The Complete Guide on How To Get Rid of Mice.

Put your mothballs and steel wool away.  They don’t deter mice, no matter what you’ve read on the Internet. Here I lay out what you really need to do to keep mice out of your house and how to get rid of them if they’re already in there.

Siamese cat with her nose pressed to a glass that's tipped over, holding a mouse.

I speak from experience.  

They’ve always arrived without invitation. Roaming around as if they pay the mortgage, eating stuff I leave on the counter, going to the bathroom behind the stove.   I’ve spent a lot of time researching how to get rid of my family members but neither poison, bait or traps work.  They keep showing up. Mice? Now, those I know how to get rid of. 

Like you, I’ve had mice in my house. You’re not gross, or dirty or living in a hovel if you have mice, you’re just a regular human living in a regular house.

Over the course of 20 years in my home, I’ve had to evict mice every few years.  It’s not that I’m afraid of mice or even all that bothered by seeing one skitter across the foyer, followed by a pouncing cat.  I just know the kind of damage they can do. And also, yuck.

Are Mice Dangerous?


Mice like chewing on things: wood, wires, food, cushions, heirloom vegetable seeds lovingly gathered and carefully stored in paper envelopes for future generations to come.  Also noses.  I have no actual proof but if presented with a nose I’m sure a mouse would chew on that as well.

  • When mice chew on wood, drywall and electrical wires in your house. That means you’ll either have an expensive repair in your future, or worse, a fire inside your walls.
  • Mice mark their territory by peeing and pooping all over your house. Which is gross. But also a danger in terms of the viruses and diseases they carry.
  • Mice have parasites on them because of their filthy habit of being mice. Ticks, fleas, and other parasites all come into your home with the mice.

Hey! I got a tick on my neck. If you happen to get one, here’s how to properly identify and remove it. Since we’re talking about pests and all. 

O.K., so 30% of all homes have mice in them. Some of them even have rats.  I’m guessing you want to get rid of them.

How to Get Rid of Mice.

  1. Poison
  2. Traps
  3. A Cat

Poison is effective but it’s also a slow, painful death for the animal.  Plus there’s a danger if you use open poison and have kids or pets in your house. Kids won’t eat broccoli but they’ll sure as shit eat mouse poison if you leave it out.  I personally once drank an entire bottle of motor oil when I was a a kid. Yup.

What if your pet eats a poisoned mouse?  The percentage isn’t 0% but there’s very little chance  that your pet would become poisoned after eating a poisoned mouse.  Mice can only eat a few grams of poison a day. Even if your pet ate the entire poisoned mouse it still wouldn’t be enough to poison even the smallest dog.  Around 56 grams of poison would need to be consumed by a very small dog to poison it.

**secondary poisoning like this is more common if you have barn cats that have to actually hunt for their food and might eat several mice in a day.  House cats prefer to get their food in a bowl.**

Traps are your best choice for eliminating mice that are in your house. You just have to decide which type of trap to use. 

Getting a cat REALLY will help your mouse problem. It will scare them from coming into your house, plus cats really are good mousers. A lot of dogs are as well.

Types of Mouse Traps


  1. Electric Mouse Traps

    **Best Choice**
    These Viktor electronic mouse traps are my favourite.  They electrocute the mouse instantly and there is a 0% chance that it will only be maimed or hurt.  There is no blood ever, the traps stay clean and you can use them indefinitely.  Just replace the batteries when needed. Of all the kill traps, these are the most humane.

  2. Classic Snap Trap

    **Best Choice**
    If you don’t want to put out the money for an electronic mouse trap, your next best bet is the classic, wood snap trap.  They work better than anything else but they’re also the most difficult to set and use.  They’re basically terrifying. Don’t worry about it though, I’m going to show you how to properly set one.

  3. Plastic Snap TrapsNew style easy to set plastic mouse trap from Viktor.

    There are a few different new fangled plastic snap traps on the market.  They promise instant death and less chance of pets and fingers getting caught in them because they’re easier to set. I’ve had a little luck with these but not a lot. I’ve set these traps out and caught one mouse compared to 10 in the classic wood or electric trap.

