How to Keep Mice Out of Your Garage

Attached to your home or not, don’t let your garage become a refuge for rodents!

Whether your garage is of the well-organized sort or more inclined toward curated chaos, a mouse infestation is going to disrupt the normal order of things. Let's be honest. Mice in the garage can leave you feeling frustrated at best, if not a little scared.

Without a plan of action for how to get rid of mice in your garage, dealing with potentially dozens of long-tailed rodents can be a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, it's not as daunting as it might seem.

Signs of a Mouse Infestation in Your Garage

Signs of a rodent infestation in your garage can include an unpleasant, musky odor, pets that paw or scratch at walls or storage areas, or finding a nest made of shredded paper, fiber, or cloth. Of course, you may just see a mouse, especially if you're in a dark garage.

Now you need to figure out if mice—not rats—are the problem. While these tips will also work with rats, it's important to know what you're dealing with so you can choose the appropriate form of control. You can use these five signs of rodent activity to help determine what's going on:

  1. Droppings
  2. Rub marks
  3. Tracks
  4. Gnawing/chewing
  5. Noise

In general, the smaller the size of the first four signs, the more likely the problem is mice. Note that for tracks, mice won't always leave a noticeable footprint unless there's something especially dusty on your garage floor. The biggest difference, though, is noise. Mice will squeak pretty much all the time when they're in their nests. Rats, however, tend to gnaw, scratch, and fight.

Still not sure? Read our article, Differences Between Mice and Rats, for more details.

How to Get Rid of Mice in the Garage

Mice like to make families—and fast. In fact, females can produce upwards of 60 babies a year. The better the living conditions, the bigger the family, and the better the chance mice could move from an attached garage to the inside of your home.

Here's a 2-step plan for making your garage mouse-free:

Step 1: Remove or Contain Things That Attract Mice

Rethink the way you're storing any potential food sources or nesting materials (heavy-duty containers with tight-fitting lids are an easy answer). If you have a car you rarely use, turn it on and rev the engine every now and then; check under the hood, in the trunk, and inside the glove compartment for nesting material or damage to mechanical wires.

Here's a list of some everyday items you may have in your garage that can attract mice by providing food or nesting materials.

  1. Piles of stuff, including empty boxes and old newspapers
  2. Sacks of grain, birdseed, pet food, grass seed, or other bulk edibles
  3. Leftover food, snacks, and trash inside your car
  4. Unused or infrequently started vehicles and engines
  5. Uncovered garbage
  6. Straw bales
  7. Bags of mulch
  8. Burlap
  9. Uncovered insulation
  10. Outdoor furniture cushions
  11. Rags, towels, outdoor clothing

Step 2: Strategically Set Bait Stations

If mice have already made your warm garage their new living arrangement, the most effective way to get rid of them is to set up a bait station. To get the job done, you'll need to strategically place enough of these in places where mice will find them.

A quick primer on mouse behavior will help. Mice are creatures of habit; they won't look for new food sources unless they absolutely have to. They also have terrible eyesight, so when mice go out of the nest for food, they stick close to walls, corners, pipes, and beams. Wherever you see mice droppings, rub marks or other signs of activity, that's a good place to put bait stations.

Place reusable bait stations, like the Tomcat® Mouse Killer Refillable Bait Station - Advanced Formula, 8 to 12 feet apart, reading and following all label instructions. Check them often, once or twice daily. And remember mice like fresh food. If there's old bait in the station, replace it with a new bait block for at least 15 days, or until you're sure you've gotten rid of the problem. To lure in even more mice, move the bait stations to new locations where mice activity is suspected.

No matter which bait station you use, make sure it's suitable for outdoor use and keep it away from kids or pets. Always wear gloves when handling these devices; this will help keep your scent off the bait, making it more attractive to mice.

How to Keep Mice Away

Mice possess near-superhero physical abilities. They can run, climb, and swim, squeeze into openings as small as 1/4-inch, jump vertically up to 1 foot, and jump down from about 8 feet—not to mention they can chew their way through materials pretty easily, too.

Now that you've gotten them out of your garage, here are some ideas on how to keep mice from coming back:

  • Get down to their level. Turn out the lights and bend down to ground level. Look for light coming in through open spaces, holes, cracks, and crevices. Check along walls, as well as around the door leading into the house, any garage windows, and openings around piping or ductwork. Make sure your garage door closes tightly, especially along the bottom where it meets the ground.
  • Seal the gaps. Repair, patch, or plug holes, cracks, and crevices. When doing this, be mindful of your choices. Mice love to chew and shred things for their nests, so thin screening and rubber weather-stripping are definite no-nos, as are rough surfaces that can be easily gnawed. Instead, use spray expanding foam, caulk, concrete mortar, metal thresholds, galvanized sheet metal, hardware cloth, steel wool, and other rodent-resistant materials.
  • Create a hostile environment. Unless you make it otherwise, your garage is a cozy haven for mice. One way to repel mice is to toy with their senses. Mice have a keen sense of smell and a hankering for all things tasty, but there are a few things they cannot stand, like ammonia or peppermint.

The smell, however, has to be pretty strong to thwart them. For something that bothers them but not you, Tomcat® Repellents Rodent Repellent Granules are a good option. The no-stink (to people) formula is safe to use around kids and pets, plus it's tested and proven to keep mice from entering, foraging, and nesting. Just make sure to read and follow the label directions. Whether you choose a home remedy, essential oil, or ready-to-use product, remember to apply it around the entire perimeter of the garage, inside and out. Repeat the application, especially if you've had a lot of rainfall since the mouse-repellent scent can become diluted or wash away.

Having a plan for how to get rid of mice in your garage can help take the misery out of a mouse infestation. With these tips you can kick mice out and keep them away, so you can go back to hunting for holiday lights, rocking out with the band, or tinkering around without fear.