Do you want to avoid the damage caused by mice getting into your camper? Of course you do. No one wants to have mice problems. In this article we’ll look at how to keep mice out of a camper.
I have a pop up camper, but these suggestions are pertinent to other RV’s such as a travel trailers, camper vans, motor homes and 5th wheels.
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Table of Contents
- 1 How do you keep mice out of a camper?
- 1.1 Step 1: Choose a good storage area for your RV
- 1.2 Step 2: Remove Food from your Camper
- 1.3 Step 3: Remove Paper Products and Bedding from your RV
- 1.4 Step 4: Clean out your camper
- 1.5 Step 5: Fill Holes in the Exterior of your Camper (get rid of possible points of entry)
- 1.6 Step 6: Try Adding Mice Repellents to your RV
- 2 What to do if you find mouse droppings in your RV?
How do you keep mice out of a camper?
In order to keep mice out of your camper you’ll want to discourage them entering your camper in the first place. This is achieved by choosing a good spot to store your RV, eliminating things that attract them and by filling in small holes in your RV.
Perform these steps to keep mice out of your camper before you store your RV for extended periods of time.
And if you store your RV during the winter months make sure you do these small tasks first…so you don’t open your RV to discover a rodent problem the following spring.
Step 1: Choose a good storage area for your RV
The first step to keeping mice out of your RV is parking it in a good spot.
Ideally you want to store your RV indoors in a nicely protected and secured space. This is an effective way to store your RV, but it isn’t always possible.
(Indoor RV storage can be expensive, especially if you own a large RV like a fifth wheel or motorhome.)
If you store your RV outdoors you’ll want to park it away from wooded areas on a hard surface such as gravel or pavement.
If you park it on grass, the vegetation acts as a cover for the mice to creep along and infest your camper unseen. Whereas if you park on a hard surface, the mice would have to scamper across an exposed area to get to your camper. This may slightly discourage the little critters.
Step 2: Remove Food from your Camper
To keep mice from entering your RV you need to eliminate the things that attract them their in the first place. This means getting rid of food from your RV.
Mice, like other animals, require food, shelter and water. These are the necessities of life.
If you don’t want mice to turn your RV into “Mouse City” then don’t roll out a red carpet for them by leaving a buffet of food in your camper. Get rid of their food supply and they won’t be as tempted to infiltrate your camper.
So remove food items from your camper which includes fresh food, canned goods, pet food and non-perishables.
(If you won’t be using your camper for months or for the entire winter, there is no point in having that stuff in there.)
It is one of the easiest ways you can keep mice out of your RV.
Step 3: Remove Paper Products and Bedding from your RV
It is important to remove paper products from your camper because mice like to make cozy nests out of paper. So why tempt them.
Take out paper towels, toilet paper, newspapers, writing paper, cardboard boxes, etc…
Some RV owners also choose to remove extra bedding from their camper. This is just another step to minimize the number of things in your camper that appeal to mice.
We love snuggling up in warm bedding…so why wouldn’t mice.
These are preventative measures that don’t take much effort and can reduce the risk of a rodent infestation.
Step 4: Clean out your camper
Now that you’ve removed food and paper products, it is time to thoroughly clean your RV.
We think of food as large items, but to a mouse even crumbs can be a tempting meal.
So clean your camper and get rid of the strong smells that old food can produce.
(Cleaning your RV is a good idea even after a weekend camping trip. It’s always nice to walk into a clean camper.)
Vacuum and mop the floors to eliminate crumbs.
Wipe down all countertops and clean inside cabinets that stored food.
Clean your RV fridge.
Remember to remove the garbage from your RV.
The goal of this step is to further eliminate food sources for the mice.
Step 5: Fill Holes in the Exterior of your Camper (get rid of possible points of entry)
Mouse are pretty incredible little animals but they cannot magically transport through hard walls. So in order to get in to your camper they’ll seek out small openings.
Your job as an RV owner is to find these holes in your RV – and fill them – before the mice find them.
