I have a problem with rats and mice getting into my cars and eating wire harnesses, vacuum hoses, and spark plug wires. Do you have any ideals about what to do? They are getting to be an expensive problem! Bob Hemling Atlanta, GA


I’ve heard many remedies for this, but the two I see come up more than any other is mothballs and dryer sheets. A more recent cure states cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil keeps the mice away and leaves your car minty fresh smelling. Mothballs are the traditional method, and mice can’t stand the smell of them. Unfortunately, not many people like the smell either. The dryer sheets have more appeal because people aren’t offended by the aroma. Just place a few sheets inside the car, and maybe a couple under hood and underneath the car as well. Tossing one in the trunk wouldn’t be a bad idea either. There are multiple ideas for effective bait traps as well, but they are detailed and I don’t have the room to expand on the subject here. If I were you, I’d try the dryer sheets first, and see if they don’t work to keep the critters away from your rides. If they don’t, let us know. I’m sure other Members have dealt with this same issue successfully, and will offer their ideas too. Mark Simpson Managing Editor
Reply to Mike Cox
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99 Responses to “VERMIN CONTROL”

  1. Joel

    Try Irish Spring soap. Buy a bar and put some shavings in a plastic container, punch some holes in the lid and place a few in the car. It works well, I’ve been doing it for years and never had a problem.

    • steveyannone

      I just started this last week on a outside stored car and existing nest building in the engine and damaged wiring, sure hope it helps as I need to drive it once in a while. Will report back later.

      • Bill Blackall
        Bill Blackall

        You can also get a plug in that gives off a high frequency sound that you or your pets don’t hear but Rodents don’t like. That seams to work I have a couple in with my Collector Cars. That seams to work. Mothballs didn’t. I got them @ Rona. We’re the mouse traps are.

    • Bruce Gran
      Bruce Gran

      I support the Irish Spring method. I spread shavings in the interior, trunk, on the intake manifold, the heater box, etc. Been doing this for many years.

  2. Bill D
    Bill D

    I experienced that costly problem once. I now use both an electrical plug in “ultrasonic” sound unit & Fabreze scented dryer sheets.

    • Mike

      I’ve been using the ultrasonic with the flash in all of mine for years now and it works.

  3. Gary

    Dryer sheets work only as long as they smell which doesn’t last long. I would try the vermin control devices that plug into an electrical socket. Try putting one in the car with an extension cord

    • Kontol

      Breakfast with Santa! Saturday, December 1st from 9-11AMOssian United Methodist Church201 W. Mill Street in Ossian, In 46777Come have pancakes, deuiciols egg casseroles, smoky links, cereal, donuts, dutch crunch dessert, Coffee, milk and juice something for everyoneHave your children’s picture taken with Santa and then they can shop in the Elf Store for their family members. Elves will be available to help them shop so they can keep it a surprise! All gifts are $2 and gift wrapping is included. This is a fun, holiday event sponsored by the Norwell High School Show ChoirSee you there!

  4. Tom

    The thing I do and have no problems in the barn is to raise the hood. They like closed in places , with the vehicle hood up it seems to work if you can do that where your vehicle is parked. Hope this works for you. Tom

  5. Guy

    I built a mouse moat around my car. This involved building a 15″ sheet metal wall all the way around the car. Mice can’t climb up the metal. It’s been over a year and so far so good. The only thing it doesn’t protect from is overhead bombs from birds or bats in the barn. Next up is building a shell around the car using 3/4″ PVC and clear plastic. It will be placed inside the mouse moat.
    Dryer sheets and poisons did not work for me.

  6. CKW

    Another option is to sprinkle bay leaves throughout the vehicle. I’ve been very successful over the past few years with a bay leaf and dryer sheet combination. BUT, I REALLY caution anyone from using moth balls which, chemically is paradichlorobenzene and is a known toxic. In humans and other animals, paradichlorobenzene is broken down in the body to form other compounds that may be harmful to cells or organs such as the liver. Just not worth the chance. In fact, I’ve even stopped frequenting restaurants that use this chemical combination in their urinal pucks. This year as an extra measure of prevention, I’m using corn-based mouse poison in containers throughout the garage and vehicles.

