When you’ve got a travel trailer, you know that mice can be exceedingly difficult to keep out. It can be especially hard to keep mice out of your RV in winter when it is in storage. I learned this the hard way when opening up my RV to de-winterize it – yuck! What a mess!
So, I decided to learn everything I could about protecting my RV from mice. Since then, I’ve been consistently refining my system and will show you the best tips for keeping mice out of your travel trailer.
How can I keep mice out of my RV or travel trailer in winter?
A combination of deep cleaning before storage, deterrents (like smells and materials) and sealing every possible entry point is the only effective way to keep mice out of your RV or travel trailer during winter. Dyer sheets, Irish spring soap, and peppermint essential oils will help deter mice.
We’ll take a look at why mice enter campers or other vehicles and what you can do to stop them in their tracks. Keep reading to the end, so you don’t miss our handy tricks and tips for keeping rodents like mice out of your RV.
Keeping mice out is so important. They can do a lot of damage and it may not be covered by insurance. I checked around and found damage from mice is actually covered by one insurance company, Roamly.
Pro Tip: If mice do get into your RV use traps immediately! After trying every trap available and snapping my fingers more than a couple of times, these are my absolute favorite on Amazon.
Update: Actually, I was introduced to a new pet-safe trap on amazon and love these mouse traps too!!
For other RV resources, check out:
- A Guide To Winterizing Your RV (Temperatures And More)
- What You Need To Know About RV Antifreeze And Septic Systems
- Are RV Slide-out Awnings Really Necessary?
How to Keep Mice out of your RV in Winter
Mice go where the food and shelter is and they have a good sense of smell. So, a mouse is sure to find your food if you don’t store it in a properly sealed container.
Simply keep things clean!
When you store your RV for the winter, you should remove all traces of food! Make sure that you do not have any food left in the closets and no food particles or crumbs lying around. Sweep, vacuum, sweep and sweep again!
Tips on How to Keep Crumbs Out and Food Stored Safely From Mice
Not only do you want to keep food from being contaminated by mice, but you don’t want mice to sense the food in the first place. When you are in the camper, keeping things clean will help when it is time to store the trailer for winter. Here are a few tips:
- Keep the garbage bags empty or completely removed from the RV.
- Always use glass or rigid plastic food storage containers – never use Ziplocs or other bags that rodents can easily chew through.
- Keep all food in air-tight sealed containers to avoid smells attracting mice. I use glass storage containers that are microwave safe for re-heating and how locking lids. (I love these storage containers that I got on Amazon)
- Only eat in the dining area inside the RV. Don’t allow kids to eat in the other areas or on the couch.
- Try not to eat inside the RV, but outside instead (when possible).
Keep Mice Out by Sealing Every Tiny Space!
To survive cold weather and rear their young, mice and other rodents are always looking for a safe and warm shelter. This is especially true during the winter season s0 seal every single crack and hole!
Any minor crack or hole is still sufficient for mice to enter your vehicle. These animals are able to squeeze their bodies through small holes of only 1/4 inch – that’s about the diameter of a pencil eraser. Furthermore, they can even make small holes in plastic and thin metal sheets.
This squeeze tube of caulk is easy to keep on hand and does not require a caulking gun.
Look through the inside around the edges of the floor and inside the cabinets. Access points, such as storage often have small space for mice to enter. Don’t forget to check the entire outside of your camper.
Best Mouse Repellents for Campers and Travel Trailers
Here are some practical ways to prevent mice from getting into your RV or travel trailer. This blog is about tricks to keep mice out of your RV or camper in storage. No worries – we cover the best mouse traps at the end …. just in case they do get in anyway.
Let’s dive right in and see how we can keep these suckers out!
Use Mouse Repelling Scents
Humans aren’t the only species that tend to avoid nasty smells. However, mice have a different idea of what makes a smell “nasty” than we do.
Here are a few things mice hate the smell of. Use these to your advantage to deter mice from entering your travel trailer. You can find my personal favorite (that I think works the best) at the end of this list.
- Fabric Dryer Sheets – Mice are not fans of those nicely scented dryer sheets we like to use when doing laundry. Therefore, dryer sheets can help keep mice out of your camper or travel trailer. Try grabbing a box of Bounce or similar scented dryer sheets. Leave these all over your RV so the whole thing smells like fresh laundry, and it may just be enough to keep mice out if there is no food source.
- Essential Oils – Like many mammals, mice seem to dislike the smell of certain plants. Using essential oils like Peppermint to scent the floor of your RV may drastically reduce the rodent’s desire to enter your vehicle. The problem is that these oils will dilute in the air quickly, so frequent re-application is required.
- Will mothballs keep mice out of my travel trailer? Mothballs do not stop mice from entering your RV or travel trailer. Mothballs have been proven to be harmful to mice in high doses, but are not strong enough to kill them or deter them from entering your RV. The chemicals in mothballs are, however, harmful to humans and pets. We recommend not wasting your money on mothballs or putting them in your travel trailer.
