humans. Leaving mothballs scattered around is also a danger to children and pets.

Mothballs can be fatal if consumed. There is the added issue of the legality of using mothballs in a way not intended on the label since they are a pesticide regulated by the EPA. There are safer, effective ways to keep mice away and prevent infestation.

image: Pixabay.com | Mice can reproduce very quickly

8 other ways to keep mice away

1. Trim your bushes

Overgrown shrubs close to your house provide a good hiding place for mice and other rodents. From here they can chew through your siding, or find a weak spot that makes it easy for them to get into your home. Trimming back your shrubs will keep mice from being able to find an easy access point undetected, and will help you find any holes or damage to the sid of your house that could let mice in.

2. Seal your food

Mice make their way into your house lured by the scent of food. Sealing your food in air-tight containers will keep the scent of food from escaping and luring them in. This has the added benefit of making your pantry look more organized in addition to keeping mice away. Glass containers are the best for this purpose because if a mouse does find its way in, it can easily chew through plastic. Some glass canisters like these should do the trick.

3. Seal their entry point

This may be difficult to identify on your own but to keep mice out of your house, find and seal their point of entry. It could be behind your stove or a small hole from your garage that you never noticed. Once you find it you can seal their entry using steel wool and caulk. Both of these are inexpensive products you can find online or at your local home improvement/hardware store.

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4. Screen your gutters and chimney

While sealing the points of entry to keep mice away, don’t forget one of the largest entry points into your house. Mice can gain access to your house through your chimney and your gutters. Screening these removes an access point for mice. A chimney cap will also prevent squirrels and birds from finding their way into your fireplace.  You can find chimney caps online and these gutter guards from Raptor Gutter Guard are among the best you can get.

5. Peppermint

Peppermint has been shown to be an effective way to keep mice away. The efficacy of peppermint oil as a mouse deterrent depends on the concentration of peppermint oil. Use a peppermint essential oil and not a peppermint oil intended for cooking. When it comes to repelling mice with peppermint oil, something like this from Natural Armor would work like a charm.

6. Cayenne Pepper

Like peppermint, the strong scent of cayenne pepper is a deterrent to mice. You can make an easy cayenne pepper spray to spray around your house to help deter them from attempting to enter.  Most people have cayenne pepper in their spice rack so it’s an easy home remedy to keep mice away.

7. Live Traps

image: Pixabay.com

If mice have established themselves in your house you will need to remove them. If the idea of having to kill mice to get them out of your house makes you feel a little queasy there are live traps you can use. The mouse is lured into the trap and captured alive to be released outside. When you release mice, don’t just take them directly outside and release them.

They will just find their way back into your house. Instead,  take them to a forested area away from houses, and release them there. These live mouse traps from CaptSure are among the most effective and humane you can get.

8. Kill Traps

If you must kill the mice to be rid of them, find a kill trap that kills immediately. Spring traps kill humanely if they land where intended, unfortunately all too often they miss the target and leave the mouse with a broken limb. Glue traps leave the mouse to starve.

Poison traps work slowly and not only could you end up with dead mice in your walls, if it dies in the open, but it could also be eaten by a pet which could lead to your pet being poisoned. Electric traps kill humanely by giving the mouse a jolt of electricity killing them instantly.  Having said that, these spring loaded mouse traps on Amazon have thousands of positive reviews and will get the job done.


While using mothballs to keep mice away is just another old wives tale, there are other effective ways of keeping mice out of your house, and out of your pantry. You can get a mouse infestation under control yourself if you are patient and remember to close off points of entry and keep your house from smelling appealing to mice. If you have an infestation that you just can’t get control of after addressing all the things that may attract mice, it may be time to consult a professional.

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