There's one particular sound or sight that RV owners dread hearing/seeing.
Any RVer with half a brain can immediately figure out what is making the noise in the walls or what used to own that little black poo.
If you hear it, you know you've got a mouse (or multiple mice) in your camper. It's the #2 thing you don't want to find in your RV. It's second only to water damage.
Fast fact for you- mice produce around 75 mouse droppings a day. And that's the least of the destruction they spread.
So, yeah, it might be a smart idea to figure out how to keep mice out of your camper.
The Uninvited RV Mouse
I once had a mouse in my RV. Picked it up while I was boondocking outside of Zion National Park.
Mice produce around 75 droppings PER DAY
This mouse had no fear. It's like he was accustomed to hanging out inside other people's homes and had been invited in personally by yours truly.
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!
Getting The Mouse Out
I tried to herd it out the door, but when I got close, it ran back into the hole.
So I blocked the hole. It got into/under my stove area. I opened it.
It ran towards my bed (NOOOOO). I figured the dogs would go after it, but it pretty much ran right across Trixie's feet and she just watched.
I hustled it away from my bed. And tried to come up with a way to get it out. It took a while, but finally, the mouse did it for me. I had my exit window open. I don't use screens.
So I watched it walk out on the stick that holds the window propped open. I tried to knock it off. But it ran back in before I could get it.
Next time he did it, he fell off before I could knock him off.
WOOHOO! End of problem!
Not So Fast...
The bad news is that it came right back in wherever it got into my camper in the first place.
As much as I don't want to kill anything, I couldn't catch it. After a day or so of failure, traps were set. I HATED doing this.
But I couldn't let it continue to destroy my stuff and worse, spread disease and general disgustingness inside my little home.
It took a few more days for the execution to take place. I set a snap trap with some food as bait. I had Marshall dispose of it for me because as an avid animal lover, I couldn't handle seeing it.
In the short time the mouse squatted it my place, it 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.
Mice poop and pee was everywhere under my booth area.
Having mice in your camper is unacceptable. But it can happen if you don't take preventative measures in keeping mice out BEFORE you get one in your RV.
First we will cover preventative measures, then we'll cover how to get rid of 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 totally worked for them, but others say they were totally ineffective.
Could this have to do with differences between mice in different parts of the country? I'm not at liberty to say, and I'm not a scientist/not gonna do the studies to figure it out.
Instead, I will list most of the mouse deterrents, naming the ones that are sure-fire, and the ones that are wishy-washy. This way you can choose. If you want to try the wishy-washy ones, have at it.
Some people swear by some of them!
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 very clean 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
- An RV cover
Guys, this topic is so gross, but that's EXACTLY why you need to be on top of mouse deterrents. Personally, I think rodents are super cute. (SQUEEEEEEEEEE!!!)
Even so, I will NOT tolerate a single rodent in my RV. This problem can QUICKLY turn into thousands of dollars worth of camper damage and major headaches.
They love to chew things. Including pipes, wires, ANYTHING having to do with electric in your RV. They make a mess, to say the very least.
You can't have them. You don't want them. Let's get some tips on how to mouse proof an RV.
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 entry points EVERYWHERE. This will only stop them from getting into your living space. It won't stop them from getting into your walls.
If you see a hole the size of a dime, you aren't keeping mice out. If their head can get through, they can get their body through those entryways.
So, this means you need to seek out EVERY gap larger than half the size of a dime and FILL IT. Some experts claim a mouse can get in via only a 1/4 inch entry point. That's the size I'd target upon inspection.
Pay special attention to where pipes and wires come into your RV, especially around the floor.
What should you use? Expanding foam works great.
There's a spray foam called Great Stuff. This is what I used to plug the entry points, and also the holes that are under the booth allowing the water pipes/tubing to be routed around the RV.
I plugged all of them. That way, if one somehow did get in again, I'm keeping mice (or even rats) out from under my booth area.
Go lightly on the spray foam. It expands more than you would expect. Try it on a test item and see how much it expands first. You can always cut away excess. This also helps keep dust and dirt out.
If you want extra protection, add steel wool first, then fill with foam. It's said that mice won't chew through steel wool, though I have seen them do it.
