Peppermint Oil for Mice: Does Peppermint Oil Really Keep Mice Away?

Mice – a problem no one wants to deal with. If you’ve ever dealt with an infestation, you’ve probably been told to use peppermint oil to keep these critters away. Is this just an old wives’ tale, or do mice really hate this pungent oil?

Does Peppermint Oil Repel Mice?

Tell anyone that you have a mouse problem, and they’ll read off a laundry list of repellents and traps they claim work like magic. Peppermint oil is the most popular folk remedy for mice, and it’s also one of the most commonly suggested repellents for a number of other pests as well.

A cute rat on white background.

People have been using peppermint oil for mice repellent for centuries.

But does it really work? That depends on who you ask.

We’ve read a number of success stories where peppermint oil scent mice running for the hills. Others say the oil doesn’t even phase the mice. But these are the same people that say traps and even exterminators didn’t work to get rid of the problem.

Mice, like people, can be unpredictable. While most probably hate the smell of peppermint, there are some that won’t mind or even care about the oil.

Using Peppermint as a Natural Mouse Repellent

Peppermint oil makes an effective rodent repellent spray, but we do want to make one thing clear: it won’t actually kill the mice.

It’s a natural solution that’s safe to use around children and pets. But it won’t actually kill the nest or any of the mice that are entering your home.

If you have a serious infestation, you’ll need to take more drastic measures than just spraying peppermint oil around the house. At this point, you’ll want to look into setting homemade traps or calling in an exterminator.

But if you have just one or two mice running around, peppermint may be the natural, humane method you’re looking for. However, we, at PestWiki, also reviewed some of the most effective natural ways to repel mice.

Why is Peppermint Oil Considered a Mouse Deterrent?

How did peppermint oil come to be considered a mouse repellent in the first place?

Those who say this method works claim that peppermint oil works in two ways.

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First, the peppermint smell masks the pheromone trails mice leave behind, which can confuse them. Mice use these pheromone trails to navigate their way around. Because mice prefer to stay in areas that are easy to navigate, the pungent smell will keep them away.

It’s also believed that the scent of peppermint irritates the mouse’s nasal cavity. Mice have an acute sense of smell, and the menthol in peppermint oil, which we find to be soothing, is irritating to mice. Naturally, mice avoid areas where this smell is strong.

The Myth of Peppermint Oil for Mice

Why Does Peppermint Work for Some People and Not Others?

There are several reasons why peppermint doesn’t work as a mouse repellent for some people.

One of the most likely reasons the oil isn’t working is that the scent isn’t strong enough. The peppermint smell needs to be strong enough to irritate the mouse’s nasal cavities and mask the pheromone trail. If you’re not having any luck with this method, you may want to consider using a higher concentration of oil, or placing more cotton balls around the house.

It may also be that people aren’t using pure peppermint oil, or they may not be placing the oil in the right places. You must place the oil-soaked cotton balls (or spray) in areas where mice are known to frequent.

If you’re placing the oil on your countertops, and the mice seem to be coming from the wall behind your stove, this method probably won’t work for you. In this case, you need to spray or place the cotton balls near the opening behind the stove. And while you’re at it, make sure that you seal the hole there.

Also, you want to avoid using peppermint leaves. Fresh peppermint’s aroma isn’t nearly as strong as the oil’s aroma.

Another problem is diligence. Some people set out the oil, and just leave it. They forget that the smell dissipates after just a day or two. Cotton balls and sprays need to be replenished every other day (sometimes sooner).

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While this may seem like a lot of work (it really isn’t), eventually, you can stop using the spray because the mice will get the hint that they should avoid your home.

One thing many people overlook – and this is something that can ruin your repelling efforts – is that gases and fumes rise. Mice like to stay close to the ground. If you’re just spraying peppermint oil into the air or onto higher areas in the home, it won’t work. Keep the peppermint scent close to the ground to maximize its effectiveness.

How to Use Peppermint Oil to Repel Mice

Peppermint oil can be used in many different ways to keep mice out of your house.

You don’t necessarily need to buy expensive products either. You can make your own sprays and deterrents using high quality peppermint essential oil and supplies you probably have in your medicine or kitchen cabinets.

1. Peppermint Oil Spray

A bottle of peppermint oil spray on white background.To make a simple deterrent, mix water and several drops of peppermint oil in a spray bottle. Spray this solution on doorways and other entry areas of your home.A bottle of peppermint oil spray on white background.

Many people prefer this method over the next one we’re going to discuss because it’s a little more practical, especially you need to place the repellent along a hallway or an open area of the home.

You’ll need to reapply the spray every day or two to keep the scent fresh and strong. As an added bonus, your home will smell fresh and festive.

2. Peppermint Soaked Cotton Balls

The second method is to take cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil, and place them around the house in areas where mice frequent.