- Chili Powder – If you’ve ever inhaled chili powder, would you do it again? Not likely, right? Well, chili powder is also highly effective at deterring mice. The problem is that this isn’t really practical…
- For chili powder to be effective, you would need to sprinkle it everywhere inside. You might decide to try this and just wear a face mask to avoid inhaling the dust or getting it into your eyes. However, come camping season, you’ll have to figure out how to clean it all up which may result in spending a lot of time vacuuming chili powder out of all the nooks and crannies of your RV.
- Balsam Fir – Native to North America, the Balsam Fir tree gives off an odor that people often find it pleasant but rodents typically dislike. Similar to essential herb oils like Peppermint, you can apply a balsam Fir scent to your RV interior to deter mice from entering. However, also like essential oils, it will require regular reapplication.
Smelly soap – Does Irish Spring soap keep mice out of your travel trailer?
Irish Spring soap has a very strong smell that mice hate…and I love. **This is my personal favorite deterrent. I like to buy a large package and place bars of Irish Spring all over my travel trailer. You can easily order Irish Spring on Amazon here. An added perk is that my camper smells like fresh soap when I get it out of storage!
Use Mouse Repelling Materials
Mice will chew through just about anything to get where they want to go. They are also notorious for fitting into the smallest of holes – the size of a pencil eraser! These facts make mice exceedingly difficult to keep from entering a space. However, there’s still hope because certain materials do a great job of keeping mice out.
Here is a list of five materials you can use to block holes you find where mice could enter your RV.
- Steel Wool
If you believe there’s an opening in your RV that’s a gateway for mice, you can wedge some steel wool in there. Steel wool might sound ineffective initially, but mice don’t care to chew the steel wool. You can buy steel wool fill fabric on Amazon.
- Wire Brush
The best physical deterrent aside from a steel plate covering a hole is a rigid wire brush. Think of a wire brush you would use to remove rust from a piece of steel. Here is an example on Amazon.
If you can manage to cut a wooden-handled wire brush to orient the wires so they face outward from an opening, this will really prevent mice from trying to squeeze through.
- Dense Bristle Brush
A trick I learned from a friend who works on door installation for food-grade manufacturers told me the following:
“Mice hate firm bristle brushes. We use it all the time around entrance doors like the shipping and receiving areas in food production plants. For some reason, mice can’t stand this stuff.”Jeremy Shantz – 15 year door technician
He is referring to densely bristled door sweep brushes, like this one from Amazon.
These brushes come in various sizes and mounting types, so you can cut them into the specific size needed to block holes that you can’t seal in other ways.
- Aluminum Foil
We noted earlier that mice can chew through thin sheets of metal, but what about aluminum foil? For whatever reason, mice tend to avoid aluminum. Due to some unknown reasons, aluminum is unnatural to them and they try to stay away from it. As a result, aluminum is a considerably good deterrent.
The issue with aluminum foil is that you need to make it into fairly compacted balls. The jam them into holes to make it impossible for mice to squeeze in.
If you can master the art of making aluminum foil balls to fill holes, it works very well.
5. Don’t Be Fooled By Electric Mouse Repellents
Electric mouse repellents plug into ordinary wall sockets. They emit high-frequency sound waves that claim to drive mice away. Sonic and ultrasonic waves are intended to be irritating to animals that can hear them – which humans can’t. However, while the science does seem to support that mice can hear these noises, it doesn’t necessarily show that they seem bothered by it at all (source).
Another downfall to electric mouse repellents is they need power to work. Mouse invasions typically happen when you are storing your RV. Chances are, your RV will not be receiving power when it’s in storage or winterized, so these devices will be useless.
What’s the Best Mouse Trap to Use In My Travel Trailer?
Despite all of your best efforts to keep mice out of your camper or RV, you may find it inevitable that one still makes its way in.
There are many different types of mouse traps that you can use in your travel trailer to try and catch them once inside. However, you should always use caution when using mouse traps in your RV, especially if you have kids or pets around.
We’ll briefly talk about some of the pros and cons of different mouse traps:
- Metal pedal mouse traps: The traditional spring-loaded mouse traps (such as the ones from Amazon) are what we all grew up watching Tom stumble over as he tried to catch Jerry. While they can be effective for snagging mice, they often miss their target or snap closed by accident. Be sure to keep these in areas where young children or pets can’t reach them and get hurt. Additionally, many people prefer to use no-kill traps, unlike spring-loaded ones.
- Pro tip: If you’re using a metal pedal trap, try baiting it with peanut butter instead of the generic cheese; it sticks better.
- Spring Loaded Pet and Kid safe traps – I seriously do not like the traditional snap traps. They scare me every time I am trying to set them. I was given this style by my neighbor and it is my favorite!! It’s like an oversized clothes pin, so easy to set and super effective!! You can buy a package on amazon
- D-Con No Touch Covered Mouse Trap: My other favorite!! And great for adding to your arsenal during storage!! These traps are great as they are easy to set and dispose of, and you don’t have to see the after-effects. You can bait them with whatever you’d like to avoid using any poisonous chemicals. Just bait, twist and set – check out the covered trap on Amazon.