  4. Live Traps

    Live traps like this are little Hotel Californias. The mouse goes in but it can’t get out. They work, but require more commitment from you. You need to check the traps more often because you’re holding a living thing in them, plus when they’re caught you need to travel with the mouse a mile or so away from your home to relocate it. Keep in mind you might catch 5 mice in one day. That’s a lot of road trips with your mice friends. 

  5. Glue Traps

    **Worst Choice**
    Avoid these at all costs. They’re gross, sticky, messy and completely inhumane. These pads covered in ultra sticky glue trap render the mouse immobile until it either dies of thirst and starvation or until they struggle to get away, breaking their little feet or legs off. They’re awful inventions.

So now you know that if you have mice you’re going to need to either put down a contained bait station, or set a mouse trap. 

Setting Bait stations are easy. You just take them out of their box and place them where you see mouse activity, preferably against a wall. They’re already baited and ready to go.

A mouse trap however is trickier, especially one of the best kinds of mouse traps, the snap trap. Here’s how to set one.

How to Set a Mouse Trap

Step by step photos of how to set a mouse trap laid on a wood floor.


  1. Wear latex gloves when handling mouse traps and food to keep human scent off of them.
  2. Slightly bend the hook on the bait holder that holds the pin so it just barely holds the pin in place without setting off the trap. Be CAREFUL and keep your fingers out of the way. Doing this to your trap will give it a hair trigger to better catch mice. And fingers.
  3. Bait the trap with a *small* amount of bait. No food bigger than pea sized. The best bait is half of a peanut or a kernel of corn wedged under the teeth of the bait holder. Peanut butter can be your 3rd choice but the others are better because the mouse can’t just lick it off. With corn or a peanut they have to work on pulling it out which is more likely to set off the trap.
  4. Mice run along backs of cupboards and walls because it’s dark and they feel safe there. Place the trap with the baited end against a wall so the mouse can only get at it from the left or right as it runs along the wall. This helps make sure the mouse is killed instantly because it’s coming at the trap from the ideal direction.
  5. Put out a LOT of traps. Not just one or two. Put them everywhere you see mouse poop but away from where pets and kids can get at them.

Still confused?  Here it is on video.


How to Keep Mice Out Of Your House

The best thing you can do to get rid of mice is to not let them in your house in the first place. Duh. 

Let me say you’re probably  never going to make your house 100% mouse proof, but you can at least make it a challenge for them to get in.  

This summer I took down some parging that was on the side of my house.  It’s been there since I moved in and I still have no idea why it was there, covering up a small portion of the almost 200 year old brick.  When I removed the pargeing, it revealed a huge gap between a window and the original brick.  A BIG crack.  Big enough that a pig could squeeze in, let alone a mouse.


Large gap between wood window frame and exterior brick wall.

To keep mice out you need to go around the house looking for holes and cracks. And then … you need to FILL THEM PROPERLY.


To Fill Foundation Cracks

How small of a hole can a mouse get through?  If you can stick a pencil into it, a mouse can get into it too.

Here’s what you need to do. 

  1. Push a piece of metal (rod or crumpled wire) into smaller holes and then fill them with expandable spray foam like Great Stuff.
  2. Fill larger cracks with 1/4″ hardware cloth and then use the spray foam.

Bending a strip of 1/4" hardware cloth into a large house crack to help get rid of mice.

Handy Tip:  Use gloves that are slightly more resilient than latex gloves. 

Large crack on side of house filled with Great Foam spray insulation.

3. After filling the crack with hardware cloth and spray foam, cut the excess foam off with a sharp knife when it’s dried.

Final Tip on Mouse Control.

Don’t rely on only one method for controlling mice. Use everything you’ve got. Your whole arsenal. And don’t let your guard down.

Mice are super suspicious but not of the opposite sex.  Ever.  They are constantly having mouse sex and making babies.  Like, non-stop.  So as long as there are mice in this world, there’s going to be a chance that one or worse, TWO will get into your house and claim it as their love pad.  By using two or three of these methods you’ll have a good shot at keeping the population in your house down.

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The Complete Guide on How To Get Rid of Mice.


  1. Suzanne Gilmour says:

    Thank you for the mouse information. Now can you PLEASE help me with getting my windows clean. The inside windows are fine and easy to clean but the outside are awful. We have used windex ,vinegar, magic eraser & oven spray ( not all at once) with no results at all. I can’t figure out the people on the internet that have tried all of these with GREAT RESULTS. Who are these people?

