7 Best Ways to Mouse-Proof Your Pantry

Mice in the pantry? I get it, you want to get RID of those pests. Mouse-proofing the pantry is an all-house effort. I've got you covered for all aspects to keep mice out of your pantry.

If you've ever seen the 1997 movie "Mousehunt" - we're all on the same page here. We are going to do anything it takes to get rid of mice!

1. Secure outside of house to prevent rodent entry

This may not be obvious to everyone, so I am including it here. Every year, especially before the cold season comes, march around the exterior of your house looking for any entry points. Even cracks and crevices are a ticket in for mice.

Don't forget to examine closely around doors and windows. Thawing and freezing can move some elements of the home, or cause rotting - points where mice can get in. Also look under stairs, porches, and basement windows that can be hidden points we don't often check.

If you rent or own your own home, caulk, repair, or stuff holes with steel wool that mice cannot chew threw. Keep landscaping away from the foundation, mice love cover - predators can get them out in the open so they avoid it. This may require some removal of shrubbery or trimming bushes.

You won't be able to examine everywhere; mice climb and their entry point could be on the second story. People in apartments won't have control over this, but it brings us to point #2.

Absolutely put poison around the house parameter before mice can even attempt to get in. My neighbor has an ingenious system of homemade PVC tubes fashioned in a "T" form. Each side of the top of the T is an entry point where mice can get access to the poison. The leg of the T is for securing to the ground with a long u-shaped wire. This prevents your pet or the neighbor's pet from getting into it.

There are other online outdoor trap solutions, especially for the bigger version: rats. If you live on an acreage or farm and feed outside animals, you are in the mouse hot zone. Keep food cleaned up and covered if possible. 

2. Examine the inside of the house or apartment for entry points

It will be difficult to find all entry points, but you can at least try.

Things to look for: 

  • holes around ductwork, electrical outlets, and pipe fittings coming into building
  • basement foundation openings
  • points where a garage attaches to a house
  • attic door that mice can get in from the roof
  • holes in drywall that mice have chewed through
  • examine fireplaces that have chimney access from the roof
  • check dryers and floor vents and air vents

Know your weak points. Kitchen base cabinets are horrible! Traditional counters are installed with gaps where the counter meets the top of the base cabinet - perfect for mice.

3. Clean up food to discourage mice

This may seem obvious, but this could be new for first-time mice encounters.

  • sweep floors and under stove and refrigerator
  • wash counters and stove
  • vacuum floors
  • put lids on dry food and dog food
  • wipe out crumbs inside cabinets and on shelves
  • I'm not sure if mice eat non-food materials like glue. I'm thinking that some bugs eats the glue in book binding. I feel safe in saying that if other food is readily available, they will not eat non-food materials, but they may in an emergency.
    Don't mistake eating nonfood items for gnawing on wood and other materials to keep their incisors filed down (they never stop growing). Chewing up clothing pieces is just an attempt to make bedding for a nest.

4. Protect your food stash

Ever hear of a pie safe? It's a piece of furniture with punched tin that is pest proof. Think of this strategy in everything you do in your kitchen and food supply to prevent rodent entry.

  • use bread boxes on the counter to corral bread and open packages
  • decant food - this means removing from original store container and putting in glass or plastic mouse-proof containers
  • remove clutter from food storage to discourage mice from hiding
  • add mesh to any pantry entrances to prevent mouse access to pantry
  • be wary of fresh fruits and vegetables stored out in the open, consider transferring to bin with mesh wire
  • put pet food on timer to automatically serve and close all pet food tightly
  • A note about pantry doors: ventilation is important. Most homeowners solve this issue by leaving a generous gap at the bottom of the door for air flow. Unfortunately, that is plenty of room for any mouse to get through.
  • strategically place mouse traps, natural deterrents, and other mouse hacks in your pantry

If mouse issues are really bad, consider installing a seal at the bottom of the pantry door, and incorporating a mesh opening near the top of the door for air flow. Some people use a transom window - I've seen mice scale walls inside farm buildings. Don't trust those little buggers, they will get in an open window!

5. Clean up inside clutter to discourage mice

There are two types of mice: house mice and what I call "country" mice. The country mice are the ones with the overly-large eyes. Country mice are constantly looking for fluffy things to build nests from. 

What this means to you is to clean up and put away papers. If there is a stuffed animal with a torn seam, those darn mice will find it!

6. Use the right trap for the right mouse type and the right bait

Those same country mice that love fluffy stuff for nests will also be attracted to "fluff" left on a traditional snap trap. This could be a bit of a cotton ball, quilt or toy stuffing.

Cheese is considered the iconic bait for mouse traps. According to Miche Pest Control, mice don't really like dairy. - don't forget things like butter or peanut butter. They are irresistible to mice.


If you find that you have a mouse that seems to be avoiding capture, it's time to up your game: sticky traps. It's usually the "dirty mice" (what my husband refers to the house mice as) that are the super evasive ones.


I have never tried electronic mouse deterrents. Apparently, there are sounds emitted that don't appeal to mice - try at your own risk.


Peppermint oil, cayenne pepper, pepper and cloves are all natural mouse deterrents. Give them a try!


Mice don't like perfumed dryer sheets. You may never have considered that farm equipment that harvests grains also attracts mice. Here on my family farm, I stuff dryer sheets in the combine cab over the winter. Mice will climb all over the equipment, finding any loose grains or corn.

Another novel mouse hack is using Comet or Ajax cleaner. I've heard of folks sprinkling a circle around the outside of their camper when they put it away for the season. Of course, be aware of accidental pet access.

7. Set your traps in the right location

Mice like cover, but they also prefer guidance. This means that they run along walls and paths.

  • place traps next to walls, and along parameters of rooms
  • place under things, behind couches, or near boxes where are attracted to

In conclusion

Keeping mice out of your house, kitchen, and pantry is an endless battle. Stay on top of it with vigilance! Mouse-proofing should be a regular part of house maintenance.

About the author 

Renee Matt

Renee is a former kitchen designer, home remodeling enthusiast (having lived through several DIY projects), and an Iowa farmwife. Renee is passionate about preparedness, garden skills, and knowing where her food comes from. Years of being a stay-at-home mom and supporting the family farm with hearty meals has been key to Renee's pantry readiness. She uses her professional IT background and expertise to bring the Everything Pantry website to life.

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