Tips & Strategies
What Attracts Mice to Your House
A top 10 of domestic temptations—and the fixes for each of ‘em.
So, you’re against having mice make your house their new safe haven? Join the crowd. But what if you’re accidentally inviting mice to move in? It’s not unheard of. The truth is, if you don’t know what attracts mice to your home, it’s hard to keep an infestation from happening.
Here are 10 of these little homewreckers’ favorite things, and simple fixes for keeping mice away from your stuff—and your house altogether.
Mice adore cereal above all else. Their all-time favorite? Grains, like oats and wheat. That’s because they can hold onto them, nibbling their way through cereal pieces like corn on the cob.
The fix: Cardboard boxes, plastic bags, and chip-clip closures can still lure mice in for a cereal meal. Instead, transfer your cereals, oats, rice, popcorn, beans, and grains to airtight containers. Recycled pickle or canning jars with tight-fitting lids work well, as do stackable kitchen containers with lids that seal. And clean out the pantry. Those little crumbs? That’s what attracts mice.
#2 Butter, Bacon, Meats, & Sweets
After cereal, mice go for high-fat, high-protein, high-sugar foods: Think lard, butter, bacon, grease, chocolate, dried fruit, and the like.
The fix: When possible, store these foods in the fridge or freezer; otherwise, use airtight containers (we’re looking at you, chocolate). Gotta have candy on the counter? Store it in a covered glass dish. Make sure you don’t leave grease on the stove for “later” and ditto for the outdoor grill, too.
#3 Paper, Cloth, & Burlap
Whatever form these items take in your home—books, linens, clothes, family heirlooms, decorations—mice can literally tear into them to use as nesting materials.
The fix: Lidded plastic tubs and tote boxes to the rescue again. But you can also deter mice with odors they abhor, such as peppermint. Use oil-soaked cotton balls or Tomcat® Repellents Rodent Repellent Continuous Spray in and around the entrance to areas where these items are stored—not on or touching the items themselves.
#4 Feeds & Seeds
Whether you keep them in your kitchen, down in the basement, out on the porch, or in the garage, bags of pet food, birdseed, and grass seed—open or not—are an invitation to dine, in the minds of mice.
The fix: Store bulk foods properly. Transfer feeds and seeds to metal or plastic food storage bins and keep them securely covered when not in use.
#5 Tissues, Toilet Paper, & Dryer Lint
Bulk paper goods are part of every home so you can’t get rid of them, but they do attract mice because these soft, comfy materials make a nice, cozy nest. If you spot a loosely woven ball of tissue, toilet paper, or dryer lint (about the size of a softball), it might be a mouse nest.
The fix: Mice are climbers and crawlers that like to do their thing, undisturbed. So, keep extra paper goods out of places they like to hide, like crawl spaces and storage closets you rarely open. Best to shelve extra bathroom tissue or paper towels up and off the floor, away from walls where mice scurry, scamper, and forage. Dryer lint? Clean it out after each load (your laundry will also benefit) and throw it in a covered trash can.
As for what attracts mice, that pink fluffy stuff that helps keep you warm helps keep them warm, too. Mice can and often will happily burrow into the fiberglass insulation of your home’s walls, attic, and basement.
The fix: Mice can crawl up and behind sagging insulation where you can’t see them. If your insulation is hidden behind drywall, listen for late-night noises in wall voids—when mice are likely to be most active. (Want more info about mice’s fondness for these predator-free zones? Read How To Get Rid Of Mice In Walls.) If you have areas of exposed insulation in a crawl space, basement, or attic, check it periodically for nests and burrows. If you find evidence of mice, deal with the problem before it gets worse. Tomcat® Mouse Killer Child & Dog Resistant, Disposable Station is a pre-filled bait station that’s easy to use – and kills up to 12 mice* with a single bait block.*
Though mice get most of their water from food, readily available H2O definitely makes it onto the “what attracts mice” list.
The fix: Check and repair any drips or leaks under sinks, around appliances, in the basement, and around rooftops and chimneys. Put away your dog’s water bowl at night. Thinking of leaving a sink full of half-rinsed cups or other containers? That’s a definite no-no.
#8 Gaps, Cracks, & Crevices
When it comes to what attracts mice, a tiny opening in your warm home, one no bigger than the size of a dime, is like sticking out a neon “vacancy” sign for shelter-seeking mice.
The fix: Dim or darken each room and look for areas where the light shines through, both high and low. Pay special attention to doors and windows, as well as pipes, vents, and incoming cables or lines. Repair bigger holes with sheet metal and plug up little ones with metal wire meshing. Use caulk and expandable foam to fill in gaps. Ensure that doors and windows have a snug fit and install door sweeps to help prevent their malleable little bodies from squeezing in. Check closures on appliance vents, and repair or replace them if they don’t seal tight.
Once you’ve closed off entry points, you may find a mouse infestation you didn’t know about. The good news is now that you’ve contained it, you can take the next step: Get rid of mice in the house. For a pet- and the skid-resistant way to kill up to 12 mice*, use a bait station like Tomcat® Mouse Killer Child & Dog Resistant, Refillable Station.
#9 Junk & Litter
Debris, clutter, trash, and dirt each scream out “food” and “shelter” to mice, who possess a keen sense of smell and taste. Cleanliness is crucial.
The fix: Tidy up regularly. Seal up trash bags, reduce or remove clutter, and thoroughly clean thrifted items, including clothing and furniture. Deal with trash on a daily basis—when it comes to food and mice, fresh is best but garbage will do. Because eliminating food sources is one of the most important things you can do to mouse-proof your home, start thinking of scraps as “mouse food.” Use a trash can with a latching lid in the kitchen, and when you’re ready to take the trash out, put it in a heavy-duty bin slightly away from the exterior of your home.
#10 Trees, Bushes & Ivy
Mice are climbers and jumpers, so branches and limbs make an ideal bridge for mice to go from outside to the comfort of indoors.
The fix: A 2-foot clearance around the perimeter of your home makes it a little more difficult for mice to find their way inside, so trim any trees, bushes, or ivy that are near your roof, eaves, attic vents, or utility wires. For an extra deterrent, use Tomcat® Repellents Rodent Repellent Granules around the outside of your home or garage.
Now that you know what attracts mice to your home, you can make the necessary tweaks to repel them. Because you just rest a little easier when you know the only thing you’ll find in the snack drawer is your favorite late-night bite.