How To Keep Mice Out Of Your Camper BEFORE They Get In
By Kelly Beasley
Last Updated: August 1, 2022
We hope you're not here for RV mouse-proofing tips because your rig already has critters. Instead, we hope you want to find out how to keep mice out of your RV BEFORE they get in.
Any RVer with half a brain immediately knows what 'that sound' is in the walls or what made that little black poo.
If you hear it, you know you've got a mouse problem (or multiple mice) in your camper. It's the #2 thing you don't want to find in your RV, second to water damage.
Fast fact for you: Mice produce around 75 mouse droppings a day. And that's the least of their destruction.
So, it might be wise to figure out how to keep mice out of your camper.
The Uninvited RV Mouse
When I bought my travel trailer, I did not bother learning how to mouse-proof a camper. And so, I eventually had a mouse, and it got in while I was boondocking outside Zion National Park.
Mice produce around 75 droppings PER DAY.
That mouse had no fear. It's like he was accustomed to hanging out with people, and I had invited him in.
I watched as it scurried out of a hole at the base of my booth seats. It came out, saw me, then carried on as if it saw me every day. Gaaaah!
It was time to learn how to get rid of mice in an RV.
Getting The Mouse Out
Long story short, I opened a window, and the mouse fell out, walking on the exit arm. Success!
He was gone.
The Mouse Came Right Back In
Here's the bad news. He came right back in the same way he got into my camper in the first place.
As much as I didn't want to kill anything, I couldn't catch him. After a day or so of failure, mousetraps were set. I HATED doing it.
But I couldn't let him continue to destroy my stuff and spread disease and general disgustingness inside my tiny home.
It took a few more days for the execution to take place.
In less than a week, he hoarded bits of dog food, put a hole in a ski jacket, chewed a hole in my ski pants, got into dog food and cereal, probably damaged some other stuff I cannot remember, and made a nest inside one of my UGG boots.
Poop and pee were everywhere under my booth area.
Having little critters in your home is unacceptable. But it can happen if you don't take preventative measures to keep them out BEFORE getting one in your RV.
First, let's cover preventative measures, then we'll cover how to get rid of existing mice in your camper.
How To Keep Mice Out Of Your Camper
Ok, so there are more than a few mice 'deterrents' out there. There are deterrent efforts and ideas some claim worked for them, but others say they were ineffective.
I'm listing most of the mouse deterrent for campers that you'll find, naming the sure-fire ones and the wishy-washy ones.
This way, you can choose your RV mouse prevention method. If you want to try the wishy-washy ones, have at it.
Here are the ways of keeping mice out of RVs (in order) from most effective (IMO) to least effective. (Hint- the first three are the only guarantees for keeping them out.)
- Block holes leading in from the inside
- Block holes leading in from the outside
- Build sheet metal tubes
- Keep a spotless RV/pack food items away
- Peppermint oil-soaked cotton balls
- Fresh cab pouches
- Lights under your RV
- Open your motorhome hood
- Irish spring soap
- Dryer sheets
Block Holes From The Inside
Sounds easy, right? Actually, it is. This is best done before packing up the RV. As in, it's best done immediately after purchase.
You've got to be able to see ALL possible potential entry points. This will stop them from getting into your living space, but it won't stop them from getting into your walls.
If their head can get through a hole, they can get their body through those entryways. Pay special attention to where pipes come into your rig. Plumbing lines are often an entry point.
So you need to seek out EVERY gap larger than half the size of a dime and FILL IT.
What should you use? Expanding foam works great.
There's a spray foam called Great Stuff.
Go lightly on the spray foam. It expands more than you may realize.
If you want extra protection, add steel wool first, then fill it with foam. Legend is that mice won't chew through steel wool, though I have seen them do just that.
Still, a mouse won't chew through spray foam+steel wool without knowing if there's anything on the other side.
Some claim that spray foam won't work as 'they will chew right through it.'
Sure, they may chew through it trying to get OUT or to get BACK IN (as I have witnessed in someone's house before), but if they have never been in, they aren't going to waste their time trying to get through.
Depending on the locations and sizes of the potential entry points, you could also use a caulking product for the gaps and cracks.
Block Holes From The Outside
Different types of recreational vehicles have different levels of difficulty when filling holes from the outside. My RV camping trailer was pretty simple. Mine is a travel trailer with a flat bottom, and entry points were easy to see.
Holes were filled with spray foam or caulking or were also covered with foil tape. It's been keeping mice out ever since. You can also use mesh screens to block, then cover it with foam.
If there's no entry point, you won't have rodents in your RV unless you let them in through the door.