And these holes can be smaller than you may think. They claim mice can squeeze through holes the size of a dime. So these aren’t just big gaping holes you’re looking for, but little ones too.
This website says to fill holes greater than 1/4-inch in diameter.
So carefully inspect the exterior of your RV for possible points of entry. This can be a time-consuming step, but a thorough inspection is required to make a difference.
Common Openings in an RV
- Exterior holes for utility hookups
- Propane line entries into the RV
- Don’t forget to close your RV roof vents and inspect the roof for openings
- It wouldn’t hurt to check your storage compartments too
- Make sure the camper door is closed and seals tightly
- Check the under carriage or chassis of your RV for possible points of entry
Below is a picture of the side of my pop up camper. This is an exterior hole where the propane line exits the camper when I want to hook up the cook stove outside. If you have holes like this in your camper, make sure they have a tight-fitting cap to cover them… or plug them (see below for more information on this).
Below is the water hookup on my pop up camper. Note the metal screen over the hole. Check your RV to make sure any holes like this are covered.
And don’t forget about under your RV. Below is a picture showing where the propane line enters my pop up camper from the underside of the camper. Check your RV for holes on the underside too.
How to fill the holes in your RV
Spray foam: spray foam (also known as expanding foam) is an option to fill small holes around pipes or other potential points of entry. Interestingly, mice can chew through spray foam. That’s why some pest control companies will stick hardware mesh or copper wool into the foam before it has cured. Mice don’t chew through the metal wool or mesh.
But I don’t think mice would be inspired to chew through the foam just for the fun of it. Canned spray foam once dried will cut down on air flow. So I don’t think many enticing smells from inside your RV would get outside through a foamed-in hole.
Steel Wool: for holes that you can’t or don’t want to spray foam, you can stuff the hole with steel wool. The metal will discourage the rodents from chewing through it.
But over the long term, steel wool may rust. Another option that some people prefer is copper mesh or stainless steel wool.
Some extermination companies and online resources say you should caulk over top of the metal wool to seal off the opening. If you use steel wool by itself, the mice may be able to dislodge the metal plug from the hole thereby gaining access to your camper.
Aluminum foil: crumpling aluminum foil into balls and then stuffing these metal balls into holes and cracks is another way you can block possible entry points. Mice don’t want to chew through this thin sheet metal. But once again, the mice may be able to push or pull the foil from the hole. So to help keep the aluminum foil balls in place you can place some aluminum foil tape over top of the hole.
What not to fill holes with.
Some people claim they place dryer sheets (like Bounce sheets) into holes to stop mice from coming through. The belief is that the mice will be repelled by the smell.
But don’t risk your RV with this because dryer sheets lose their smell over time and can be pulled out of the holes.
Other people soak cotton balls with peppermint oil or other smelly substances. But smells fade and the curiosity of the mice overcomes their repulsion.
More about this below.
Step 6: Try Adding Mice Repellents to your RV
Remember that removing food, a thorough cleaning of your RV, and sealing holes is your best defense against mice.
Once you’ve done those steps to remove the things that attract mice to your RV and sealed up the holes they’ll use to get in your RV, you could also add some mice repellents to your RV.
But this is something you can do in addition to the other steps, not instead of.
Why can’t you just use these miracle rodent repellents and skip the other steps? Well, basically the consensus from professionals is that they just don’t work.
At least they don’t work well enough to risk your $30,000+ investment in your RV.
Some people swear that essential oils with a strong scent like peppermint oil and cayenne will repel mice. That the mice hate the smell so much that they won’t go near it.
And you’ll also hear the same said about Bounce dryer sheets, moth balls, little bags filled with smelly stuff and Irish Spring soap.
Yes these things may initially smell very strong and you’d think they’d make a good rodent repellent.
But two things can happen.
1) The smell of the essential oils or other aromatic product fades over time.
2) The mice can get used to the scent.
And as this pest control company points out, if you have a plenty of food and good shelter for the mice, these little critters are going to put up with a little smell.
