Homesteading and self-reliance

10 Effective Ways to Mouse-Proof Your Food Storage

Nadia TamaraA Little Bit of Everything, Do It Yourself, Emergency Food, Emergency Preparedness 18 Comments

Long-term food storage

It’s such a relief to have a storage of food supplies that are guaranteed to last you the next 20 plus years. It takes away so much pressure knowing that if a major disaster were to disrupt the delivery of food to your town for the next few weeks, your basic nutritional needs would still be met.

Food and potable water are vital for our survival. Your emergency food storage is basically an investment in food insurance.

It doesn’t take a major natural or manmade disaster to significantly disrupt the normal flow of interstate and intercity shipping. A late spring frost or rainstorm can also kill the crops you’ve been growing patiently in your garden.

Storing a minimum of 72-hours' worth of food is essential for families but if you ask me, that’s not enough- I recommend a minimum of 10 day’s worth. Food is a luxury, and in a time of dire need, hopefully we’re not the desperate ones rushing to the store and waiting hours in line to find the last bag of rice. Hunger makes people desperate and your stockpile is precious, so you must protect it.

A pepper’s worst nightmare

Let’s say you’re the hard-core prepper of the family (nothing wrong with that, by the way!) You have weeks or months worth of food stored in the basement or another secure place. Life is good until a natural disaster forces you and your family to pull through the storm at home.

Ok, no problem. You’re been preparing for ages. You have everything you need!

So you go get your emergency food out of the storage, as well as other supplies like potable water and your stove kit. You think you have dinner under control…except, wait! …some little intruders have found the food before you and have been feasting on it for who knows how long!!

What is worse than being fully prepared, having your stockpiles ready, and going into your storage or basement the day you need it to find some sneaky rodents who have appropriated everything you worked so hard for.

What do you do now?!

Your food storage room can become a rodent buffet if you don’t protect it and make it non-appealing to pests.

Your long-term food and survival supplies need to stay pest-free for the entire time that you plan to use them. In the case of the food we sell here at Crisis Equipped, that would be up to 25 years!!

Under all situations, your health is your priority. If an animal has been eating off my food supplies, there’s no chance that I would eat out of it too. I’d probably end up in that dreadfully long line at the grocery store alongside all of my unprepared neighbors.

Rodents don’t only cause monetary loss to our stockpiles, but they also carry diseases. It’s a serious matter and in this scenario, prevention is better than cure!

How Do I Keep Mice Out of My Food Storage?

There are two main things that will lure mice to your home: food and water. Once you eliminate all water and food sources, they’ll be forced to find a more suitable place to live.

In order to have a rodent-free home, use as many of the following methods as possible. They are aggressive when they go after our goods, so we have to be aggressive in our process to eliminate them.

I hope these preventative measures help you protect your food before Mickey Mouse and his crew invite themselves over for dinner.

* These tips don’t just apply to dry long-term food storage but also survival seeds.

1. Solve the mouse problem

First things first! If you have one or two mice and a few traps around your food storage, then you can start by safeguarding your food.

If you have an infestation of mice, it’s necessary to take care of that problem first, and then invest in mice deterrents and mice-proof containers. The longer you have mice in your home, the greater the chances that they’ll use other parts of your house to breed, build their nest, eat through your insulation, wires, etc.

Finding the nest is one of the most effective ways to get rid off the infestation. Rodents pee all the time. You can get a better idea of their travel route (eventually leading to their nest) by using a black light to detect where they have been peeing.

Call pest control or an exterminator if you’re having a difficult time.

2. Seal any holes or cracks in the walls/ flooring of your house

This project will take quite a bit of time, but it’s so worth the effort. Don’t overwhelm yourself with it though. Start with the room where you store your long-term food and work your way into the other rooms from there.

Mice can squeeze through the tiniest crevices (even an opening as small as a fourth of an inch!), so seal everything up as best you can. You can cover the little cracks with rodent-proof spray foam, copper wool (Stuf-Fit copper mesh gauze), steel wool, caulk, or putty. Cover larger cracks with hardware cloth, mesh metal sheets, and concrete. Make sure you don’t overlook any common openings, like vents, the pipes under the sink, the water heater, and the chimney. Check the siding of your house for possible gaps, especially in the spot where your utility box is located. Install a metal door sweep under all of your exterior doors.

If, for whatever reason, there’s a hole that is impossible to seal, put a brick in front of it.

