9 Scents That Mice Hate (and How to Use Them)
As you are probably very aware, rodents like mice can be quite a pain when dealing with them on your property. If you are looking for some quick, cheap, and easy solutions that will not harm these little critters but will keep them out of your space, this is the piece for you!
Mice have a very keen sense of smell that is much stronger than what humans experience You can use this trait to naturally repel mice and use specific scents mice hate like:
- Cayenne & black pepper
- Dryer sheets
- Cloves & clove oil
- Tea bags
- Mint toothpaste
Before we continue our discussion of what exactly mice hate and how to use them in the correct way to repel these little nuisances, let’s dive into why you need to keep mice away from your property to begin with.
But they’re so cute, surely they can’t be that bad… right? Wrong.
Why Do You Need to Repel Mice?
Mice are part of the rodent family, along with rats, squirrels, prairie dogs, porcupines, beavers, guinea pigs, and hamsters.
Rodentia is the single largest group of mammals, characterized by a single pair of incisors in each jaw, as well as some other muscular and size features. Mice specifically are recognized by a pointed snout, large rounded ears, and a long hairy tail.
So, take a moment to be grateful that at least you are dealing with mice and not rats.
Good, now that that’s done let’s move on to the negative aspects of having mice in your space. What exactly are you up against if these furry little troublemakers become a little too comfortable on your property?
Simply put, mice can:
- Cause damage to siding
- Carry in fleas from outside
- Contaminate surfaces
- Chew through electrical wiring
Aside from the above, mice are also quite pesky little critters. Their teeth, one of their key traits and identifying features, are very strong and durable.
Mice can chew through materials such as vinyl, plastic, wood, rubber, fiberglass, and even stainless steel mesh.
A mouse’s ability to chew through all of these different materials makes them very apt to cause significant damage to your home, outdoor space, and anywhere they end up staking a claim.
It is for this reason that we highly recommend preventative measures as opposed to solutions after the fact.
While anything can be fixed, controlled, or cleaned up (especially by a professional), we know that there are a lot of disasters just waiting to happen before that point arrives.
Imagine you are putting off dealing with those pesky mice that live under your back deck. Then, one day, you go to plug in your decorative outdoor string lights to enjoy a nice evening get-together with friends.
Uh-oh. The lights won’t turn on, and you realize that the cord has been chewed through near the base. This is inconvenient, right?
Think about how much more frustrating this would be if it was a light inside your home, or a piece of your wall or your favorite couch, or the screen door. Aside from the electric costs, reupholstering the couch, patching the wall, or having to deal with insects and other potential pests getting into your home is not an ideal situation.
We will leave it at that, but trust us when we tell you that prevention really is the way to go!
Identifying Mice In Your Home
Before getting started, I wanted to touch on a few short identifiers of mice inside.
Rat droppings are about double the size of mouse droppings, and are rounded on both ends. Here’s an example of rat droppings (these were on my apartment bed a while ago, yippie!)
When we moved into our new home last year, we had the wonderful opportunity to deep clean our ENTIRE basement. It was littered with mice.
If you’re finding mice anywhere inside your house, they’re more than likely stemming from open gaps leading to your basement or ground floor. If you don’t address your basement issues, then just using peppermint oil spray or smells mice hate upstairs isn’t going to cut it.
In your basement, you’ll want to look the corners of your concrete and look for any dark lines. This will indicate WHERE mice are traveling most in your home and lead you closer to possible entry points. Mice tend to stay in warm places where they can bring food in at will.
A second, more obvious sign, is looking where you had any insulation. You’ll notice seeds, droppings, and you’ll probably have a certain strong smell if the mice have been nesting there long enough.
We’ll discuss a few ways to deter mice and repel them a bit later on. Now, we’ll get to our top ways to scare mice and use the scents they hate.
Use These 9 Scents Mice Hate To Deter Them
Bum bum bum… the moment you have been waiting for is here. The scents, the smells, the solutions. The 9 scents that mice do hate, but you’ll probably love them, and that will aid you in your quest to get rid of those pests.
Here are a few scents that you can use to help keep mice away from your home, property, and yourself. We love natural solutions, along with sealing entry points (which we’ll get to later.)
Like anything else, these scents are not going to be 100% guaranteed. But they are some pretty foolproof ways to avoid this annoyance from turning into a full-blown problem.
Please note that these recommendations are all based on the evidence that mice do not like any of these scents and will surely avoid them. This does not mean, however, that any one of these individual measures of prevention will last forever. If you have any concerns or would just rather not deal with this alone, consult with a professional!
