Mice have taken over my home!! Please help??

A few months ago my mother passed away. I have since moved into her home by myself with her pets and mine. There are two dogs and two cats. A couple of weeks ago, one of the cats brought me a dead mouse. The next day, she brought me another one and went back to hunt more. Then that night, I started hearing them. I could hear them in the kitchen under the refrigerator and then I saw one run across the floor. I immediately went out and bought mouse traps. I put the majority of them in the room that I believe they are mainly living in and closed the door to keep my cats out. And placed some in the kitchen where my pets can't reach them. So far I have caught 20 mice. 20!!!! A couple of them were very tiny. It has been about two days and I haven't seen any so I am hoping they are gone. But let me back track a little and tell you about the house. My family has lived here for over 30 years. I grew up in this house. And I often would stay here when I needed to. My daughter grew up here as well. We never had problems with mice. Ever now and then, one of the cats would find one but it was only one or two a year if any. Before my mom passed, I remember hearing some strange noise in the walls once or twice and my daughter said she had heard it a couple times two. But it was never constant and no one else seemed to have heard it. I now believe these mice have been living here for a while and now that it is getting cold, they are starting to come out in search of food and water. I also have to say this house is quite cluttered. My mother had a lot of stuff and now that I am living here permanently I have all my belongings here as well. My daughter has now moved out to go to college. Now for my actual question or questions.... How can I be sure the mice are all gone and how do I start to clean and disinfect the entire house?? Also keeping the safety of my pets in mind. I would've just put out some poison for the mice if I didn't have pets. In the past, we have had a cat who died from eating a mouse that had been poisoned. And my cats are quite curious and like to check out anything and everything going on in the house. So anything that might harm my pets is not an option. I need to know how to go about cleaning and disinfecting everything in the kitchen, like the pots and pans, or should I just throw them out and get new ones. How can I disinfect the carpets and furniture? The room that I think they were in the most is full of stuff like clothes, towels, and blankets, how do I disinfect them without having to use bleach? Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated. At this moment, I am extremely overwhelmed and wish I could just hire someone to come do it all. But I am not financially able to do that. The house is even starting to smell really bad so I think I may have a dead mouse or two somewhere. I have been cleaning and throwing things out already. I'm thinking I should throw all the food out, even the food in the cabinets up high. I am even afraid to use any dishes or utensils. I wont even eat in the house now. This has definitely taken over my life. Thank you to anyone who took the time to read all this. I am grateful for any reply.
And before anyone starts in about live traps and whatever else, I have to say that I am a huge animal lover. I have been my whole life. I have had dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, fish. My family even jokes about how I love my animals more then them. But when it comes to mice, I am terrified of them. I want them out of my house whatever means necessary.

  18 answers
  • Homertalk Homertalk on Oct 29, 2017
    Get a professional exterminator. Once done, ask him to show you all the entry points that the mice used to gain acess to your house. Soak cotton balls in mint oil and push them in there. Then stuff the hole shut with coarse steel wool. Outside, plant mint in pots (It's invasive). Mice hate mint, and chewing thru steel wool cuts up their gums and mouths.

  • Dfm Dfm on Oct 30, 2017
    you need to get a live catch mouse trap. It has a plate that that will toss the mouse into a cage part of the trap. No poison, no dead mouse in the wall. Mice can a litter ov baby mice each month. In 1993 when iowa flooded, my parents property was affected. One we had a chance to dewater and clean up the mice moved in. Power to the basement was limited, 1 light bulb and the washing machine. The light failed, I went to switch the bulb..When the light came on the mice swarmed to thier usual entrance.....right across the top of my feet. It was all I could do to stay put, I didn’t to get bit. Dad brought a live trap that night. we got about 50 mice the first night. They got a nice bath in the 5 gallon bucket. Funny...no mice survived the bath. You might not like the thought of a live trap, but they are very effective. We baited with peanut butter. Have a neighbor deal with emptying out the trap. Bribe with cookies.

