Clove Oil: Why It Works To Repel Rats (And How To Use It)

clove essential oil surrounded by cloves to repel rats

There are few pests that are more startling than an uninvited rat running around your home and garden. Rats aren’t picky about their home of choice; they’ll invite themselves into your clean home and turn it into their very own cottage – especially if you live out in the country or near densely wooded forests. So, if they’ll enter any home how do you repel rats anyway?

Rats are sensitive to smells, so if you’re looking to send them searching for shelter elsewhere, you need to target their sense of smell.

Clove oil is a pungent, but clean scent that can repel rats. You can cover cotton balls with drops of Clove oil and scatter them around your home to naturally them!

Rodents multiply rather fast, so it’s important to find ways to repel them before your property becomes their next village. Unless Ratatouille plans to make an appearance and start deciding on dinner plans, they’re not welcome in our homes or around our gardens.

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Does Clove Oil Keep Rats Away?

The simple answer is yes; clove oil repels rats. A rat’s aversion is a strong aroma and clove oil is just the scent to send them scurrying back to their home base.

Clove oil is a clean and spicy smell that confuses the senses of rodents, so they’ll start seeking shelter in a different direction than your delicate veggies and cozy home.

The smell alone is an effective repellent for rodents, insects, and other pesky pests.

Why Clove Oil Works To Repel Rats

To start with, the smell of clove oil is displeasing to rodents. The simple scent that we call clove, is not so simple to rats. 

One lengthy study on the psychic development of rats, suggests that at times, strong smells carried through the olfactory system of a rat can send signals to the brain and create sensations of pain. Naturally, they have begun to avert the smell of strong unpleasant scents from birth.

To further correlate this to clove oil, an abundance of the spicy aroma attached to clove oil can become painful to rats. This can confuse their senses and alert the rat to wander elsewhere.

Clove essential oil with dried cloves

The strong aroma of clove can also be used to mask the scent of potential rodent attractants. Clove oil can actually cancel out other scents carried from your home before they reach the nose of a rat, stopping them from nesting nearby to begin with.

Besides the anatomy of how the aroma works within the nose of a rat, there are a couple of other ways clove oil can work to repel rodents. 

If ingested, clove oil actually creates a numbing sensation in the mouth that startles the rats. Eventually, the smell is associated with the discomfort it creates. 

Another study found that clove oil can be toxic to rats in certain concentrations. Simply said, there are very few encounters with clove oil that won’t disrupt a rat’s adventure indoors.

How To Use Clove Oil To Repel Rats

Clove oil is a very versatile rat repellent. If you plan to introduce the intensity of clove oil to the rats inviting themselves inside, it is important to choose a pure clove essential oil or extract your own from the tropical evergreen.

You must also identify points of entry within your home to target with clove oil.

The most common ways rats may enter your home is through pipes, windows, doors, and garages. You may also find rats running around your garden, barn, or fields.

If you’ve encountered rats outside, it’s only a matter of time before their intelligent minds decipher a way into your home, especially if nothing is stopping them.

The strong, clean scent of clove oil is enough to stop rats in their tracks.

Add Drops Of Clove Oil To Cotton Balls To Repel Rats

The most effective way to repel rats is by soaking cotton balls with clove oil and placing them in areas around your home prone to rats. Corners of your home, window sills, and vents are popular points of entry, so plan to place your cotton balls in those areas.

Cotton rags soaked in clove oil are just as effective as cotton balls. You can hang rags outside over fences and decks or you can tuck them under your welcome mats.

While pure clove oil works to fight off the rats, you’ll also find that it repels many other insects and pests from around your home.

Create A Spray With Clove Oil To Repel Rats

Another effective DIY is to create your own spray containing clove oil to repel rats. Mix your own rat repellent by combining 10-20 drops of clove oil with one cup of water, shake, and spray. 

Be sure to spray the repellent in areas prone to rats. 

If you find that rats are feasting on your garden outside, you can also spray the mixture directly on veggies and plants. While the mixture itself will pose no harm to your plants and veggies, it is important to note that repellents should be used in early morning or evening to avoid direct sunlight after application until dried.

The clove spray also works as an effective mosquito repellent and will work to repel bugs and insects from your garden plants.

Speaking of garden, you might be wondering if you can grow ACTUAL clover to repel rats. Well, we’ve got that answer for you in our guide on using clover plants to repel rats!

Will Clove Oil Permanently Rid Your Home Of Rats?

Dried cloves in a bowl

Now, the more complicated answer is no; clove oil will not permanently rid your home of rats, but it will help repel them! Clove oil will simply act as an aversion, so it is something the rats will avoid. 

However, using clove oil in addition to other practices will help keep rats away long-term.

Most importantly, you want to make your home less attractive to rodents. That could mean simply disposing of pet food at the end of each day, sealing windows, doors, and holes around your home, and cleaning up piles of debris from your yard.