With all of that being said, here are the 9 scents that we can recommend for best results at home.
Table of Contents
Our first recommendation of smells mice hate is a scent with a strong, spicy aroma and strong smell that mice hate and you probably already have in your pantry.
Mice are very strongly opposed to the smell of cinnamon, so grab the powder from your spice rack and keep them at bay!
There are many ways to use cinnamon to keep mice away, and it really just depends on what you are hoping to do, the amount of work you want to put into it, and which products you already have at home.
Stash some cinnamon sticks in drawers, closets, cabinets, underneath furniture, and anywhere else that you see fit. This will repel mice and will also give a nice aroma to your home without needing to buy lots of expensive candles and wall plug-ins. A win-win!
If you’d rather use a product with actual cinnamon oil, take a peek at Grandpa Gus’s Peppermint & Cinnamon Oil Rodent Repellent Spray!
It contains BOTH cinnamon and peppermint oil spray (which, peppermint, is coming up on our list!)
If you have spotted mice and only have the cinnamon you use on your oatmeal handy, sprinkle a bit in any area you’ve spotted them such as counters, in cupboards, and even along your baseboard.
We know now that mice hate strong scents due to their intense sense of smell. Vinegar, specifically white vinegar (and NOT apple cider vinegar) just may be the strongest scent out there, especially when it is left undiluted.
Now, I say don’t use apple cider vinegar simply because the scent can actually be sweet and attract mice.
This strong, sour aroma is good for repelling many creatures, and mice are no exception.
As we all are aware, it is nearly impossible to cover your area fully with this mixture. Similarly, it is not going to be an easy feat to keep your area smelling like white vinegar.
It isn’t really an ideal scent to have all over your house for a prolonged period, nor is the dispersal of vinegar in every nook and cranny going to be a fun process.
Mix some water and vinegar in a spray bottle to mist any areas where you have seen mice as well as locations you expect them to go. Using this method around doors, floorboards, countertops, and closets is recommended.
If you’d like to learn more, take a look at our full guide on using vinegar to repel mice!
Cayenne is a type of chili pepper that gives off a strong, sharp scent that goes along with the heat of this particular pepper. It’s one of the best smells you can use.
Mice hate the scent and taste of cayenne pepper, and so do many other rodents and insects.
Like you would with cinnamon, just sprinkle some cayenne anywhere that you’ve seen mice, expect them to be, or know that they might enter.
In essence, cayenne pepper infuriates the senses of mice. So it’ll do wonders making them sniffle and stay back! Check out our full guide for repelling mice with cayenne pepper here.
You can also use chili powder, or If you prefer essential oils, you can get chili oil or cayenne pepper essential oil as well!
Similar to cayenne pepper, black pepper contains an active ingredient known as piperine which irratates mice and other rodents. More specifically, researchers from the University of California showed that black pepper oil was effective in reducing the appetite of small rodents.
You can chose a tag team duo of hot pepper AND black pepper to repel mice. If you’d like more info on just using black pepper, take a peak at our guide on using black pepper to repel mice!
For whatever reason, mice really do not enjoy the scent of dryer sheets. This is great news because this is another product you might already have laying around. The best part? It takes even less work than spraying, sprinkling, or misting other scents.
Just stick a dryer sheet in your small spaces that mice may be drawn to and leave them for up to a week at a time.
Leaving them longer will have no negative impact, they just lose their scent after a while and will need to be replaced to continue being effective in that given area.
Basically, stick a dryer sheet under furniture, in closets or cupboards, and anywhere you suspect that your furry frenemies may try to show up.
To us, dryer sheets give off a pretty mild smell but to mice, it is pungent and unavoidable. Bounce dryer sheets have been proven to have the best results when repelling mice from a given area.
We love peppermint oil as a natural mouse repellent alternative! You can dip cotton balls, rags, towels, whatever you please, into your peppermint oil before placing them around your home. This can be done indoors and out, wherever your problem is occurring.
However, it would take a lot of time and a whole lot of oil to cover your entire space this way and the scent will eventually fade. Instead, you can try mixing 10-15 drops of the oil with water to create a spray.
Better yet, take a look at Mighty Mint’s Peppermint Oil Rodent Repellent Spray to save yourself even more hassle. Above all else, it smells great too and is all natural! It’s essentially the same
Please note that if you DO end up using cotton balls or anything dipped with peppermint oil, just keep count and track of where you put them so you don’t end up with them all over your home.
The last thing you want is a random cotton ball stuck in your vacuum cleaner! Just note that peppermint oil can have quite a strong smell, so be sure to test out small areas before applying it widespread.
