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Do Mothballs keep Mice Away? Rodent Myths & Facts Explored

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Do Mothballs Keep Mice Away?

Do mothballs keep mice away? This is just one of the many myths that we’ll be debunking.

If you’re looking for the most comprehensive guide to dealing with a rodent problem on the Internet, this is it.

I’m Julie, and I’ve been living in RVs for 4 years now. Over that period of time, I’ve dealt with multiple mice infestations. Some were my fault, others were just bad luck. Either way, I’ve got a ton of experience. I know quite a few methods to get rid of mice and today, I’ll be sharing everything I know about repelling mice.

Getting Rid of Mice and Rodents: Facts vs. Myths

If you’ve asked around, you’ve probably heard a bunch of conflicting advice. “Bleach is guaranteed to keep them out”, “just paint your RV in bright colors”, or maybe you’re wondering why there are mice even when you’ve got a tabby in your RV 24/7.

We’re going to dispel every myth there is on rodent control and give you only the facts.

Let’s get started!

Do Mothballs Keep Mice Away?

Mothballs are, as the name suggests, meant to kill moths, including their eggs and larvae. Mothballs contain toxic chemicals that are slowly dispersed into the air. This gas is what kills the pests.

Unfortunately, mothballs are one of the worst mice repellents. Here’s why.

Mice do indeed have a good sense of smell, so odors work well to deter mice. The thing is, mice also adapt to odors over time. In the beginning, mothballs may deter mice. But it’s only a matter of time before the mice either find a way around it or simply get used to it, rendering it useless. They may be great for pest control, but for mice? Not so much.

The bigger problem though, is that mothballs aren’t exactly safe for humans. Sure mothballs repel mice, but they can also cause skin irritation, respiratory problems, and even nausea. Not only that, they also harm the environment, and pets too, if you have any.

What Smells Do Mice Hate?

Given their strong sense of smell, it’s no surprise that the right scents can be very effective at rodent control.

So which are the right scents to get rid of mice? Let’s find out.

Peppermint Oil: The scent of peppermint oil is pleasant to humans, but to mice? Not so much. Soak a few cotton balls in peppermint oil and place them to cover any openings. This will keep mice out as long as the smell is present.

Ammonia: Another smell that mice detest, ammonia can be used in place of peppermint oil.

Garlic and Onion: Garlic and onion powder are like peppermint oil. We love it, mice hate it. It’s not as strong as peppermint oil, but sprinkling either one at places you suspect are infected will definitely deter a good number of them.

Cayenne Pepper: You can also try cayenne pepper with garlic and onion powder. Mice that are unfazed by garlic and onion powder may just shy away from cayenne pepper.

Predator Urine: This is the last resort, but if all else fails, just spray predator urine around your home or RV. The smell of a predator is the strongest deterrent, especially since mice have a strong sense of smell.

These methods aren’t foolproof, but they’ve been proven to work time and time again. Still, I would recommend using them in conjunction with other methods, such as color.

What Colors Do Mice Hate?

Colors don’t work as smell, but they can help your mice situation. For some reason, mice don’t seem to like bright colors. Think yellow, white, orange, blue, and so on. Using these for things like your curtain and rugs could just be the thing you need. And if you’re not a full-time RVer, painting your RV with bright colors can also help keep mice out whenever you’re not in your RV.

The catch though, is that this is a rather dubious method. Some RVers swear by it. Others would call you crazy. Still, it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot. Even if it fails, who doesn’t like a bright and cheery RV? You could also always use it to complement other methods to boost effectiveness.

Do Essential Oils Repel Mice?

I didn’t include essentials in the list of smells above because there’s a whole list of them. These natural mouse repellents deserve a whole section to themselves, so here you go, the full list of mice-repelling essential oils:

  1. Peppermint
  2. Eucalyptus
  3. Lavender
  4. Citronella
  5. Rosemary
  6. Lemongrass
  7. Cedarwood

For essential oils, you won’t need cotton wool because they’re less concentrated than peppermint oil. Just dab them where you want to prevent mice from coming through.

Does Bleach Repel Mice?

Bleach is a great mouse repellent, and honestly one of the most potent forms of pest control. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most short-lived.

The smell of bleach doesn’t last any more than a few hours. And similar to mothballs, they can create health complications like skin irritation, and harm the environment too.

Are Mice Afraid of Cats and Dogs?

If you’ve watched Tom and Jerry, you probably believe that cats are a surefire way to eliminate any mice. They’re fast, vicious, and agile. The perfect predator to the quick-footed mouse. The same goes for dogs.

