Last summer I was cleaning out the RV to get ready to hit the road again after visiting family. “What? What?” my husband yelled, concern etched on his face as I ran out of the rig screaming bloody murder.
I had unknownling reached into a mouse nest, complete with 4 brand new little baby mice. I still feel a bit panicky at the memory of momma mouse scurrying over my hand.
Encountering mice in your RV is a nightmare. Not only are they creepy and possibly disease-carrying, but they are also destructive. Not to mention they are hard to get rid of once they have moved in. A mouse (or an entire family if you are really unlucky) can do a number on your electrical system and anything else they can chew on.
There are tons of theories out there about how to keep mice out of RVs. Some are more effective than others, but today I’ll dig into what works best and what is simply a myth.
How Do Mice Get Into RVs
Mice are resourceful creatures. They are drawn to RVs because they are warm, safe from predators (except for humans), and likely have plenty of food. If you want to know how to keep mice out of your RV, first, you need to know how they get in.
Any cracks or crevices from your rig to the outdoors are an opening for mice to get into your RV. Even small openings are potential entrance points. In fact, adolescent mice can squeeze their bodies through an opening the size of a pen. Even adult mice can fit through dime-sized openings.
This makes keeping mice out of your RV a real challenge. After all, slides, compartments, and openings for wires are all prime places for small holes. If you have a motorhome, there is also potential for entry through the engine compartment (as I’ve learned from experience).
How To Keep Mice Out of RVs: Mouse Deterrents That Work
There are several strategies that are effective in deterring mice. The best way to keep mice out is to eliminate chances for them to get in. Deterrents that try to scare them away from potential entry points are notoriously less effective.
Let’s start with strategies that work to keep mice out of RVs.
- Sealing Exterior Entry Points
The best way for how to keep mice out of your RV is to seal any and all entry points. Just poking your head under the rig will not cut it. There are so many nooks and crannies. If you want to keep mice out of your RV, prepare to get a little dirty.
You’ll need to crawl under your RV, flashlight in tow, and find any places the mice can get in. After the mouse family incident, we even discovered tiny openings inside our exterior storage compartments that needed to be sealed.
Once you find an opening, you need to seal it. We have always used steel wool or expanding foam. Even foam risks being chewed through if a mouse has already been inside. That’s because it knows it can get in again. You might need to take a combination approach if you’ve already had mice in your RV. Steel wool is one of the few things that mice can’t easily chew through.
Pack some steel wool tightly in the hole. Then spray the foam over the steel wool and smooth it with a putty knife for a clean, smooth edge.
- Sealing Interior Entry Points
While it might seem like you finished your job after solution 1, there is actually more work to be done. Under your rig, there are some places a mouse can get to that you can’t. If you block entry points from the inside though, you don’t have to get at all the outside entry points.
Sealing things both outside and inside increases the likelihood of getting every last opening. The extra work is worth it if it means no mouse in your house.
- Keeping Your RV Clean
Want a simple trick for how to keep mice out of RVs? Keep a clean house. Cleanliness is important when you are staying in your rig and when it is in storage. Make sure you seal all food and clean dishes after each meal. If you leave dirty dishes out overnight, you’re asking for trouble.
Regular cleaning and vacuuming to get rid of any crumbs are also helpful. Easy to miss spots include around the garbage can, under the table, and on or under seat cushions on the dinette.
Another important lesson I’ve learned is to remove anything with a scent when your rig is in storage or unattended. Things like soap, cough drops, and toothpaste can all attract nasty critters looking for a snack.
- Avoid parking near the woods
When you’re parked at a campground, this is often unavoidable. Having shade is great, but the closer you are to the woods, the more likely you are to have “friends” coming to visit.
At my in-law’s house, where we often store our RV during visits home, our rig is parked right along the woods. Or at least it was. That was until it was almost overrun by critters this winter. We had to run a massive extermination effort before moving back in.
Now, I have insisted we park in the driveway. Further from the woods and on concrete, the mice aren’t as much of a concern. It is worth keeping location in mind when you decide where to store your RV.
- Sheet Metal Rings
Mice can climb and jump. After we captured our momma mouse in a live trap, we released her in the woods far from our RV (with her nest of disgustingly adorable babies). Man, did that momma mouse jump when we set her free. She must have jumped at least a foot into the air. Which is impressive for a creature that is around an inch tall.
Mice love to climb and jack stands and tires provide a perfect way for them to gain easy access to the underside of your rig. One way to stop mice from crawling up your rig is to put sheet metal tubes around your tires and jack stands.
Sheet metal is slippery and will prevent mice from climbing. Make it tall enough that the mouse can’t jump up. Some people say 10 inches is enough, but after seeing how high a mouse can jump, I’d say 12-14 inches is an even safer bet.
- Get a Cat to Keep Mice Out of RVs
Some cats are amazing mousers. While they might not entirely prevent mice from getting into your RV, their scent could help ward off the little critters. If all else fails, having a cat means you have a moving mousetrap always on the lookout for a tasty meal.
Having a cat in an RV presents its own set of challenges, but mice are not one of them.
