Does Peppermint Oil Really Keep Mice Away?

Peppermint oil and stones

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?

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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.But does it really work?

That depends on who you ask.

We’ve read a number of success stories where peppermint oil sent 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.

How to Use 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.

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 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.

There are a few different ways to use peppermint to

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.

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.

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).

A bottle of peppermint oil spray on white background.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.

1. Peppermint Oil Spray

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 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 traps or an exterminator to get rid of the nest and the mice.Peppermint essential oil in a small jar and mint leaves around.

Where to Buy Peppermint Oil

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).

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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