    • Emad

      Would you happen to have any failmy photo’s that were taken in Sterling that you would be willing to share? I live in Sterling and am interested in the history. Any photo’s that also include buildings are of interest.I remember your Aunt Francis and Uncle Dugan and Butch, they lived down the road from me when I was growing up.

  7. Chris wilsom
    Chris wilsom

    Irish spring soap use a cheese grater put on a paper plate in trunk,under hood and in front and rear passenger foot wells. No more critters

  8. Jeff

    I have had really good luck with the dryer sheets but buy the good ones….The cheap ones don’t last. The other thing I do is put sticky traps in the car just to catch any mice with sinus issues. I am going to try the Irish Spring trick too.

  9. james

    i use an exstension cord just through one of the windows, and plug in a varmite high freq sound device bought at Wal-mart. get the $20 dollar something model. i also use one in my travel trailer, works great. James

  10. Glen

    Buy a car capsul. Small investment to solve ALL storage problems. If your worried about a car u have thousands invested in, whats 400.00 more?

  11. Dick Ruth
    Dick Ruth

    The dryer sheets work well but need to be replenished every couple of months, and don’t forget to also place them in the spare tire compartment.

  12. Russ Palmerton
    Russ Palmerton

    I’ve used the dryer sheets and along with slices of Irish Spring soap spread around inside and outside of the car. I’ve had good luck with that combination and the car smells great. Also remember to plug your exhaust pipe, cause those darn rodents will craul into them as well.

  13. Art Bruns
    Art Bruns

    I have also used slices of Irish Spring soap in small bowels in various parts of the car. The smell is not offensive and I have never had a rodent problem. I live in a rural area.

  14. Edward

    Had the same issue on a 98 jeep and 2003 jeep, the issues were squirrels. Tried everything, no real luck. Someone suggested FlexSeal, the stuff they advertise on TV. Figured a 5 dollar investment wouldn’t hurt. Sprayed the areas they attacked plus some other general areas, NO ISSUES yet and it has been over a year.

  15. CALVIN

    I have had little luck with moth balls, built a nest right on top of them, dryer sheets not sure, still mouse droppings.
    Putting the car on a lift is the only way I have had total success with. Once a car has had mice they love to go back. Hate Mice!!

  16. Richard

    A friend is in the professional “pest control” business recommends the “Bait blocks” that are available at places like Tractor Supply. He says that a hungry rodent will just ignore the smell and eat what it can find, so he does not put any bets on effective control with moth balls, dryer sheets or peppermint oil. I think the bait blocks work best outside the car, such as under it and or around it, why invite rodents to dine in the vehicle. I have added the electronic rodent control devices to my garage and barn and have had good results.

  17. Troy

    For me, I will just keep using moth balls- the ones made from naptha. They really don’t smell all that much.

    • Bob

      Both moth balls and dryer sheets are toxic to humans and vermin. You don’t want to be breathing the smell of either in your car.

  18. Leeand

    Hello there. I have been using a product called “Fresh Cab” It comes in a satchel bag and it has kept them out of my 54 Ford in the garage. I started using these after I found that mice set up house throughout my car. The smell is actually pretty good and it is suppose to be and natural repellant to mice and it will last about 4 months for each pouch. They also do not like peppermint scent. You could make your own satchels using peppermint oil like they do to help the house smell good. Hope this helps.