Following these steps will help reduce the risk of mice getting in to your camper.
Now we’ll briefly discuss what to do if they do get in to your RV…
What to do if you find mouse droppings in your RV?
Perhaps you’ve come to this article a little late and you already have mice in your camper. Finding rodents in your RV is probably the last thing you expected when you opened up your RV door for the first time in awhile.
But the evidence of a problem is there: it could be a disgusting smell, torn cushions or the ubiquitous mouse poop.
Mouse droppings are a sure sign that you have a mouse problem in your RV. What’s gross to think about is that you can see the droppings, but just imagine all the pee that you can’t see.
1) Get rid of the mice in your RV
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests you should first get rid of the rodents causing the infestation. Get those little critters out of there!
You’ll want to set mouse traps to kill or capture the mice in your RV. Mice can damage your RV and pose health risks (more info on this below).
There are a variety of mouse traps out there including the popular snap traps, glue traps, electronic zap traps, and live catch traps.
Live catch traps can seem like the humane way to remove mice from your RV, but if you aren’t checking on your RV regularly to release the caught mice into the wild, you’re essentially trapping them to slowly die of thirst. Suddenly it doesn’t seem so humane. So keep that in mind.
To lure the mice to the traps you’ll want to put out some bait for them. In cartoons you see cheese used, but in real life mice usually just take the cheese and run off with it.
A better choice that can’t be so easily removed from the trap is peanut butter. The sticky gooiness of the peanut butter ensures it stays on the trap.
Some people choose a poison bait, but just be careful with this if you plan on having pets or small children in your RV. You don’t want them to pick up the remnants of the poison and get sick.
The CDC says you should continue to trap and if a week goes by where you haven’t caught any more mice, this is a sign that you’ve got rid of them.
Then you can move on to the next step.
2) Cleaning your RV
You’ve discovered mice in your RV and you want to get in there and clean it. But there are some things you need to know first.
You need to let it air out and ventilate for at least 30 minutes before hand. (Reference)
Then you may be tempted to get in there and sweep or vacuum up all the poop… don’t do this. The CDC says you should avoid stirring up dust into the air.
There is a potentially fatal virus called Hantavirus that you can catch from airborne particles from infected rodents’ droppings or urine. (Reference)
Instead you are supposed to spray a diluted bleach solution (1 part bleach to 10 parts water) onto the droppings and urine-covered areas and let that sink in for at least 5 minutes.
You can also use a commercially-available disinfectant. Make sure to read the label for proper instructions and for how long you need to let it sit on the turds and pee.
After waiting at least 5 minutes for the bleach to kill off any viruses, you wear protective gloves (like vinyl or rubber gloves) and pick up the droppings using paper towels. Toss the dirty, soiled towels into a plastic bag, seal the bag right away and toss it into the garbage.
Once the droppings and urine have been properly removed and discarded, you need to disinfect the surfaces of your camper.
Mop your RV floor using the bleach & water solution.
Wipe down all counters, hard surfaces, inside drawers, and cabinets with the bleach and water mixture.
You’re trying to eliminate any trace or remnants left behind by the rodents.
Then you need to wash the fabrics in your RV in a washing machine using hot water and detergent. The CDC also suggests to shampoo or steam clean any carpets or fabrics that can’t be removed and washed.
This is a quick run-down of how to clean up after a mice infestation, but for a more thorough report, check out this article from the CDC.
I hope you’ve found this article on how to keep mice out of your camper helpful.
A little bit of prevention can go a long way toward stopping a mouse problem before it starts.
The best way to keep mice out of your camper is following the steps in this article including choosing a good place to park your RV, removing food and paper products from your RV, thoroughly cleaning your RV prior to storing it, and sealing up any potential entry points.
Doing these steps is a great way to gain some peace of mind when storing your RV.
Good luck and happy camping.
Check out these other articles about Recreational Vehicles:
61 smart RV Storage Ideas
How to keep your RV cool this summer (17 tips)
How do I stop condensation on my RV window? (11 helpful tips)