Have you just seen a mouse in your apartment? Or do you simply want to avoid that situation and need some bulletproof tips? Either way, you’re at the right place.
“I just saw a mouse in my apartment!” – usually, this is the first sentence I hear over the phone whenever one of my friends meets that particular unexpected tiny little guest.
Most of us don’t realize that mice are pretty common in apartments, even in really clean ones. According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), 29 percent of Americans have had some kind of rodent problem in their home. So, if you want to get rid of mice in your apartment, you’re not alone.
If you’ve just seen a mouse in your kitchen, don’t panic. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your apartment has become a mouse ranch. In about half of the cases, you’ll have to get rid of only one mouse. However, it’s very probable that there are more mice somewhere in the neighborhood.
Even if there’s a whole mouse family living in your apartment, do not lose hope. I’ll share all the best and most effective methods you can apply to get rid of mice fast and keep your apartment mouse free in the long run.
Signs of a Mouse in Your Apartment
The first step of getting rid of mice in your apartment is to identify their presence. How can you do that if you haven’t seen them but suspect they’ve moved in? Let’s see the most common signs of mice.
Feces are one of the most obvious signs of a mouse. Droppings are small (about 0.2 inches in length), have a dark color and a granular shape. Use a flashlight to find them easier. Check all the places that are suitable for mice to hide (e.g. behind the cupboard or any other furniture) and build a nest. Don’t skip the area around the trash bin.
Mouse droppings may contain dangerous pathogens, that’s why it’s very important to collect them properly and safely. Never touch them with your bare hands, always use protective gloves and a mask (some viruses spread by inhalation). Never sweep or vacuum. Doing so can make the situation worse by scattering infected particles. Instead, pick the droppings up and dispose of them in a sealed plastic bag. Disinfect the contaminated area thoroughly.
Note that cockroach feces can be easily confused with mouse droppings. If you want to make sure that what you’ve found are mouse droppings, check out this guide.
You can find gnaw marks on any item in your apartment that mice have access to, especially if it can serve as a nest material or food. Mice especially like to gnaw cardboard boxes, packaging materials, newspapers, clothes, and wood but they can also get through a plastic bag easily.
Mouse urine has a strong smell. Pets will be the first to notice the urine odor. If your dog or cat shows interest in places it didn’t care about earlier, that can be an early sign of the presence of mice in your apartment. If there’s a larger infestation the strong, ammonia-like odor will be easily noticeable by anyone who enters the room.
Strange Noises at Night
Mice are more active at night. During the daytime, even if they generate some noise, you often won’t hear them because of the background noise. At nighttime, however, you can easily spot the noises that can help you to identify the places where mice are the most active.
You will find runways most often along the walls. Mice use the same tracks over and over again. So if you suspect that you’ve just found a runway, you can pour some flour or baby powder on the route and check the footprints the other day. Usually, you’ll find some droppings, grease marks on the wall, urine spots along the route.
Nests are not easy to find, mice hide them pretty well, and often they’re located outside your apartment. However, if you find one, you can be sure that there’s something very attractive in your apartment for mice. This is a sign you should take seriously.
A mouse nest is usually built from soft materials, like paper, shredded clothes, and leaves. To find one you should check the most hidden parts of your apartment, like false ceilings, the area behind and under the cupboard, stove and fridge, the inside of the interior walls, and so on.
Wondering where do mice hide in your home? Then make sure you check out my list of the most common hiding spots here.
How to Get Rid of Mice in Your Apartment Naturally
If there are obvious signs of mice in your apartment and you want to get rid of them as soon as possible, you have multiple choices.
Many people prefer a natural method to poison or trap. If you have small children or pets, home remedies are reasonable choices to get rid of mice in your apartment. If your child or your pet accidentally swallows even a small amount of rodent poison, that could lead to serious, even life-threatening consequences. This is what you want to avoid at all costs and home remedies can help you with it.
After all, let’s see how you can eliminate all the mice from your home the natural way.