  • Bernice H Bernice H on Oct 30, 2017
    Oh wendy!i really appreciate your dilemma. Wow! We had a similar problem with my in laws house. Get rid of all the food!they may have and probably did crawl on and over. We were worried about that virus(?j that may be in there,so we had to usemasks to clean everything. We washed everything in kitchen in bleach water..toxic in itself..windows open! But we didn’t get them all ,had to clean everything again!hours of work and to have to do it again,a real pain. finally had to call an exterminator. It was worth it! They also look outside for places they can come in at. We had to move bushes etc that are close to the house. Their traps work real well. I hope you can get professional help somehow. You will be glad.

  • Charlotte Simmons Charlotte Simmons on Oct 30, 2017
    Mice.. .hate. Mint.. I. Took. Tea. Bags. Put. Peppermint. And. Spearmint. Essential. Oil. On. Them. Put. Behind. Furniture. Inside. Drawers. Etc. After. 2. Days. They. Were. Gone.

  • Bernice H Bernice H on Oct 30, 2017
    Meaning the exterminators look outside also To see where they can get in. Get rid of all clutter. We had to throw linens etc away because thay had nested or urinated or pooed on them. Nothing was sacred! I am with you,I love animals,but some should stay in their own environment. Now we are dealing with sugar ants,but so is everyone down here. My best to you..😍

  • Tes Tes on Oct 30, 2017
    Get a dumpster and start cleaning out all the clutter and excess "stuff" that your mom and you have accumulated. then just take one room at a time and clean, paint or do what ever is necessary to make it livable. do some every day and you will eventually have a neat clean house. Eventually Mouse free!
    the laundry can just be washed with laundry soap and dried in dryer or on lines. this will make them wearable again.
    Wash the dishes and utensils in hot soapy water before you use them, and clean cupboards scrubbing with water and vinegar solution. You will know if mice have gotten into containers of food ( they leave a trail of poo wherever they have been). Throw out that food, try storing whatever you can in glass jars with covers, and tins- you'll have to label tins so you remember what is in them. Plastic may work, but they can chew thru that sometimes. That way the new food you get won't be contaminated by the mice that may remain for a while... until you no longer need to set up your "trap line" .
    I had this problem when we did a major remodel in the fall and they got in and made our home their home! If you see any holes even very small openings smaller than your pinky tip- they can get in. Patch the holes with whatever material the wall is made of. You can get ot at a hardware store or Walmart type store.
    You probably wont be able to confine them to one area- they are amazing at being able to crawl and jump into places you would never expect. they are quite the acrobats. So just continue to set out the traps and Good Luck.

  • Nancy Turner Nancy Turner on Oct 30, 2017
    If you don't have poison out for the cats, don't close off the rooms for them to get into. They will seriously decrease the amount of mice for you. If you have a pantry and closets, set up traps and the sticky traps, they both will do good. No need to throw out food unless they chewed into it. Just clean off canned goods before you open them. You will see signs of them like there little poop if they are in a cabinet. Good hot water and soap is enough to clean your dishes and cook ware and they will be safe. Bed linens and towels, clothes etc., will be fine with washing as usual, cold for clothes, hotter for towels and other things like sheets. It is safe to eat in your home. If there are no signs in your dish and cookware cupboards they are clean, or just give them a quick wash before you use them. You will see signs of there favorite avenues as you will see a blackish path and sometimes there poop along it. This is where you also need to place the traps and sticky traps. It is easier to get them if you use their frequently traveled paths. Get yourself some Rubbermaid totes and clean your clothes and keep them in there if you see signs of them in your dresser or closet. You can beat them, I did. There was three empty houses by me at the house we rented for 14 years. The first was taken down right away, but the other two were left empty for two years. When they finally took them down it was already fall, so they ran to our house and the house on the other side of the lots. We were inundated. It took a while, but with vigilance and not a cat in the house, I finally was rid of them. Because of pets and grandkids, I did not use any poison either. It does take longer without cats or poison, but I was finally rid of them and thank god I haven't seen anymore and don't live in that house anymore. I miss the huge house, and my huge bedroom and closet, but I guess I am better off with no more fear of mice coming back into the turn of the century house that I could never really seal up all the openings. You can do this! Don't let your fear of mice take you over, they are just critters you can get rid of. Make sure you go through all your mom's stuff and get rid of what you don't need. Keep things you want to pass on, but don't keep everything, it could become too much to care for. Don't stress yourself out so much, it already sounds like you are getting things under control. Let your cats help you out. I have a chow that takes care of the mole/voles in my yard during her night guard duty (a characteristic they have). I let her do her thing so I don't have too! Good luck, you can do this and easily live through it! If I can do it, you can do it!