3. Maintain the landscaping of your home

Mice like to burrow themselves in places with lots of foliage and weeds. Remove any ivy vines that are growing alongside your house. Rather than having large bushes surrounding your home, plant mint or grass (mow it often to keep it short).

Trim any overhanging branches from nearby trees that may be touching the roof. Make sure the branches are a minimum of 6 feet away from the roof.

Stack your wood and other building materials a minimum of 100 feet away from your home.

If you have fruit trees in your property, clean up any rotting fruit off the ground because rodents love to feast on that too.

If you have a chicken coop, make sure to keep it tidy. If rodents become a problem in this area, set up traps on the outside of the coop away from the reach of the chickens.

Squirrels, chipmunks, and mice also like birdseed. Make sure the feeder is located in a place that only birds can reach.

4. Keep all food storage areas clean and your home as uncluttered as possible

If you keep your long-term food in the pantry or anywhere near the kitchen, be sure to keep it tidy all the time. After you finish cooking or eating, wash the dishes, the countertops, etc. Mice love kibble, by the way. If you have pets and they leave food in the bowl, seal the leftovers in a container. Leave no crumbs or trace food lying around because it can attract hungry mice. Also, your kitchen garbage bin should be kept in a mouse-proof container and have a tight-fitting seal.

Mice and other rodents use scrap materials to establish themselves and build a nest. The more cluttered a home is, the more likely that mice will attempt to invade it. Get rid of newspapers and cloth fabrics you no longer use.

5. Fix leaks and other possible sources of water

Mice need water just like humans do. If there are any leaks or sources of condensation, the mice will find it and be drawn to it.

If there’s a rain or snow storm, check that no moisture is being retained in the garage or basement. Also check for moisture during seasons of high humidity.

6. Put some traps near your food storage

Proper placement of mouse traps is key. Be careful not to put them near the reach of children or pets. All traps should be checked daily. If you notice mouse activity but the traps haven’t caught anything, move the traps around to areas where mouse frequently leave droppings, urine, or footprints.

  • ELECTRONIC TRAP: These types of traps are really convenient and the preferred method, in my opinion because the mice are killed instantly. Once dead, they end up in a covered compartment so you don’t see them (until you have to empty it out, of course). These traps are safe to use near pets and kids. The ones I’ve seen are powered by batteries.

  • BUCKET TRAP: These are great for catching larger mice and rats. It’s a little inhumane if you ask me, because the mice are caught in a bucket of water and drown. It’s easy to make one of these traps yourself- there are plenty of instructional videos on YouTube. Another option is to leave a plastic gallon-sized jug partially filled with water (and some vinegar or sugar added). Mice should end up in there.

  • SNAP TRAP: These are your typical Victor traps. It’s not always successful because the mouse can get snapped in different parts of the body- if they’re lucky, they’ll survive, and sometimes they’ll run away with the trap. If this is your preferred option, keep 10 or more of these in the area where your food is stored. Another good option is the Tomcat trap.

  • CHOCOLATE TRAP: Mice love chocolate. It’s common to put peanut butter on a trap, but oftentimes the mouse runs away with the bait before it can even get caught. If this sounds like something that is happening to you, try covering a few chocolate chips in peanut butter (crunchy preferably) and setting those on the trap. This gives the mouse more time to get the chocolate and a better chance for your trap to catch them. Another thing you can try is chocolate frosting, but keep in mind that during spring and summer, the frosting might attract ants as well.

  • GLUE TRAP: These traps contain a powerful adhesive that sticks the mouse to a board. Essentially they starve to death because they can’t run away. This is a very inhumane way to die.

  • POISON: Many people have great success using poison, but I would use this as a last resort for a couple of reasons. First, if you have any young children or pets in the home, they’re susceptible to eating it (and getting poisoned) too. Secondly, if a mouse eats poison, it’ll walk away and possibly die somewhere inconvenient, like the attic or in between the walls. You will smell its rotting flesh until you find that dead mouse. I don’t know what’s worse…

7. Invest in rodent-proof storage containers

Mice can eat through practically anything, except three things: metal, glass, and heavy-duty hard plastic.


  • Get a few metal trash bins with tight fitting metal lids and store your food supplies in there. You can put something heavy over the lids to weigh them down. This way, it’s impossible for the mice to get inside. You can find metal bins at Walmart, the Home Depot, Lowes, and possibly your local feed store.

