Natural Pest Control:
Keep Mice Away Without Cruelty
by 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.