Natural Pest Control:

Keep Mice Away Without Cruelty

mouseinpants.jpgby VaLerie K

Got mice?  If, like me, you are not happy with the idea of killing or maiming mice to get them to vacate the premises, or if you are more callous and just don’t like the risk of them dying in your walls and stinking up the joint, I am thrilled to tell you that there is another way. 

Peppermint oil – an essential oil, meaning it contains the essence of peppermint leaves – is reputed to be utterly repugnant to mice.  Lore has it that in the essential oil form, it is too powerful for their sensitive noses.  Whatever the case, there are loads of testimonials out there from people who claim to have used this method with great success in garages, kitchens, basements and boudoirs, so I was eager to give it a try. 

Though I have not found an actual scientific article on using peppermint oil to repel mice, when I went to buy peppermint oil from my local natural foods store, and mentioned somewhat sheepishly why I was buying it, the saleswoman said, “Oh we sell more of it for that reason than anything else!”  And peppermint oil does garner a list of health benefit claims as well as the breath-freshening qualities we have all come to know.

Here’s what you do: either put a few drops of the oil with a little bit of water in a small sized spray bottle and then spray along the typical pathways your mice travel (and if you have mice, you know where they travel, trust me on that), or dab some peppermint oil on a cotton ball* and leave somewhere in those same pathways (I put mine in the corners of my kitchen counters, behind baskets or jars so they would not be visible).  If you know where mice are getting into your house, spray or place the cotton there, and also adding peppermint oil to places like under or behind furniture or appliances is not a bad idea.

Make sure you buy peppermint in the essential oil form.  “Essential Oils are the naturally occurring volatile oils obtained by steam distillation or cold pressing (expression), having the characteristic aroma of the plant part from which it was derived. These 100% pure oils are ‘neat’, meaning they have not been processed, diluted or manipulated in any way with solvents or other additives. Although a particular species of plant harvested and distilled for its essential oil during a particular growing season in a specific region may produce a fragrance that differs from the same species grown in a different region, many of the main chemical markers and physical specifications may be very similar.”  (from a product site which shall remain nameless)

I don’t have reliable information about how frequently to ‘update’ your peppermint doses, one user said he puts new peppermint in his garage once a month and has not seen a mouse for over three years!  I have been re-dosing more frequently than that, I figure if I can’t smell it, maybe the mice can’t either (and I really like the way it makes my house smell, so I don’t mind doing it).  I know the mice like to go under my toaster or my toaster oven after use, so every couple times I toast or bake something, I put a new application of  peppermint oil on a cotton blob and stick it under there (wait till it cools down!). 

I haven’t been at it for very long, but for almost a month now, there have been no little mouse presents on my counters, which had become practically a daily occurrence.

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*EXTRA TIP:  instead of buying cotton balls, use the wads of cotton that are stuffed into supplement or medicine bottles – re-use, recycle! 

CALL OUT:  if you have stories of deterring mice without poisons, traps or glue, or you are a lab geek who knows the reason peppermint works, leave us a comment!

IMPORTANT NOTE: to dispel any Christmas-related misinformation about the lack of love lost between mice and peppermint, I suggest you expunge any figurines or tree ornaments like those shown below from your possessions.  They can mislead the uninformed and perpetuate false stereotypes.


12 Responses to “Natural Pest Control: Keep Mice Away Without Cruelty”

  1. Alex B Says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ve used peppermint oil for a long time with good results. Recently I had to move up to another product (all natural) using peppermint oil and citrus oils to keep ’em away. Seems to be working pretty well.

  2. melanie w. Says:

    I love the peppermint loving mice in the pictures….funny!

  3. Jayne Keller Says:

    I had heard of this a long time ago, and bought something I thought was essential peppermint oil; I put it on pieces of cotton, etc., but it didn’t work. Maybe I thought it would work forever and needed to replenish it. I’ll try again, and check to make sure it’s really essential oil, or perhaps get some newer stuff, as the little vial of it I have is quite aged.

  4. Laura Hawley Says:

    Hey, next you can write about controlling fleas with diatamaceous earth. It does kill the little buggers, but is not toxic. Very cool.

  5. Valerie Says:

    Here are some replies I’ve gotten to this article, since people have a tendency to reply to me via personal email instead of replying here. I promise these are all real!

    from C. Edmond:
    yay – another use for my new favorite essential oil! i have come to love peppermint oil during my pregnancy b/c only a few drops at the back of the shower a) made my early morning headaches disapper within minutes and b) generally just made me feel re-energized. and, we haven’t had any mouse problems…

    from M. Sharkey:
    Thanks for sharing! We have mice in our apartment, and I’m scared to get poison because of our cat possibly eating it. I will pick up some peppermint oil next time I’m at the store…

    from S. Dinsmoor:
    Thank you!!! This was perfectly timed…

    from J. Carmichael:
    Tthis made me remember how my friend Barbara was convinced that you could get rid of unwelcome animals in your home/yard by asking them politely to leave; it was part of some spiritual thing she was into, and you had to really believe it or it wouldn’t work. I tried it, but of course didn’t believe it, so no go.

  6. eft training Says:

    well I guess this is really a natural way to repel those pesky mices in our friendly neighborhood … I wonder if this will also be applicable to those big mouse 🙂

  7. J Sp Says:

    Thanks for sharing! and for the cutest pictures too 🙂
    I have a real “mice phobia” and cannot get why so many sites use photos of “yucky” mice/rats…

  8. Valerie Says:

    Ok, I swear I’m not making this up, I just wanted to offer the first reliable feedback I’ve gotten (it did seem to work for me – the peppermint oil on cotton balls – but my mouse infestation was not long or severe and had seemed to be waning by itself when I used this method so I was never quite sure if it was the peppermint or if they were ready to move on anyway).

    I recently gave a friend who had bemoaned her mouse woes a handy kit – a small vial of peppermint oil and some cotton balls. She later reported that for two weeks she saw no sign of mice, whereas prior to that it had gotten pretty bad, mouse poops all over and they could hear the mice in a closet which is where they seemed to be getting in and out. So for those two weeks they did not even hear a peep, but then they started to see mouse poops again. She had used the cotton as an application tool, and I suspect if she had dabbed the oil on the cotton balls and left them in known mouse pathways, the peppermint smell would last longer and work better.

    I think regardless of your methodology, you do have to reapply to keep the mice from coming back. But all in all, hopeful news!

  9. Sharan Hora Says:

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  10. Erica Anderson Says:

    So I’m sick of this mouse putting holes in my walls and playing around in my room while I havr company so I would like to know where I can get some peppermint oils from .. ?? I’ve tried the mouse traps the little creep seems to be smart enough not to go near THEM, PLEASE HELP .. !!!!!!

  11. Elizabeth Fiend Says:

    Well, obviously you know how the access the Internet. Why don’t you start there. Good Luck! lov,e

  12. Valerie Says:

    This winter (2013) I have had the worst mouse problem to date, for the first time the peppermint oil was not working to keep them from ravaging my dry goods cabinet. I kept re-applying the peppermint oil anyway, figuring it couldn’t hurt to make it as unpleasant as possible. What seemed to finally chase them away was adding a couple of ultra-sonic rodent repellers that emit a noise we humans can’t hear but rodents supposedly can’t stand it. I think you can buy these from anyplace that sells appliances – super stores, home improvement stores, electronics stores etc etc. I also found out that there are sprays and sprinkles you can buy that are non-toxic and keep rodents away because they smell like predator urine (nice, right?).

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