How to Keep Mice Out of your RV

Avoid a mouse problem in the first place! Here’s how to keep mice out of your RV for good.

Mice may be small and cute but they can cause big damage and an ugly mess.

I have heard horror stories through the years of how mice chewed through wires, insulation, and walls. Not to mention the nests they build that can clog vents and wreak havoc on your appliances and engine. And NOW I have my own direct experience with this—more on that in a moment.

Even a dead mouse can cause a stink-up! Anyone who has returned to their RV after storing it for winter months only to be confronted with a terrible smell knows what I’m talking about.

So, whether you have a rodent problem or want to avoid one in the first place, here are some tried and true tips to keep them away from your RV.

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Preventative measures to keep mice out of your RV

The best way to prevent a mouse infestation is to keep them from getting into your RV at all. That means blocking off any potential entry points a mouse might use to infiltrate your rig.

There are several methods to do this. Chances are you’ll need to use more than one depending on the type of holes and entry points you’re dealing with.

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1. Know how mice get in

You’ll see in the next section that the first step to preventing mice from getting into your RV is to search for entry points. But that means you need to know what to look for!

When searching, remember that mice have collapsible rib cages. Why is that important? Because that means if their head can fit into a hole, so can the rest of their body. A good rule of thumb: if a pencil can fit, a mouse can fit.

When looking for potential entry points, you have to look for even the smallest holes and cracks that a flexible mouse can take advantage of.

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2. Scour the exterior of your RV for possible entry points

Now that you know what to look for, the first step is to scour the exterior of your RV for any small cracks or small openings.

Use a flashlight and brightly colored tape to help you find and mark every possible entry point. Then you can determine what materials you need to cover or fill the openings.

Since mice most often enter your RV from the ground, you’ll need to crawl under your RV to search there as well. Or employ someone else to do the job—even if that someone is a grandkid. (By the way, I say most often because I’ve heard of mice dropping down from tree branches to RVs).

If using jacks or jack stands to search under your RV follow every safety measure and use backup safety measures so the RV can’t crush you! Unlike mice, you don’t have a collapsible rib cage!

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3. Seal all holes and cracks

The easiest way to seal off openings is to use spray foam, RV sealant caulk, or steel wool—or a combination of the three. You simply fill or cover the small holes with these materials to make sure mice can’t get in.

It’s a good idea to carry a rag with you and wear gloves since these materials can get messy (or scratchy in the case of steel wool). The last thing you want to do is make a mess of yourself and your RV when you’re trying to improve it.

Note that steel wool is a good choice if you want to remove it easily later on. For instance, you might want to use it while your RV is in storage and then remove it before your next camping trip. Just be sure to mark these areas with brightly colored tape so you remember to remove the steel wool.

As a bonus, ultra-fine steel wool is also great for cleaning, polishing, and buffing. You can use it to clean your RV’s windshield and much more.

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4. Use mouse deterrents

Another effective way to keep mice away from your RV is to make it unattractive to them. You might wonder what in the world can deter creatures that revel in garbage but there are quite a few options.

Granted, there is debate on how effective some of these are but there’s not always a perfect tried and true method. Individual mice have their preferences (and detractions), I suppose. But the following are supposed to help deter the majority of these little critters.

Here are some mouse repellents and deterrents some people swear by:

  • Soak cotton balls in peppermint oil
  • Peppermint oil spray (apparently, mice don’t like peppermint!)
  • Dryer sheets (fabric softener sheets)
  • Mothballs
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Fresh Cab Rodent Repellent

There’s a long-standing old wives tale that bars of Irish Spring soap will deter mice but it seems that myth has been busted. From my experience, they actually relish gnawing away at the green stuff.

Note that any deterrent that uses strong smells or essential oils will lose effectiveness over time. You’ll need to replace these fragranced repellents regularly.

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5. Burn all bridges

Mice can jump quite high (13 inches) but they prefer to climb. So, you need to make sure there aren’t any bridges that give easy access from the ground to your RV. This includes any tubes hanging down and your tires.

While you can keep any tubes from hanging down, what in the world are you supposed to do about your tires?!

In short, you wrap sheet metal around your tires. Mice can’t climb up the slippery surface.

Our recent experience with mice…

Last winter we bagged three mice with glue traps only after a little critter disabled our toad by gnawing the fuel line. It was a costly repair that necessitated the need for a tow and rental car.

Also, be sure to check out The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Mice Out of an RV.

Worth Pondering…

I have a very bad relationship with mice.

—Casey Affleck

The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Mice Out of an RV

I don’t know about you, but I really do not like mice. I guess the mice in the cartoons are okay, but all other mice are not welcome anywhere near me.

