I live in New York City, so managing a certain level of pest infestation is to be expected, but when the building next to mine was temporarily abandoned for a future gutting and renovation, a legion of mice took up residence. The wall of my kitchen, the one that houses my busy oven, abuts the abandoned building, and it didn’t take long for these big-eared bothers to find their way in.
Though I don’t mind the occasional run-in with a mouse, finding droppings on the counter every morning isn’t ideal. At the height of the infestation, I was having daily encounters, sometimes multiple, with my bold new roommates.
Something had to be done.
I tried several approaches to getting rid of them. Traps of various sorts worked, but this was a mighty offensive with a seemingly unending supply of soldiers. I needed a more foundational solution. In the end, it was a natural method that worked the best; one I hadn’t even considered at the outset. As a bonus, it’s safe to use around pets and children, and it’s one of the most humane ways to manage a rodent infestation.
Here are the five ways I tried to get rid of mice, the pros and cons of each, and what finally worked in the end.
Starve them out
My first approach was to starve them by removing any potential food source. It worked to a degree and I noticed fewer encounters, but my kitchen doubles as a busy meal-kit testing site; try as I might to keep food bits and odors from lingering for more than a few minutes, there’s only so much one can do.
- Cost: None.
- Grade: C-plus.
Next, I tried humane traps at the puppy-eyed request of my partner, a dyed-in-the-wool pacifist. These contraptions work by luring mice into the hull with food; when they enter, their weight triggers a door, trapping them inside. Then, it’s on you to release the live mice, preferably far away enough so they don’t come back, and then hope that these critters with a famously good sense of direction become someone else’s problem.
I set two, and they worked as advertised. I caught one mouse every few nights but it did little to dissuade others from following in their footsteps. Plus, having to relocate a mouse five blocks away every morning got old fast.
- Cost: $11 (two-pack) on Amazon.
- Grade: B-minus.
Tomcat bait station
Poison bait traps represented my third attempt. These devices lure mice in with an enticing smell and offer a block of green, edible bait that’s laced with poison. These didn’t work at all. I never found so much as a nibble taken from the bait block. And, the more I thought about it, these posed a far crueler fate for my unwanted intruders than even snap traps. They also mean dead and decaying mice scattered about your home.
Classic snap traps
Snap traps were the most efficient at stopping the parade of hungry freeloaders. These basic mousetraps do kill mice, and with merciful efficiency. The snap traps worked well and I caught more mice than I can count, but still more came. And these devices posed a danger to my dog and me, thus could only be used safely up high on the counter.
- Cost: $11 (6-pack) on Amazon.
- Grade: B.
The winner: Mighty Mint peppermint spray
Having exhausted most of my options short of an expensive appointment with an exterminator, I resorted to a 16-ounce bottle of peppermint spray for $19 on Amazon. (It’s also available at Target for $10.)
As directed, I sprayed the white peppermint solution near my kitchen baseboards, on the counter behind my toaster oven and in the crevice behind my wall oven. I reapplied the spray every couple of days. You can also use this spray in basements, attics, the engine of your car or any other spots you might not want rodents hanging out.
The peppermint smell was noticeable for the first few hours, but I found it pleasant. The spray went on clear, and there was no damage to the wood floors or marble countertops where I applied it.
Two weeks later (as of when I’m writing this) and I’ve seen no droppings or signs of mice at all — the first time I can say that in months. To be sure it’s working, I left two baited snap traps to gauge whether or not mice have been coming around. Neither one has been triggered.
- Cost: $19 on Amazon.
- Grade: A.
Is peppermint rodent spray safe to use around pets and children?
Mighty Mint peppermint spray is made from natural ingredients and is safe to use around dogs and children. But you’ll want to avoid getting in or near your eyes since peppermint oil can cause burning. It also contains soap, so it’s not safe to ingest.
How does peppermint spray repel rodents?
Mice and other rodents hate the smell of peppermint. (Hard to believe, I know.) The spray contains a mix of peppermint oil (4%), water, glycerin, polyglycerol oleate and soap.
What are the uses for peppermint spray?
Peppermint spray is used to repel rodents from indoor spaces like mice and rats. It’s also used to repel insects including mosquitos, spiders, aphids and ants. It can be used in gardens and sprayed on plants to deter invasive pests and vermin.