  19. john

    OK, after chasing these “rats” away from my inside and outside stored drivers and classic cars using everything all you guys mention and found they all work in the garage but outside is a whole new ball game especially on newer cars that have wire insulation made from biodegradable material like soy beans (which I guess is mighty tasty to those big bill creators.) and if you live in the Midwest and do short hops in weather conditions where the outside temp goes up and down like a yo-yo! It just cost me $1700 to replace the injector wire harness and the EFI ECU or ECM because our little buddies chewed through the insulation causing a short and opens at the connects for the injectors which in turn cause end stage failures for the injectors in the ECM.Results were dead misses. The reason they got into our 2004 Caddy CTS is because we are both retired and have our own old cars to do long runs to car shows during that season so they are garaged so the Caddy sits outside for short hops which heats the engine enough to invite whatever to use the car for over night warm sleeping quarters with an acquitted supply of biodegradable material like soy beans to munch on during the night.I knew the other suggestions and ideas I used wouldn’t work outside but I found some stuff called “Stop the Rodent” spray 24 oz bottle from an online seller called “Stop the Rodent. One bottle did the car just fine and it kinda smells like good ole turpentine at first but the smell did not last long.I’ll let you know if it does not work out.I have a ’39 Ford that we use a lot for shows and is covered outside that is a street rod with a “Painless” wire harness in it which I have done nothing to protect it with and it is blocked in by the Caddy at night….No damage on that one yet but I hung one of those big round 4″ diameter moth balls in the plastic hanger under the hood soon after I found out what happened to the Caddy.I hope that keeps them a bay and does not stink up the coupe on me….I hate chipmunks,squires,mice,rats,raccoons,possums,coyote, any birds and deer because we have a neighbor who feeds them all and she has no trees or grass so even my 6′ high stockade fence and a city ordnance with a $925 fine for feeding ANY wild animals in our town has not stopped them from destroying our property while looking for a place to live and store their food for winter for over 30 years now. Good Luck Guys and Girls. Grumpy 1946.

  20. Jon

    I have had luck w both the electronic devices and Irish Spring. We even use the Irish Spring under our summer home to keep critters out during the winter. We learned the hard way after a $1600 repair bill on our BMW. $60 hose but had to remove the fuel tank to access.

  21. Bob

    Dryer sheets use toxic chemicals and should be avoided by humans as well as vermin. There’s a reason mice won’t get near them. They are smarter than humans that voluntarily throw them into the clothes they are going to wear. Lingering chemical residues in the clothes enter the body through the skin, which is tantamount to eating them! Many of these compounds are solvents that directly affect the nervous system and endocrine system and can contribute to the development of chronic illness. You don’t want to breathe them or “wear” them.

  22. toddfunk

    Try picking up a free cat. Worked for years in my garage. Keeps the mice away or eats them and keeps you company while you work.

  23. rebelcaptain26

    I’ve been using moth balls for over 10 years. However, my “trick” since most of us hate the smell, is to place them all around all the tires [outside the car]. My logic is that since the rodents hate the smell ans have to enter the car by climbing up the wheels, they can’t get in. Smell stays out of the car!

  24. Stephennot

    Wow! This might be one of the most useful things on the subject I’ve ever come across. Thank you for your hard work.

  25. Mick

    I have tried dryer sheets, mothballs, Irish spring soap and peppermint on cotton balls. With no success. However the last 20 years I’ve gone to the grocery store and bought Bay Leaves. Just sprinkle them everywhere in and out of the car. In the spring just vacuum them up. 20 years and no problems.

  26. Bill Blackall
    Bill Blackall

    You can also get a plug in that gives off a high frequency sound that you or your pets don’t hear but Rodents don’t like. That seams to work I have a couple in with my Collector Cars. That seams to work. Mothballs didn’t. I got them @ Rona. We’re the mouse traps are.

  27. Martyephillips

    I have had mice, birds and raccoons in my cars when I forgot to roll up the windows. The cars are stored in a dark barn. No problems since I have talk radio on really loud. I am going to add Irish Spring and some LED lights left on 24/7

  28. David

    The only thing that works for me , after I tried the things you indicated is, called Fresh Cab. It was invented by a lady in North Dakota to keep mice out of her fathers tractor cab. I have used this Fresh Cab for over 10 years and never had a mouse in my cars. I also put this product one each side of my garage door, so far no mice in my garage.

  29. Dave

    There are no rats where I live thank the powers that be, but there are lots of mice. The only way to effectively deal with mice is to get rid of them. Spring traps seem to work best. Peanut butter works as bait, but mice can lick it off of the trigger with their light touch tongues without springing the trap and that’s useless.