Mice can wreak havoc on your RV and nobody likes to have little pests living in their walls or cabinets. They can also chew through your electrical wiring and leave droppings all over the vehicle.

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Imagine relaxing in your RV for a good night’s rest after a long day of outdoor adventures and hearing a bump somewhere in the RV, a scratching against a wall, or a tiny squeak. You don’t know where it came from or what it is, so you check it out. You get out of bed, turn on your flashlight and you see it: a pair of beady, little rodent eyes reflecting back at you. You scream, and it scurries away.

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There are other ways to tell if mice are in your RV and some ways are more obvious than others. However, as we all know, mice are elusive and very shy rodents. Many of them manage to go unseen and so we are often left to depend on other ways to detect their presence. The best way to detect them without physically seeing them is to look for proof of mouse activity and there are several ways to do that.

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Mouse droppings go wherever mice go. So, if you have mice in your RV, you will also have mouse droppings. While mice do a pretty good job of hiding themselves from us, they aren’t as careful with their poop. Their droppings are typically about a quarter-inch in length. You can tell if they are fresh by the color: newer droppings are darker and shinier while older droppings look dusty and dry. Mice also tend to leave their droppings in larger concentrations in areas closer to their nest.

Related: Tips for Cleaning and Disinfecting Your RV

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If you have mice, you probably have a mouse nest, too. Mice build their nests with whatever small, lightweight materials that they can get their little hands on. They typically shred and gnaw on paper, fabrics, insulation, electric wires, small plastics, other household materials, and really just about anything that a mouse can use to make their nest. Look around the inside of your RV for evidence of shredded or gnawed on materials. Also, be sure to check your pantry, cabinets, closets, and drawers for any proof.

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In case you’re wondering, mice like to multiply once they find a nice place to stay and they do it pretty fast. One day, you’ll have just one mouse, and the next week, you’ll have a dozen.

Don’t let this be your reality. Here is some important information to know about keeping the mice out of your adventures.

Mice can be kept out of an RV by using preventative measures such as sealing any holes under your RV, in your door/window frame, and keeping a clean space. Other methods help with mice removals, such as spring-trap mousetraps, mouse bait block, box traps, mint essential oil, and glue traps.

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What attracts mice to your RV

Most often, mice are drawn to warm places because the outdoors is cold and damp. That warm air drifting out of the RV is a big invitation to the mice to come and join the party. That is the last thing that I want!

These mice are not the cute, friendly ones you see in the cartoons; they will invade, multiply, and destroy your space.

Mice also are attracted by food whether that means crumbs, leftover scents, or even things that smell like food but are inedible. Think of the mouse in 2007 computer-animated comedy film, Ratatouille; he lifted his nose up into the air to sniff out the scent, smelled some food that was a block away, and then chased it down.

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They might not have the same culinary skills as the mouse in the movie, but mice do have the same senses. They will smell that food you left out the night before, the crumbs left on the table, or the food that hasn’t been stored away properly. And they will come for it if they’re desperate enough and chances are they are always desperate enough.

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Any small hole in an RV can be a possible entrance for mice. Common entry point areas are the underbelly, the shore power cord compartment, sewer hose, and openings above the wheels. Keep in mind that mice don’t require much room to wiggle through. A quarter-inch diameter hole is large enough for them to squeeze through.

Related: Raise Your RV IQ with These Tips

Once the mice have snuck their way through an opening to the inside of your RV or a heated basement storage area, the one thing that offers them a nice stay is any form of loose materials laying around. As soon as they have their nest and have found good sources of food and warmth in your RV, they’re all set and ready to stay.

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Inspect your RV for any entryways for mice

One of the greatest skills of an average mouse is being able to fit through tight spaces. They might not be able to fit through every tiny crack you might have in your RV but they will chew through most anything they can’t fit their bodies into.

The reason why this is so important to know is that those holes and cracks in your RV let out streams of warmth or scents of food. This is all a mouse needs to be interested enough in the space to check it out.

Don’t think you have any cracks or holes in your RV? Have you checked underneath your RV? The easiest ways for mice to get into your RV are typically through any sort of gaps around the sewage, electrical, and water lines at the entry points of your RV. Take a very close look at the underside of the RV, and make sure you don’t have any of these gaps.

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If you do have a few gaps, have no fear, spray foam is here! You can use the foam that will harden itself to fill the gaps and keep the pesky mice out. You can also use steel wool to stuff inside other holes because it tends to be too difficult for the mice to chew through.