Still it's highly doubtful a mouse will try chewing through spray foam+steel wool without knowing if there's access to anything attractive on the other side.
Some people 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.
Why would they? They don't know that there's anything at all on the other side.
Depending on the locations and sizes of the holes, you could also use a caulk product for the gaps and cracks.
Block Holes From The Outside
This can prove a bit more challenging, depending on what of the different types of recreational vehicles you are dealing with. My travel trailer was pretty simple. I have a flat bottom, and entry points were readily apparent.
Holes were filled with spray foam or caulking, and/or covered with foil tape. It's been keeping mice out ever since. If there's no entry point, you won't have rodents in your RV. The only other way they could possibly get in is through your door.
A motorhome is a whole different ball game. You can't get to most areas underneath that may serve as entry points.
This is why I list blocking from the INSIDE as 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 mice from getting into your living area. This means opening every cabinet, every access panel, and looking under/behind every piece of furniture.
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 high should do the trick.
Boom, you're free of mice! (Unless they dig under it, grrrr.)
Mice come inside your camper to find warmth, nesting materials, food, and safety. You can, at the very least, remove one of those attractive features- the food.
Ya gotta keep it clean, y'all. You will attract them SO much faster if you leave crumbs, leave food out, have an open trash can, give them easy access, etc.
After your camping trip, don't keep food in your camper while in storage. Make sure you take ALL the food out, aside from canned goods.
Even if it's sealed in a Tupperware compartment, they can smell it, and will chew their way right on in.
Even if food is not in your camper during storage, they also find other materials attractive. If you can, store your camper empty.
Make sure to remove items such as toilet paper, paper towels, towels, any type of cloth, as they love this stuff to make nests and to eat.
Mice can make a meal out of just about anything.
Do a THOROUGH clean of all surfaces before storing. Clean your cabinet areas, drawers, floors, shower doors, bins, bathroom, ALL of it.
(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 can fall.
Peppermint Oil Soaked Cotton Balls
This one will not get rid of existing mice, but peppermint oil might be effective to help keep mice out.
Mice supposedly don't like the smell of peppermint oil. Some swear by it. Others (pest control experts) say it's not going to work.
Part of the reason it won't work is that the oil smell rises. So while a room may smell of peppermint to you way up high at your nose level, to a mouse, it only smells close to the cotton ball.
Also, once mice have established themselves inside your RV, there aren't many mouse 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. They must be replaced with fresh ones.
Fresh Cab Pouches
Do these corn-cob filled pouches with botanical smells work?
Again, hard to know. It's a smell-based repellant, just like the peppermint oil.
It's non-toxic. Use one packet for up to 125 sf.
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 could be good in case you missed blocking a spot.
Lighting Under The Camper
Does this one keep mice away? The consensus is divided.
The rest of these remedies listed below, including this one, are questionable. Some claim they deter mice, others say otherwise.
Try at your own risk. If nothing else, they can't hurt and they look nice at night. Maybe a group of these solutions will do the trick.
Rope lights strewn under your camper during your camping trip, OR while in storage, may deter mice from coming in to check things out.
LED Rope Lights
Open Your Motorhome Hood
When in rodent-rich areas like the desert, rodents like to getting into an engine compartment. Rodents like the warmth, the darkness, and they like to chew the wires and more.
A good preventative measure to make it less appealing to rodents is to open 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 are nesting in your engine, mice are more likely to get into your RV living quarters as well.
Irish Spring Soap
Ok. It IS strong smelling stuff. And some people say that this will keep mice away.
I read another person who laughed and said the mice actually saw it as food ATE the soap. Talk about a backfire!
Maybe east coast mice prefer it and west coast mice hate it.
Well, 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 on it, it probably won't work in your RV.
Can moth balls keep mice from making a home in your RV? I know that I sure wouldn't want to come into a camper that smelled like moth balls.
So, maybe certain mice despise it? I am not a mouse, and I despise it.
This is not a solution I would ever try. Call me crazy. I like to like how my living quarters smell.
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. Just as my dog Trixie did nothing when she saw the mouse, I have heard many stories of cat owners whose cat did nothing about the mice in their camper.
This is also not helpful if your RV is in storage.
But if you have a cat that is a mouser, hopefully if you get a mouse problem, that cat will do its thing and get it.