A motorhome is difficult. Even if you do a thorough inspection, you can't get to most areas underneath that may serve as entry points.
Don't forget to check your seals and seams on your slide-out.
This is why I list blocking from the INSIDE as the most important to keep mice out. If you can find openings from under your motorhome, by all means, fill them.
If not, you had better check every nook and cranny on the inside to keep little critters out of your living area. This means opening every cabinet, every access panel, and looking under/behind every piece of furniture.
Last but not least, cover any vent holes with a wire mesh.
Make Sheet Metal Tubes
You can go to the hardware store and buy thin sheet metal.
Cut the sheets long and high enough to make 'circles' or vertical tubes around your jack, levelers, and tires. (Best if you are parking for a long time or storing.)
These are vertical walls that the mice can't climb. Make sure they are high enough. 8-10 inches tall should do the trick.
Mice come inside your camper to find warmth, nesting materials, food, and safety. You can remove one of those attractive features: food.
Ya gotta keep it clean, y'all. You will attract them much faster if you leave crumbs, leave food out, leave pet food out, have an open trash can, etc.
After your camping trip, don't keep food in your camper. Take ALL the food out to mouse-proof it as best as possible. Even if your foods or condiments are in plastic bins, they can and will easily chew right through them for the food.
It might be more convenient to leave staple foods in there, but you'll change your mind quickly once you have a rodent infestation.
Other materials are just as attractive even if food is not in your camper during storage. If you can, store your rig empty.
Make sure to remove items such as toilet paper, paper towels, towels, and any cloth, as they love this stuff to make nests, and they eat it.
Mice make meals out of just about anything. Even plastic bins, grrr.
Do a THOROUGH clean of all surfaces before storing. (I love and use AWESOME cleaner. That stuff cleans anything- even black streaks on the outside of your RV.)
This means, especially if you have kids, you need to clean under cushions, behind pull-out couches, inside cabinets and any nooks and crannies, and any places food bits fall.
Peppermint Oil Soaked Cotton Balls
This one will not eliminate existing mice, but peppermint oil reportedly is a good mouse deterrent for RVs.
Mice supposedly don't like the smell of peppermint oil. Some swear by it, and others (pest control experts) say it won't work.
Part of the reason it won't work is that the oil smell rises. So while a room may smell like peppermint to you, way up high at your nose level, to a mouse, it only smells next to the cotton ball.
Also, once these little critters have established themselves inside your recreational vehicle, there aren't many RV rodent repellents that will effectively run a mouse away from its deluxe new home, nest, and possibly babies.
The downside of using peppermint oil is the upkeep. The peppermint smell goes away after a few weeks on the cotton balls.
Fresh Cab Pouches
Do these corn-cob-filled pouches with botanical smells work as a mouse repellent for campers?
Again, hard to know. It's an odor-based repellant, just like the peppermint oil.
It's non-toxic. Use one packet for up to 125 square feet.
If it's me, I am banking on my sealing up the interior gaps to keep mice from crawling in to see what the environment is like inside my camper.
But this might help in case you missed blocking a crack.
Lighting Under The Camper
Is this how to keep mice out of a camper? The consensus is divided.
The remaining remedies listed below, including this one, are questionable. Some claim they deter, and others say nope.
Try at your own risk. If nothing else, the lights can't hurt, and they look nice at night.
LED Rope Lights
Open Your Motorhome Hood
In rodent-rich areas like the desert and wooded areas, critters like to get into engine compartments. They want the warmth, the darkness, and they like to chew the wires, rubber lines, and more.
A good preventative measure to make it less appealing to rodents is opening the hood. This allows light in and makes it less of a protective sanctuary for them.
Some people also put a light in the engine area. If they nest in your motorhome engine, they are more likely to get into your RV living quarters, too.
Irish Spring Bar Soap
Does Irish Spring Keep Mice Out Of Campers?
It IS strong smelling stuff. And some people say that this is a good RV mouse deterrent.
I read another person who laughed and said the mice saw it as food ATE the soap. Talk about a backfire!
Maybe east coast mice prefer it, and west coast mice hate it, haha.
Either way, it's potentially a cheap way to try to discourage them from making a home in your RV.
You could try putting a bar outside on the ground first. If it ends up with chew marks, it's definitely not what keeps mice out of campers.
Are mothballs the best way to keep mice out of a camper? I know I wouldn't want my tiny home to smell like moth balls.
So, maybe certain mice despise it? I'm no mouse, and I hate it.
This is not a solution I would ever try. Call me crazy.
But hey, maybe for storage, if you are going to store it for a long time, this could be another in your 'keep mice out' arsenal.