  • Large seasonal popcorn tins. These tins are ideal for storing small things like crackers, nuts, and other dry snacks.

  • Metal storage cabinets. Storage cabinets are expensive but it’s worth the investment if it keeps rodents away! Having a metal cabinet with shelves is ideal for those who want to keep their food storage organized, especially all bulk items like grains, oats, wheat, dry noodles, etc.. These cabinets can be locked so it serves to protect your food from looters too!

  • TIP: Make sure to place the metal tins and buckets over a wooden slab to prevent rust from forming. If they’re sitting on concrete, there will be condensation and the bottom of the metal bucket will corrode, making it easy for the rats to get into it.


Store all loose food that comes in bulk (like beans and lentils) in gallon jars, half gallon jars, mason jars, canning jars, pickle jars, and large drink dispensers (the kind that are used for parties). You can probably find a lot of these cheap at yard sales, thrift stores, and even auctions. Make sure they come with tight fitting lids though.


  • Hard plastic bins with tight fitting lids. Mice can chew through soft plastic, so if you have any food stored in plastic bins, make sure they’re made from hard, heavy-duty plastic. Keep an eye on the buckets and possible rodent activity. If you rotate the food, or move the buckets around every few weeks, you’re more likely to see gnawing marks before they can successfully chew through the bucket. Once you see bite marks, it’s your cue to get some traps and invest in another storage container.

  • Get 5-gallon plastic drums or food-grade buckets with gamma seal lids. These buckets commonly contain sold to restaurants. Often times bakeries and restaurants will happily give you their empty buckets for free. It certainly doesn’t cost anything to ask.

  • Heavy-duty plastic totes are also great, but make sure the lid seals completely and there are no cracks that would allow the critters to get in.

: Any food you package yourself should be labeled and dated, especially if you’re storing it in containers that are not see-through.

8. Get a natural predator, like a cat

Most cats love to chase and catch mice. For the few kitties who don’t, try encouraging them with treats as a reward. Make sure the cat learns to kill the mouse before bringing it to you. I knew a very skilled cat who would bring all types of animals to the house (birds, squirrels, chipmunks, you name it!) The problem was that they were always let loose inside the house…alive! If you’re looking into buying a cat that will kill mice, I recommend reading this blog for some tips

Some dog breeds are also known for deterring mice, but keep in mind that rodents may carry disease, so if your pets are chasing them around, putting them in their mouth, or eating them, they might catch the disease as well. The same goes for poison- if a rodent has eaten poison, the predator that eats it will also get poisoned.

Mice love cat and dog food, so be sure to protect and properly store that as well.

9. Deter mice with “unpleasant" smells

Certain spices and scents that we love are known to deter rodents. This might not be the cure-all solution but it will definitely help!

  • MINT: Peppermint and spearmint are the two most popular types of mint used for deterring mice. Grow mint plants around the foundation of your home to dissuade them from getting inside. Spray peppermint and/or spearmint essential oil in target areas, or soak cotton balls with it, and put them near your food storage. Keep the cotton balls away from the reach of children and pets.

    Do not use English Pennyroyal. This type of mint, also known as Mentha Pulegium, is not only an invasive species but is also toxic to both humans and animals. Perilla Mint, also known as Perilla Frutescens, is toxic to pets and therefore isn’t recommended as a rodent-deterrent.

  • TEA TREE ESSENTIAL OIL: Similar to mint, tea tree essential oil is a smell mice run away from. Make a tea tree spray (by mixing water with a few drops of essential oil) or soak some cotton balls and place them in target areas.

  • CAYENNE PEPPER: Sprinkle cayenne in the spots where mice have been lurking (anywhere that mice poop or urine has been found). Hot sauce should have the same effect.

  • CINNAMON: Sprinkle cinnamon powder or leave cinnamon sticks in the areas where mice are hanging out.

  • CLOVES:  This is another spice that can be used in its whole or essential oil form.

  • LAVENDER: Lavender oil works best as a deterrent, especially if you soak a cotton ball with it.

  • MOTH BALLS: Moth balls have a specific scent that is very unappealing for rodents too! Keep the moth balls far from the reach of children and pets.

  • FABRIC SOFTENER SHEETS: You won’t want to put these too close to your food supply, but it’s a good option if you’re having mice problems in other parts of the house as well. “Bounce” seems to be one of the most effective dryer sheets used for this purpose.

