Wildlife-watching can be a fun camping activity—as long as all the animals stay outside. And while it can be easy enough to keep food and gear away from larger creatures like bears and raccoons, there’s one animal that can be trickier to outwit: mice.
Whether your camper is parked at home or set up at a favorite campsite, the last thing you want is rodents wrecking havoc inside. They’re more than a nuisance; one small mouse could cause a lot of costly damage if they chew wiring, upholstery, or other parts of the camper. (Not to mention they’ll leave plenty of mouse droppings!)
Since RVs and campers are often packed with food and set up in mouse habitat, it’s not uncommon for mice to get inside them. Fortunately, however, there are plenty of things you can do to deter them. And as an added bonus, anything you do to deter mice will also discourage other animals and insects. Here are 12 tips how to keep mice out of a camper.
In a Hurry? – Check out these safe and easy to use Mouse and Rodent Repellents
1. Keep doors closed at all times.
This one seems obvious, but one of the easiest ways for mice to get into a camper is to simply dart through an open door. When you’re camping (especially if you’re loading and unloading), it can be tempting to leave the camper door ajar for just a moment or two. But a moment is all it takes for a mouse to find his way in. Make sure the door is closed as quickly as possible whenever people are going in and out—especially at night when mice are most active.
2. Seal or secure all entry points.
Inspect your camper’s other entry points such as windows and vents. Make sure they’re fitted securely with screens if you plan to have them open.
3. Clean up quickly and regularly.
Doing simple things like washing dishes right away and wiping down cooking surfaces can go a long way in cutting down on the scents and crumbs that attract mice. Try to make a regular habitat of cleaning up right after you eat and storing leftovers properly.
4. Store food in sealed, hard-sided containers.
It’s easy for mice to chew through food packaging like bags, cardboard boxes, and plastic packaging. To add an extra line of defense, store food items in hard-sided containers that have a lid with a tight seal. (This will keep bugs out of food too.)
5. Use a sealed trash can.
For convenience’s sake, it’s nice to have a trashcan or two in your camper. But trash also attracts creatures like mice so instead of using a traditional open wastebasket, use a trashcan with a tight lid. This will cut down on smells that attract mice and deter them from getting into the trash.
6. Deep clean the camper each time you use it.
Any bit of leftover food—a few crumbs, a coffee spill—can attract a hungry mouse. Be sure to thoroughly clean all surfaces, cupboards, drawers, refrigerator, microwave, and storage areas after each trip. You should also vacuum upholstery, rugs, and other fabrics to make sure they’re free from crumbs.
7. Don’t store food in the camper.
Obviously there will be food in the camper when you’re using it, but remove all food (even packaged nonperishable food) anytime the camper will be unoccupied. This includes between trips and when you’re done using it for the season.
8. Find and fill holes or gaps in your camper’s interior.
Be aware that an adult mouse can fit through a dime-sized hole. Check walls, floors, door and window frames, and the ceiling for any openings. Then check storage areas, cupboards, drawers, and other enclosed spaces. It helps to do this on a sunny day, when you may be able to see light coming in from outside. Once you’ve found all the gaps and holes, fill them with steel wool (mice won’t chew through it) and with either caulk or expanding foam spray.
9. Find and fill holes or gaps in your camper’s exterior.
Blocking holes from the inside can keep mice from entering the camper itself, but it won’t prevent them from getting into the camper’s walls. That’s why you need to look for holes in the camper’s exterior too. If you have a trailer, be sure to check the bottom of the trailer, especially the places where the utilities enter. If there are gaps in these areas, fill them with steel wool and with either caulk or expanding foam spray.
10. Use a homemade mouse deterrent.
If you’d like a humane way of discouraging mice that’s also safe for people, there are several common DIY deterrents. One of the most popular DIY mouse deterrents is a cotton ball dipped in peppermint oil. Place dipped cotton balls near entrances or other places mice could show up—they supposedly dislike the strong scent. Other potential deterrents that are worth a try include: Irish Spring soap, dryer sheets, or mothballs. (Just make sure you like the scent of whatever you use!)
11. Try a store-bought mouse repellent.
If the DIY route seems like too much work or isn’t effective for you, you can also buy products that are meant to repel mice.
- Grandpa Gus's Potent Repellent is an all-natural spray made from peppermint and cinnamon oils.
- Bell + Howell Ultrasonic Pest Repeller is a plug-in repeller that emits ultrasonic frequencies that mice and other pests don’t like.
- Fresh Cab Botanical Rodent Repellent is a pouch of corn cob plant fiber that’s infused with balsam oil. Place the pouch wherever mice are a problem and the scent should discourage them from coming back.
- Victor PestChaser Rodent Repellent is another ultrasonic plug-in repeller. They come in a six-pack and each one has a built-in nightlight.
- Rodent Sheriff Pest Control is a nontoxic peppermint oil spray that can be used for mice, raccoons, roaches, and ants.
How To Keep Mice Out Of A Camper During Winter
12. Store your camper on a hard, flat surface.
When you’re done camping for the season—or even between trips—park your camper on concrete or pavement if possible. Although it’s sometimes more convenient to keep a camper parked in the yard or on grass, these areas are prime mouse habitat. (Since mice are prey animals that like cover, mice are less likely to cross flat open areas.)
Another tried-and-true method of keeping mice from making a home during the camping offseason is placing dryer sheets or Irish Spring soap near possible points of entry. Moth balls can be used in the place of the two prior options, but personally I much prefer the smell of the dryer sheets and Irish Spring soap come the next camping season.
13. BONUS TIP – Try Mouse Free
Mouse Free is a spray lubricant that can be sprayed on the frame of your camper trailer or RV to help prevent mice from getting in. Since mice are primarily nocturnal, they use their sense of smell to navigate in the dark.
Mouse Free is a non-toxic, self-lubricating spray that’s made with several essential oils (spearmints, peppermints, etc.), which are things that mice do not like to smell. The protection also lasts a lot longer than the protection that the standard dryer sheet method provides, as the essential oils retain their potency for much longer than your typical dryer sheets.
- Coat and protect up to a 24’ RV. Unused product does not expire and can be saved for your next application.
- Air compressor (NOT included) required for spray applicator. Simply spray the entire undercarriage of your motorhome or trailer using a compressed air hose with pressure between 80-100 PSI.
- The Mouse Free product works very well at preventing mice from entering your RV. It is not designed to get rid of existing mice. ‘Bait and Trap’ methods must be used to reduce any existing population of mice. We recommend immediate action when evidence of rodents are found. Mice can multiply very quickly, and damage to your RV may result.
Follow these tips and you’re more likely to have a mouse-free camper!