    Instead, bait the traps with dental floss. Wrap it around the paddle and tie it off. Cut off any loose ends. Sweeten the pot with a light smudge of peanut butter on the floss. Mice will view the dental floss as nesting material and will tug on it to try to free it. That results in a snap and…

    That deals with the vermin in your garage. The other thing that is essential is to determine where they are coming in and close those entry points to keep them out. You don’t want to deal with this problem more than once. Trust me, I’ve been there and it’s not fun. Mice can squeeze through an opening as small as the size of a dime. Ensure all openings are closed. It’s not good enough to just caulk. They will simply chew through. Mice don’t like steel wool.
    Plug holes with that, then caulk. Hardware cloth is another excellent deterrent. Use 1/4 inch or smaller. Remember, that they can squeeze through an opening as small as a dime. Remember too that steel wool and hardware cloth rust. Both will have to be replaced from time to time. Yes, that’s a pain, but it’s much less painful than dealing with vermin and the damage they cause.

    Have fun!

  30. Ken Honnig
    Ken Honnig

    I am the owner of Expert Pest Control in Burlington NJ for 30 years and have seen it all when it comes to home remedies for mouse control. I can tell you that none of them ,including the store bought ultrasonic devices work all of the time. First seal all the holes in the garage, mice need only 1/4 of an inch to get in. Spray foam does not work they can chew thru it. Steelwool and silicone caulk work the best. Second set up tamper resistant bait stations, on the outside of the garage, with rodenticide to kill off the population BEFORE they get in. Refill the bait stions monthly. As added protection install Tincats, with glueboard inside, to catch any mice that may still sneak in. Place the tincats next to each tire with peanutbutter in the middle of the glueboard. They key to good mouse control is the seal up and most important is killing them on the outside befor the get inside. The ouside rodent control should be done all year long.

  31. Cary McAfee
    Cary McAfee

    I have found a product called Fresh Cab that is made specifically for repealing mice and rats. Has a nice smell and I put inside the car interior, trunk, and under hood. Bad enough what the critters do to wiring but if they find away inside the car they destroy the upholstery. Fresh Cab can be found at alot of home and farm stores.

  32. Ohio bill
    Ohio bill

    I have used Irish Spring bar soap. Cut in quarters and put into small plastic bowls. Put 2/3 bowls interior of car couple in trunk and in engine compartment. You should remove all nesting material such as paper, towels, rags etc form car. I know several cat guys who successfully use this method. Also leaves pleasant smell in car. I block the opening for exhaust with steel wool as mice can get in there all the way to the engine and make nests. Good luck!

  33. Domenic

    I take a bar of Irish Spring out of the box and lay it right on top of the box. Place one on the engine block, one on the floor in the front, one on the floor in the back and one in the trunk. No need to shave the bar or cut it up. Leaving the bar whole lasts longer. I also use it in my boat. Works great.

  34. Doug Manchester
    Doug Manchester

    put the car up on jack stands and place the jack stands in a pan of motor oil

  35. Lee Koch
    Lee Koch

    My brother placed dryer sheets under the hood of his 1950 Chevy pickup hot rod and the mice made a nest out of them in the air cleaner.

  36. Dennis

    Peppermint oil. Apply to a micro fiber towel and throw under the car. Also, under the car hood and in the interior. Replenish every month or two.
    I have been using this for years and not only does it keep mice out, chipmunk s do not like it either.
    Time to replenish is when you walk by the car and you don’t get a slight scent of the pepermint.
    Its a smell most folks like and if you don’t like it inside, open the windows on your first ride and it mostly disappears.
    I find the peppermint oil online or sometimes in the big box stores.

  37. Gerald

    I use Moth balls mostly. Sit on top of tires and on floor all around the car and a few under hood and in trunk. Then dryer sheets in trunk and in car. And the best thing I found to add to this deterrent incase they do still get in. The green cube poison. If they still come in, they feast and leave the car for water. Therefore destroys them outside of the car , and they can’t come back. Since I’ve done this , never a sign of any in or around my Baby.

