Why Peppermint Repels Squirrels (And How To Use It)

Squirrel on the roof top. Blue sky background with copy space.

Squirrels are cute, tree loving creatures. But they are as destructive as they are adorable. They will dig up your garden, bite through electrical wires, dig in your trash, and the list goes on. There are several easy ways you can evict them from your property, one of those is by using peppermint. 

Squirrels hate peppermint. The pleasingly cool aroma is one of the widely hated scents throughout the squirrel community. Its strong aroma overwhelms a squirrel’s strong sense of smell making them avoid any interaction with peppermint. Because of this, it has become a staple in repelling squirrels.

There are many ways we can use peppermint to repel squirrels, but you may be wondering, why should I be repelling squirrels in the first place? Keep on reading to find out what squirrels do and how to repel them using peppermint.

* This post contains affiliate links.

Why Should You Repel Squirrels From Your Property?

Can squirrels be destructive? The answer is – absolutely yes! As we said, they’re the cutest little animals, but they can really get into places they don’t belong, and be very destructive, in and out of the home.

Squirrels seem to be leaders along the trail of trouble as they love to get their hands dirty, and can cause destruction to all in their path. Squirrels will dig holes in your gardens and lawns, they will get into your garbage, they will chew on electrical wires and building materials, they will gnaw on wood and furniture (inside or outside) and make havoc when frankly, havoc is not needed!

Squirrels find their way into nooks and crannies and can make themselves at home in your home, like in an attic, fireplace, or opened vent from the outside. To stop these animals, it’s first important to learn a little bit about these animals and why they cause problems in and outside of your homes.

Squirrels Will Nest in Your Home

Cute little squirrel in the park with a pigeon surrounded.

So you’d typically assume that squirrel damage occurs only outside right? Well, that’s definitely not the case!

Squirrels are mammals but are in fact rodents. Rodents have those sharp teeth that can get into everything and anything – which actually becomes a foundation for many problems that regard squirrels! The thing is though, squirrels, although destructive, are always looking for spots to nest, and eat.

As an animal that typically nests in trees, squirrels like to be secluded, so if trees are limited in the area, an attic, fireplace or wall vent in your home can seem fit for a squirrel. 

How did they get in? Well, that’s the thing, squirrels can chew through shingles, wood, and even wires to get to where they will be comfortable. When there’s a will, there’s a way for a squirrel.

Squirrels don’t mean to invade your personal space, but if they do get involved within your personal space, you may need a professional to get them out. However, and I promise we will talk about it soon, peppermint is a good way to prevent them from even getting close enough in the first case.

What Damage Will Squirrels Do in Your Garden and Outside?

Squirrels, like many other animals, love fruits and vegetables. So it’s absolutely no wonder why they take a liking to our delicious vegetable gardens, and fruit trees! But that’s not the only damage that squirrels can do outside.

Squirrels will eat and store food, whenever they get the chance – and there is no turning down a juicy vegetable or fruit to nibble on. However, when outside, squirrels can do a lot more than eat your garden. Squirrels dig holes in your lawn, can eat the bark on your trees, and even gnaw and chew on your outdoor furniture and outdoor wires!

Squirrels truly get into everything – and unfortunately, can do a lot more harm than good when it comes to personal property outside. There is no such thing as personal space when it comes to squirrels, especially when a source of food is involved.

Squirrels Will Dig Holes in Your Lawn to Bury Fruits & Nuts

Tree squirrel nest high up in a leafy tree.

Yup – it’s the truth. The rumors are true. Squirrels love nuts, in fact, they go nuts over them.

If you’re ever wondering why a squirrel is digging a hole in your lawn – it’s not just for fun. Squirrels are digging holes in your lawns and gardens simply to store their nuts for the winter. 

When the first chill arrives, squirrels go into full-on hoarding mode – they hoard nuts and other foods for winter in the holes they dig.

But just because they love nuts, does not mean that’s all they will eat. Squirrels will eat ANYTHING! Really, if it looks edible, they will test it – and they truly adore most fruits and vegetables. 

Typical squirrel diets include corn, berries, mushrooms, pine-seed, and the heartier more fulfilling fruits and veggies. That’s why they’re tearing apart your garden!

But have no fear – the best way to repel squirrels is by starting with prevention – and lets start with peppermint.

Another squirrel repellent is garlic which actually works really well too!

Will Peppermint Keep Squirrels Away?

Peppermint is a strong scent that, although refreshing and desired by humans, is very much a burden for squirrels. Natural, and without affecting our health or the eco system’s health, peppermint can be a quick way to keep squirrels at bay!

Since the aroma of peppermint is so strong, it overwhelms a squirrel. A squirrel absolutely despises spicy scents, and if you think about it, peppermint can actually be considered spicy. Squirrels have a very strong sense of smell. However, if their senses are overwhelmed, they will not be able to find food or shelter. This is why they avoid peppermint.

Peppermint can be used in a variety of ways to repel squirrels and should only be used strictly for prevention purposes. But if that doesn’t work or you want to try something else, hot pepper works great too!. Whether it’s in plant form, or essential oil form, peppermint is a wonderful, and easy natural repellent.