Use a Humane Mouse Trap to Catch Mice Alive
There are some really effective humane mouse traps that you can buy online or in the local store, but if you like DIY stuff, you can try to build one by yourself.
Humane mouse traps catch mice alive without killing or doing any harm to them. One of their major advantages is that they’re reusable, so practically you can catch as many mice as you want without having to buy new traps.
A humane mouse trap is usually made of plastic and has an elongated shape. You have to place the bait in one end and open the other end (that is the door of the trap). When a mouse enters the trap and reaches the bait at the end, the door closes immediately. Note that you have to place the bait at the very end of the trap because the door closing mechanism will become activated only if the mouse reaches the end of the trap. You can set the mouse free easily by opening the door.
The Dr. Catch traps have a great value for the money: they only cost a few bucks and you’ll get two of them on Amazon. Check out the current price here.
If you prefer to do a humane mouse trap yourself, check out the video below:
It’s good to know that if you catch a mouse alive and set it free in the wild, there’s a very high probability that it will die within a day (either because of predators, too low/high temperature, absence of shelter, etc.). A house mouse can’t survive in the wild because it’s not the kind of environment that it’s used to.
However, that doesn’t mean you should set any mouse free in a residential area. Mice in your apartment are harmful and they’re potential sources of serious diseases, so you have to eliminate them at all costs, and make sure they won’t return.
A Bowl with Peanut Oil at the Bottom – A Simple and Effective Method to Get Rid of Mice Fast
This one is a quick DIY method that anyone can apply easily. When done right, it’s really powerful! You can easily catch multiple mice alive during a single night with this technique.
You’ll need only two things: a large plastic bowl and some peanut oil. To make this work, pour some oil into the bowl and put it in a place where mice have easy access to it. Once a mouse gets into the bowl, the peanut oil will make its feet so slippery that it won’t be able to get out. If you don’t want the mice to be killed check the bowl at least twice a day.
Check the video below to see how to set up the trap:
Ultrasonic Mouse Repellent – Does It Really Work?
Ultrasonic mouse repellents are getting popular and you can find many kinds of devices online and in your local store as well. They offer a modern, non-harmful, 21st-century solution for an old problem. The ultrasonic mouse repellents work by emitting high-frequency ultrasound that’s inaudible for humans but it’s supposed to deter mice. Many models change the volume from time to time to prevent mice from becoming accustomed.
I’ve already tried a few ultrasonic mouse repellents and none of them really worked for me. And many of my friends had a very similar experience. In theory, they should be effective but when it comes to practice, they often seem to fail. I don’t claim that every ultrasonic repellent is worthless because I haven’t tried all of them. But my experience is not convincing, and that’s why I can’t recommend them.
Kitty Litter May Help You to Get Rid of Mice – But It Comes At a Cost
I know there’s a lot of stuff you can find online about how you can get rid of mice with kitty litter. While it may work, it’s certainly not the most effective method if you already have mice in your apartment. What really works against mice is not kitty litter but a real cat (but not all breeds!). They are one of the natural predators of mice. But if you already have a mouse in your apartment, chances are you don’t have a cat, or it’s just too lazy to catch it.
How to execute the kitty litter method if you want to give it a try? First, you should always use unscented litter. Second, you need a cat and get it to use the litter. If one of your neighbors or friends has a cat, you can ask for some used litter (unscented).
The smell of cat urine is the component that works as a natural mice repellent, the litter only serves as a carrier. So, don’t expect kitty litter to work right out of the box. Put some used litter in a few small containers and place them on runways and around the areas where mice can get into your home.
Used kitty litter is potentially hazardous for small children and certain pets. I don’t recommend getting rid of mice in your apartment with used cat litter. There are other methods out there that are more effective and harmless for children and pets.
Drain flies are nearly as common pests as mice. If you want to know how you can get rid of them fast and for good, make sure to check out our step-by-step guide here.
Effective Traditional Mouse Traps and Poisons
If you don’t want to catch mice alive, then traditional mouse traps are a reasonable choice. They’re proven to work, however, there are some models that are less effective than the average.