    • Valerie says:

      Try using a razor scraper…usually in the paint section of the hardware store. Ordinary alcohol to remove any smears afterward.

      • Jill Hill says:

        I use Ultimate Cloths on all of my windows, glass and mirrors. Available on-line. A little pricey but so worth it. All you do is soak them in warm water, squeeze out as much of the water as you can, clean your window and walk away. No mess, no streaks, no nothing. They are amazing!!! My windows and mirrors have never been cleaner and no chemicals!

  2. Suzanne says:

    Thank you for the mouse information. Now can you PLEASE help me with getting my windows clean. The inside windows are fine and easy to clean but the outside are awful. We have used windex ,vinegar, magic eraser & oven spray ( not all at once) with no results at all. I can’t figure out the people on the internet that have tried all of these with GREAT RESULTS. Who are these people?

  3. Brandi G. says:

    Any ideas on how to keep them from making warm homes under the hood of my car and then chewing up wires in there?

    • BOB says:

      leave the hood open, those are NOT mice they are rats I am still repairing wire damage to my PU that I had parked with the hood down! some have used the kind clothes dryer sheets that go in when drying clothes must be changed every so often to keep the smell, also moth balls are good the kind you buy in the bag for mice, NOT the balls you would like to remove from the ones that you trapped! LOL

    • Beth says:

      They sell tape that has pepper taste. Wrap the hoses in the tape.

  4. Drawn Dog says:

    My neighbor used a glue trap and poured boiling water over one of the mice she caught!
    I was appalled!
    The next one she caught she called me to kill it. I set it in the road upsidedown and drove my truck over it.

  5. Susan says:

    My house is like yours. Ancient. I did my best to mouse proof but the little stinkers are still getting in somewhere in the spring and fall and I can’t figure out where. But since buying one of those electronic mouse thingys that you plug in, instead of a semi-annual party house for mice, it’s just been one or two. Once they were caught, it seemed to be the end of them. The little gizmo that you plug in is supposed to emit a high-pitched frequency that only mice can hear and it drives them crazy. Two of them are all I’m using and now that I know they work so well, I’d have them in every room of the house if I had enough plugs for them and my electronics. They don’t bother the dogs and the only caveat is making sure you buy them from a trusted source. Something you can’t hear and have no idea if it’s actually doing anything is awfully easy to knock off and fake.

  6. Teresa says:

    The victor electric traps are the BEST!!! Every fall they start to move indoors. I put them out at the first mouse “sign“ (which means poop and other gross stuff) and pretty much catch mice every night. When I stop finding mice in the traps I know that I’ve gotten them all. They are easy and the most humane. Worth every penny!

  7. Elizabeth says:

    The only tip that I have to add, is to put your mouse traps out early in the season. As soon as the temps start getting cold (some August evenings can be cool), we put the traps around our house. If we wait too long to put out the traps then, the mice have a chance to come in, get settled, and make babies. We use both the Victor wood and plastic quick-set mouse traps.

    and just in case you were wondering – basset hounds make lousy mousers!

    • Arlene Stopps says:

      Hahaha! My daughter has Basset…and he won’t even go down the basement stairs!
      Useless…but, he’s adorable!

      • Elizabeth says:

        Adorable yes but, I sometimes wonder if our two don’t just stay up and party with the mousies :)

  8. Tony Poole says:

    Great article! A number of years ago my wife & I had a flock of chickens. I am sure you know that chickens draw rats. So we put out rat poison under the coop. That seemed to take care of the rat problem but a short while later my wife found a live baby rat (or it could have been a mouse) in one of the feed buckets. She dumped it into the cage where our 12 year old daughter kept her 6′ ball python, Sinclair. Of course the rat was a tasty snack for Sinclair but 2 or 3 days later the snake died. To make matters worse, it rotted from the inside out so when I went to clean up the carcass, it literally disintegrated in my hands. The aroma of rotted snake guts is something I will never forget. I still gag thinking of how gross it was. Eating a poisoned mouse might not kill a cat but it certainly did the job on our daughter’s pet snake.