If you’d like a deeper walkthrough on this popular method, take a gander at our article on using peppermint oil to repel mice!
Another household item, tea bags can be used in the same way as oils, cinnamon sticks, and dryer sheets.
Peppermint tea is the most highly recommended option. Simply boil water and make the tea, let it sit, and place the teabag in different corners of your home.
This will instantly repel mice due to the strong scent of the tea.
This may be the easiest method yet, especially if you are a regular tea drinker. You just make your daily cuppa, essentially recycle your tea bag, and sit back and enjoy your drink knowing that you are taking a step toward keeping your home rodent-free.
Are you sensing a trend yet? If not, let us help. Peppermint, peppermint, mint. Yes, that’s right! One of the most common scents that we use in daily household items is also the one that mice truly cannot stand.
Use this newfound knowledge to your benefit and you won’t have to spend a ton of money on prevention. This, in turn, will save you more money (and headache) because you will likely avoid dealing with a larger rodent problem later on!
Simply do what you would do with any of the oils we have mentioned, and rub some toothpaste along baseboards, near doorways, next to any cracks if you happen to have them, and any mouse holes.
Again, this method works indoors and outdoors so that you can easily smear some of this minty paste anywhere you please to keep the mice at bay! If you have any gaps under the bottom of your siding where mice could enter, reapplying toothpaste every week or so could help keep them out.
To be transparent with you, this might be a little tedious. That’s okay, there are many other methods you can use that mice dislike.
However, this is worth a shot especially if you are serious about trying to keep these pests away from your space.
Really, mint toothpaste essentially acts as a temporary mouse repellent caulk. For more information on this one, take a look at our in-depth guide on using mint toothpaste to repel mice!
This scent mirrors that of predators’ urine and is a surefire way to keep mice out of the area. Their natural instincts kick in and your space is clear of rodents.
This method will help prevent them from coming back since they will think of your space as somewhere that hosts predators and is no longer a safe place to return to.
Just be sure to reapply when the scent seems to have faded, as mice will start to learn that the area is opening again and get back to being uninvited guests.
Cloves and Clove Essential Oils
The strong scent of cloves is one that mice really do not like.
Keep in mind that if you plan to sit a whole clove out, it may not have a scent that is quite strong enough to repel mice. If this is the case, there is another method that is a more surefire approach.
Instead, use can clove oil itself which repels mice.
Not only is it a great repellent, but this oil actually has many benefits that you can use in your daily life. So, when this method is successful and you no longer need a mouse repellent, you can continue to make use of your clove essential oil (or crush whole cloves yourself!)
If you prefer a different scent, combine clove oil with lavender, pepper, or peppermint for a similarly effective mixture with a bit of a twist. Just make sure to dilute any mixture you create properly with carrier oils and water, similarly.
Here’s our in-depth guide on why cloves and clove oil repel mice, which covers a bit more specific use cases if you’d like to use this method.
Keeping Mice Away Long Term
Those powerful scents that work against mice are highly recommended as effective solutions. But keep in mind that with any scent there is variability.
The amount you use, where it is located, how often you reapply the scent, how strong the oil, powder, or other material is, to begin with, all greatly impact the effectiveness of these approaches.
You might get lucky if you follow the steps and really spend the time to keep these rodents away. You also might get unlucky and still need to contact a professional (which is okay and totally normal.)
For this reason, it is important to remember that relying on scents alone is not recommended. Combining methods and approaches is always going to yield a better result than picking one simple solution and expecting it to be a fix-all.
A backup plan is always going to come in handy, even if you don’t think you’ll need it.
Still, the most effective way to deter pests is to modify the habitat (your space) to not allow them to enter at all.
Here are some practical ways you can use to keep mice from getting into your space in the first place. Before you use our recommended methods of repelling them, try these preventative measures and make your life even easier!
Eliminate Mice’s Food, Water, and Shelter
The biggest things that rodents are looking for in your space are those that meet their immediate and deepest survival needs.
Without food, water, and shelter, they will have no reason to stick around.
Scraps, crumbs on counters, and food left outdoors will attract mice. Shelter areas that provide cozy nest sites include the spaces under porches and decks, in attics, basements, and even inside your walls.
We recommend maintaining your yard by mowing grass, picking up any garbage or food scraps that may be left out (utilize that compost bin, not your beautiful backyard!), and fixing any leaking pipes that may be used as a source of water for mice.
You’ll also want to be extra sure to seal pet food, and use proper food packaging to keep mice out.