Snap traps are commonly used to catch mice, and there are several reasons for that: they’re cheap, easy to set, reusable, and reliable. If you don’t want mice alive, snap traps are one of the best choices.
How you set the snap trap is important: it can make or break your success.
The Correct Way to Set a Snap Trap:
- First, always wear gloves when setting the trap, because your scent can make mice more cautious. I’m not telling you that you won’t catch a single mouse if you use your bare hands but for best results, I suggest putting on a pair of gloves.
- Place the trap in a hidden spot where you suspect high mice activity (behind some furniture or the stove, along walls, etc.). Avoid large, open areas, they rarely work.
- Use a bait that’s irresistible for mice, like peanut butter, and use only a tiny amount.
- Not every mouse is brave enough (especially if it finds food somewhere else) to approach a new object right on the first day. Sometimes results come after 24 hours, so do not remove the trap too early. Using more than one snap trap can lead to faster results and a higher success rate.
You can find many snap trap models in your local store and online as well. Most of them work great, but some models are not sensitive enough and often mice can easily eat the bait and walk away.
Tomcat has a reliable snap trap, it costs only a few bucks and one package contains two traps. On the package, it says that the trap is disposable but you can reuse it as many times as you want (and you can remove the mouse without touching it).
Some people prefer non-toxic glue traps to snap traps, but I think, altogether, the latter ones are a better choice. Glue traps can be effective in many cases, but sometimes mice, especially adult ones, avoid them.
In your apartment place the trap along the wall where mice travel and use multiple if you need fast results. You can make the trap more attractive to mice by putting a tiny amount of peanut butter in the middle of the trap.
To be honest, glue traps are not the most humane solution to catch mice: if they get stuck, they usually won’t be killed at once but stay alive and struggle for hours in the glue. If you have a pet, it can get stuck too, so be careful with glue traps.
Mouse Poison and Bait Stations
Poisons are very effective, especially when you have to deal with a large infestation. Most of them contain anticoagulants that cause internal bleeding in the mice. They won’t be killed right after they eat the poison so the others can’t learn to avoid it and keep consuming it.
A major disadvantage of poisons is that dead mice can be practically anywhere in the apartment and it’s not always easy to find them.
When using any poison, always make sure that children and pets have no access to it. Bait stations are small plastic boxes with a tiny opening that can help you make the poison accessible only for mice.
How to Keep Mice Out of Your Apartment? – All the Best Prevention Tips
What Attracts Mice? – Eliminate the Most Attractive Things for Mice
You can keep mice out of your apartment much easier if you know what attracts them most. One of the common things mice look for is food. Yes, it’s that simple. Mice are omnivorous (they eat almost anything they find) and they usually eat 15-20 times a day. They spend a significant part of their life searching for food.
So, the first thing you want to do to make your apartment less attractive for mice is to reduce the amount of food available for them to a minimum. That means you should keep most food items in the refrigerator or in sealed plastic or glass containers.
Another thing that attracts mice is trash. There are many edible items for mice in an average trash can. It’s a good practice to never keep trash bags in the apartment and use plastic or metal trash cans whose content is not accessible for mice. A plastic bag is not a real barrier for a mouse. Don’t forget to take the garbage out regularly.
Clutter, food leftovers, and crumbs attract mice like a magnet. It’s really important to keep your apartment tidy and clean. Clutter can serve as a great living place for mice where they can hide and build their nest. Get rid of all the unnecessary boxes, bags, cardboards, newspapers, clothes, wires, and items containing feathers. Sweep up or vacuum regularly, especially in the kitchen. Don’t forget about pet food.
The goal is that mice shouldn’t be able to find any food and shelter in your apartment, so even if they visit you, they won’t stay long.
Find the Weak Points of the Apartment Where Mice Can Get In
One of the most effective ways of prevention is to find all the small cracks and holes that mice can use as an entry point into your apartment. Mice look bigger than they really are and they can get through much smaller holes than you would think. A young mouse can easily fit through a 1/2 inch hole, and getting through a 2/3 inch hole is a breeze for any adult mouse.