How to Keep Mice Out of RVs: Deterrent That Are Questionable or Ineffective
There are plenty of myths and old wives’ tales for how to keep mice out of RVs. The problem is, many of them are just that: myths. Some strategies are effective in the short term, while others simply don’t work at all.
- Rope Lights Around the Base of the RV
Some people swear by this method. The theory behind rope lights is that mice like to stay in dark, safe places. When you put lights out, the mice might not want to venture into the spotlight and look like a tasty snack to predators.
While it may or may not ward off critters, you might end up with an angry neighbor or two. After all, many people hate outdoor LED RV lights.
Naphthalene, a chemical found in mothballs, can keep mice at bay. The problem with mothballs is that they don’t have enough naphthalene to actually prevent mice according to the pest control experts.
The verdict on this old wives’ tale is to not waste your money. Unless you have moths, in which case, have at it.
- Peppermint Oil
Mice have sensitive noses. That’s why many people think spraying peppermint oil on cotton balls is a good way to keep mice out of RVs. The truth of the matter is that the smell rises and dissipates quickly, making it less effective in the long term.
I have to admit; I have used this one myself. It might have worked, but our RV also still smells like peppermint. So use at your own risk.
- Sonic Deterrents
Sonic mouse deterrents emit a high-frequency sound that humans and pets cannot hear. Some think this sound is obnoxious enough to the mice that they won’t want to come into your RV. However, these claims are not backed by science according to Orkin.
- Dryer Sheets
Placing dryer sheets around your RV and especially in mouse-prone areas can be somewhat effective, according to the experts. The scent of dryer sheets can be overpowering to mice. Enough so that they might steer clear of your rig.
However, if the mice are already inside the RV, it won’t be enough to scare them off. The more mice, the less effective this strategy. However, the fact that it might keep them out in the first place is enough reason for me to give it a try.
- Irish Spring Soap
RVers love to spread the Irish Spring soap myth. Unfortunately, it is just a myth. Some people think the mice will eat the soap and die.
However, they would need to consume massive amounts for this to happen, which isn’t likely. Not to mention it isn’t effective in keeping mice out of RVs in the first place.
How To Get Mice Out Of Your RV Once They Make Themselves at Home
If you’re coming here because you already have a rodent problem, you’re in luck. While I don’t have a quick solution for you (besides calling a pest control expert), there are some simple strategies you can use to get mice out of your RV.
It will take time to catch mice in your RV, so it is best to inspect your rig several days before leaving on a trip. No one wants to set out for a relaxing family vacation with stowaways. If your inspection reveals evidence of mice, here is what you can do to get rid of them quickly.
First, you need to make sure you seal all the holes. This will prevent more mice from getting into your RV. Next, it’s time to go on the offensive.
- What is the Best Mouse Bait
Contrary to what Tom and Jerry would have us believe, mice aren’t enormous fans of cheese. Sure they’ll eat it, but it wouldn’t be their first choice. The best bet for catching mice quickly is peanut butter.
Peanut butter has a powerful scent and mice love it.
- No-Kill Mouse Traps
One option, especially if you just have one mouse, is to use a no-kill trap. These traps are basically little boxes with a one-way door. The mouse can walk into the trap to get the bait, but it can’t get back out.
Be sure to check your live traps daily so the little critters don’t die of starvation or dehydration. Once you capture a mouse, it is important to release it far from your rig. At least a mile away. If you release it just outside, the mouse can easily find its way back to its comfortable home.
- Kill Traps or Snap Traps
If you didn’t succeed on how to keep mice out of your RV, and you have many mice, kill traps may be necessary. As much as I hate killing animals, I also hate having my RV destroyed. Not to mention some mice can carry disease.
The most human method of kill trap is a rapid snap trap. You want something powerful that will end things quickly.
Some people use sticky traps as a kill trap. The mice walk over the trap and become stuck and unable to move, leaving them to die slowly. Please, for the love of whatever higher powers you believe in, don’t use sticky traps. Mice might be icky, but nothing deserves such an awful fate.
Another way to kill mice in your RV is to use poison. It will do the job and kill the mice, but it poses several significant problems.
First, the mouse could wander off and die somewhere within your rig. You might not find it or you could be unable to get to it. That means you have a decomposing mouse somewhere in your rig. Not a chance I am willing to take.
Another issue with poison is for pets. If you have pets, they could easily get sick and die from getting into poison. Even if you don’t have pets, poison poses risks. A poisoned mouse that leaves your RV and is eaten by a neighboring pet can make them sick.
Even if your neighbors are irresponsible pet owners, they don’t deserve that and neither does their pet.
- How to Know if You have Gotten Them All
When we ran into the problem of having multiple unwelcome visitors, we used a simple trick to find out if we caught them all. We put a Wyze motion-sensing camera in the mouse “hot spot”. We normally use it to spy on our pup when we leave the RV, but it served a dual purpose in this case.
Any movement, no matter how slight, sent a notification and captured a recorded video. That way we could watch the camera (from the safety of the sticks and bricks house) to make sure there were no mice left.
After that, I felt much less creeped out moving back into the RV after our brief visit back home.
- What tips do you swear by to keep mice out of your RV?
- Any more myths you’ve heard of?