Since you spend so much of your time in your car, you likely want to keep it as clean as possible. Unfortunately, we can’t always control pests, such as mice, from getting into our cars. They are usually just looking for a warm and dark place to stay safe. So, how can you get these pesky rodents out of your car?
To get rid of mice in your car, you’ll need to properly equip yourself, clear out the garbage, vacuum waste, and set traps in the interior of your car. You’ll also need to clean the car’s engine compartment if you notice signs that mice have been in that area.
Read on to find out more details about how mice get into your car, signs that mice have infested your car, and how to get rid of mice in your car.
My Experience With Mice in My Car
This was the worst thing ever.
The smell, the odor. It literally and legitimately smelled like something was decaying in my car.
So back in highschool, I had a 4 door small car that was great and gas and would cover me during the 15 minute drive to school. It held me well for 2 years. All of a sudden, towards the end of my senior year (during the Spring), I started to get this rancid, AWFUL, terrible smell that kept building up in my car.
After weeks of cleaning my car and not being able to confidently drive any passengers around in it without them being repulsed, we took the car in to get it looked over.
Come to find out, a family of mice had burrowed into the engine compartment for warmth as they need a warm environment for nesting. .Unfortunately, for them, this environment didn’t work out.
They decayed and started to leave an awful, pungent scent behind as the process got further and further along.
Ultimately, we got the mice out of the car with ease. When we took it in, the service shop took care of the issue for us.
IMPORTANT: If you think that you have mice inside your engine compartment or in another internal area of your car, please call a professional to remove them for you.
How Do Mice Enter Your Car?
You may think that your car is safe once you lock the doors. But, mice are tiny, and because they lack collarbones, they can make their way through the smallest of spaces.
In fact, mice can make it through holes the size of a small coin! Most commonly, they will crawl up from under the engine and make their way to other areas of your car once inside. They can also chew through the material of your cabin air filter to reach the vents and squeeze in.
Other possible entry points include cable holes, the pedal shaft, and the steering column. Since mice can also scale vertical surfaces, they can make their way into your car through the window, if left open. They can also make their way into your car through a cracked sunroof or holes caused by corrosion.
Older vehicles and certain models may be more susceptible to mice or rodent infestation. So, it’s recommended that you do your research to see if your car is especially vulnerable and where the likely entry points may be.
What Are the Negative Impacts of Having Mice in Your Car?
Generally, mice can cause a lot of damage to your car. They can chew through electrical wires, affecting your ignition and windshield wipers. This can cause fires in rare cases. Mice can also chew through cabin air filters, compromising your protection against pollutants.
Furthermore, they can damage the upholstery in your car. This can be unsightly and costly to repair.
Like my experience, they can also leave behind a DREADFUL stench.
Ultimately, you’ll want to get rid of them as soon as you notice signs that they’ve been around.
Signs That Mice Have Infested Your Car
The first step to all of this mess is figuring out if mice have actually gotten into your car.
Luckily, there are several ways to tell if mice have found their way in.
One of the most obvious signs that mice have gotten into your car is mice droppings or the appearance of stains from urine. There’s a chance that you may not automatically see the waste, but you might smell it.
There’s also the possibility that a really foul odor in your car could be a carcass of a mouse trapped somewhere, such as the vents (THIS IS VERY POSSIBLE).
Hopefully though, this isn’t the case, because you’ll likely have to call a professional for assistance.
If you notice ripped insulation under your hood or chewed wires, mice could be the cause. Many manufacturers now use soybean-based foam and insulation, in an effort to be more eco-friendly. Unfortunately, mice love the taste of these.
If you notice that litter or other items in your car have been mysteriously moving around, this might mean you have a mice infestation.
One of the less obvious signs that mice are in your car is if the “check engine” light is on. This could mean that a mouse might have gotten trapped behind your air filter. If you’re losing coolant, it may be that a hose has been chewed through by mice.
Now, here’s the next steps to taking action.
Equip Yourself with Rubber Gloves, a Mask, and More
You’ll want to clean the trunk, cabin, and glove compartment of your car so that the mice won’t have places to hide or food to eat. The first thing to do is to get yourself equipped with rubber gloves and a mask.