Adding clove oil, or other aversions to your list of continual management practices is your best bet at keeping the rats away permanently. Over time, they will probably habituate to the scent of clove oil and not view it as adverse, so you may want to rotate different scents.

Do Any Other Essential Oils Keep Rats Away?

Like clove oil, there are many other strong smelling essential oils that have proven to be effective at repelling rats. 

Each essential oil can be used in the same ways as clove oil. Cotton balls, cotton rags, and DIY sprays are the easiest repellents to craft with your chosen oil.

Also, I highly recommend taking a look at our full list of Scents That Rats Hate for more options!

Peppermint Oil Is A Promising Rat Repellent

Peppermint puts off a minty smell that many pests prefer to stay away from. Peppermint oil is composed of complex mixtures or terpenes and phenols, including menthol, that can protect your plants and home from rats.

In a similar way, the smell of peppermint oil can create scents and sensations that discourage rats from entering your home.

There are also many other ways to use peppermint oil around your home and the perimeter of your property. 

To discourage rodents from running around your property, you can plant peppermint along the perimeter of your garden or home. Since peppermint is a perennial plant, you’ll only have to plant it once and it’ll continue to perk back up each spring.

And if you don’t have any essential oil handy – a dab of minty toothpaste placed on cotton cloths around your home is said to be a promising rat repellent. Easy enough, right?

To make things even easier, Mighty Mint Rodent Repellent has already curated a peppermint oil rat repellent with the purest ingredients to effectively drive rats away from your home. Their repellent is backed by recent studies confirming the use of peppermint oil as a rat repellent.

If you want more of a set it and forget it type product, you should take a look at BugMD’s Vamoose Rodent Repellent Pouches which contain a mix of diatomaceous earth along with cornmint, citronella and linseed oils. Basically, you can place these pouches in areas where you’re more likely to see rats and replace them every month to keep the scent fresh!

Plus, peppermint oil will leave the most refreshing scent around your home!

Cedarwood Oil Can Repel Rodents

Rats are receptive to strong smells; we’ve learned that much. For years, the strong scent of cedarwood oil has also been used to repel rodents.

In fact, cedarwood oil is present in many effective rodent repellents. The way it primarily works is to throw off the pheromone scent of rats so they have trouble detecting each other.

There are really a variety of options, but if you have a preferred scent, you should do a bit more digging on this one (I love the smell of cedar, personally!)

Citronella Oil Is Known To Repel Rats

To complete our list of rat repelling essential oils is Citronella oil. The powerful, clean scent of citronella oil is a deterrent for many pests and insects – especially mosquitoes!

A study found in Applied Biological Research proved that rats consumed less food when the scent of citronella oil was present. The strong smell is enough to mask the scent of the attractants that rats search for in your home.

The study revealed that daily application of citronella oil was effective at repelling rats.

Citronella soaked cotton balls, cloths, or a concentrated spray is a simple way to keep rats away. You can certainly plant citronella around your garden to repel them as well! If you’re going to go this route, though, it may be more useful to get the pre-made BugMD product we mentioned above.

Let’s Review Clove Oil As A Rat Repellent

If you’re looking to avoid encounters with rodents, clove oil is an easy route to venture down. When applied regularly, and combined with other practices, clove oil can be an effective rat repellent. 

The strong scent of clove oil, cedarwood oil, citronella oil, and peppermint oil are safe solutions to ridding your home of rats.

Since rats are scent-driven, the simple presence of strong smells such as clove oil, are just enough to confuse the senses of rodents, mask the smells of attractants, and create sensations that send them scattering elsewhere.

To properly use clove oil around your home, try soaking cotton balls, cotton fabrics, and creating clove oil based sprays to repel rats.

If you find that rats are courageously presenting themselves more often, it is likely that the population of rodents around your home is high. In extreme cases, be sure to contact a professional to rid your home of rats and then practice the use of clove oil to continue to repel them.


Baker, B. P., Grant, J. A., & Malakar-Kuenen, R. (2018). Cloves & Clove Oil Profile.

Koul, O., Walia, S., & Dhaliwal, G. S. (2008). Essential oils as green pesticides: potential and constraints. Biopesticides international, 4(1), 63-84.

Singla, N., & Kaur, R. (2014). Potential of citronella oil as rodent repellent measured as aversion to food. Applied Biological Research, 16(2), 191-198.

Small, W. S. (1899). Notes on the psychic development of the young white rat. The American Journal of Psychology, 11(1), 80-100.

Takahashi, Y. K., Nagayama, S., & Mori, K. (2004). Detection and masking of spoiled food smells by odor maps in the olfactory bulb. Journal of Neuroscience, 24(40), 8690-8694.

How to pest proof your home in under a day e-book by Zack DeAngelis

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