Now that you have inspected the RV from the outside for any cracks and holes that could be serving as secret entryways for mice, you need to inspect the inside as well.

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Inspect the RV interior for signs of mice or possible attractions

Are there crumbs lying around on the counter or floor? Is there food sitting out that should have been put away? Are there loose papers randomly scattered throughout? Is there a bunch of dirty socks or dirty laundry lying on the floor instead of being stored somewhere?

Don’t be embarrassed if this is what the inside of your RV looks like. This isn’t a clean-check or cleanliness contest. I’m just asking because these are all things that could be attracting the mice or serve as great nesting materials for the mice.

Believe it or not, a clean RV is boring and unattractive to mice and they’re more likely to leave it alone because there’s nothing left for them to snack on or nest in. Sounds like something a mom would tell a messy little kid to convince them to clean up their room, right? Except, in this case, it’s true!

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Preventative measures

If you have any open food on counters or tables you should place the food in storage containers to keep the scents out of your RV and away from those little mousy noses.

You can also ensure that mice won’t be making a nest out of your favorite shirts and socks by using scented detergent and freshening spray. Mice can’t handle strong perfume scents and tend to stay away from them. This also comes in handy because you can use the scented dryer sheets to put into some of the questionable holes inside your RV.

Related: How to Reduce Moisture and Condensation in Your RV

I’m also not a big fan of using mouse poison or any of those other chemicals.

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Like I already said, mice aren’t big fans of fresh scents. Mice have good senses of smell and there are some scents that they tend to avoid. You can try spraying or placing these scents around your RV (especially around entrances). Some deterrents to try include:

  • Mint
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Mothballs
  • Peppermint
  • Cinnamon
  • Vinegar
  • Dryer sheets
  • Tea bags (peppermint is best)
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Soak cotton balls with peppermint oil and leave them in the mice-infested area. Be sure to refresh often. And you could try using a mint-scented cleaner for your RV or just drop a bit of mint essential oil into your cleaner and not only will it keep your RV smelling fresh, but it will help to keep the mice away.

These may have varying degrees of success, especially if they sit for a long time and begin to lose potency.

And then, of course, there are cats, but I don’t think we need to get into that at this time.

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Any of these natural solutions may work as mouse repellent and should help to keep the mice away or scare them away if they are already inside your RV.

So you read through my list of natural solutions for evicting or repelling mice, and you’re not a firm believer in the all-natural? It’s okay. I’m not offended. I understand, and I’ll even give you some other ways how to kill off those pesky mice.

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There are a wide variety of natural scents and products that are at the very least rumored to get rid of mice (see above). However, once you have a bona fide mouse problem underway, these might not be strong enough to deal with the problem quickly and effectively.

That said, it’s never a bad idea to add some peppermint oil or mothballs to your cabinet to help prevent future visits from more mousey friends. But in the meantime, you may need to amp up your game and turn to actual mousetraps to get the job done. There are a variety of different types of mousetraps available on the market.

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Box traps work by luring the mouse in with bait and then trapping the mouse inside the box with no way to exit. Once the mouse goes into the box, it closes and traps the mouse inside. This is probably one of the easier ways to kill off your mice because you don’t have to go searching for them once they die because they cannot escape. In theory, you could collect box traps with still-living mice inside them and release them outdoors (but, why would you?) though most people usually simply dispose of the boxes once they’re full.

Related: Top 10 RV Travel Tips of All Time

Glue traps are simple but effective: you place these sticky sheets in areas where mice are likely to travel and when the mouse steps on the trap, its feet get stuck and it can’t move. Glue traps are affordable, easy to use, and small enough to fit in areas that may not be usable with larger traps, such as below your windows along the kitchen counter.

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Old-fashioned spring traps are the type you remember from Saturday morning cartoons and they work just as advertised. These are probably self-explanatory but basically, you put some sort of bait like cheese or peanut butter on the tip, the mouse creeps up, and…SNAP! Pretty basic, and you need to watch your fingers when setting it, but they get the job done. They can be a really effective way to kill off the mice you have which, combined with targeted cleaning efforts, can lead to a pest-free area.

Finally, you can try using an ultrasonic sound device as part of your efforts into how to mouse-proof an RV. These are small electronic devices that emit an ultrasonic pitch that humans can’t hear. Mice have sensitive ears and will want to avoid anything that is loud or distressing.

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The downside of this tactic is that dogs and other pets may be affected by it as well and may become distressed and irritated by the noise. If you don’t have pets though, this can be a good method to try.

So far this winter I’ve bagged three mice with glue traps.

Worth Pondering…

I have a very bad relationship with mice.

—Casey Affleck