How to get rid of mice – for a safer and cleaner home

Find out how to get rid of mice safely and humanely and stop them returning to your home with our simple guide

Who's been chewing holes in food packets and leaving tiny brown pellets lying around? Sounds like the work of a cheeky little mouse. Read on for our step-by-step guide on how to get rid of mice, for safe and humane ways to remove them from your home...

What are mice?

room with pink wall and mice sticker and tiles floor

(Image credit: Future PLC/Robert Sanderson)

Mice live in family groups and come out to feed at night. Although they look sweet and innocent, you really don't want to share your home with these small rodents as they carry fleas, ticks, mites and diseases such as salmonella and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), which could make you and your family very unwell indeed.

Mice aren't fussy where they urinate or excrete and if they're running around your food and crockery cupboards they'll contaminate everything inside, so if you've discovered a mouse in your house it's time to take immediate action before they make you ill and start breeding at an alarming rate.

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1. Bin contaminated food

kitchen area with wooden counter table and white wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

Wearing disposable gloves, bag up and bin any contaminated food along with the gloves, then wash your hands. Don't forget to empty your inside bins every one or two days to stop the mice going after any goodies lurking inside, and keep your outside bins as far away from your home as possible.

2. Be sure to store food away

white cupboard with glass containers with food

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Store away your food in sturdy air-tight containers (not plastic bags) and in sealed cabinets, if possible.

3. Seal up gaps

room with wooden floor and blue wall and mouse house

(Image credit: Mode/REX)

Mice can fit through a gap, the width of a 5p coin, so carefully seal any holes found under doors, under the skirting board, in the floorboards and in brickwork. Pay particular attention to any holes that appear around your storage cabinets and the gap around the plumbing in your cupboard under the sink.

4. Wash up

kitchen area with black worktop and dishwasher

(Image credit: Futuer PLC/Richard Gadsby)

Soak any contaminated crockery or cutlery in very hot water for five minutes before draining off, then give them a thorough washing in hot, soapy water, or better still, in the dishwasher. Next wash contaminated fabrics on a 50°C - 60°C wash, followed by a hot tumble dry.

5. Clean up mice droppings

lady cleaning colourful table

(Image credit: TBC)

Never vacuum or sweep up mice droppings as the disturbance sends contaminated particles up into the air, which you could breath in. Here's how to clean up mice droppings safely...

  • Wearing disposable gloves and preferably a face mask, spray the droppings with disinfectant or a specialised rodent cleaning spray.
  • Use anti-bacterial wipes or paper towels to pick up the droppings, then bag up and bin them along with the gloves.
  • Wash your hands and put on a new pair of gloves. Disinfect the whole contaminated area with more anti-bacterial wipes or with a clean cloth and rodent cleaning spray. Next rinse and dry with paper towels.
  • Bag up and bin the gloves and wash your hands thoroughly.

6. Use natural mice deterrents

white pot with mint plant and wooden floor

(Image credit: Future PLC/Michelle Garrett)

You should notice a drop in mice activity after cleaning up, storing away food and sealing up gaps, but just to make sure the cheeky rodents don't return, it's best to follow up your hard work by using mice deterrents.

Mice deterrents are most effective when they're placed in high-activity areas, which you can determine by looking out for mice droppings and the black smears they leave as they rub against surfaces. You'll also get a whiff of their ammonium-like urine. Using a florescent tracking dust is also a good way to gauge the mice activity going on around your home.

How to deter mice

  • Peppermint oil masks the scent of food and mice don't like the smell. Put a couple of drops on to cotton wool balls and place them strategically around your home such as under kitchen cabinets, in storage cupboards and next to doors. Replace the peppermint balls every week.
  • Growing mint plants at home also helps to deter mice.
  • Mice will avoid any areas where cats are present and they are put off by the
    scent of cat urine, so placing a used cat litter tray near mouse holes
    will stop them coming back
  • Mice detest the high-frequency sounds of ultrasonic waves, so try using this
    deterrent method for two weeks.

7. Use humane traps

woodens mice trap

(Image credit: TBC)

Can't stand the idea of using those old-fashioned mouse traps? We can't either...

Killing mice is cruel, has a negative impact on the ecosystem and can actually be counterproductive if you're trying to oust them from your home. Killing off an entire family of mice removes the competition for food and gives other mice free rein to move in and start a new family in or around your home.

Furthermore, using poison to kill mice is dangerous for pets and children and some mice have built up a resistance to poisons such as warfarin or arsenic, therefore we don't recommend the use of anti-rodent poisons.

How to catch mice - the humane way

However if you've taken all the above steps and the mice just keep coming back, try using a humane mouse trap to catch them...

  • You can buy humane mouse traps and cages which can catch and hold up to 15 live mice at a time. Lure them in with a dab of peanut butter, chocolate or something you know they like, then release them in the woods or in a field at least two miles away from your home.
  • Catch mice in a bucket lined with chocolate and create steps leading up to the lip of the bucket, which they can climb up and into, but they'll have no way of getting back out.
  • Set up a cardboard tube mouse trap at home. Balance a cardboard tube over the end of the table and place a bucket directly underneath. Tuck a little treat inside the hanging cardboard tube end and if a curious mouse enters, the tube will eventually tip into the bucket, trapping the mouse.

Mice are put off by the scent of other mice so set your traps in low-activity areas and move them around frequently for the best chance of catching one, although handling the traps too often can put mice off too.

8. Get a cat

room with wooden floor and arm chair with cat and yellow pillow

(Image credit: Future PLC/Bridget Peirson)

If you've always wanted a pet cat now could be the time to get one. Cats are natural-born mouse catchers and could help you control your growing mice population at home.

And when your lovely pet brings you a mouse-shaped present, don't forget to dispose of it safely; Wearing rubber gloves, spray it with disinfectant before bagging up and binning it in your outside bin.

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We hope this helps to get rid of the mice from your home.