If you already have a squirrel problem, it is best to stick with a professional.

Why You Should Use Peppermint to Repel Squirrels

It is so beneficial to use a natural deterrent like peppermint in your vegetable gardens and outdoor spaces so that your vegetables, fruit, and you, are not being exposed to harsh chemicals.

You may have heard of some more dramatic ways to repel squirrels like get a dog, or introduce natural predators like hawks or owls to the environment, or hide or relocate their food. But let’s be real here, does anyone have time for any of this?

Like any animal, squirrels get well-adapted to their environment. Ever hear that there are no pigeons like NYC pigeons? Being from New York – I can definitely defend that statement to be true. 

But, the thing is, squirrels are very much the same – they will adapt. If an environment seems fit for a squirrel, even if you have a dog, or even if there is a hawk, or if you relocate their food, they will take over – and, will have some attitude while doing so.

The best way to prevent squirrels is to truly make the environment not so beneficial. And to make it less than desired, the environment has to include things that squirrels don’t like – peppermint being key.

Peppermint comes in plant form, oil form and can be used in a variety of ways to repel squirrels for all different reasons.

Peppermint as a Plant and Essential Oil

Peppermint is an herb that is a cross between water mint and spearmint. The Peppermint Plant is a very strong-smelling plant that comes from the mint family. The Peppermint plant is a perennial, making it a great option to plant outside, and keep inside, for year-long squirrel prevention.

Peppermint oil has been used for centuries for health purposes, however, if you want to use it, you should always check in with your healthcare provider. When using any essential oil, it is essential to dilute it first in water before applying it to your skin or surfaces.

Peppermint oil is used to repel squirrels, however, to have success with using peppermint oil, there are a few ways to use it – a peppermint oil spray is a great option.

To make a spray: mix 10-15 drops of peppermint oil within 1 cup of water. For every cup of water, add another 10-15 drops.

You can also use an equal ratio of peppermint oil to white vinegar to make a spray – squirrels also hate the smell of white vinegar.

This mix dilutes the peppermint oil, making it into a spray that can be used directly on trees and shrubs, and even on yourself – to keep squirrels and other insects away.

How to Use Peppermint Oil Spray to Repel Squirrels From Outdoor Spaces

A squirrel of the side of a stucco wall.

The great outdoors is the place to start when getting ready to repel squirrels. The best place outdoors? Start way ahead of where your garden begins.

Take a glance at your outdoor space. Do you have trees? Do you have Fences? Wind Chimes? All of these aspects can be meticulously used in your prevention plan to keep squirrels away. However, to do this, you need to use the peppermint essential oil spray.

Spraying the peppermint oil spray onto nearby trees, and shrubs will help keep squirrels away from the get-go. If a tree smells like the scent of peppermint, they are less likely to build a nest in the tree, and in that case, keep moving on.

If you have a fence around your yard, spraying the fence with peppermint oil spray can help keep squirrels out of your yard altogether.

Diving more into the decor details of your yard, spraying peppermint on wind chimes, decorative pieces, lounge chairs, and even on umbrellas, can help keep squirrels, insects, and other unwanted guests away – while leaving your yard smelling fresh!

If you are not into the Do It Yourself method, you may want to check out this Mighty Mint Peppermint Spray, which will help repel all types of insects and rodents.

Other Ways to Use Peppermint Oil to Repel Squirrels

Other than the spray, a tried-and-true method in the prevention of squirrels from your outdoor space is soaking cotton balls in peppermint oil, and placing them around certain garden plants that you want to especially protect.

Place the peppermint-oil-soaked cotton balls on top of small plates, or mason jar lids, and place them around your garden, and any other spaces that need extra protection from squirrels. 

Every day or so, check-in and re-soak the cotton balls. Although, a bit tedious, it will work in repelling squirrels, and even other unwanted pests.

Another way to use peppermint oil is in a diffuser! When you’re outdoors and having guests over, keeping a diffuser of peppermint oil going can be a way to freshen up the space, while keeping insects and squirrels away.

If you’re in search of a Peppermint Oil – check out this Cliganic USDA Organic Essential Peppermint Oil.

How to Use Peppermint Plants to Repel Squirrels From Outdoor Spaces

Planting peppermint plants as a barrier around your outdoor gardens and spaces is a great way to repel squirrels and other destructive animals and insects. Likewise, planting peppermint plants next to the other plants that need extra protection will help keep those plants safe from any hungry trespassers.

Peppermint Plants are perennials, which means they come back year after year. All it takes is one solid plan of action, and your peppermint plants will do some protecting and preventing each year to come. While peppermint oil is stronger than peppermint plants, the plants can still be effective at repelling squirrels.

Planting peppermint alongside fence posts, or even having some potted peppermint plants as a decorative feature, will function as a natural squirrel repellent.

Before using peppermint plants as a repellent, if you have a pet, please check in with your veterinarian before use.

Keeping Squirrels Away from Your Indoor Spaces 

Now that we’ve got the outside covered, there are some ways to use peppermint to keep squirrels away from getting indoors! Squirrels are bold animals, and if they’re feeling gutsy, and there’s a way in, they definitely will make themselves comfortable in your home. But there are some ways to prevent that too!

