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Sanitizing Your Home to Keep Rodents Away

Indoor Sanitation

Inside sanitation measures include the following:

  • Checking every nook and cranny of your house for debris that rodents could nest in or use to build nests. Leaving any kind of debris around for any length of time invites infestations and reinfestations.

  • Eliminating water sources. This includes repairing water leaks and insulating cold water pipes to prevent condensation. If you store water, keep it in sealed, rodent-proof containers.

  • Disposing of trash regularly. Put it in rodent-proof containers, and take it out often. Clean the containers inside and out with soap and water on a regular basis, too.

  • Clutter-proofing all rooms. Keep all clothing off the floor. Don't store clothing and other soft goods under beds.

  • Keeping exterior doors and windows closed. If they're screened and there are holes in the screens, get them fixed.

Rodent Repellents

A Fine Mess

Don't use repellents where rodenticides or traps are in place. These products will contaminate them, and negate your baiting and trapping efforts. Not all states register rodent repellent for use. Check the regulations where you live before buying them.

While they won't solve a rodent problem, rodent repellents are another way to make your home less rodent-friendly. These products use certain chemicals or scents of natural predators, such as fox and bobcat, to deter intruders. They typically come in liquid and granular formulations and have been shown to be moderately effective in reducing the number of rodents entering treated areas.

Repellents are usually broadcast or sprayed around the perimeter of the house. They can last up to three months depending on weather conditions. Water can dilute them and make them less effective.

Indoor repellents are also available, and many people like to include them as part of an overall pest-control program. One type uses a removable and reusable rope as its delivery system.

There are also all-natural repellents. These often contain essential oils like peppermint or spearmint that rodents hate the smell of. If you really don't want to use chemicals, they're worth a try. However, there's no scientific data to support their effectiveness, so be ready to try something more powerful if you don't get the results you're seeking.

Some people swear by dryer sheets as a rodent repellent. Mice supposedly can't stand the smell of them, and won't go near them. However, this is anecdotal information at best. Talk to a rodent-control expert after he or she has treated a building where a dryer sheet has been stuffed in every crack, and you'll be told it isn't an effective control measure.

Ultrasonic devices are another repellent with dubious results. While it's true that rodents can't stand the sound they emit, these devices are directional and can't be heard behind objects. What's more, distances affect their effectiveness. They might chase away the rodents, but all the critters do is take up residence somewhere else,typically in the same building.

Dogs and cats are also ineffective repellents. Yes, they can seek and destroy rodents, but both species are used to living close to other animals, and they're not particularly bugged by rodents. In fact, many pest-control experts agree that homes with pets are more likely to have rodent problems than those that don't, as mice and rats are attracted to pet food, and the pets don't do a thing to the little critters when they see them.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Common Household Disasters © 2005 by Paul Hayman and Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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