  38. stu aull
    stu aull

    Rid-A-Rat. This is the gadget you want under the hood (or where else you need to protect wiring). Cigarette-pack sized battery-op’d flasher box that been keeping my outdoor-stored V10 of my RV safe for years – here in RAT-country AZ. No springtime funky, smelly stuff to remove, or soap shavings to vacuum out, etc.
    Batteries last all winter, magnetic attachment. Awesome. $45 on Amazon.

  39. John

    Mice are always a problem. I have tried everything. or the last 20 years i have used electronic pest control. I do not know if they really work by themselves, but they drive me out of the garage unless they are turned off. Have not had too much damage .

  40. Randy

    Dryer sheets don’t work. I put dryer sheets and Irish spring soap in my RV and the mice made a nest on top of the dryer sheets right next to the soap. Moth balls seem to work. Have not tried peppermint oil yet. Going to try that next.

    • Dave

      I’ve tried everything as well and mothballs seem to be the only thing that worked for me. I did not try peppermint oil but I did try peppermint and they ate the peppermints.

  41. Larry

    Lowe’s sells a product I’m trying. Rodent Sheriff , it’s a mint based product.
    Good luck.

  42. Robert

    A bar of green Irish Spring soap cut into pieces and put in an open container has always worked for me.

  43. John Ruccione
    John Ruccione

    High Frequency noise generator and raise the hood at least 6 inches. You can buy them on line they connect to the battery but do not keep the hood closed your asking for trouble and don’t forget to move the car. Rodents will learn to adapt. Cats are also very helpful. This is not a one trick solution!

  44. JOE

    I had mice nesting behind the dash of my riding lawn mower and chewing up everything. After cleaning it out I spread some fresh mothballs behind it. A week later they had a nest on top of the mothballs.

  45. Mike Cox
    Mike Cox

    I tried Grandpa Gus’s mouse repellent last winter, and did not have any problems with rodents in my cars. I have also used Irish Spring soap. Cut a bar in 3 or 4 pieces, and put them in trays, slide them under the car and put out the No Vacancy sign for the mice.

  46. Cary

    I have used dryer sheets with pretty good success, but then I heard about sprinkling a line of Ajax powdered cleanser in a line on the ground surrounding your car. I tried this and am waiting for spring to see the results!!

    • David

      My wife’s new car had a couple of nests on the engine and chewed up various wiring. I have used the pine scented car air fresheners(green tree) that you can buy at any gas station or Walmart. You can place them under the hood, in the trunk and in the car(if you don’t mind the smell) and still drive it. Have never had a problem since. Hope this helps.

  47. Scot Clanton
    Scot Clanton

    The best trap I have found is a 5 gallon bucket with water in the bottom. Take an —empty— carburetor cleaner type can and drill it for a small axle straight from top to bottom. Install it horizontal an inch or so below the top of the bucket. Put a ramp up to the can and smear peanut butter on it a few inches out from the ramp. Rodent gets out on the can, it spins and he drowns.

  48. Gary

    To control rodents in the garage, I have found that a plastic milk crate turned upside down over a small bowl of antifreeze works well. The crate keeps larger animals from getting to the antifreeze.

  49. Brad

    Just found out mothballs DO NOT WORK!!
    Recently got mice in our RV. Placed mothballs all around interior. The mice ate the foam of the seats directly above the mothballs.
    Still looking for a repellent but placing poison pellets inside and under. Hopefully get better results

  50. Jerry Snodgrass
    Jerry Snodgrass

    Many farm equipment dealers sell packets for this purpose as well as farm hardware stores. In this area we have Farm & Fleet. They sell Grampa Gus’s vermin control. It’s cinnimon smell. Works good in my tractors, Combine and semi as well as my 71 Corvette . The packets should be replaced after a couple of months. Very inexpensive.

