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Eeek! Mouse-proofing my pantry?

To my dismay, we seem to have mice. I have set traps, jammed steel wool in holes, cracks, and chinks, and still they get in. How can I mouse proof my pantry? Put dry goods in tupperware? It doesn't seem like they've made it in there yet-- at least no droppings to be seen.

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  1. Put all dry goods in containers: Tuperware, canning jars, metal tins, etc., and get a cat.

    1. We live in the country. We finally just got outdoor cats. I haven't seen any evidence since then.

      1. We only seem to have them when the winter has been really cold and then starts to warm up a bit and there is not much out there for them to eat. We used to use traps that did not kill and go dump them in our compost but gave that up. Now we use kill traps. It is funny, I have not had them in my pantry but when we find evidence that they have been visiting I try to make sure the dogs dishes are emptied and put away. They come up from under my dishwasher which is weird, there is no food kept in that part of the kitchen and not much to nibble on in my basement but I have found droppings in my stored Christmas ornament boxes, can't figure out what they can find there. I do keep most of my grains and such all in tightly closed containers.

        1. I keep everything in jars. Don't bother trying to plug up holes, they can get in from places you wouldn't even imagine.
          I've read that bounce dryer sheets repel them, but I haven't tried it, as my cats do pretty well.

          1. You are so right. This past winter I was awakened by something crawling over me. In my half sleep-half waking I flung whatever it was off of me. Seems that I was strong enough to do damage becuse a couple of days later I found a dead mouse just under the bedskirt at the foot of my bed. I can only imagine that it came in through the forced air heating vent and up the curtains at the head of my bed. Those vent grates are quite narrow and I was quite surprised.

            1. I have a cat now, although my cat has never caught a mouse in her life, the mice seems to stay away.

              The best way to kill mice is with those little green poison pellets, "D-con". It dessicates them from within so their little corpses don't smell :( Place it where you see evidence of mouse activity, like behind appliances, but make sure to keep out of reach of pets and kids and nowhere near your food.

              Unfortunately, we live next to the trash chute on our floor so I have to be very vigilant about vermin. Don't even get me started on roaches...blech.

              3 Replies
              1. re: bolletje

                I don't know what they make the stuff from where you are, but here that poison is blood thinner; the mouse's internal organs leak blood until it dies, and it will smell pretty bad for a while if you don't find it (which you can't, often, because they die in spaces where you can't get at them).

                1. re: olfashiond

                  Actually the worst part of this poison business is that if a mouse ingests it and somehow a cat catches that mouse, the cat can be poisoned too. I've discussed this with our veterinarian because we've had mouse problems and also have cats. Not to mention the additional fact that the mice will sometimes drag the poison out from wherever you've put it, making it accessible to dogs, children, etc. We've had that happen in my husband's workshop - our dog found a chunk of green stuff and was chewing on it. We had no idea how much he'd eaten, so it was pretty scary. Anyway, we don't use poison anymore. Traps - live and dead - and glass containers for food stuff. Our cats are useless. They go out and catch mice in the yard, then release them for play-time in the house. Not funny.

                  1. re: Nyleve

                    Yep, that happened to my parents' dog when she was a puppy. The neighbors hired an exterminator who set out poison for mice, and a not-dead-yet mouse wandered into our yard. Being a terrier, pup's natural response to finding a weakened rodent was to eat it. Fortunately, we live near a very good veterinary school, and they were able to treat her.

              2. We had a mouse problem when we first moved into our apartment - what finally worked was having an exterminator come and plug up holes with foam that hardens (there were a lot of holes around radiator pipes and they were running from room to room under the floor) and then standard snap traps - no other traps worked. I didn't repackage food into jars etc. b/c I never found evidence of them in the cupboards etc.

                1. We plugged holes, tried glue traps(horrifying), sealed up all possible food and got rid of any sort of clutter but they would always come back. The only thing that finally worked was getting a cat. Our fabulous feline has never caught a single mouse but seems to be a great visual deterent, I expect pheromones play a part as well.

                  1. glue traps are the worst! i just moved into my boyfriend's apartment, where mouse sightings were becoming far too common, but i brought my cat and she took care of it. from my experience, mice like grains, so at least put rice cakes and whole grains, etc. in glass. we also plugged up the backs of the cabinets with steel wool.

                    1. Rice, grain, flour, sugar, pasta, beans etc., -- I keep all in large plastic containers. Not because of mice, but it stays fresher longer, and is easier to find in the pantry.

                      We only ever had one mouse, and used one of those electronic electrocution things -- worked great, caught the wretch in a day and none have come back. (Spouse is allergic to cats!)

                      1. . Pheromone lures on glue boards.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: streggaNona

                          Please no glue traps. A horrible, torturous death. Snap traps baited with Nutella work very well.

                          1. re: streggaNona

                            I had to resort to glue boards also. the mice got good at snapping the traps then went for the bait, they escaped from humane traps (right thru the wire mesh or back out thru the door or whatever,) and pets are not allowed in my building - so no cat. once they are caught in the trap i drown them in the toilet, maybe awful, but gotta be better than starving to death glued to a board. And if you do leave them on the board to die, the other mice learn to avoid those as well.

                            But back to the OP's original question - rodents have been plaguing mankind since the beginning of civilization. In 10,000 years we haven't found a way to keep them out. Do plug up the obvious holes, it will slow them down. Do put things in plastic, glass, and metal containers, it will deter them. And do put out whatever type of trap you prefer. If you are gonna use humane traps and release the animals after, make sure you drive far far away before you release them. Letting them loose in the backyard is just inviting them to return immediately.