Though I see this as a cruel way to kill mice. A humane trap should do just fine.
Almost every home has dryer sheets. Heck, if nothing else, they will sweeten the smell in your RV. Better than moth balls, if you ask me.
Go ahead. Place them around your RV. Can't hurt.
Or, maybe they can- the mice might use them as nest building material. Oops, and haha!
You will also have to replace them periodically as they lose potency.
You may have seen this 'remedy' listed somewhere. (I have)
Bloggers, please. Don't make me laugh. I've seen this one listed on RVing websites. Mostly the ones where you can tell the writer knows NOTHING about RVs and is paid to do blog posts for these large sites.
How on earth is a camper cover going to keep out pests? Gimmie a break.
Let's look at the facts.
Most often, mice find a way in on the UNDERSIDE the rig.
They climb the wheels and walk along axles and such. The underside is exactly what an RV cover DOESN'T cover.
Even if it did, mice can simply chew a hole through the cover and get to whatever they smell in your RV.
RV cover as a defense? COME ON! What a ridiculous claim.
How To Fix Your Mouse Problem
Ok, so you didn't do any preventative measures, and you already have mice in your RV. How do you get rid of them?
There are a few traps I can speak of, some are much more humane than others.
I have a Victors no-kill mouse trap JUST IN CASE I ever get a mouse again.
I have loaned it out to friends who've had a mouse as well.
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. (And a released mouse may not make it. It is immediately susceptible to predators since it's in uncharted territory and doesn't know where to hide.)
No-Kill Mouse Trap
Victor Classic Mousetraps
These are very effective mouse traps. They have been around for decades for this reason.
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 for them as bait.
It could be cheese, crackers, peanut butter or other. Keep these mouse traps away from your 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 really want to face the creature, helplessly stuck to the trap left to die an excruciating death from thirst and starvation?
I hope not.
You could always kill it with a shovel, but then you have to kill it with a shovel.
Simply allowing a creature to die a miserable death for only trying to provide for itself is disgusting if you ask me.
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, then go retreat into their hiding place in your camper, and they'll die. Now you have a dead animal in your house.
Then they decompose and you likely can't get to them.
So now you have a stinky dead mouse hidden in your camper wall or other. Best not to use a poison bait.
Not to mention if they go away outside of your camper to die, birds of prey may eat them and then get poisoned as well and die.
Cleaning Up Camper After A Mouse Invasion
It's very important that you do a thorough clean after you have had mouse. They can carry deadly diseases such as Hanta Virus.
Mouse droppings can spread other diseases as well such as Bubonic Plague, Salmonellosis, and more. They can also trigger allergies.
The Cliffs Notes of it is to clean your living space with a bleach solution, and make sure you 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 little home, you have the wall itself as a barrier. Best to try to get behind your camper walls if you can.
Good luck with that. This is why you want to keep them OUT before they can get into your camper.
It's best to keep rodents out of your RV in the first place. Take the preventative measures we mentioned here to prevent an infestation.
That's because it's so much easier than to battle with the rodents after they have wreaked havoc on your fifth wheel or other RV.
Seal up any opening you can find on the interior and exterior of your RV, put away any food sources like pet food when you are storing your RV, and clean the surface of EVERYTHING before storing.
This way scents and smells leftover from your RV adventures won't unnecessarily attract the buggers.
Use humane traps if possible. Clean your RV THOROUGHLY and per the CDC's instructions listed above.
If you have other solutions that have worked for you, sound off in the comments. We would love to hear your solution!
Author: Kelly Beasley
He-llllo. I'm the co-founder of Camp Addict, which my biz partner and I launched in 2017. I frigging love the RVing lifestyle but in December of 2020, I converted to part-time RV life. Heck, I lived in my travel trailer for over 5.5 years, STRICTLY boondocking for pretty much all of it. Boondocking is a GREAT way to live, but it's not easy. Anyway, I'm passionate about animals, can't stand campgrounds, I hardly ever cook, and I love a good dance party. Currently, I can be found plotting and scheming whether or not to start collecting farm animals (or plotting my next RV trip!) at my beautiful new 'ranch' named 'Hotel Kellyfornia', in Southern Arizona.