Practice Exclusion Methods to Repel Mice
Keeping mice out in the first place will save a lot of time and effort in the long run. There are several exclusion techniques that you can try to keep these critters out of your home.
Mice can fit through the smallest of spaces, literally the size of a coin. Check your property for any cracks and holes that may serve as an entry point for these pesky rodents. Here’s a full list of the most common ways mice get into houses.
Another point to think about may or may not have crossed your mind by this point… pet doors. If they fit your cat or dog, they will certainly welcome mice (pet doors are just a little bigger than the coin-sized entryways that mice often employ.)
Again, this is a great example of a situation where combining tactics works out well. You can keep your pet door, but spray some oils or wipe some toothpaste around the edges.
Just check if there are any scents that your pets don’t particularly love, and avoid those so that your pets feel comfortable coming and going as usual. Once you’ve got these figured out, then using those scents that mice hate will be all the more effective!
That’s A Wrap!
Well, that is pretty much all. For what it’s worth, this could be a much more difficult-to-solve situation, but we hope that you can make use of these 9 scents to quickly get back on track!
It is frustrating to have rodent issues at home, but mice can be repelled when you use the following scents.
- Cayenne Pepper (& Black Pepper)
- Dryer Sheets
- Peppermint Essential Oil
- Tea Bags (Peppermint is best!)
- Mint Toothpaste
- Cloves and Clove Oil
But again, to yield the best results from all of your hard work, don’t forget to maintain your space and keep rodents out in the first place. Other than that, use the scents listed above and sit back and watch the magic happen!
I hope this piece helps you in keeping these little critters away from your space so that you can enjoy your home without any trouble.
If you’re interested, take a look at our step by step guide on the different things you should do if you find a mouse in your house!
Nollet, L. M., & Rathore, H. S. (2017). Essential Oil Mixtures for Pest Control. In Green Pesticides Handbook (pp. 509-522). CRC Press.
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.
Yang, P., & Ma, Y. (2005). Repellent effect of plant essential oils against Aedes albopictus. Journal of vector ecology, 30(2), 231.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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Will vinegar also repel rats?
Yes, vinegar can repel rats but the same methodology applies for mice where you need to prevent entry and use vinegar as a repellent, rather than as a removal tool.
Well, I will say 23 years in my condo. I’ve never had a problem with rats until I parked under an olive tree at my daughters condo. She’s only 5 miles away so I think a couple of rats came home in my engine and started chewing on some rubber cowl gaskets on my firewall, thankfully, no wires or nothing else. So here’s what I did. I took some used cat litter and filled up two trays, rats hate cats! So they smell em in the used litter. I put one under my trunk on the floor of the garage, and one under my engine on the floor of the garage. I also got some Downey fabric softener beads. I bought breathable gauze drawstring bags, 4 x 4“ and put half full in the corners of my engine on the firewall area next to cowl lids they chewed and I stuffed the little bags underneath my dashboard in my car. I put a bag in my trunk.
When I first noticed that I had rats in my garage, I freaked out so I looked online and I found mix sweet cornmeal and baking soda one to one mixture, I use the paper plate and just put it under my car. Added I put in a pinch of sugar and left it underneath my car before I did that cat litter trick. Well, they found it and they ate it. And it seem to definitely kill them because they can’t burp so they end up exploding so it’s safer than poison to wildlife ands pets. But it does damage on rodents.
And once they were out of my garage, I thought OK this is good well guess what they took a ride on my car again couple months later, so this is when I started pulling out all the stops. I even put some downy beads sprinkled under the parking spot at my daughters house. I refuse to park under that tree anymore. And when I leave her house I open my trunk and I slam it. I open my hood and I slam it there’s any rats hanging on they’re gonna get scared and run hopefully , well so far I haven’t had a problem since I’ve done everything they say even open your hood and shine the light in there overnight because they like dark places and if your engine is not a dark place, well, enough said.
So after all that had my HOA bring a rat bait to my bushes. For future issues. So far everything is good. I just need to go pick up the replacement parts for my firewall Cowell lids on my Honda
Super glad that solution worked for you – the cat liter works similar to other predator urines (like if you had fox issues and used coyote urine around your property to repel them.) Although, just be mindful or using baits. The last thing you want is for a rat or mouse to take bait and then crawl into an inaccessible area where the bait then takes effect. You might have some luck if someone comes by your property to inspect where the rats are actually nesting. Being outside though, its probably a bit less of an issue in your case but if they’re routinely near your car, they’re definitely nesting somewhere nearby.