Cayenne Pepper: Here’s How to Use It to Repel Mice


Mouse eating cheese of the trap

There’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning to find little black pellets scattered along your kitchen counter. This is a universal sign of the presence of mice, and can quickly send you searching the internet for ways to get rid of them. You may be surprised to learn that cayenne pepper is one of the most effective mice deterrents!

Mice have a keen sense of smell that they use to find food, establish social hierarchies, and find mates. You can use this to your advantage by using the irritating scent of cayenne peppers to repel mice. You can make a spray, use dried pepper flakes, or use commercial repellents to repel them.

It can be frustrating to discover a mouse in your house. Even the cleanest homes can play host to this skittering rodent. Read on to find out all the ways you can use cayenne pepper to repel mice, as well as some other tactics that are sure to work!

Does Cayenne Pepper Deter Mice?

There are a lot of products out there that claim to repel mice. Your neighbor may have told you about dryer sheets or peppermint, but here’s one they might not have told you about: cayenne pepper!

So, does it really deter mice?

A study published in 2010 looked at five different repellents to repel wood mice and grey squirrels from eating seeds. Among them was capsaicin, which is the chemical found in cayenne pepper that gives it its well-known spicy kick.

The study concluded that capsaicin was the most effective repellent, but that it wasn’t an optimal solution for large areas due to the cost of application.

That’s okay because today we’re not deterring mice from huge acres of farmland. We just want to repel them from our house and garden!

How Do You Use Cayenne Pepper To Repel Mice?

If you have a mouse in your home, the most likely culprits are the house mouse or the deer mouse. Although there are about 70 species of mice in North America, these two are the only ones likely to enter a building.

The type of mouse isn’t a huge concern. Both mice tend to have the same habits, building nests near sources of heat such as large appliances or boiler rooms, and they both scurry around at night looking for food.

If you’ve had mice problems in the past, or have seen them scurrying around your garden, NOW is the time to start using repellents. If mice are already established in your home, you can still use cayenne pepper to repel them, but it will be more effective to use traps or consult a professional.

If you’d rather let the pros handle your mouse situation, you can use our nationwide pest control finder to get in contact with a professional pest controller near you for free. 

Now, let’s get to how you can use cayenne pepper to repel mice, so you can tackle this problem and have a mouse-free home in no time!

A quick side note, if you’re interested, take a look at our full list of scents mice hate here.

Cayenne pepper

Use Cayenne Pepper Flakes To Repel Mice

Using cayenne pepper flakes is the simplest method to deter mice. With that being said, it is best used if you have a single mouse problem concentrated in one room. 

It can be difficult to use this method if you have multiple areas to protect. The flakes are the easiest to be swept away due to normal foot traffic or air vents and will need to be reapplied more frequently. They are also difficult to use if you are trying to protect your garden from mice.

On the other hand, cayenne pepper flakes are pre-made, so there’s no need to put hours of work into using this repellent. Simply grab some hot pepper flakes like Indus Organics Cayenne Pepper Flakes and sprinkle them in areas you want to repel mice from.

When choosing places to put pepper flakes, think about where you’ve seen evidence of mice. If you’ve noticed mouse droppings on your kitchen counter, concentrate on the baseboards around your kitchen.

According to the University of Nebraska, mice almost always use their whiskers to maintain contact with the wall when foraging. For this reason, concentrating your flake distribution along baseboards and corners will be more effective than sprinkling them on the kitchen counter or floor.

Make A Cayenne Repellent Spray

If you have some extra cayenne pepper flakes after sprinkling them around your house, you can use them to make a spray as well.

Since pepper flakes and powders are more concentrated than the pepper itself, you don’t need much! About two tablespoons for every gallon of water will do the trick. 

Simply add the flakes to the water and pop in a few drops of liquid soap as well. This helps the mixture stick to surfaces instead of just running down. Let the mixture sit overnight to steep and then add it to a spray bottle.

Spray the mixture around baseboards, any cracks, holes, or openings to the outside. This mixture can also work in gardens. Mice love to munch on roots and tubers and can cause a little chaos in your garden oasis. 

Just be sure not to spray this directly on any fruits or vegetables.

You can also use fresh cayenne peppers to make a spray. You’ll need 1 pepper for every four cups of water. You can chop up the peppers and put them in the water or make use of your blender to repel those mice! Adding a few drops of liquid dish soap will help it stick to surfaces.