    • Wendy Wendy on Oct 30, 2017
      Thank you. Yes, having cats is great. I remember at one time we had 5 cats and I don’t remember seeing one mouse then. Atleast not alive. i have two cats now butnonly one seems interested in catching mice. But she’s been good at it. Thank you for the advice and quick reply. I really appreciate it.

  • V Smith V Smith on Oct 30, 2017
    Mice don't seem to like walking on metal, so I would say that if you like the pots and pans you should be able to wash away all the mouse cooties. Just about anything that can be washed can be used again after a mouse invasion. The only way I know that no mice are around is the absence of mouse poop. It is my opinion that all mice are born pregnant, even the males. If you read up on it you will learn that they breed young and often. Imagine the number today if the house started out with 3 females 2 years ago. One trick that seemed to keep them outside for me was to feed the birds all winter, the mice go out to eat the seeds that hit the ground. KEEP THOSE TRAPS BATED!

    • Wendy Wendy on Oct 30, 2017
      oh man. I dont even want to think about how many could still be in the walls or where ever they are hiding. So gross. Thank you so much for your reply and the advice. I really appreciate it.

  • M. M.. M. M.. on Oct 30, 2017
    You poor thing- you sound overwhelmed! The mice are getting food and water somehow - you're not leaving food out, either for people or pets? I'd throw away all of the food. The smell is probably from urine/feces and also dead mice. If the house is cluttered then they are free to roam in the open without being detected. If you can get help, I'd tip over all the upholstered furniture to see if mice have gotten into them from the back or underneath, including mattresses. They like that kind of stuff for nesting/birthing, and they urinate almost constantly having an almost-non-existent bladder. It might take time and work to get everything out, including the carpet, but I wouldn't be able to live there with ANY of the house's former contents, including furniture. Mice colonies cause all kinds of health problems for human and domestic animals. Hanta virus, pulmonary disease, etc. Call your local county vermin control as a first step. Once all of the food and other attractive stuff is gone,the colony might shrink. All food should be kept in tins or tight latching plastic containers. Carpet cleaning might only temporarily hide the scent. You shouldn't be in there if you have breathing problems.

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    • M. M.. M. M.. on Nov 01, 2017
      I've cleaned out some messy houses/apartments, and there is a certain freedom that comes after beginning.It just becomes "stuff", and is simpler to sort out the ruined from the salvageable. A dumpster actually becomes the best part- I dither too much about finding a a new home for something (that I want to see some value in) and that takes up my energy when it's so much easier to pitch it.
      As many memories are in there, don't forget you deserve to have a clean,healthy place to live. Don't let the "mess"become your only inheritance. It's just work, and you can picture the day when it's all clear and you're free to create your own space. A friend showed me a study where they studied people in different environments and their stress levels.We are calmer and happier in uncrowded settings, like the pictures in a decor magazine,right? Or at the beach, where we can see for long unbroken distances. Something about our instinct to not let anything sneak up on us,haha! You also don't need to replace everything at once. It's okay to have just a few pieces of good furniture - relish the open-ness, maybe think about your feeling of wanting it full again right away.In this country we accumulate much faster than we realize... Good Luck!

  • Lolabelle Lolabelle on Oct 30, 2017
    So sorry to hear about your Mom and the stress you are going through. I think thr first thing I would do is put all your food in plastic bins. At night also I would put the pet food dishes away or even put them in the oven. I have never seen a mouse get in an oven. I do understand your love for animals. There are live mouse traps you can buy so you could drive somewhere and release. NO POISON. Hydrogen peroxide is a great cleaner as well as vinegar or Borax, baking soda. These are all safe to use around your babies. i heard mise do not like the scent of mint, but only real essential oils will work. This might be something more to look into.
    keep praising your cats.
    Again I’m sorry to hear about your loss.

