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The Secret To Keeping Mice Out Of Your RV

The Secret To Keeping Mice Out Of Your RV. Photo via Steven Depolo on Flickr

The Secret To Keeping Mice Out Of Your RV

Imagine this: one night as you are drifting off to sleep, a furious scratching emanates from somewhere in your mobile abode.

“Mouse!” you exclaim, possibly along with some other more “colorful” words to convey the gravity of the situation.

You toss aside the covers, grab the nearest flashlight, and search in vain for the next 45 minutes trying to ferret out the intruder who so unceremoniously disrupted what otherwise should have been a good night’s sleep.  Eventually, you concede defeat and plot the inevitable demise of said beast as you return to bed.

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The next morning you awake—sort of, as you didn’t really sleep knowing that this creature was afoot within your sacred domain. You search again but to no avail.  There are no furry varmints to be found, only evidence of their earlier presence.  No doubt that they are stashed somewhere in your rig, well out of arm’s reach.

As you clean up the chewed up wads of paper, droppings, and shavings from gnawed-through particle board, you wonder to yourself how on earth you can get rid of these unwanted “guests” without putting your family and/or pets at risk by setting out poisoned bait.

The last time such a “guest” showed up, the trap you put out did its job.

However, because you drove your RV back home a short while after putting down the trap, it relocated itself to an area that was out-of-sight and out-of-mind.  You know you need a different solution this time because you don’t want a repeat of the smell you encountered the following week when you were loading up for your next adventure.

How do you get rid of mice in an RV?

Your initial thought was that by cleaning up crumbs and ensuring that all human and pet food remained sealed, your RV would be blissfully mouse-free.  Where did you go wrong?  That strategy seems to have worked fine at home.

RV’s are non-traditional living spaces that require non-traditional solutions for pests.  Despite your best efforts, cleanliness only goes so far.  There will always be critters looking for a free ride by shacking up with you in your RV.

Fortunately, RVers are among the most resourceful folks on the planet and they have tons of suggestions for mouse problems, ranging from the plainly obvious to the downright strange.  Not all tips are created equally, so let’s examine commonly suggested solutions for maintaining a “Mouse-Free Zone” to help you figure out the best solution for your situation.

Using scent and sound as deterrents

Using various scents to keep mice at bay is usually the first thing RVers try to correct the problem.  Commonly recommended deterrents include peppermint oil, mothballs, pine needle spray, dryer sheets, and, oddly enough, Irish Spring bar soap.

Photo by Dwight Burdette

While mice may not like these smells, mice are extremely persistent. That means if you put out a scented deterrent, it is merely a delay mechanism rather than a solution to the problem.  Mice will keep coming back until the deterrent has worn off, or they will find a place where the deterring smell doesn’t reach well and is less irritating to them.

Another suggestion is to use ultrasonic devices that repel mice.  While they may work right next to where the device is plugged in, that doesn’t help much in areas where the mice actually enter and dwell in your RV—typically where there are no plugins.  Professional pest control services routinely state that the level of ultrasonic sound waves emitted by these devices is too small to have much effect throughout even a small living space.

Create physical barriers

Hands down the best way to combat mice is to prevent them from entering your RV by creating impassable physical barriers.  One popular quick fix people try is using canned spray foam to plug up holes where the mice chewed through the floor or wall.

While foam is a fantastic way to stop air from flowing through open cracks, it won’t stand the test of time against mice.  It is simply not a match for their teeth, so give it a pass.  The same thing goes for caulking.

Photo by Emily May
Master of Caulk by Emily May is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Caulk is great to help prevent drafts from coming in.  It also helps keep smells of food you have in the RV from seeping out and acting like a beacon to area mice.  However, if you are dealing with known mouse entry points, you need to consider other options because they can chew right through caulk.

The best method? Steel wool!

One tried and true barrier material for plugging up mouse holes is steel wool.  Mice will not chew through it.  You can get it in any hardware store or place with a paint department.  Be sure to get the kind without soap in it.  You want the stuff that’s used for stripping wood, not cleaning pans.

Simply take a wad of steel wool and stuff it back into the hole where you know mice have entered, then seal up the hole. Next, go around to the outside/underside of your RV and try to figure out what path a mouse might take to get up to where you found the hole.  If there are nooks and crannies where you can stick some steel wool, do so.

Photo by Simon A. Eugster
Simon A. Eugster, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One other very clever idea is to place tall metal rings (about 8-10” high) around tires and jack stands to create a slick physical barrier that mice cannot climb.  You can make these from sheet metal rolls available at hardware stores.  This idea may not work well for folks on the road who have limited space, but it may be great for people who store their RVs.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using a combination of these methods.  Every RV setup is unique, so even the best solutions may require tweaking.  Now that you know a little about getting rid of the small, furry, four-legged variety of unwanted RV guests, you can work on ways to get rid of Aunt Marge and Uncle Jimmy the next time they show up at your RV unannounced on a four-day weekend.

Read more tips on getting rid of mice and squirrels here.