Keeping your home pest free is hard enough during the warm months when those critters have just as much interest in the outdoors as they do in the treasure trove that is your house. During the winter, when their primary instinct is to try to stay warm, keeping rodents and other pests out of your home can feel almost impossible. You might even be tempted to just give up and accept that you've got some new roommates. Earlier this year, we published a great list for keeping pests like insects out of your home. There are a lot of great tips here for making sure your home is safe from the creatures that seem to be able to traverse even the tiniest foundation cracks, but what about the "big kids?" What about rodents?
How Do They Get In?
According to an article in the New York Times, mice in particular can usually squeeze through spaces that are just slightly larger than the average pencil, like the space between the pipes delivering water and evacuating sewage and the walls of your foundation and house. Other larger animals take advantage of entryways like dog/cat doors and unscreened doors that are left open (like when you're unloading groceries from the car) and windows that get propped open to allow some fresh air into the home.
The Best Offense is a Good Defense
The simple truth is that you cannot watch every single potential entryway into your home every minute of the day. Rodents are quick and often subtle. You often don't even know they're there until you start noticing signs of destruction or seeing droppings. Take some time to go through your home from the literal top to the literal bottom, both inside and out. Look for holes and cracks and do your best to plug them up. The aforementioned New York Times article says to plug the small gaps between the walls and pipes with steel wool, and we couldn't agree more. Put solid weather stripping around your doors, especially on the bottoms. Fill any holes you find, caulk any cracks, etc.
What If They Get in Anyway?
Even though you love all creatures big and small (even the ones that skeeve you out), that doesn't mean you have to surrender your home to them when they are cold or if they are causing destruction to your property. There are a lot of ways to discourage rodents from taking up residence in your home that don't involve you having to worry about your karma.
Effective and Environmentally Reliable Tactics
One of the best things you can do to discourage rodents that want to get into your house is to use Bounce Dryer Sheets in cracks and to put them under the pipes in your kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Rodents do not like the smell of that product in particular and will likely turn around and seek friendlier smelling homesteads. Other great ways to discourage rodents that might be seeking food and refuge include:
- Keeping food items (including those that are boxed or bagged) up and off the floor and in tightly sealed containers.
- Keep your garbage in a metal garbage can that has a lid that can be kept sealed tightly all the time.
- Seal up any grains and/or pet food in containers that have hard to open lids.
You can find a bunch of other great tips in one of our previous articles. Note: Although DIY tips can be useful, they can also be ineffective and potentially very dangerous! It's always advised that, when in doubt, you seek out the help of a certified professional such as Hulett Environmental Services to take care of any pest issues you may have.