Let me admit: I think mice are cute. Their small, nimble bodies conjure up images of childhood pets, and the media make them out to be gentle creatures with extraordinary culinary sensibilities. The only problem? They’re really annoying. When my apartment came under attack, I found out professional exterminators charge a ton for what seem like fairly simple services — up to $175 for spray and traps, plus up to $400 to plug mouse holes — that may leave toxic fumes in their wake. I decided to take matters into my own hands: Here are five essential steps for protecting your home without bankrupting or killing yourself in the process, arranged by threat level based on severity and your tolerance for dead mice.
Threat Level 1 (scent repellent): Vegan Detente
Peppermint Oil ($6.49 for $1 oz at Back to the Land in Park Slope; $1.69 for 80 cotton balls at Rite Aid)
According to the guru/blogger Sergiu Zburatoru, who runs a blog called “Mice Extermination for Beginners,” mice hate the smell of peppermint oil and will run away once they smell it. This PETA-endorsed option involves nothing more than swabbing the oil onto cotton balls and placing them near entrances and potential openings in your home. The added bonus: your apartment smells like peppermint, as opposed to old mouse shit. Once the smell of peppermint oil wears off, you’ll have to go back to storing your soy crackers and organic almond butter in the fridge.
Threat Level 2 (scent +ultrasonic): Cold War Containment
Ultrasonic Electronic Mouse and Rat Repeller ($11.99 at Walgreens)
Mice hate the ultrasonic sound waves (who doesn’t?) and won’t go near you if you have this plugged in. Vegans hate these things because mice hate them, though you may have a harder time keeping vegans out. The only problem is that the cheap electronic repellers work in a small range (usually 500 square feet, or the size of the coolest smallest apartment in Brooklyn), so you may have to buy one unit per room if you don’t want to spring for a more expensive device (which can cost up to $50).
Total Cost: $8.18 + $11.99 = $20.17
Threat Level 3 (scent + ultrasonic + blocking the entrances): Resist the Invader
Block the Entrances ($1.79 for Steel Wool, $2.79 for caulk at True Value Hardware)
The best way to offend your unwelcome guests is by locking them in. Mice can’t chew through steel wool, and caulk prevents them from wedging themselves through cracks.
Total Cost: $8.18 + $11.99 + $4.58 (one application) = $24.75
Threat Level 4 (scent + ultra + entrances + traps): Defend the Home Front
Ortho Home Defense Max traps ($9.99 for two traps at True Value Hardware);
These eerily effective snap traps traps killed two mice within 45 minutes of setting them up, and a third one within a few hours. There’s an indicator to tell you when a mouse is caught and they (supposedly) don’t make the mice suffer in the killing. The best part for broke folk: They’re re-useable.
Total Cost: $8.18 + $9.44 + $4.58 (one application) +$9.99 = $34.74
Threat Level 5 (scent + ultra + entrances + traps + repellent): Red Dawn
Fresh Cab Mouse and Rodent Repellent ($14.99 for 4 pouches at True Value Hardware)
According to the website, this is the closest thing you’ll find to rat poison that won’t kill your pet/kid/you. Place these pouches around the holes in your apartment, then relax and enjoy the no-mouse show. Fresh Cab is made from “all natural” ingredients (including patchouli!) and repels rodents for up to three months. Whether you remain in a rodent infested apartment for longer than three months is completely up to you.
Total Cost: $5.37 + $9.44 + $4.58 (one application) +$9.99 + $14.99 = $49.73
So, there you have it. For a little under $50, you can get the ultimate level of rodent reduction package and peace of mind. Just be thankful you don’t have to deal with bedbugs.