- Glue Traps: Some people have better luck actually catching mice with glue traps than snap traps. However, these are probably the least humane as the trap itself doesn’t kill the mouse and you can’t remove it once it’s stuck there. Also, if a kid or pet accidentally steps on one of these, you’re in for a nightmare situation getting it off and cleaned up.
- Poison baits and traps: There are also many different types of baited mouse traps that include poison that acts as bait to lure mice in and then kill them. These can be very dangerous, though, especially if you have young children or pets, or if you’re placing them in contained areas such as your RV interior.
- No-kill traps: Last but not least, if you want to catch a mouse without killing it, you can buy animal-friendly no-kill traps. Simply bait (with non-poisonous food) and, once your mouse is stuck inside, take it outside and release the rodent safely. You can find many options online such as these ones from Amazon.
Can I Put a Mouse Trap in My Travel Trailer?
To sum up, there are many types of mouse or rodent traps you can buy that you can put in your travel trailer or RV if you really need to.
However, keep in mind that you’re typically dealing with a pretty tight space as-is. When you have other adults, children and pets running around in your RV – like I do – your mouse traps may become dislodged from their small niches and little hands or mouths may quickly find them.
Use mouse traps to catch mice in your RV only when your camper is in storage for the most effective way to keep everyone safe. Just make sure you’re removing every trap you placed when de-winterizing or getting ready to take it out for the first trip of the year.
Shopping List for Keeping Mice out of Your RV in Winter
If you’re expecting to have to try several different methods of mouse prevention for your RV, I went ahead and created this shopping list with my favorite mouse-repellent products. This way you can pick up more than one product to try out and avoid making several trips to the store. I’ve also linked all of my favorites on Amazon (such as the D-Con No Touch trap – it’s seriously my favorite!) to help make your shopping easier.
- Bounce Dryer Sheets
- Essential Oils
- Irish Spring soap
- Caulking for sealing your RV
- Steel wool
- Aluminum Foil
- Wire Brush
- D-Con No Touch Covered Mouse Trap
Mice In My RV or Travel Trailer – FAQs
How to Clean Travel Trailer After Mice?
First, clean up any urine and droppings you can find. Wear rubber, latex, or vinyl gloves and a face mask for safety before getting started. Once you’ve picked up as much as you can, you’ll want to disinfect the entire RV. Mop the floors with a sanitizing cleaner and wipe down the countertops and other hard surfaces with a bleach solution or disinfectant.
Remove gloves and dispose of them. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap. Alternately, use hand sanitizer until you can get to the soap and water. Mice can harbor a variety of germs and pathogens that you’ll be smart to avoid.
How Do Mice Get Into RVs?
Some common places that serve as ideal mouse entrances to your RV include:
- Gaps near the plumbing or wiring.
- Cracks and gaps in the floor.
- Corners where the walls meet.
- Openings near the doors.
- Open windows and doors. (Even if you’ve downright sealed the vehicle, leaving windows and/or doors open might allow mice and rats to sneak in).
How to Tell If Mice Were In My RV (Without Seeing Them)
Mice are nocturnal; hence they can stay in your travel trailer for days or even weeks without being seen. They love living in a dark environment and avoid getting close to bright lights – kind of like little furry vampires. However, you don’t need to see them to know they’ve been hiding out in your RV. Try looking for chewed-up spots on clothing and foam seat padding, chewed wires, bedding, shredded food packaging, and of course, the infamous black rice-like droppings.
Why Should I Worry About Mice in My RV?
Along with their poor continence manners and tendency to chew up important wires or papers, mice are notorious for carrying a number of nasty germs and diseases. One of the most dangerous diseases that mice are known for spreading to humans is hantavirus.
Humans can exhale dust from the droppings of mice that are infected with the disease. This can occur when cleaning up mouse droppings, especially in small, poorly-ventilated areas such as small rooms or cabinets. Hantavirus can lead to severe lung and heart problems in humans.
If you have a mouse problem in your travel trailer, follow the steps in this guide to mouse-proof your RV as soon as possible.
Clean the entire inside and anywhere that mice could get to, or that you see droppings or urine.
Wear disposable rubber gloves and a face mask or respirator to prevent inhaling any dangerous germs or viruses.
Set traps to catch any mice that may be inside, and keep children and pets out until you’re no longer catching mice or seeing any new signs of their presence.
Final Thoughts on Keeping Mice Out of Your Travel Trailer
Mice are generally harmless and won’t intentionally hurt people. However, they can ruin your things and might even do some massive damage to your RV – and even your health – if they aren’t removed immediately. Or, better yet, just don’t let them in or anywhere near your RV. Hopefully, these tips help you do just that.
Oh – and don’t forget your mouse repellant.
To read more resources on how to care for your RV, read these next: