Say Goodbye to Mice in Your Garage with These Tips

Mice might be small and cute, but they can be extremely destructive, especially when they make their way into your garage.

If you think you might have mice in the garage, you need to get on it fast. Usually, when you find one mouse, you can bet there are others nearby.

Over the years, I had a few mice take up residence in my garage, so I’ve found a few tips and tricks to get rid of them.

In this article, I’ve put together some helpful information that will tell you everything you need to know to get rid of mice in your garage. We’ll cover everything from how to identify an infestation to learning when it’s time to call professional pest control.

Read on to learn more.

What Attracts Mice to a Garage?

Before evaluating mice infestations and learning how to address the issue, it’s essential to understand why mice are targeting your garage in the first place.

When mice make their way into your kitchen, it makes sense. That’s where the food is. Often tiny crumbs are there for the taking, even when you keep a clean house.

It can be confusing then to see evidence of mice in a garage. What could they possibly be after?

Well, here’s what:

  • Food: Mice aren’t picky. Any food is a food source to them. Therefore, if you store your dog or cat’s food in your garage, mice might be drawn to the grain in the pet food. Similarly, exposed plant or grass seed also make a great food source for mice.
  • Warmth: Even in typically warm climates, it can get chilly at night during winter. Mice and other rodents will seek out your garage to stay warm. Even an unheated garage will be considerably warmer than the outside and isn’t exposed to the elements.
  • Water: Ideally, your garage won’t offer anywhere for mice to get a drink. However, if your garage has areas where water puddles, this could attract mice to your garage.
  • Nesting Supplies: Mice love to chew and will easily chew into a box, making their home inside out of the chilly air and undetected from humans. Garages often have several boxes sitting around. They make ideal nesting material and provide a place for mice to hide.
  • Hiding Opportunities: At the risk of being obvious, what attracts mice to your garage is that it gives them someplace to hide from danger, undetected by wild animals.

Signs of Mice in Your Garage

Now that we know what attracts mice to your garage, let’s look at how you can identify that you have a mouse problem.

In most cases, if you have mice in your garage, they have also been spotted in your house. Other times, mice might find entry points around your garage door and move into your home.

Either way, it’s an issue that needs to be addressed. But first, you have to identify the problem.

The two most common types of mice in North America are field mice and house mice. Knowing which species you’re dealing with before trying to remove them is a good idea.

House mice are white, grey, black, tan, or brown and are more common than field mice. They have beady pink or black eyes, pointed noses, small rounded ears, and a hairless tail.

Field mice, also known as deer mice, are more common in rural areas. They are smaller, usually tawny brown or grey, and have white feet and underbelly. They also have finer hair and a shorter tail than house mice.

Here are a few other signs you find even a single mouse in your garage:

  • You see mouse activity: If you see a mouse or notice mouse droppings around your garage, this is a sure sign you have a mouse problem on your hands.
  • You see mouse activity: If you see a mouse or notice mouse droppings around your garage, this is a sure sign you have a mouse problem on your hands.
  • You hear mouse activity: Sometimes, you can’t see the mice, and you don’t find droppings or other evidence of their presence, but you can hear them. Listen for scratching and scampering noises.
  • Unusual odors: Mouse urine has a strong, noticeable odor. If you smell something you can’t explain, it might be mouse urine.
  • Holes in cardboard boxes and other objects: Mice like to chew things to make burrows. Finding holes in boxes is one way to tell that mice live nearby.

Often a quick garage cleanout is the best way to locate an infestation.

How to Get Rid of Mice in the Garage

OK. We’ve discussed how to determine if you have a mouse infestation and how to tell what type of mouse you might be dealing with.

Now let’s talk about how to keep your garage mouse free.

Live Mouse Traps

Live baited mouse traps are perhaps the most humane way to deal with a mice infestation. They catch mice rather than kill them.

You place bait or food sources in the trap, which attracts the mouse. Once the mouse enters the bait stations to access the food, the trap is sprung and trapped inside, unharmed. Then, you must release them, alive and unharmed, back into the wild.

The upside is that you don’t have to kill the cute little mouse.

The bad news is they might just come right back. 

Studies have shown that mice will travel as far as two miles to return to their home or a place they know contains food, shelter, and water.

Unfortunately, you can’t just take them out behind the house and release them. You have to drive them several miles away before releasing them unless you want them to just come immediately back into your garage.