    • Wendy Wendy on Oct 30, 2017
      Thank you so much. I really appreciate your advice.

  • Yup, I get it. You need to get bids from at least 3 different licensed professional exterminators that will conduct a thorough inspection - which means crawling under the house if on a raised foundation, going into and inspecting the attic. They will provide you with a written estimate of what they found and what needs to be done to fix it. I had the same problem but with a rat in the last few months of my mom's life, and I lived 45 miles away in one direction and work was 42 miles in another direction and total round trip between the 3 locations was 126 miles. I did it every single day, twice a day on weekends if necessary for 14 years. Sleep was a luxury and my life was on hold and my house just got a lick and a promise, so I understand completely.

    Whatever you do - with pets never use any poison, period.

    Get the inspections and start on that process to get the holes plugged up asap and any dead animals removed. You will have to sort through all your stuff and I would even rent a POD or storage unit even temporarily if at all possible. Almost everything can be washed. It will just take time. Disinfecting laundry is easy, vinegar or rubbing alcohol added to the wash will disinfect anything. Same with dishes. Anything you wash or clean - quarentine it in plastic tubs or brand new trash bags that you know are fresh and clean. You can spritz all the furniture with rubbing alcohol. When the time comes, you can have the carpets and floors steam cleaned.

    Do not be terrified of mice, my dog corners them all the time and i pick them up with my bare hands and take them down to the park and let them go. Yes I have had a tetnus shot and am absolutely fearless. You are way bigger than them and they are more afraid of you. Get the catch and release traps - they are so worth it.

    Just deal with one room at a time, you can do this!

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    • Call them now, you need at least 3 bids to compare. Once you get the bids, send another post and we can walk you through any questions you may have. We are all happy to help, this is what Hometalk is all about! People helping people. Many of us have been through this before too, you are not alone. 🤗 Do whatever you can each day. Every little bit helps. Want me to Google Exterminators for you?

  • Lin Collins Lin Collins on Oct 30, 2017
    You have more than a problem. First you have to identify all their access points. These could be numerous as well as hidden from view. Then you need to check outside and around the house. Mice will make nests in the ground, in piles of leaves or rotten wood like under the wood stack maybe beside the back door? They need only a mere fraction of an inch of space to get through. Also rats apear as mice to the uneducated ey they also make nests in trees like birds do. They don't even try to hide either. They're brazen.
    So besides eliminating them you have to make your house your house unattractive to them. Assuming you're kind of rural one very effective way is to adopt 6 -10 ferrell cats. DON'T FEED THEM.
    Them you have to do some serious raking, clearing, mowing, pruning trees (VIP) like your are clearing to fire proof the place. Your also going to have to get in the basement or under the house and in the attic or similar crawl spaces.
    You said funds are scarce - besides getting to know an exterminator and making a deal, go to the local high school. Ask for help these boys won't be free but will be cheaper than a pro. They also sometimes will work for their gas tank being filled and copious amounts of pizza. Also, not that I would ever ever break the law, (that is always a bad thing, don't thumb your nose at the law) but, I've heard that a case of beer while these boys work is worth quite a lot. Just sayin' . . .
    Good luck

    • Wendy Wendy on Oct 30, 2017
      Thank you for the reply. That is a great idea about asking the high school boys for help. My daughter just graduated last year so I bet she knows a few to ask for some help. Thank you.

  • 2dogal 2dogal on Oct 30, 2017
    Good kitties - they are bringing you what they consider gifts. Don't discourage them from catching mice.
    You need to go around the outside of the house and caulk every little hole and crack. They are getting inside someplace (although I think they've made homes inside already). If you can get into the crawl space under your house, you sometimes can see light shining through and that needs to be caulked. If there is a space between the foundation and the house that is too wide to caulk, stuff steel wool in it.