But consider this. Cats and dogs hunt for food. Sure they may do so for entertainment, but rarely so. As a responsible pet owner, you should be keeping your pets well-fed. This means there’s really no reason for your cat or dog to chase that mouse that’s minding its own business and not disturbing them.

Of course, certain breeds will have stronger hunting instincts, and may jump at the chance to put their skills to use. However, even for these breeds, it’s never a guarantee.

Nevertheless, mice may be put off by the scent of a natural predator. Even if your cat or dog wasn’t intending to hunt down that mouse, that mouse wouldn’t know. It would regard your pet as a bloodthirsty predator out for its blood, and as such would likely think twice before entering your home or RV.

Plus, cats and dogs have a keen sense of smell. They can detect mice underneath your floors or in hidden areas way better than you can. If you see your pet staring at a certain spot or barking at it, there’s a good chance you’ve found that annoying mouse that you can’t seem to catch.

Overall, it never hurts to have a cat or dog as your ally in the fight against rodents. But don’t expect too much from him or her.

How to Prevent Mice from Entering Your Home

This section will focus on the more physical methods to keep mice out.

Exclusion Work

Exclusion work is as mean as it sounds. You’ll be excluding mice from your home or RVing adventures by sealing up gaps, cracks, and openings that they can use to enter. Your RV shouldn’t have any cracks or gaps when you first buy it. But over time, or if you got a second-hand RV, exclusion work is a must.

For this, you’ll need tough materials that can stand up to gnawing. This includes:

  • Steel wool
  • Hardware cloth
  • Caulk
  • Metal flashing
  • Wire mesh

You need to install these in areas where pipes, cables, vents, and wires enter your home or RV. Make sure to seal up even the smallest gaps. You can use all sorts of strategies to stop mice from coming through openings, but the best defense is ultimately to seal them up.

Trim Foliage

This takes a bit of working backward to understand. For mice to enter your home or RV, they didn’t travel a few miles in the open from another place with the sole purpose of infiltrating your safe place. Rather, they find cover where they can and avoid being out in the open because of predators like cats.

This means they need to find cover near your house, close enough that they can safely dash across to your house. And this cover is often the foliage near your house.

To rectify this, cut short or completely remove plants, grass, weeds, and trees near your house or RV.

You’ll also want to keep about 20 inches between foliage and your home.

Fallen leaves and branches are also cover, so get rid of them too. And food for mice like nuts, seeds, fruits, and so on should also be removed.

Keep Things Clean and Sealed

Another way to attract less mice is to make sure you’re not feeding them. Whatever food or drinks you have, make sure they’re kept in airtight containers or ziplock bags.

Obviously, don’t leave any stains, crumbs, and whatnot too, because that’s as good as putting food out.

Water can also attract mice because they need water to survive too.

If mice are already in your RV, cardboard boxes, magazines, and even loose clothing are all areas they can hide in. Try to keep your place neat so that you can spot a mouse problem more easily.

Call an Exterminator

If all else fails, there’s always the option to call in the pros. An exterminator has handled hundreds of such cases and will know exactly what to do to resolve your issue. Severe cases often require the aid of a pro, so don’t try to DIY everything on your own.

When I had my first mouse infestation, I tried everything I could and refused to call an exterminator. After all, my logic was that if they could do it, why couldn’t I? In the end, after months of suffering, I gave up and called an exterminator. He was able to find the source immediately and explained to me that they were coming from a nearby bush. I never even thought to check there.

The peace of mind will be well worth the money spent and time saved, so really consider hiring a pro if you’re not seeing any results after a week.

Use Botanical Rodent Repellent

To end off, here’s a repellent especially made for rodents. Botanical rodent repellent uses plant-based ingredients. This means it doesn’t harm the environment. It also doesn’t pose any threat to humans and works well against mice. To use, spray or put in a pouch and replace once every 30 days.

Just note that as with all other methods (except exclusion work), this isn’t a foolproof method. It’s still a good idea to complement it with other strategies.


Mice are at best an annoyance, and in the worst cases, can spread dangerous diseases. Luckily, there are many rodent control methods. Use them together with each other to enhance their effectiveness. And remember, if it gets too much for you to deal with, call the pros.

If you don’t have a rodent problem yet, that’s great! Take extra measures and follow the advice in this article to keep it that way.

If you’re lacking any RV gear, you can also check out our helpful gear guides!

Photo of author


Noelle bought a camper van in 2019 and lived in it for the summer while hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail. That’s when she discovered a love for RV life. So when her husband suggested trading the van for full-time truck camper living, she jumped at the opportunity. When she’s not enjoying views out the back door, she’s planning new routes for exploring.

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