What to Do When You Have A Mouse in the House | Anyclean

updated: 15/10/2023


So you’ve seen a mouse skittering through the house and it’s not an escaped pet. Now what are you going to do? Well, the first thing is to get off that chair – it’s more afraid of you than you are of it, and you don’t have to worry, like a Victorian lady, that it’s going to climb up your crinoline and get lost in your petticoats.

Infestations of vermin are more common during autumn as mice move in out of the cold to places where food is abundant, and lots of warmth and shelter are available. Old wooden houses and those with adjoining garages are the most prone to become rodent lodgings, but the little beggars can sneak in anywhere. They don’t even need the traditional mouse holes to get in, either. Loose floorboards, open doors or even the trapdoor thingummy that the plumber uses to get under the house to deal with pipes are all potential entrances for mice.

Seeing a “wee, sleekit, timorous, cowering beastie” running across the floor is not the only way you can tell that you have a mouse in the house. Frequently, the first sign of mice is the tell-tale droppings, which look like black grains of rice. These turn up in odd cupboards and drawers, sometimes along with very finely shredded bits of paper, plastic or wood. Areas where rubbish or grain-based products are stored are common areas to find them, but they will go anywhere that they can detect crumbs – I’ve known them to turn up in a drawer full of tea towels (I am still flummoxed as to how one got in there) and in my paper recycling bin.

If you come across these tell-tale signs, the first thing to do is to clean and disinfect the area. You will also need to throw out any contaminated food. A vacuum cleaner is the best way to get up the droppings, as they can be in all sorts of odd nooks and crannies, and you often miss these with a dustpan and brush, especially in a dark cupboard. Do not wait until your domestic cleaning London lady visits you, but vacuum as soon as you notice the droppings.

The mouse is probably still in your house somewhere. This means you will need to set a trap. Do not be squeamish and waste your time with a trap that catches mice alive. Get an old-fashioned spring-loaded trap that kills quickly and humanely. Do not think that you will be able to keep a wild-caught mouse as a pet – they need to be handled from birth to make good pets. Contrary to popular culture, mice are not particularly attracted to cheese, so don’t bother wasting good Edam or Cheddar on a mousetrap. Peanut butter is much better and sticks to the trigger mechanism more easily. And don’t be a muggins when baiting the trap. Bait it first and set it second or you will end up with a nasty bruise on your thumb (rat traps are larger and stronger and would probably break your finger nastily. Handle with care). Put the trap where you found the droppings (or where you saw the mouse) and warn your family of its whereabouts so nobody stands on it or puts their hand on it. A sign saying “Watch out for the mousetrap!” on the outside of the drawer of cupboard works to warn forgetful people – mice can’t read!

Check the mousetrap regularly or if you hear it going off with that distinctive snapping noise. Long-dead mice stink, attract flies and are revolting to get rid of, while fresh-killed mice are not particularly noxious (wash your hands well afterwards, though). Very occasionally, the mice can bolt before the trap closes shut and get trapped awkwardly rather than killed. In this case, you will hear it bumping around in your cupboard and possibly a pathetic squeak. Get a hammer, a poker or some other heavy object and put it out of its misery. Do not be half-hearted out of pity – a good hard whack is much more humane and minimises the mouse’s suffering. Then deal with the corpse (I feed them to my dog).

The next step is to find out where the mouse got in, if possible, and block the hole up. This is the most difficult part, as they can gnaw through wood and plastic and always seem to find a new way into older houses. A house brick makes a good temporary method. And sometimes, finding where and how they got in is next to impossible – I have no clue how they get into some of my kitchen drawers.

Take steps to prevent mice from coming back. Be ruthless about crumbs left lying around. Having said that, however, I have found that they still may come back.

Keeping a cat can help to keep the mice down. Some cats are better mousers than others, but the instinct will be there with most of them, and they will at least have a go. The smell of cats in a house can deter mice to a certain extent, but unless you let a cat roam freely in your kitchen cupboards (not likely with all the food in there), this is not 100% effective. Some dogs will try to chase mice but they are not very good at it.

Rats are a different proposition altogether. They are larger, smarter and tougher than mice and fight furiously when cornered. They can gnaw through ice cream containers and eat meat. Conventional mousetraps don’t work on them and some cats aren’t up to killing them (out of the four cats I have kept over my lifetime, only one was an efficient rat-catcher) – and rats are smart enough to figure out if your cat is a threat or not. The only way I have managed to get rid of rats is with poison (risky if you have small children or keep cats and dogs) or by a concentrated campaign of persecution by setting my bull terrier on them (other terrier breeds are also good ratters) and/or taking a swipe at one with a garden implement. After the revolting creature has had a few good scares, it is smart enough to take itself off to a safer place… which isn’t yours. If you don’t own a dog and don’t like using poison, then call a professional pest control company in.

Maybe the mouse went across the living room carpet. Too bad if it did because most likely it pissed on the carpet fibres. As mice cannot hold their bladders they do it as they go. And if you live in Addiscombe, as my great aunt does, you will need to call an emergency carpet cleaner in Addiscombe. Call 020 7099 6964 for the best quote on your list. Fully guaranteed service.

About the author 

Nick Vassilev

Nick blogs about cleaning. He is a cleaning expert with more than 25 years of experience. He is also an NCCA-certified carpet cleaner. Founder and CEO of Anyclean.