Most people won’t want to keep checking the traps to see if you have a live mouse ready to release, then drive it away to release it. It is inconvenient, and you risk the mouse escaping inside your car.

If a rodent is left for hours in a trap, it can die. Then the whole live trap loses much of its purpose. Plus, dead mice will start to smell, attracting other wild animals.

Conventional Mouse Traps

Another way to get rid of mice in your garage is to use conventional mouse traps that kill mice.

Place these traps along window cases, under shelves, in the rafters, and in the room’s corners. Mice often follow the walls when traveling around the room, so place traps as close to the room’s edges as possible.

If you know where the mice are coming into your garage, place traps at that location.

Be sure to check the traps daily until you stop catching mice. A dead mouse left in the trap will start to smell pretty quickly.

You can also use glue traps, but I personally don’t like using this particular type of trap.

It doesn’t kill the mouse instantly. My parents used this kind of trap when I was growing up, and after seeing the first mouse that died in one, I swore I never would.

If you’re curious, the Humane Society has more information on glue traps, and it’s not for the faint of heart.

Mouse Poison

Be careful if you use poison because it can harm other animals.

If you have a dog or cat, I wouldn’t advise you to use mouse poison at all.

However, you can safely keep other animals from accessing it when used properly. Then, the poison can be an effective way to treat a mouse infestation.

Use Mouse Repellent

While mouse repellent won’t do much to get mice out of your garage, it’s an excellent way to deter mice from returning.

Simply buy a can of mouse repellent and spray it around the outside parameter of your garage.

You can make your own natural repellent if you don’t want to buy chemical repellents to spray around your garage.

Combine ¼ cup laundry detergent and 1 tablespoon of hot pepper sauce (the hotter, the better) in a gallon of water. This makes an effective deterrent without a commercial repellent’s risk to your or your neighbors’ pets.

Patch Any Holes

Again, this is a tip to consider once you have gotten things under control.

Once you stop finding new mice in your traps and/or stop smelling urine or finding droppings, it’s crucial to patch up any holes they might have used to get into your garage.

Any hole larger than ¼ inch diameter is big enough to give mice access.

Mice can compress their bodies, so they can squeeze through small holes and access points, way less space than you would think they need.

To patch these holes, use wood plus caulk or patching compound. Steel wool is an excellent temporary fix until you have time to patch it properly. Mice cannot chew through it, so use it to plug holes until you can provide a more permanent solution.

Once you finish patching the holes and the mice are gone, you can work on getting the urine smell out of your concrete floor.

When to Call an Exterminator

Unfortunately, sometimes we have to call professional exterminators to get rid of mice when we’ve run out of ideas.

Here are some clues you need a pest control company:

  • You still see mouse droppings even after setting traps, spraying repellents, and other preventative measures.
  • You hear mice inside your walls. Traps aren’t as effective if mice are traveling inside your walls.
  • You are simply tired of trying to fight the battle on your own. It’s OK. It’s frustrating when nothing you do seems to get rid of mice in your garage.

How to Prevent Mice From Coming Back

Once they’re gone, you want to prevent mice and other pests from returning to your garage.

While no method of prevention is 100% effective, the following are some general tips you can follow to make your garage as mouse-proof as possible:

  • Declutter: Sometimes, the best way to prevent another infestation is to give them fewer hiding places in your garage. If they use your clutter to hide in or as nesting materials, decluttering your garage should make a big difference. Go through the any cardboard boxes and determine if they are worth keeping. Consider switching to plastic containers to make it more difficult for mice to gain entry.
  • Eliminate their Food Supply: If you can, move your dog food out of your garage. If storing pet food in your garage is required, put in sealed containers so mice can no longer smell it or gain access to it. This goes for grass seed, fertilizers, straw, bird seed, and anything else a mouse might find appealing.
  • Consider Getting a Cat: I love my dog, but he’s horrible at catching rodents. However, cats are great at rodent control, so consider getting a cat to hang out in and around your garage, if you can.
  • Use Peppermint Oil: Another natural repellent and deterrent for subsequent infestations is peppermint oil. Spray a peppermint extract and water solution around the perimeter of your garage. Respray after rainstorms or once weekly during dry weather. You can instead plant peppermint around the foundation of your garage and home.
Photo of author

Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.