10. Get rid of your cardboard boxes

Anything you store in a cardboard box (whether it be books, seasonal decorations, or anything else for that matter) is susceptible to being gnawed on by mice. I recommend you upgrade your storage boxes to heavy-duty plastic totes instead.

If you have tucked away old moving boxes, store them in a hanging shelf that rodents cannot reach.

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In Conclusion

Rodents are attracted to food, that’s not news to any of us! Hence why protecting your food storage from predators and critters should become your priority.

It’s easier to prevent rodents from nesting in your property, than it is to go through the trouble of exterminating them once you have an invasion. The best way to keep them away from your home and food is to create an environment where food and water is not available to them.

I hope you find value in the tips we discussed here.

Has your long-term food storage or animal feed ever been eaten by rodents? What methods have you used to successfully get rid of them? Share your input and insights in the comments below!

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Comments 18

  1. Well I have 3 cats in the house and have had a mouse problem for9 years and going.The cats hear them when I do and look up and go back to sleep.I think it depends on some cats cause I use to have cats that were amazing rat catchers.Leaving them dead.I just found mouse droppings in my cutlery drawer so now I am buying mouse proof containers.EVEN SPENT $1000.00 ON EXTERMINATORS AND NOT ONE MOUSE.Follow the tips above and I bet they will be gone!Forget hiring anyone.Do it yourself.

  2. Hi! We are having recent problems in our neighborhood since road work was performed. I found double protecting very desirable , and / or highly scented foods helps. I use plastic canister type of containers for unopened snacks and candy. But once it’s opened I tape or clip the end shut, and put it in a freezer zip lock bag and then put that bag into a container.
    That has had a good success rate. No attraction to these containers. If I can I use metal. Also, a local park ranger reminded me of avoiding putting any candy, gum, mints or energy bars in your pocket, purse or coats & jackets. My biggest problem is my pet food. I leave dry kibble out for my pets to eat all day. My vet said to elevate it on a stool etc. My cats are a little messy for that so, I put their dish on a plastic box inside of a plastic laundry tub. It takes up a lot of room. But so far, so good. No evidence.
    I did see a news show about an upscale neighborhood in Chicago that was having such a serious problems with rats outside, that they contacted a non profit that was promoting adopting feral cats to keep as well cared for (shelter with heat, water & food in it; vet care ), outdoor pets. It seemed to work well. I think they mark their territory with urine and the rats stay away. I wonder if this has the same effect on mice? Most farms have 3-4 cats.

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  3. Hahaha my cat is totally useless at killing mice, she puts them in the bathtub like she’s a god damn babysitter

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  4. This exact thing happened to me over the weekend when we had no power for days. Thank God we had emergency storage in various areas. We found a dead mouse, but evidence of who knows what! We will absolutely be doing a thoughtful over haul of exactly the steps you shared. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  5. Thanks for the tip that getting rid of carboard materials can be a good way to deter rats from messing with my stuff. I’m thinking about buying heavy duty plastic storage tubs in order to more easily organize the items inside my RV. I think that will make is a lot easier to pack ready-to-eat food for when I start traveling when the holiday season comes.

  6. Tip when setting cheap wooden mouse traps: use glue gun to glue one piece of dog kibble onto metal piece….. it worked for me!

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  7. Hope to reduce our population or wipe them out entirely although not holding out much hope I would if this wasn’t a adult group home so dont live here by myself which means ALL will have to precipitate

  8. I think I have tried most all suggestions but will be buying
    Glass containers to deter those
    Nasty critters.

  9. Read through your suggestions. I’m a textile artist with a lifetime of supplies to store in a country home.
    We’ve managed to reduce the mouse population basis the suggestions posted. The local mice are quite independent.
    They are not interested in our food and bring their own acorns. The last batch of acorns was stored in the inside tube of a roll of paper towels stored under a bathroom sink.
    They stole the mint soaked cotton balls. About 4 dozen total.
    The mice chewed through the steel wool stuffed ‘Great Stuff’.
    They piled acorns in front of the ultrasonic noise makers.
    They ate the peanut butter from the snap traps.
    They ignore the electrocution chambers.
    They do get stuck on the flat sticky papers. The result is not pretty… but neither is mouse poop in the silverware drawer.

  10. These pests have become a real problem for me this summer.. I will try some of the things you suggested.

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