Don’t have cayenne pepper flakes or fresh peppers? Use hot sauce! Combine 1 cup of hot sauce with a gallon of water, add your dish soap, and you’re ready to repel those mice. Since the hot sauce is already concentrated, there’s no need to let it steep overnight. It’s ready to go ASAP!

Use Cayenne-Based Mice Repellents

Making your own homemade repellents are a great way to save money and use what you have on hand. However, there’s nothing wrong with buying pre-made formulas available in stores or online.

Bonide is a company that has a large line of products available to repel pretty much any nuisance pest. Their Bonide Hot Pepper Wax Animal Repellent can be used to repel mice inside and outside of your home.

This product is ready-to-use, so you don’t need to worry about getting out the graduated cylinder and diluting it with water. Instead, just open the package, turn the nozzle, and spray! You can even use this directly on any flowers or plants being affected by mice.

Again, just be sure not to spray directly on any edible vegetables that YOU might want to eat.

Reviews on this product are mixed, with many negative reviews commenting on the need to reapply the product often. There are several positive reviews of people who have had success with this product.

Will Cayenne Pepper Repel Mice Long Term?

It’s always a good idea to observe the activity of your mouse for at least a week or two before deciding if the repellent is working. 

For cayenne pepper to be an effective repellent, the mouse must first consume or come in contact with the peppers and find out it’s waaaaay too hot. After that, they’ll learn to stay away from the stuff.

Mice are naturally curious, and it shouldn’t take them long to try a nibble. They might walk over the flakes, and when they go to clean themselves later they’ll be getting a spicy kick. Over time, the mice will associate this unpleasant taste and smell with the hot pepper repellent.

If you notice a moderate to complete decrease in mice activity, that’s great! Your cayenne pepper repellents are working! However, to deter mice long-term, you’ll have to combine the scent of cayenne with some other deterrent measures.

But more on that later…

Incase you were wondering, you can also use black pepper to repel mice.

Wild Wood mouse resting on the root of a tree on the forest floor with lush green vegetation

Other Animals That Cayenne Pepper May Repel

Cayenne pepper is a natural way to keep mice, as well as many other critters, away from your home and garden.

For the most part, mammals in general cannot stand capsaicin. The smell is too overpowering and irritating to tolerate. The only animals not affected by hot peppers are birds. Birds do not have the same receptors as mammals do, and therefore are unaffected by hot peppers.

Some of the other animals that might be repelled by cayenne peppers include:

  • Deer
  • Raccoons
  • Squirrels
  • Rats
  • Prairie Dogs
  • Muskrats
  • Coyotes
  • Opossums
  • Groundhogs

The animals on this list use their sense of smell for survival. For deer, being able to smell a predator is the only way they can avoid becoming prey. When they come in contact with cayenne peppers, the smell is irritating and overwhelming to their sense of smell, making them unable to use their nose properly.

Other animals, like squirrels and rats, need their sense of smell to find food. If their noses are burning, they can’t locate food.

As you can see, cayenne peppers can be a powerful deterrent, especially since animals have a much better sense of smell than we humans. The effects of cayenne on their sense of smell are far more destructive than it is to us.

But rest assured, cayenne pepper will not permanently disable an animal from finding food or sniffing out predators. Just like pepper spray, the effects will wear off with time. But it will be a sharp reminder to stay away from hot peppers in the future!

How To Repel Mice Long Term

You may notice a moderate reprieve from your mouse problem when you start using cayenne pepper to repel them. However, unless you plan to continue spraying or spreading flakes forever, you need a more permanent solution.

Mice do not travel far from their nests to forage for food. According to the University of Michigan, mice rarely travel more than 50 ft from their homes. This is important to note because if you find mouse droppings in one area of your house, you can avoid wasting your focus on areas over 50 feet from the sight of mouse droppings.

Another great piece of knowledge to know is that mice are primarily nocturnal. They like to scurry about in the darkness, which is when you might be lying in bed and hear scratches or skittering in the walls or attic.

For this reason, the evening might be the best time to apply your repellents. The scent will be super fresh and more likely to repel the mice than if you apply it in the morning.

Even if you apply your scent repellents perfectly, you still need a way to repel those whiskery pests for good! This means avoiding supplying mice with the three things they need to survive: food, water, and shelter.