You should also wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants to protect your skin. Mice carry all sorts of diseases and if they’ve left urine or feces in your car, you don’t want to be in direct contact with those.
Open Windows and Doors
The next thing to do is open all the doors and windows of your car to allow the release of fumes of the cleaning products you’ll be using.
Disinfecting the car is important for reducing your risk of contracting the diseases spread by mice.
Use a disinfectant on the interior of your car, including on all items and waste.
You’ll want to look into a disinfectant that’ll be OK for use on your car’s upholstery. Something like Adam’s Microban Interior Detailer Antimicrobial Car Interior Cleaner & Dressing may do the trick.
Of course, you can look into a stronger more commercial-grade disinfectant, but be wary of its use in and on a car.
Clear Out Visible Garbage in Your Car
Next, it’s recommended that you throw away all garbage and waste in the cabin. It’s also recommended that you remove any unnecessary clutter, such as papers, stuffed animals, or sporting equipment. Even empty coffee cups can attract mice with their sugary residue.
If you park your car in a garage, you may also want to clear it up. Or, if you park outside, get rid of thick foliage and shrubs where mice could be hiding.
Vacuum and Disinfect the Interior of Your Car
Vacuum every corner you can reach, to ensure that all mice droppings are cleared. Use a disinfectant and warm water to wipe down hard surfaces, such as the dashboard. Disinfect any items you may be keeping in the car.
Clean the Car’s Engine Compartment
If you’ve found signs of mice droppings in your car’s engine compartment, you’ll need to clean out the area.
Of course, disconnecting the battery is the first step in doing this, as you want to protect yourself from getting burned or shocked. Let the battery cool down as well. Next, manually remove any nesting material (for example, shredded insulation). Finally, wipe down the accessible areas with a sponge soaked in disinfectant.
Remove The Mice
As a homeowner or apartment renter, its something you may have to do at some point in your home. As a car owner or renter, it looks like this is something you may have to do much sooner than later!
Upon removal (make sure you’re wearing gloves, mask, and the full 9 yards), wipe the area with a disinfectant and dispose of all cleaning materials used.
Remove Your Gloves and Wash Your Hands
Once you’re done handling all the materials, you can carefully remove your gloves and dispose of them. Then, wash your hands with warm water and soap for a few minutes.
You can always set mouse traps if you suspect that there are mice living in your car. It’s good to put them inside your car, but you can also put them near and on top of tires since mice may climb them to get into the engine.
There are different types of mouse traps, each with different features and at different price points:
- Snap traps, such as the Victor M156 Metal Pedal Mouse Trap, are a popular option because they are relatively inexpensive and don’t use any chemicals. Food, such as cheese, may be placed on the trap’s lever as bait. When a mouse takes the bait and trips the lever, it releases a stiff wire bar that traps the creature.
- Glue traps are also very inexpensive. They work by trapping mice on a synthetic adhesive. The advantage is that you can catch more than one mouse at a time. These traps don’t typically eliminate the mice right away. But, once mice are trapped on the glue, it’s recommended that you dispose of the unit.
I’m not the biggest fan of glue traps as they’re a little inhumane as they don’t finish the job right away (that’s why I haven’t included an affiliate link).
- Electronic mouse traps, such as the Victor M250S No Touch trap, kill mice quickly by delivering a high-voltage shock to them. It comes with a removable kill chamber for easy cleaning. This type of trap is on the higher end of the price scale, costing about $35.
Take Your Car to the Car Wash
Taking your car to the car wash can help to eliminate mice. Open all doors at the car wash and turn the vacuum on. Hopefully, the loud noise will scare the mice away. You’ll also have a good excuse to finally get your car washed!
Call a Pest Control Specialist
If the mice infestation has gotten out of control and you’ve tried the above steps to no avail, you have the choice of calling a pest control specialist. They have professional equipment and methods to get rid of mice in your car and hopefully keep them out. For example, they may use an ozone-generating machine to deplete the mice of oxygen.
Although pest control specialists may be a bit costly, it’s worth spending the money to save your car from more damage by mice in the long run.
Again, I highly recommend this option if it’s something your able to do as it saves on a lot of guess work and time.
