If mice are a persistent problem in your home, you're far from alone. According to PestWorld, approximately 21 million homes in the U.S. find themselves with mice or another unwanted rodent visitor inside their house each year.
While you can spend an arm and a leg to hire an exterminator to get rid of a mouse infestation after those pests have taken hold in your home, preventing them from getting inside in the first place is a far easier—and less expensive—proposition. However, experts say when it comes to keeping critters out, your pest prevention plan should start outside your home.
"Cut back low lying vegetation near foundation," suggests Craig Sansig, service director with Viking Pest. He recommends eliminating anything that could provide cover for mice near your foundation, including vegetation, and broken pieces of siding, as well.
Sansig explains that pachysandras and ivy provide particularly attractive hiding spaces for mice because of their dense coverage, but he says that even leaf, brush, or compost piles can become a haven for those frustrating pests, too. Once you eliminate these sources of coverage near your home's foundation, mice are unlikely to take up residence in your home. "Mice feel uncomfortable without overhead cover," Sansig explains.
However, that's not the only way to keep mice from crawling into your home. With the help of experts, we've compiled the best ways to keep a pest problem from starting in the first place. And if you want to keep your home safer, This Is the Biggest Danger in Your Garage.
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Use lidded trash cans.
If you want to make your home look less attractive to mice, "keep all garbage cans sealed tightly and away from walls of home," says Sansig. And if you're worried about an infestation, be aware that This Pest Can Do Serious Damage to Your Home in a Week.
Check for gaps around your home's exterior.
It's not just obvious holes in your siding or open doors that can provide entry points for mice.
"Check door sweeps, weep holes in brick walls and pipe chases, and AC line entry points, as these are all ways mice can get inside the home or business," says Sansig. He notes that stuffing steel wool into these areas can keep mice from getting in. And for more great tips delivered to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Get rid of any indoor food sources.
That bowl of fruit on your counter or open box of cereal in your pantry is a veritable buffet for pests.
Board-certified entomologist Nancy Troyano, PhD, director of operations and training for Western Exterminator, says that cleaning up potential food sources is a great way to keep mice from settling in your home. "This includes any of your food sitting on countertops, as well as animal food," says Troyano, who recommends keeping all food off the floor in sealed containers. And if you're worried about your safety at home, make sure you know The Most Dangerous Household Pest, Experts Say.
Declutter your home.
Mice love cluttered areas in which they can go undetected, so if you suspect an infestation, it's time to start cleaning.
"Boxes, linen, and stashed holiday decorations are all recognized as safe harbor for mice," says Troyano.
Check for leaks.
If you've got leaks in your home, they could be the reason for your pest problems. "Any source of moisture can attract rodents," says Troyano.
Call an exterminator.
When all else fails, hiring a pest professional can get that infestation under control faster than you can say, "Where are the bait traps?" In addition to getting rid of any existing pests in your home, Troyano says that an exterminator can help address any entry points to prevent future infestations, as well. And if you're worried about unwanted visitors, know that This Deadly Pest Could Be Hiding in Your Bedroom, Experts Say.