  9. Eileen says:

    Poison is a slow and painful death for the animal. You may not want it in your house, but do you need to torture it before killing? Poison also gets passed on through the food chain from birds and animals eating the poisoned ones, or even the poisoned animal dying and decaying. It’s another horrifying way humans are messing with the environment. Everyone thinks: my one little poison station…but it adds up to millions and millions of them. Use traps.

    • Kat says:

      YES. Please, please, please no poison (for mice OR moles, as someone was asking about – moles don’t even damage gardens and only cause aesthetic disruption to lawns, plus they aerate the soil and keep pests in check…people are insane). Even relocation isn’t a humane choice (look up The Humane Gardener for more info). Quick-kill traps are the best choice!

  10. Kat Boynton says:

    I am in the middle of an ongoing battle of mice in the shed. I too have resorted to the old fashioned wood Victor traps. Tried many others but those horrid wooden things seem to work the best. Although I have not tried the electric ones.
    I never wear the rubber gloves and won’t fall for that one and here is why. Yes they can smell human scent. But they are not shy about getting into your cupboards or eating all the food on the counter tops that has human scent all over it, so why would human scent bother them on a trap. Just does not add up and I hate putting on and taking off rubber gloves, plus I hate the process of setting the traps, so at least if I eliminate the rubber gloves I will at least get the traps set more readily than if I had to put the gloves on.
    I tried the live trap and release thing and you are correct about the commitment. After the eighth live mouse release my commitment and save the wildlife plan went out the door and I turned into a committed mouse murderer!
    Never would I try the poison. It is the birds that I worry about. I feed Crows and Crows like dead mice. I do not want to hurt my Crows.

  11. Bonnie Jane Harris says:

    There’s also a spray-foam product that’s made to repel rodents, has some extra ingredient in it. I used it last year with success. Also — my 2 cents — you never have “a mouse”. By the time you notice one, you have many fine mousies.

  12. Kipley Herr says:

    It is illegal in all 50 states to transport wildlife. There are some exceptions, but the reasoning is: 1. it may result in a more painful death (than snap trap) for the critter as they are in someone else’s territory (incurring fights to the death), and they don’t know where the food and water is.
    2. It becomes someone else’s problem

    • Karen says:

      If you could link to that I’d appreciate it. I’ve scoured the Internet and there’s no evidence of it being illegal in any states to relocate a mouse. ~ karen!

    • Kipley Herr says:

      This is not specific to mice. By Googling ‘relocating wildlife’ there is lots of info. I suspect the reasoning would apply to mice. We had a raccoon (who killed our chickens) – this started my search.

      • KW says:

        I find it hard to believe this is illegal. We had skunks at our last house and we used a pest control / wildlife company that specifically provides service to trap and relocate wildlife using humane live-traps. If it was illegal to transport wildlife, this company wouldn’t be allowed to remain in business.

  13. Janet Dykstra says:

    Wait…they can chew through concrete but not foam???

    I’ll come back for your answer…on my way out to buy an electronic trap now, bye!

    • Karen says:

      They can chew through concrete if they have to. If they feel trapped or whatever. They CAN chew through foam, but if the mouse doesn’t see the crack it generally doesn’t try to get in. If it does happen to chew through the foam in an attempt to get in the house then it will be met with the hardware cloth inside the foam and not make it into the house. ~ karen!

      • Speckhen says:

        Steel wool HAS worked for us, likely for the same reason – no crack visible to the mouse. Moderately fine steel wool, stuffed into the crack piece by piece by piece so it’s like the foam – no gaps whatsoever. Mice could chew through it but it’s so thick they don’t bother. My family has high chemical sensitivity so we’ve avoided the foam. 1957 split-level house so lots of weird potential gaps – but we put in the steel wool 5 years ago and haven’t had a problem since.

  14. whitequeen96 says:

    I LOVE the electric trap. I had rats get into my house one winter and they were extremely destructive. Regular traps didn’t work, but my neighbor gave m a little dog kibble to put in the electric trap and it caught TWO in the next 2 days! I heard “clunk”, went to look and found a huge dead rat, neatly electrocuted. Just dumped him directly into a plastic bag and threw him away. Same thing happened the next day. If you’ve got rodents, these things are worth the money and are a god-send!

  15. joe grech says:

    I intend to get an electric trap as I hate poisoning them. Which type would you recommend?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joe! I’ve linked to the kind of traps that I use in the post. They’re the Viktor traps. They aren’t cheap but they last forever and it’s instant death. Here’s a link to the traps on Amazon. Most hardware stores have them as well. ~ karen!