                          2. We live out in the country in a hundred year old farmhouse with a fieldstone foundation--mouse central. Some years are worse than others. For years we've been using the snap traps with peanut butter as bait. Works pretty well. My husband empties them when necessary...that sweet man. This year the Hercules of all mice came up from the basement through the back of the kitchen cabinets I think and got into some bottom kitchen cabinets where I store cereal in their original boxes, crackers, instant nonfat dry milk, and one actually gnawed on the top of the wooden cabinet door (I kid you not) and got into the boxes. That did it. I threw all that stuff in the garbage, put all the new products in glass and plastic Tupperware type storage containers , and hoping for the best. My DH thinks the bolder ones will gnaw right through plastic, god help us. I store my canned goods on some shelves at the top of the basement stairs and they can't get into that, but the same week of the cabinet breakin, Hercules zeroed in on a tiny little jar of anchovies, scratched or gnawed off most of the label and I found the debris on the step at the top when I opened the door. DH thinks he was attracted by the label glue, but I think he knew there were anchovies in there...haha.

                            Anyway, I have since purchased and installed a Victor Mini Pro PestChaser in a kitchen wall outlet. It emits sonic waves (faint buzzing) that rodents hate. I plug it in at night because the buzzing annoysl me when I'm working in the kitchen. So far so good.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: noodlepoodle

                              Any deterrent will help against mice. It can be sonic devices, cats, etc.. But their efficacy do depend on how much pressure there is on the local mice population. In other words, if your neighbours have a big mice problem, whatever deterrent you have may not be enough to guaranty that mice will not come at all.

                              Sonic devices do work, it is simply not a miracle pill. It is more like the upsetting bit that will make your house less attractive to them, so hopefully they will like the home of the neighbour more.

                              When you are suffering from mice, it is good to speak with the neighbours when you are a terraced house or a flat. It is good to have no food debris or harbourage for them. It is good you have no gaps that could allow them into your kitchen units, or any other places in your home. Mouse proofing is easier than you think and would not take more than half a day's work.

                              There are a lots of blogs on the subjects above all from USA, mine is London based and maybe too theoretic as it does not include any drawings or videos. But it might help you understanding "mice population dynamics" and how mouse proofing fits into this. http://www.inoculand.co.uk


                              1. re: noodlepoodle

                                We also live in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere that dates to the mid-1700s with a shallow cellar. Metal and glass containers pretty much keep the temptation away.

                                Hercules (unless you've seen him) sounds like more than a mouse to me -- and I've battled squirrels and yes, once, rats that must have migrated from the hay pile in the field across the road when it was dismantled. That called for the professional help. And a lot of drinking until they were gone.

                              2. We have a house in the country that we only visit on occasion. Every time we arrive to find mouse droppings everywhere - and I do mean everywhere. They seem to love to eat or mess about in soap, any kind of paper, candles, plastic baggies.. We've found droppings in our bed and on our toothbrushes. I never leave bars of soap out anymore and I keep our toothbrushes in a sealed container. And we leave lots of glue traps out when we're gone. But it's a real pain - the house is always cleaned when we leave, but we still have to do a thorough cleaning (and change sheets) every time we arrive. That's part of why we don't use the house so much these days.

                                1. we went with natural pest control at the bakery I work at. They come and spray down super concentrated peppermint oil. Works great! I've never seen anything like a mouse there.

                                  1. We also had a resurgence of a mice problem in our kitchen this winter. As the temperature drops, the mice always try to get in.

                                    First, you have to seal up any access holes. Importantly, check under your sink around the plumbing. Just stuff in towels/filler or tape up well. Also check near the floor... we had an opening underneath the cabinets along the baseboards that ran the entire length of the cabinets. You couldn't see it unless you laid down on the floor..... taped it up with duct tape.

                                    And then after our traps failed (the mice quickly learned to outsmart them), we got the sonic devices. Worked perfectly. The trick is you have to place one in each room that is a problem, and you cannot put anything in front of them that could potentially block the sound waves.

                                    I was skeptical of these devices since reviews on-line are spotty. So I went to our local wonderful hardware store and talked with the owners. They also recommended the Victor mini pro pestchasers, and said they work.... it's just that many people do not read the directions and plug them into outlets that are hidden behind furniture etc.. so the signal doesn't get out appropriately.

                                    So now we have one plugged in every room of the house where food is present (eg. kitchen, dining room, and my father's bedroom..... he likes to snack....). No more mice.

                                    We did not like the idea of using poisons around food.

                                    1. This might help with your mouse problem. Once in a high-rise building we suddenly had a major cockroach problem due to migration following fumigation of somebody's messy condo, a long story. Anyway, professional exterminators did not solve the problem. What we finally did that worked was first fill every tiny entrance hole (as for example where a wire comes through a small hole in the wall---fill EVERYTHING)---with steel wool as you have done but then get a squirt can of that stuff that comes out looking like Redi-Whip but turns into concrete when it gets hard. I forget what it's called but Home Depot will know. It did a perfect job of sealing entry holes and we never saw another bug. Meanwhile, buy a lot of glass and/or plastic jars with tight-fitting lids, all shapes and sizes, and store everything that way---leave nothing open. Same with trash---leave nothing sitting out that a small creature might find tasty.

                                      1. Zeb,

                                        Spray cinnamon oil. The real cinnamon oil. I have only found it online. This is quite pricey but has served us well for 3 years. We are now experimenting with ammonia which is much cheaper. We buy pump spray bottles and pour the cinnamon oil or ammonia into them and spray where we see droppings or other evidence if mice. Also spray any nearby cracks & crevices.