“Do Mothballs Keep Mice Away?” is the most frequently asked question readers have when looking for a way to repel mice from their home. If I throw mothballs everywhere around my house, will it keep the mice out? If you’re looking for the short answer – yes, but … (dot, dot, dot) … If you’ll humor me and stick around a bit, there are a few things you should know before you clear the shelves of mothballs to keep the mice away.
What are mothballs?
Mothballs are small balls of chemical pesticide traditionally used to keep moths out when storing clothing. The mothballs you buy these days are typically made of a chemical known as 1,4-dichlorobenzene (sorry for the science lesson, this is important though). It is toxic to moths and moth larvae, so by throwing a couple of these into a small, enclosed container (as in with clothing), you kill moths off before they can do damage. Anecdotally over time, people realize that these things might do more than just kill moths, like repel snakes, mice, or other rodents. I guess that’s why you’re here though – to find out if it works – but there are things you should know before you go mothball crazy.
Straight from the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR):
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that 1,4-dichlorobenzene may reasonably be anticipated to be a carcinogen.
When you “smell” mothballs (i.e. 1,4-dichlorobenzene), you are actually inhaling the insecticide. I’ll let you do the math.
Can you safely use mothballs to repel mice?
So at this point, maybe you’re probably considering an alternate method for getting rid of mice, but common sense can be applied here. Are you winterizing a trailer or camper and trying to keep mice out? This might not be a bad option for you. How about a shed that you want to keep the critters out of all winter because you won’t be in there? Mothballs might do the trick, but sealing all the access points is even more effective. The key here is that you won’t be consistently exposed to the fumes, and when you’re ready to go back into these places, you simply air it out. Open the door, and let the pesticide clear the area before you take a deep breath. Simple as that.
Another thing I should mention is using mothballs to deter mice is more of a preventative measure. If the mice are already there, its effectiveness is diminished. If the living conditions are unfavorable, the mouse may be driven away from settling in, but if it’s already living there, it’s probably NOT enough to uproot it.
One final note on using mothballs. Do NOT use mothballs where animals, small children, or any living creature may ingest them or inhale the fumes for an extended period of time. Especially don’t use mothballs in open air areas of your house or near food. It’s just not worth the risk. So you’re probably wondering…
Are there better ways to keep the mice away?
I’m glad you asked – YES! That’s what this whole site is dedicated to. There are countless tips, tricks, and techniques for getting rid of mice and keeping them away in the first place. Here are a few pages I recommend to get you started:
- Simply stated, for a mouse trap that works: The Best Mouse Trap
- Looking for a simple home remedy: Get Rid of Mice with Peppermint Oil
- To learn it all, try: Get Rid of Mice: The Definitive Guide