Keep Your Car Clean
Once you’ve cleaned your car and gotten rid of some mice, you’ll definitely want to keep them away. Of course, in order to keep the mice away, you should ensure that your car remains clean and clear of clutter.
You’ll want to eliminate all food sources for the mice, such as pet food, garden seeds, or emergency food supplies you may have stored in the trunk or garage. If you have children who eat snacks in the back seat, be sure to vacuum between the seats.
Keeping your car clean can be pretty tough, mostly because it sometimes doubles as a garbage can.
Remember, no crumbs = no mice.
There are various chemical, scented, and physical repellents that you can use to keep mice out of your car.
- You can use a natural commercial mouse repellant, such as the Victor M809 Mouse and Rat Repellent. The ingredients are poison-free and non-toxic when used as directed. Spray the repellent over the sections of the car that mice are more likely to nest in. Spray it over the entrances of your car, as well, to ensure no mice climb through.
- If you have peppermint essential oils in your home, you can also use this in your car to repel mice. Very commonly, mice dislike peppermint oil a great deal.
The Victor Mouse and Rat Repellent contain this oil, as it has a potent smell that mice dislike. You can put a few drops of peppermint oil on cotton balls and place these around your car.
- Dryer sheets are used by campers to keep mosquitoes away, but they can also work for deterring mice. You’ll need to replace the dryer sheets to ensure the scent stays strong. The advantage of this method is that it’s easy to implement, as it requires little effort and you likely have dryer sheets at home.
- There are even electronic deterrents you can use. Some have flashing strobe lights, which keep mice away because they want a dark place to reside. Some devices make buzzing sounds when they sense motion and others send out sounds that are only heard by rodents.
Overall, I’m skeptical of electronic deterrents (usually ultrasonic deterrents) but they may have some practicality. You can read more about them here.
- Since light can be a deterrent to mice, you might want to consider leaving the lights on in your garage or popping your hood open, so the light stays on. Of course, with this method, you’ll be using up more electricity, so your bills may be higher.
- Finally, you can place dog hair in the car. Mice use their sense of smell to protect themselves from predators, so this will likely scare them off.
Block Small Entrances
You can try blocking small entrances to your car by using objects like a wire mesh on the underside of your car and over the wheel well vents. It might be a lot of work to look for every possible entry point, though.
Regularly Check Your Car
In order to be extra careful, you’ll want to regularly check your car for mice. Examine wires and look under the hood for the signs mentioned at the beginning of this article. Things like wires being chewed, any holes in your material, etc.
Mice are more likely to make your car their home in the winter, as they tend to seek shelter from precipitation and cold weather. If your car is dormant, there’s a higher chance mice will infest it.
That’s why it’s a good idea to start your car regularly. The sound of the engine should scare mice away. Additionally, you’ll leave your own scent behind, signaling to mice that a predator is around.
If your car has been dormant for a while, you can also try honking to scare off mice (although this is a little less foolproof).
Wrapping it Up
There can be many negative consequences of having mice in your car. If you’ve noticed signs that there have been mice in your car, there are several steps you can take to get rid of them.
You’ll need to properly equip yourself, clear out the garbage, vacuum waste, use disinfectant, and set traps in the interior of your car. You’ll also need to clean the car’s engine compartment if you notice signs that mice have been in that area. You can try taking your car to a car wash to scare the mice away, too.
Once you’ve gotten rid of the existing mice, you can try to keep mice out of your car by using scented or sonic mouse repellents, blocking small entry points and parking away from food sources.
If you’ve tried all of these things and there are still mice in your car, it may be best to hire a pest control specialist.
Würbel, H., Chapman, R., & Rutland, C. (1998). Effect Of Feed And Environmental Enrichment On Development Of Stereotypic Wire-Gnawing In Laboratory Mice. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 60(1), 69-81.Gaskill, B. N., Gordon, C. J., Pajor, E. A.,
Lucas, J. R., Davis, J. K., & Garner, J. P. (2012). Heat Or Insulation: Behavioral Titration Of Mouse Preference For Warmth Or Access To A Nest. PloS One, 7(3), E32799.
Hayes, K. J., Almen, M. A., & Collins, C. L. (2018). U.S. Patent Application No. 15/731,315.