How to Keep Mice Out of Your Garage

You might think that they’re harmless due to their size, but mice are actually extremely destructive, especially when they make their way into your garage.

If you think you might have mice in garage, you need to get on it fast.

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 fight back against these pint-sized terrors. We’ll cover everything from what an infestation looks like, to learning when it’s time to call a professional.

Read on to learn more.

Why Mice Target Your Garage in the First Place

Before evaluating mice infestations and learning how to address the issue, it’s important 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: While not the people variety, mice aren’t picky. Food is food to them. Therefore, if you store your dog or cat’s food in your garage, mice might be coming in to access this free treat being drawn to the grain in your pet’s food.
  • Warmth: Even in typically warm climates, at night during the winter months, it can get chilly. Sometimes, mice seek out your garage simply to stay warm. Even if your garage isn’t heated, being indoors, away from the wind, makes a significant difference in temperature.
  • Water: Ideally, your garage is bone dry and offers no opportunities for mice to get a drink. However, in many cases, garages tend to have “damp” areas. If your garage tends to have some dampness or areas where water puddles, this might be the reason mice find their way into your garage. They’re thirsty!
  • 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: As previously mentioned, mice love to hide away, out of danger and undetected by predators. In some cases, the only reason mice come in your garage….other than its obvious awesomeness… is to use it as a hiding place, to escape danger.

Signs of Mice in Your Garage

Now that we know what mice might be after in 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.

You’ve likely already heard about it, thanks to the shrieks from your family as the little bugger goes scurrying by.

In other cases, the mice might enter through your garage and then move into your home.

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

Here are a few other signs you have a mice infestation in your garage:

  • You see them. This one is obvious. If you see mice or a mouse running about or notice mouse leavings around your garage, chances are you have a mice problem on your hands.
  • Unusual odors. Mouse urine has a strong, noticeable odor. If you walk into your garage and are accosted with an odor that doesn’t have an explanation, it might be mice urine.
  • Holes in boxes, material or furnishings, etc. Mice like to chew things. So, one sign you have a mice problem is noticing holes in boxes, or other furnishings within your garage.
  • You hear them. 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, scampering noises.

Often cleaning and organizing your garage is the best way to locate an infestation.

Mice like to hide, so they don’t always make their presence known. Sometimes, you have to go look for them.

Common Types of Mice

To conquer your enemy, you must know them, so it’s a good idea to figure out what type of mice you are fighting.

In all likelihood, you are dealing with common house mice.

House mice are either white, grey, black, tan or brown. They have beady pink or black eyes, pointed nose, small rounded ears and have a hairless tail.

Of course, especially if you live in a more rural area, you might instead be dealing with deer mice, also sometimes called field mice.

These are tawny brown or grey and have white feet and underbelly. They are smaller, with finer hair and a short tail.

How to Get Rid of Mice in Your Garage Yourself

OK. We’ve talked about how to determine if you have a mouse infestation, and discussed how to tell what type of mouse you might be dealing with. Now let’s talk about what you can do about it.

Here are your best options for getting rid of mice on your own:

Live Traps

Live baited traps are perhaps the most humane way to deal with a mice infestation.

You place bait or food in the trap, which attracts the mouse. Once the mouse goes in to access the food, the trap is sprung and it’s trapped inside, unharmed. Then, you have to release them, alive and unharmed back into the wild.

The upside of this is you don’t have to kill the mouse. Let’s face it, they are kind of cute.

The bad news is they might just come right back. 

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

Unfortunately then, 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.

Let’s face it. This can be a pain when you have to keep checking the traps to see if you have a live mouse ready to be released, and then driving it away to release it.

If a rodent is left for hours in a trap, it can die. Then the whole live trap loses much of its purpose.

Conventional Traps

Another way to deal with your mice problem is to use conventional traps that kill each mouse.

Place these traps along window cases, under shelves, in the rafters and in the corners. Mice often follow the walls when traveling around the room, so place traps as close to the edges of the room 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 new mice. If you leave a mouse in a trap, it 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. 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. We warned, though. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Mouse Poison

Be very careful if you decide to use poison, because poison can be so detrimental to other animals.

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

However, if you don’t and use the traps they provide with the poison to keep other animals from accessing it, 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 a good way to prevent them from coming back.

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

If you don’t want to buy chemical repellents to spray around your garage for whatever reason, you can make your own natural repellent to spray around your garage’s exterior.

Combine some laundry detergent (¼ cup) and hot pepper sauce (1 tablespoon) in a gallon of water (the hotter the better on the hot sauce). This is about as effective of a deterrent as commercial repellents without any risk to your or your neighbors’ pets.

Patch Any Holes

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

As soon as you stop finding new mice in your traps and/or stop smelling urine or finding leavings, it’s important to patch up any holes they might have used to get into your garage.

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

Mice can compress their bodies, so they can squeeze through incredibly small openings, way less space than you would think they need.

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

When to Call an Exterminator

Unfortunately, sometimes we have to surrender and call in the big guns. Professional exterminators can take care of a stubborn mice infestation.

Here are some clues you are in need of professional reinforcements:

  • You still see mouse leavings or droppings even after setting traps, spraying repellents, and other preventative measures.
  • You hear mice inside your walls, and they are using the walls to travel. That makes traps less effective. Or maybe your traps aren’t working and you aren’t sure why.
  • You are simply tired of trying to fight the battle on your own. It’s OK. Mice have been known to break even the strongest people. It gets really aggravating to have a stubborn mouse problem when nothing you do seems to fix it.

Keeping Mice Out of Your Garage

Once you’ve gotten rid of the mice in your garage, you’ll want to prevent them from ever coming back.

This is true whether you won the battle yourself, or called in the big guns and let them handle it. Either way, you want the mice to stay away and not have to deal with the issue again.

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 remove what makes the mice feel safe in your garage. If they are using your clutter to hide in or for use in nesting, then decluttering your garage should make a big difference. Go through the items you are storing and determine if they are worth keeping. Consider switching to plastic containers to make it more difficult for mice to gain entry.
  • Move Pet Food: If you can, move your pet’s food out of your garage. If storing the food in your garage is required, make sure you seal it up well in a plastic container so mice can no longer smell it or gain access to it. This goes for fertilizers, straw, bird food 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 hunters, so if you can, consider getting a cat to hang out in and around your garage.
  • Use Peppermint: Another natural repellent and deterrent for subsequent infestations is peppermint. 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.

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