Therefore, you want to find even the smallest cracks. Check the window sills, gaps under and around the doors, cracks in the door frames and window frames, air vents, heating, and AC units, and pipes. Don’t miss any possible entry points. If you find a crack or a hole, CDC recommends sealing it up with steel wool and putting caulk around it to fix it. As an alternative, you can use copper wool. You can find DIY kits on Amazon that you can apply easily to seal up holes.
Sometimes mice get in through open doors and windows. So, besides filling in all the cracks and holes in your apartment you also need to install screens to make sure no mouse can get in from the outside.
Apply Natural Mouse Repellents, Like Strong Smells That Mice Hate
Using peppermint oil can be an effective way of deterring mice and preventing them from getting inside your apartment. However, if mice have already moved into your home, don’t waste your time trying different odors hoping that a specific smell will get them leaving the apartment. It won’t. Strong smells only work as prevention.
To repel mice, put a few drops (at least 6-8) of peppermint oil on a cotton ball. Remember: you need a strong smell to deter mice, so use a good quality peppermint oil (preferably an undiluted one). Identify the possible entry points into the apartment and place the cotton balls soaked with peppermint oil in those areas to prevent mice from entering your home. Don’t forget to replace the cotton balls with fresh ones every 2 or 3 weeks.
If you don’t want to use cotton balls you can make a mix of water and peppermint oil (1 part peppermint oil to 20 part water) and spray it all over the area where mice can enter. Note, that high concentrations of peppermint oil can irritate your eyes, skin, and throat.
Besides peppermint oil, there are special, mouse repellent sprays available that are developed to deter mice safely and effectively. They don’t cause any health issues and they’re safe to use even if you have kids or pets.
Do NOT use ammonia or mothballs as a mouse repellent, they’re way too hazardous, can cause severe health issues, and their effectiveness is not proved.
Putting It All Together
Getting rid of mice in your apartment fast is totally doable if you use the most effective methods in a proper way.
Let’s see again, in a nutshell, what works.
- First, make sure there’s a mouse in your apartment (if you haven’t already seen it): search for signs and traces. You won’t get any results by haunting a mouse ghost and you just get frustrated.
- To catch mice alive use a humane mouse trap. You can purchase one or you can simply make your own one (check the video above). Another great (and budget) way is to use a plastic bowl with some peanut oil.
- Among traditional traps, I recommend using snap traps. If you want, you can compliment them with glue traps.
- Don’t forget that the vast majority of natural mouse repellents won’t deter mice once they’ve moved in. Use them as part of your prevention strategy.
Pro tip: combine the most effective methods and continue to apply them for at least two weeks to make sure there are no more mice hiding in your apartment. Don’t forget to pay close attention to prevention to avoid reinfestation.
If you don’t have time, need professional help, or just don’t want to deal with the mouse problem, call a local exterminator or a pest control service: it’s the easiest but the most expensive method on my list. However, it’s definitely better than living with mice.
What are the best baits for mice?
In nature, mice usually eat grains, eventually insects. However, inside an apartment, they won’t refuse anything that’s sweet or fatty.
In my experience, the most effective bait is peanut butter (only a tiny amount is enough). If you don’t have it at home you can try chocolate, soft cheese, bacon, and sunflower seed as well. There are attractant gels available in the stores but I’ve never tried them because I always get great results with the foods I mentioned earlier.
Does bleach repel mice?
Bleach diluted with water will help you to disinfect the contaminated areas in your apartment, but in itself, it won’t repel the mice once they’ve already moved in.
Is it the landlord’s responsibility to control and solve a mouse problem?
I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t give you legal advice but I’ve found a thorough answer on this site.
If you find traces of a mouse in your apartment, it’s always a good idea to inform your landlord. Mice usually don’t live alone but in larger communities. If there’s a mouse somewhere, chances are great that there are more mice nearby. You can’t catch them all in the whole building, but the landlord can take the necessary measures.