Do Peppermint Plants Repel Mice? Science Explained


Mice detest many scents, one of which is the smell of peppermint. However, the odor must be highly pungent and intrusive to be effective in repelling mice. Are peppermint plants reliable in keeping these pesky rodents away for good?

Peppermint plants may annoy mice but do not effectively repel these furry critters. The odor is not pleasant for them, but it is simply not intense enough for them to be extremely bothered. Furthermore, the menthol scent from peppermint plants tends to dissipate quickly through the air. 

We will talk about why peppermint plants are unreliable in repelling mice and what other methods you can use to take advantage of peppermint’s pungent scent. Then we will discuss alternative ways of keeping mice away and why you must eliminate these creatures from your home. Let’s start!

Why Peppermint Plants Are Not Ideal for Repelling Mice

Peppermint plants do very little to repel mice. The least they can do is cause a minor inconvenience in mice since they do have an aversion to this particular scent. 

Thus, peppermint plants won’t rid your home or garden of these pests. Mice will merely avoid getting too close to the plants and will then go on their merry way.

Does Peppermint Oil Repel Mice?

Peppermint oil may repel mice. Rodents have a keen sense of smell which they rely on to help them find their way around, more than their sense of sight. The menthol compounds in peppermint will irritate their nasal passages, sending them scurrying away. Also, it masks the smell of food in your home. 

However, it is essential to note that the pungent scent of peppermint oil quickly dissipates. It becomes almost imperceptible after only a few days. It is best to reapply peppermint oil as often as needed to deter mice successfully. Thus, using peppermint oil to keep mice away is only a short-lived remedy. 

Here are some tips on how to use peppermint oil to repel mice:

Peppermint Spray

Peppermint spray will only be effective if it is prepared correctly. Higher concentrations of this essential oil will make the scent more intense and thus more reliable in driving mice away. 

Use the spray with precaution since it can damage surfaces, especially wood. Consider trying it out on small portions first to see if it will have untoward effects.

This is how to make peppermint oil spray for repelling mice:

  1. Fill a spray bottle with 1 cup of water. 
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of pure peppermint oil. 
  3. Add 4-5 drops of dish detergent. 
  4. Shake the spray bottle until all the elements are mixed well. 
  5. Spray away.
  6. Reapply peppermint oil spray at least twice a week or as soon as you notice the peppermint scent start to dissipate. 

Target areas where you think mice may be dwelling or where you think they might be entering your home through. Remember that they can squeeze through the tiniest cracks, so make sure to spray any little holes and splits you find in your walls and floors. 

Spray around your kitchen cabinets and cupboards, too. You will also want to spray behind and under large appliances and furniture, such as your couch or refrigerator. Mice may seek warmth there, especially in the colder months. 

Peppermint Cotton Balls

Using cotton balls with peppermint oil is better than directly applying the essential oil to your home furnishings. Peppermint oil can damage various types of surfaces, especially wood. 

Remember that you would need to replenish your peppermint cotton balls regularly before the scent disperses.

Here is how to use peppermint cotton balls to repel mice:

  1. Place 3-5 drops of pure peppermint oil on a cotton ball. You can prepare as many of these as you wish.
  2. Secure the peppermint cotton balls in areas around your home where you think mice may have access. Doorways, window sills, or little holes in your walls or cabinets are strategic locations. 
  3. Replace the peppermint cotton balls regularly. Do this at least twice a week or as soon as you notice the peppermint scent diminishing. 

Make sure that these peppermint oil cotton balls are not accessible to young children or your pets. Peppermint oil could cause skin irritations and may even be toxic when ingested. Tuck the balls safely into little nooks and crannies where mice can easily gain access. 

Other Scents That Mice Detest

Mice have poor eyesight – they can’t see far clearly and can’t even detect colors. However, they compensate for this with their heightened sense of smell. They use pheromones – or scent markers – to communicate with other mice, detect danger, and search for food. You can use this apparent weakness to your advantage. 

Mice generally dislike pungent smells that may irritate their nostrils. They shy away from these, perhaps even associating the scents with possible danger. You can use strong odors to mask the smell of food. Mice will not even attempt invading your home without any food trail to follow. 

Here are some additional scents that mice detest. You can use them the same way you use peppermint oil to repel mice:

  • Garlic
  • Chili sauce
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper

Alternative Ways To Keep Mice Away

There are many ways to drive mice away from your property. If you’re like me, who cringes at the idea of trapping mice or killing them, then the tips below are for you. All it really takes is keeping your surroundings unappealing to these pesky pests. 

Get Rid of Leftovers

Make it a habit to clear your surroundings of any uneaten food. Mice are generally scavengers, and they will feed on any food that is accessible. The scent of food always attracts mice, and they cannot resist the urge to investigate the source of the smell. 