Don’t Feed The Mice

Of course, you don’t purposefully leave food out for mice to chow down on. But you might be feeding your house mouse and you don’t even know it!

Sanitation is key when repelling mice from your home. Be sure to clean up any spills, liquid or solid, and wipe down surfaces where you’ve had food sitting. According to Nebraska University, a house mouse can smell down to 250 ppb.

That’s parts per billion! A very impressive sense of smell! So, even if you think you cleaned up crumbs, a mouse can smell a speck of food on the counter without much problem.

Another easy food source for mice is pet food. Make sure to clean up after your pet is done eating and sweep up any food particles left on the floor. 

If your animals are grazers as opposed to timed feeding, try something like the Pet Zone Designer Diner Adjustable Elevated Dog Bowls. It’s adjustable for small, medium, and large dogs and keeps the food elevated off the floor.

Avoid Providing Mice With Shelter

Mice love to scurry between hiding places and they love to squeeze through cracks and explore the dark, untouched areas of our homes.

You can help make your home less hospitable to mice by cleaning regularly, keeping old boxes or unused materials from stacking up, and modifying your yard.

If you have lots of boxes in your basement that haven’t moved for years, you may be providing hiding places for mice. It’s not a bad idea to do some spring cleaning and at least move the boxes around.

Woodpiles in your yard are the perfect place for mice to hang out and avoid the eyes of watchful predators. If you’re able, keep your wood stacked off the ground to avoid providing mice with homes. This will also help with snakes, opossums, and rats.

Seal Your Home From Mice

As we mentioned before, mice love exploring new areas. They’ll squeeze into a crack or hole to investigate a new area and find themselves inside your home walls. For this reason, physically closing off openings to the outside is a surefire way to prevent a mouse invasion.

The University of California suggests closing any opening that is ¼ inch or larger. However, you want to be careful with what kind of material you use to plug or cover a hole. Things like plastic screening, rubber, vinyl, insulating foam, or wood are not recommended because mice will chew through these materials.

Instead, use something like wire/steel mesh.

This method is also useful for your garage or shed. You can learn more about repelling mice and rats from your shed here.

Use Mouse Traps

Sealing off your home is the most effective way to deter mice from entering. However, if you already have a mouse in the house, trapping is the most effective way to remove them.

Glue traps are not recommended as they are not a humane way to get rid of our little pests. Poison baits are also not recommended because the mouse may perish inside your walls and emit a very unpleasant odor.

Instead, try something like CaptSure Original Humane Mouse Traps. They are catch-and-release traps with a bait compartment that you can place peanut butter, cheese, or anything else to bait the mice into the trap. 

Once you’ve caught them, they can be released outdoors in a wooded area. Mice generally do not travel far from their homes. Once they establish a home in the woods, they’re unlikely to return to your home.

This is an ideal solution if you’re having problems with one or two mice. However, this may not work if you have a large mouse population in your home.

Wrapping Things Up!

It can be frustrating dealing with problem pests in your home. For as small as mice are, they can cause a lot of chaos in your house and your garden.

The good news is, there are easy ways to repel mice from your house and garden. Cayenne pepper is extremely effective, especially when used in a small area such as in a specific room or a small garden.

To recap, you can use cayenne pepper in three different ways:

  • Use dried and ground cayenne pepper flakes
  • Make a spray
  • Use pre-made commercial products.

The best way to repel mice is to use a combination of repellent smells as well as physical deterrents and habitat modification.

If you can’t seem to get rid of the mice or have a large colony in your home, you can reach out to a professional for help! They’ll know exactly how to take care of your mouse problem.

References

Bowie, M. H., Corodji, J. M., Ford, D., Ross, J. G., McLennan, I., Fewster, R. M., & Murphy, E. C. (2018). Mouse management on Otamahua/Quail Island – Lessons Learned. New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 45(3), 267-285. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03014223.2018.1482929

Nolte, D. L., & Barnett, J. P. (2000). A repellent to reduce mouse damage to longleaf pine seed. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation, 45(3-4), 169-174. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0964830500000603

Willoughby, I. H., Jinks, R. L., Morgan, G. W., Pepper, H., Budd, J., & Mayle, B. (2011). The use of repellents to reduce predation of tree seed by wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus L.) and grey squirrels (sciurus carolinensis Gmelin). European Journal of Forest Research, 130, 601-611. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10342-010-0450-8

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