      • susang says:

        I use the rat zapper. slightly bigger (I think) than the victor and I have sent them back to be refurbished. sometimes mice go tinkle when they die and it shorts out the metal pad expensive but kind of just set it and it takes care of the problem. having a huge stone fireplace is apparently a welcome sign

  16. SuzNKton says:

    We have had a single rat, for four years now. We get that rat. And then get one more the following year. I can hear him in the attic. Last year he ate through part of my ceiling. Literally sends me cowering into a corner, crying for my daddy.
    And mice in the garage. But they eat thru the rubber trim on the garage door. Why?!
    We have never tried the latex gloves. Well, the hero hasn’t. When I was having to do that kind of thing because I was the only one who could walk on two legs, i had a dedicated set of bbq tongs and just threw out the productive traps. Good times.

  17. Mary says:

    Thank you for the comments on the glue traps. I’ve always thought they were horrifying. Mice are yuck for sure but…still living breathing animals who will suffer.

  18. Tine from Denmark says:

    About 10 years ago I saw a German shepherd and her 4 puppies bleeding to death after the mother have eaten rats, that have eaten ratpoison. The puppies got the poison througt the milk.
    The dogs were bleeding from the indside and the doctor couldn’t do anything.
    I will never forget it….

    • Linda Callahan says:

      Our Shepherd ate a poisoned mouse and bled internally to death. The necropsy showed it was only a trace amount of poison in her system. It wasn’t our poison but apparently a neighbor’s mouse that came into our yard. Please don’t use poison–it can go anywhere.

      • Megan says:

        Vitamin K is an antidote to warfarin rat poison, obviously time and amount of poison will effect the outcome. Rat poison is an anticoagulant, Vitamin K helps blood clot.

  19. Sara says:

    What do you think of the plug-in things that emit a noise, which supposedly mice hate?

  20. Sandra D says:

    In all the years we’ve lived in this house (since 2003) we’ve only had mice in the garage and the wood shed (and I don’t care), but last year we had the exterior of the place renovated and suddenly we had a mouse (yup, A mouse – ONE). My husband did use the worse method and I felt so bad imaging the struggle that caused it to fall off the shelf the trap was on. It didn’t die of thirst or starvation, unless that can happen overnight. We never had a reoccurrence, but we did cover up the basement window that got broken. That was last August.

    I’ve heard Irish Spring soap bars (cut up, I imagine) will deter them from coming into places. We’ll try that at our campsite.

  21. Auntiepatch says:

    We use trap and relocate traps. We then take them out to the country. We do the same with rattle snakes. Living on a So. Calif. canyon, we get plenty of both. No poison in our house to worry about.


    I’ve had to get pros in for rats, but now I have a mouse or two in the library that rents from our historic foundation, in our historic old house. You can imagine the openings that exist for these critters! When I first took over, I found gaps the size of Tonka trucks at the corners of walls where ship lap siding met…so I got my foam gap filler and got to work. But there are so many places where the library built benches and cabinets and who knows what’s covered up and housing mice!! Oh, the joys of my volunteer life!!
    Heading out for the expensive electronic gizmos tomorrow after early am Rotary!!

  23. Katelyn says:

    This is a very timely post for me as I’ve been dealing with my first ever mouse problem these last few weeks. On the bright side my pet hating husband is maybe starting to change his mind about a cat!

    • Karen says:

      Yep. Now’s the time when they start moving in. I once discovered I had mice when late at night I heard something rummaging around in the garbage under my sink. ~ karen!

  24. Mandy Kearney says:

    That was great. I hate mices to pieces and the thought of them in my house makes me shudder. My husband and I built our own house and every little crack or hole was filled with foam. All the bottoms of the doors are protected as well. We are in a mouse plague area and so far after five years no mice thank goodness. Thank you for a great article.

  25. Tina says:

    I remember this column! I promptly ordered the Viktor electronic traps, just in case, but have never needed them. Instead I have 2 terriers and 3 cats. Mice don’t stand a chance!

    Oh, and I refuse to have poison around. Years ago my dog got a poisoned mouse. It didn’t kill him but it sure made him sick!

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