Here are some useful tips to help you get rid of leftovers:

  • Clean out spills from the birdfeeders in your garden. 
  • Don’t leave uneaten food in your pets’ food bowls.
  • Never leave leftovers or uneaten food unattended on your kitchen counters and tables. 
  • Get rid of crumbs and food debris that may have accumulated in the folds and creases of your couch. 
  • Avoid eating in bed since crumbs could quickly settle into the blankets and sheets. 

Store Edibles Properly

Mice learn quickly, and an accidental food source discovery will make them keep coming back every day for more. Discourage them from entering your home by making it apparent that food is unavailable for them. All it takes is storing your stock correctly.

Here are some invaluable tips on how to do this:

  • Store your cereal, uncooked rice, and other grains in airtight, resealable containers.
  • Avoid storing pet food in the same sacks or bags they came in since mice could easily chew through these types of material. Instead, store your pet food in airtight containers. 

Keep Nesting Material Out of Reach

Mice will quickly make a home in your house if they find suitable nesting material. They will gather soft, fluffy material from rugs or blankets that may be lying around. Mice can also chew cardboard, paper, and old boxes to make their nests. Keep these out of reach to discourage them from settling into your home.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Store rugs and unused blankets inside plastic containers. 
  • Avoid using cardboard boxes for storage. Invest in good-quality plastic or metal bins instead. 
  • Store stacks of paper inside plastic containers or sealed cabinets and drawers. 

Keep a Lid on It!

Another effective way to keep mice away is to ensure the garbage bins inside and outside your house are always shut tight. Mice will seek out any perceived food source and keep returning if food is always accessible. Hence, uncovered trash bins are bursting with food opportunities for mice.

Seal Those Holes

Mice are notorious for their uncanny ability to chew through practically anything. They can nibble their way through wood, plastic, and even cement. However, there is one thing they cannot get those sharp little teeth to ravage – steel wool. 

You can pack the little holes you find around your house with steel wool. Mice usually squeeze through these to scavenge for little food scraps around your home. Fortunately, steel wool would create a barrier that would be almost impossible for them to penetrate.

Don’t Skip Laundry Day

Mice may be attracted to the tall piles of laundry sitting day in and day out inside your house. The stacks of clothes provide excellent warmth and shelter while the cloth fibers offer ideal materials for making their nests. 

Avoid keeping stacks of clothing – whether washed or unwashed – lying around your home. Store clothes in sealed plastic or metal containers and ensure your cabinets and drawers do not have holes or cracks through which mice can enter. Lastly, don’t skip laundry day. 

Keep Your Home Clean and Tidy

Mice are overwhelmed by wide-open spaces. They prefer clutter because it provides them with plenty of areas to hide. They are not big fans of cleanliness either, preferring places where they can always stumble upon bits of food, crumbs, or various nesting materials. 

Discourage mice from settling in your home by always keeping it clean and tidy. In other words, avoid unnecessary clutter. Always clean up after meals, so you don’t leave food particles on the floor or your table and keep most of your belongings neatly inside cabinets, drawers, or cupboards. 

Why You Must Drive Mice Away From Your Home

You must drive mice away from your home as soon as you detect their presence. They are invasive pests and can severely damage your home and belongings. They are carriers of diseases, too and their number can multiply within mere weeks.

Here are some of the reasons why you need to drive mice away from your home:

Mice Are Fast Breeders

Mice can reproduce fast. They reach sexual maturity as early as their 4th-7th week. Their gestation is usually 19-21 days so you can expect a new litter of tiny baby mice within just a month after mating. A litter usually consists of 4-12 pups on average. However, a female mouse can mate immediately after giving birth and produce 5-10 litter per year. 

Mice Are Destructive

Mice can wreak havoc inside your home. They can destroy your furniture, walls, flooring, and even your doors and windows with their incessant chewing. Furthermore, they can easily chew holes through all sorts of food packaging. Anything that a mouse has touched is no longer considered safe to eat. They can even start a fire by gnawing on electric wires and cables. 

Mice Are Disease Carriers

Mice are known worldwide to be carriers and spreaders of various diseases. After all, they are not the neatest nor cleanest of creatures. It is not surprising that these little critters have been known to pass on diseases to humans. 

Here are some diseases that mice might be carriers of:

  • Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lassa Fever
  • Rat-Bite Fever
  • Salmonellosis
  • Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis
  • Tularemia
  • Bubonic Plague
  • Rat Mite Dermatitis
  • Infectious Jaundice
  • Typhus

This is how diseases may be passed on to humans by mice. Through:

  • Food contaminated by their urine
  • Bites
  • Scratches
  • Mouse droppings 

Key Takeaways

Mice are destructive and dangerous pests that could severely damage your home and put your family’s health at risk. When you detect their presence, employ effective strategies to drive them away. 

Peppermint plants may not be as reliable, but you can use pungent smells they dislike, such as peppermint oil, to dissuade them from invading your home. The key is to be consistent and strategic with your efforts.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of TheGrowingLeaf.com, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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