Dried Peppermint Sachets

One great way to keep squirrels outside and not in, is to place dried peppermint sachet bags around your home!

Simply grab some leaves from your outdoor peppermint plants, tie the stems together and hang them upside-down to dry out – it can take two weeks for the leaves to be completely dry.

Once dry, put them in small sachet bags like these – Reusable Drawstring Cotton Sachet Bags, and place them around your home – especially near windows and doors, and especially throughout your attic. It will offer a great scent while keeping insects and squirrels away.

If you’d rather not take the time to grow and dry your own mint leaves, you can purchase them online like this 6.34 oz dried mint leaves.

Utilize a Peppermint Essential Oil Diffuser

The handy-dandy oil diffuser truly offers so many great benefits. Not only is it a great way in keeping your home smelling great, but you can also purposely use it to deter pests.

Dropping some peppermint oil in the diffuser and placing it in spots near the windows or doors can help repel squirrels.

If you have pets, please check in with your veterinarian before diffusing any essential oils.

Use Peppermint Plants

If you love to add a little mint as a garnish or use it as an ingredient in cooking, having small potted mint plants on your windowsill, or in your kitchen, can provide the best-of-both-worldsfunction and prevention.

Make sure to keep mint plants out of reach of indoor animals, and check-in with your veterinarian before using them in your home.

What Other Scents Repel Squirrels?

Gray Squirrel eating nut on railing

Other than peppermint, there are a few other scents that are great at naturally repelling squirrels.

Chili Powder – Squirrels despise spicy scents. Sprinkling chili powder around your trees and gardens is an easy way to keep squirrels away.

Pepper – With the same idea in mind as chili powder using spicy aromas will keep squirrels away. Sprinkling pepper, white or black, around the perimeters of plants that need protection, will create a natural barrier between the squirrel and plants.

White Vinegar – Another scent that squirrels hate is vinegar. As mentioned before, using white vinegar as opposed to water as the base in your peppermint spray, is a great option that will act just that much more as a repellent.

Coffee Grounds – This is an interesting one because it’s not that the squirrels typically hate the smell of coffee, however, it is such an unfamiliar scent, and being unfamiliar can mean there are humans nearby, or can simply scare them away. Plus, it’s an easy and quick alternative, especially if you just brewed a pot of coffee.

What Other Ways Can I Repel Squirrels?

Repelling squirrels can be quite simple, and if playing with scents isn’t up your alley you can also try some other ways to repel them.

Strobe Lights – Using strobe lights if squirrels are in your attic or indoors can be a way to make them get out! Although, if squirrels are indoors, please call a professional ASAP! The lights will bother the squirrels and will be a harmless way of pushing them out the door.

Add Mulch to your Gardens – Squirrels don’t like mulch and will not dig holes in it. If you have a bunch of squirrels that just keep on diggin’, try to add some mulch to the outdoor space.

Barriers – Although squirrels can be quite the climbers and very entertaining to watch climb and jump from tree to tree, sometimes a barrier like a fence, or a layer of gravel or rock, is all that is needed to keep squirrels out of reach.

If you’d like, check out our piece on the full list of scents that squirrels hate!

The Take-Away!

Squirrels can be a problem. As cute as they are, they can be quite a nuisance, and it’s important to prevent them before they become a problem. Using peppermint in a variety of ways is a natural remedy to repel squirrels, and possibly other animals and insects.


“Peppermint Oil.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nccih.nih.gov/health/peppermint-oil.

“Slc.gov.” Sustainability, www.slc.gov/sustainability/pesticidefree/alternative-pesticides/.

“Squirrels.” Pennsylvania Game Commission, www.pgc.pa.gov/Education/WildlifeNotesIndex/Pages/Squirrels.aspx.

Smith, C. C., & Follmer, D. (1972). Food preferences of squirrels. Ecology, 53(1), 82-91.

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  1. Hi, I read where squirrels are repelled by certain scents. It seems that peppermint was always number one on the list. I have two wooden hanging birdfeeders. I purchased peppermint oil and strategically put spots of oil the tree limb, holding the feeder. And areas on the feeder covers. It didn’t slow them down one bit. So I saturated the entire wooden covers with oil(the wood absorbed it) to where the scent was so strong that it even held up to rain. The squirrels ignored the scent and emptied both feeders. I’m almost at a loss as what to do. I don’t want to hurt them.

    1. Hey Conrad – sorry to hear you’re having issues. Scents are great when you either A: First notice the issue or B: Use them prior to having the issue. Squirrels and birdfeeders is always extremely tough because it’s SUCH an easy food source and they were likely there multiple times prior to you putting the peppermint out there – so the risk in their mind far outweighs the reward.

      You should look into a weighted bird feeder or squirrel baffle that fits your budget, they tend to work extremely well and will keep the squirrels off your feeder. Keep in mind that they will still have access to fallen seeds but I don’t view that as an issue as they’ll be getting the birds scraps.

      Keep me updated on your next steps!

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