  • Kelly Denoyer Russell Kelly Denoyer Russell on Oct 30, 2017
    A washing machine, a multipurpose disinfectant cleaner/gloves and a bucket, and your dishwasher are fine for washing up items. Lots of things can go into the dishwasher beyond dishes so your not handwashing everything. Carpet may require at minimum renting or borrowing a shampooer or hiring someone. Use a hose on vacuum to get edges near walls. Toss any food products that they have been in or gnawed on the box. Use plastic for storage especially for any pet food! They love to get into pet food. Mice travel along walls. Do not use any poison since your cat clearly may die if they eat one. Also they die in the walls and smell up the place. I use poison in my garage to kill them before they come in but for now as a cat owner it's not an option for you. So that leaves you with snap traps. Glue boards do not always get the job done and they can get themselves off Plus if they are still alive you have to drown them. I do not prefer that up and personal type of involvement. Yuck. Once you kill them off you should be able return to seeing a couple on occasion trying to come in when it gets cold out. Just like you saw growing up but not a huge infestation. For now with a parent who was aging they got out of control and she may not have even noticed. Set traps along the perimeters (and where mice travel along the walls) where your pets cannot set them off especially where you've seen evidence but I'd put out a ton and put them everywhere for now. They are cheap. If you have to, keep pets confined. Shut doors on a few rooms. Place under sinks or behind furniture they cannot get behind. They are lovers of peanut butter and chocolate (like myself 😊) I put a blob of peanut butter and a chocolate chip stuck on top but the peanut butter is good by itself. Stay on top of the traps until you see no more activity. Keep major cleaning until traps are empty or you will be doing it twice. Lastly mice need only a dime sized hole to enter your house. You will never find every entry point. It just will not happen. Locate their point of entrance. Where you see signs of them first. Every year when it gets cold trap them there first. Mine was always under my kitchen sink. I left traps there in the back corners. For my inlaws it was their basement. Steel wool works around holes or plumbing. Of course look to make sure you don't have any gaping holes outside. Red squirrels can be very destructive and make some grand entrances to your home. Finding every dime sized crack in your foundation?! Yeah no.... Signed, Pest Control Business Owner Wife

  • Dfm Dfm on Oct 30, 2017
    start with the kitchen....pots and pans..soak in hot water that has bleach added...I put an ounce or 2 in the dish pan. rinse with hottest water you have. Put the clean dish ware in a container for storage that has a tight lid. Once all dishes are out of the cupboard scrub it with a disinfectant. If there is liner product in place take it out. Then scrub. Work you way arround the kitchen. As you go...ask your self....how often do I use this........item. Daily, weekly monthly? If the answere is rarely....do you have an alternative you can make do with? Clean and donate to charity shops. Check with your tax person....some donations you can get tax credit for. Steam clean the carpets And upholstered furniture. Now then...it didn’t get to the condition it’s in over night. It’s not going to to get cleaned up over night. Set a goal of say cleaning 2 cubords a day. Have a box or bins labeled keep toss donate. When the box gets full pack it up, donate or toss. Don’t let donate or toss sit in the house.....once full....take them to the appropriate place. If an item is to big for you to move....try calling the Boy Scouts for help, your church youth group....

  • Tinyshoes Tinyshoes on Oct 30, 2017
    Find where they are coming in..usually under kitchen cabinets. They can get in very small spaces..stuff these places you see with steel wool.

  • Tinyshoes Tinyshoes on Oct 30, 2017
    Then follow cleaning instructions of those above. Lots of work but you can do it!

  • Wendy Wendy on Oct 30, 2017
    Wow.... Thank you so much for all the replies. You guys are awesome. I really appreciate all the advice. I am tackling another day at this and hoping for the best. Witb all the support from you all, I feel like I can get this done. I am heading to the Walmart to buy some masks because the smell today is making me sick. My brother stopped by and we searched for some dead mice but havent been able to find any yet. He had to get back to work so hopefully after we can find where the smell is coming from. I appreciate all the advice on how to clean everything. I will be sure to update you all on the progress and when I am finally mice free. I have tried the mint so many of you suggested. I even had a sachel with mint on the counter with a mouse sitting right next to it. So I don’t think these mice mind the smell of mint. But other than that I will continue with the traps. And I will try to come up with a way to afford an Exterminator. I just don’t know if I should wait until I get the house cleaned up or call them now????? Thank you again with all the amazing help.