You can also place these peppermint-soaked cotton balls in holes or gaps around the house to keep mice from entering. Just keep in mind that if you have mice already living in your walls, you may not want to try this. The last thing you want is to keep the mice inside of your walls where they’ll starve to death and die. You’ll need to set traps or hire an exterminator if the mice are actually nesting in your walls.

If you’re only dealing with a few mice, this trick will work well. You can use any size cotton ball for this, but make sure that you use enough peppermint oil to create a strong smell. The cotton balls don’t have to be soaking wet, but they should be fairly moist.

Like with the spray method, you’ll need to place down new cotton balls every few days to keep the scent strong. Failing to replace the cotton balls in a timely manner will make this method ineffective, and you’ll wind up just wasting your time.

Diligence is key with both of these methods, but your efforts will pay off in the end when the mice finally get the hint that it’s time to go somewhere else.

One quick note here: if the mice have already created a nest in your home, peppermint oil probably won’t cause them to pack up and leave. You’ll need to use electric traps or an exterminator to get rid of the nest and the mice.

3. Peppermint and Vinegar Spray

Want to deter mice and eliminate any scent trails they left behind? Try this potent peppermint and vinegar spray.

Start by combining equal parts distilled white vinegar and water. Add peppermint oil to the solution at a rate of 10 drops per ounce. Pour this solution into a spray bottle, and spray areas along the entryway, wall openings, windows or other areas where you’ve seen mice activity.

We also recommend spraying this solution underneath appliances and along back walls in the kitchen or bathroom. These are dark, hidden areas where mice like to scurry from one place to another.

You’ll need to reapply this spray every day or two. After a few days, the smell will dissipate and become less effective. Be diligent, and don’t let up on your reapplication of the spray.

4. Add Peppermint Oil to Your Cleaning Products

If you want to maximize the effectiveness of peppermint oil, you can add it to your homemade cleaning products to spread the strong scent all throughout your home. It will make your house smell great, and you’ll repel mice at the same time.

Some websites will recommend adding peppermint to commercial cleaning products, but we advise against this. The chemicals used in commercial products will probably negate the strong scent of the peppermint oil. Instead, we recommend that you make your own cleaning products and add peppermint to them.

Here’s a recipe for an all-purpose cleaner:

  • 1-1/2 cups of water
  • 15 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 1 tablespoon of castile soap

Add these ingredients to a spray bottle, shake and start cleaning. You can find peppermint castile soap if you really want to maximize this plant’s repellent properties.  

Castile soap is a natural, vegetable-based soap. If you’d rather not use this ingredient, you can use distilled white vinegar or lemon juice instead. Just keep in mind that neither of these alternative ingredients can be used on granite countertops.  

5. Grow Mint in Your Kitchen

If you think you have to use peppermint oil to repel mice, think again. The plants themselves will discourage pesky rodents from entering your home.

Try adding mint to your indoor herb garden, or planting them along the perimeter of your home to keep mouse invaders at bay. Don’t worry – mint is a very easy plant to grow and care for. In fact, you’ll have a hard time getting rid of it if you plant it outdoors. It will also work to keep other pests away, including ants and mosquitoes.

Growing mint will have benefits that go beyond deterring mice. You can use the plant to make tea, or add it to your meals for a refreshing flavor.

Where to Buy Peppermint Oil

Peppermint essential oil in a small jar and mint leaves around.You want to try peppermint oil, but you’re not sure where to find it. You probably won’t find this oil in your local grocery store, unless you shop at a health food store.

One important thing to remember is that we’re not looking for peppermint extract, although it’s possible that this may work as a substitute (we don’t know for sure). What you want is pure peppermint essential oil.

Essential oils are potent, concentrated oils, and the smell is much stronger than extract or fragrance oil. It is crucial to make sure that you’re not buying fragrance oil. These typically contain few, if any, plant material, and are mostly made of synthetic fragrances (like what’s used for making candles and perfumes).

When buying peppermint essential oils, you may want to consider choosing an organic brand. You’ll be using the oil all throughout your home. An organic oil will ensure that you’re not spraying pesticides everywhere. You’ll pay a little more for an organic oil, but if it’s in your budget, it’s worth it – especially if you have children and pets living in your home.

It’s easy to find peppermint oil online or in health food stores. In fact, many regular grocery stores and big box retailers sell essential oils. Because peppermint is one of the most popular oils, you shouldn’t have a problem finding it for a reasonable price.

We recommend researching the brand before buying your oil. You want to make sure that you’re actually buying real peppermint oil. If it’s just synthetic mint fragrance, it probably won’t work to keep mice away. Real essential oils are highly concentrated and potent. Choose a reputable brand that offers a high-quality product.Whether you’re trying the cotton ball method or the spray, it’s important to be patient and diligent when using peppermint oil to deter mice. And if you don’t have any luck with this method, it may be time to try something more aggressive, like traps.

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