  51. Frank L Amaral
    Frank L Amaral

    I use a number of smell items. The empty containers of dishwasher, and clothes soap, Irish Spring cut up in pieces and the gel type air fresheners, along with dryer sheets as mentioned. I use these inside and all around the exterior of my car. It is not the most pleasant smell when you go into the garage or inside the car but so far it seems to work. All this because I found mice nesting inside the car under the carpet, which included bird feeder food supplies that had been brought in. After removing the seats, the carpet and underlay were completely removed, nests were vacuumed away, and the floor pans and the rear storage area were washed with a bleach and water solution, and new carpet and underlay installed. This was already planned it just got done sooner. It seems to be working so far. I also found that mothballs do not last long and the smell is not as potent as it use to be. Another item is the use of mice bait stations around the garage. I placed mine along walls and entrances, with the garage door being the most obvious.

  52. Dan Netzley
    Dan Netzley

    Do not put vegetable oil on a wooden steering wheel to preserve the wood. Costly mistake.

  53. Jimmie

    Peppermint oil concentrate, mix a couple oz in a bottle of water with a spray nozzle, spray the peppermint fragrance in and around your vehicle every 2 -3 weeks, problem solved. Forget the mothballs and dryer sheets.

  54. BOB


  55. Stephen D Henry
    Stephen D Henry

    We use pure peppermint , Irish spring, washer freshner beads as well as sticky traps for cars, trailer and electronic deterrents along with mothballs in 4 corners of garage.

  56. Gene Casino
    Gene Casino

    Drter sheets have worked for me but you need to replace them often as the scent wears out very fast anothr option is a five gallon bucket with a trap door so the mice or rats go for food but fall into the bucket.
    The problem then is you have to take the live vermin somewhere to get rid of them

  57. John Hill
    John Hill

    Decon and ortho make rodent repellent pouches that have a minty smell you can hang them off something like a switch and they seem to worrk well I’ve been using them for a few years now I even hang one under the hood

  58. jane don
    jane don

    Ahhh Mice–They can be such a headache–We bought a house that became overrun with mice–Tried everything (I think) the only effectice long term method we found was was Quality Bait blocks & even need to enhance them by coating them with peanut butter/cheese spread/Jam/grease ect ect–Put them where dogs or kids can’t get at them or in containers that kids & dogs can’t open -you only have to replace them every two or three yrs- I didn’t think about doing the garage so my old car is suffering-but it sure fixed the problem in the house –

  59. Lee Koch
    Lee Koch

    My brother used dryer sheets in his ’50 Chevy pickup and the mice made a nest out of them. They may be good only if replaced periodically as the scent wears off.

  60. john engstrom
    john engstrom

    The best way I have found is to set traps around and check them frequently. Keeping the mice out of your car in the first place is the way to go. PS I have tried Dryer sheets and the mice used them for nesting material.

  61. Al Robinson
    Al Robinson

    If you have an expensive sound system in your car, be sure to try to protect it as well. When they get into your dash, they urinate , it runs down into the radio etc & fries them. That cost me a lot of money. Moth balls did the trick for me but then I was stuck with that stink all summer. The dryer sheets might work better for inside the car. Happy trails.

  62. Robert gallagher
    Robert gallagher

    Peppermint oil and hot spicy pepper mixed with hot water. Spray it on and around and near the heater box with a large sprayer that is normally used for applying weed killer from Home Depo. Get it inside all the vents. Also apply around the cowl area, and the trunk. Do not put it on the carpet. If you can get it inside the doors that would help.
    Also place several of the green rat/mouse poison cubes that you can also buy at Home Depo, everywhere, under the seats, in the trunk, on the cowl, on the intake manifold, inside the doors, everywhere.

  63. Russell and Linda Schaefer
    Russell and Linda Schaefer


  64. LLoyd

    Try steelwool I use it to plug holes in the house where the wires come up in the walls. Also use it in the tailpipe and air intakes.

  65. John McNulty
    John McNulty

    I have had collectors car for 50 years, some in dead storage. 35 years ago a mouse ate a hole in my brand new Morgan hood [top]. It took two years for the factory to make it. I have a couple electronic devices that claim to scare mice. I do not know if they work, but there has been no damage since. Only problem is the noise drives me nuts. I also use the moth balls and drier sheets. They do make moth moths that smell like Cedar.