Hire Your Cat
Eh. I have heard many stories of cat owners whose cats did nothing about the little critters in their camper.
This is also not helpful if your RV is in storage.
But if you have a mouser cat, hopefully, if you have mice in RV, your cat will get it.
So, do Dryer Sheets Keep Mice Out Of Campers?
If nothing else, they will sweeten the smell in your RV. Better than mothballs, if you ask me.
Go ahead. Place them around your rig. It can't hurt.
Or, maybe they can- the mice might use them as nest-building material. Oops, and haha!
But if you want to keep mice out of RV infestation, you must replace them periodically as they lose potency. Boo.
How To Get Rid Of Mice In A Camper
Ok, so you didn't do any preventative measures, your RV mouse repellent didn't work, and now you have mice in your RV. How do you get rid of them?
There are a few traps I can speak of, and some are much more humane than others.
I now own a Victor no-kill mouse trap.
As much as I don't want the critters in my RV leaving droppings, urine, chewing wiring, and possibly causing me health issues, I believe in live and let live.
I don't want to kill unless it's 100% necessary. I encourage you to try using a no-kill trap first.
Once caught, you must release the mouse FAR AWAY.
Make sure it's over two miles. Or they are coming back to their home in your camper.
(Side note: a released mouse may not make it. It is immediately susceptible to predators since it's uncharted territory and has nowhere to hide or live when dropped off.)
No-Kill Mouse Trap
Victor Classic Mousetraps
These are effective mouse traps.
They can also be very humane, as the metal spring powerfully snaps the arm shut, killing the mouse (hopefully) instantly, breaking its neck.
Choose some enticing food items on them as bait.
It could be cheese, crackers, peanut butter, or others. Keep these mouse traps away from children and pets.
Classic Mouse Trap
Sticky Traps For Rodents
Please, please, please, do NOT use these in your camper or ANYWHERE.
First, they are unimaginably cruel. Second, do you want to face the creature, helplessly stuck to the trap and left to die an excruciating death from thirst and starvation (unless you smash it)?
I hope not.
Simply allowing a creature to die a miserable death for only trying to provide for itself is repulsive.
Please don't use these for rodents unless you intend to put them out of their misery ASAP after catching them.
This is NOT recommended, either. Why?
Because that mouse, or mice, will eat it, retreat into their hiding place in your camper, and they'll die. Now you have a dead animal in your wall you can't get rid of.
Not to mention if they go away outside your camper to die, predators may eat them and then get poisoned and die.
Do not use poison bait.
Cleaning Up Camper After A Mouse Invasion
You must do a thorough clean after you have had a mouse infestation. Why? Because they carry deadly diseases such as Hanta Virus.
Mice in camper areas leave mouse droppings that can spread other diseases as well, such as Bubonic Plague, Salmonellosis, and more. They can also trigger allergies.
Additionally, mice leave pheromones in their urine that acts as a guide for other mice to follow. Their tail drags through it, spreading it more. YUCK!
The Cliffs Notes of it is to clean your living space with a bleach solution, and you should also wear gloves.
It's not a bad idea to also wear a mask.
If they made a nest in the wall, if you have access panels to get in there, do try.
But at least if they were in the walls of your tiny home, you have the wall itself as a barrier. Best to try to get behind your camper walls if you can.
This is why you want to keep them OUT before they can get into your camper.
Figuring out how to keep mice out of RVs is not easy. The best course of action is to keep rodents out of your RV in the first place. Take the preventative measures we mentioned here to prevent a break-in.
So how do you keep mice out of a camper? It's easiest to keep mice out of an RV than to battle with the rodents once they're inside.
Seal up any opening you can find on the interior and exterior of your RV, remove any food sources when you are storing your RV, and clean EVERYTHING before storing to remove scents.
Use humane traps if possible.
Now you know more about how to keep mice out of any type of RV!
If you have other solutions that have worked for you, sound off in the comments. We would love to hear your solution to how to keep mice out of an RV!
Author: Kelly Beasley
As a seasoned and passionate RVing expert, I have dedicated myself to living the full-time RV life for over 5.5 years, immersing myself in the unique quirks and joys of the boondocking lifestyle and gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience along the way. In December 2020, my business partner and I made the transition to part-time RVing, but in January 2023, we hit the road once again, this time in our trusty vans. My mission is to help others embrace the RVing lifestyle with confidence and excitement, armed with the knowledge and resources needed to make the most of their adventures. I believe that the more you know, the more you can truly appreciate and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the open road. Join me on this journey and let's make some unforgettable memories.