How to Keep Mice Out of Kitchen Drawers (Tips and Tricks)

Kitchen drawers are intended to keep your silverware and utensils organized and clean. It’s only that cleanliness becomes an abstract concept when you open the drawer only to spot that it’s full of stomach-churning mouse droppings. Dealing with a rodent infestation is tricky, but the questions arise: why do mice get into your kitchen drawers, and how to keep them out?

To keep mice out of your kitchen drawers, it is crucial to keep the drawers spotless. Clean them regularly to remove any crumbs. Natural repellents such as dryer sheets and crushed peppermint can help keep rodents away. If it doesn’t work, you might have to use mice traps.

8 Signs of Mice in the Kitchen

Rodents are clever creatures that know how to hide in plain sight. You may have never noticed a mouse in your house, even if they live there. Here are eight signs of mice in the kitchen.

1. Droppings

Rodent droppings are one of the most common telltales that you have mice in the kitchen. Mouse droppings are black, cylindrical in shape, and measure about ¼ inches in length. At first sight, they resemble small grains of rice and could be mistaken for cockroach droppings.

In addition to spotting them in your silverware drawers, mouse poop might also be present in or near the pantry, in the cabinets, and in other areas of your kitchen or home where the rodents have their nests.

If you spot droppings around, don’t touch or disturb them barehanded. Mice can carry various diseases, including the black plague, salmonella, and tapeworms, to name just a few. Put on rubber gloves, goggles, and a face mask with a respirator before vacuuming the droppings. Don’t sweep them to prevent spreading viruses and bacteria. 

2. Urine pillars 

Urine pillars are small mounds consisting of mouse urine, grease, hair, and dirt. You could spot them anywhere around the kitchen and other areas of your home. Urine pillars are more common in heavily infested homes.

3. Rodent roadways

Rodent roadways are lines of dirty smudges along the floors, baseboards, or even along your countertops. Mice form these lines as they travel from their nests to the food source – mice generally follow the same route night after night once they’ve found food supply (your pantry or a cupboard).

The so-called rodent roadways emerge as the dirt on the mice’s paws, alongside hair and grease, deposit onto your surfaces. More often than not, you’ll also be able to spot droppings and urine along these lines.

4. Unexpected holes or teeth mark

Did you open a kitchen drawer only to spot that there is an unexplained hole in it? Or perhaps blemishes that look like tiny teeth marks? This is another sign of mice in the kitchen. Rodents can chew their way into your kitchen drawers and cabinets, leaving distinctive marks behind.

5. Foul smells 

Bad smells coming from the kitchen are never a good sign, but musky ammonia smells often mean mice are lurking around. 

This odor can be particularly noticeable in enclosed spaces, so it’s likely to smell it when you open a drawer or cabinet. 

6. Disappearing food

Isn’t it frustrating when you’re sure you’ve left some crackers on the counter, but now they’re nowhere to be seen? Nope, that food didn’t disappear because Santa paid you a visit. It’s most likely mice.

7. Grease marks

Rodents have glands that produce a greasy substance. This substance coats their hair, from where it can get onto your stuff as the mice move through the house. You’ll likely spot it along the mice roadways, but the oily substance can also get onto furniture or near the nest holes.

8. Unusual pet activity

Another sign you might have mice in the kitchen is noticing unusual pet activity. If your fur babies have suddenly taken an interest in a particular spot in the kitchen, rest assured they’re sensing mice or other pests. 

Cats and dogs also have a much better hearing compared to us humans, so they might hear the rodents moving through the walls or inside the drawers and cabinets, too. 

However, don’t fall for the myth that cats catch rodents. Some kitties won’t be bothered by them at all, so watch out for any signs of unusual pet activity.

Why Do Mice Go In Kitchen Drawers?

Mice go in your kitchen drawers for the same reason they go in your kitchen, to begin with – to search for food. Crumbs or opened packets of crackers and cookies can lure rodents into the kitchen. Another reason mice might go in the kitchen drawers is that they use them as an entry point.

In these cases, you should inspect the drawer for holes, considering that a mouse can squeeze its way through tiny holes (as small as one-quarter of an inch). Repairing these holes or cracks into your drawers and cabinets can provide a barrier between your kitchen and the rodents.

Lastly, mice could go in your kitchen drawers because they found the perfect nesting spot. This usually happens in cluttered drawers that are only rarely opened.

9 Ways to Keep Mice out of the Drawers

Finding signs of rodent activity in the kitchen drawers is not only gross; it is a significant health risk. Rodents carry many diseases, so it’s crucial to learn how to keep them away from your food and kitchenware.

1. Fix all cracks and holes 

One thing is evident when you spot signs of mice in your drawers: some holes or cracks allow the rodents to pass through. We already told you that mice could pass through tiny holes, so the first thing to do to keep them out is to fill these holes with caulk.

Remove the drawers and inspect them thoroughly. You may not be able to spot the holes in broad daylight, so go somewhere dark and direct the beam of a flashlight on the drawer panels to find the entry holes. Once found, use caulk to repair them, sand the surface, then apply a fresh layer of oil-based paint, varnish, or lacquer.

2. Use a plastic container as a barrier 

If you can’t repair the drawer straight away, put your Tupperware to good use and turn it into a mouse barrier.

Pick a plastic container that fits perfectly into the drawer. Place the drawer’s contents into the container and secure it with a lid before closing the drawer.

3. Clean and sanitize the drawer

While mice might use your drawers as an entryway into the kitchen or build nests, more often than not, they visit your drawers in search of food. Crumbs can easily make their way from the counter into the drawer. Open packets of cookies or biscuits kept into the drawers also attract rodents.

Getting rid of crumbs and storing the food in tight containers can help you solve the issue. Clean the drawer and sanitize it with a bleach solution. Then, you can use essential oils to prevent mice from getting into the drawer again.

4. Place dryer sheets in your drawers

Dryer sheets are an unexpected repellent, as long as they contain oleander extract. Oleander is a natural repellent for rodents; these dryer sheets usually work wonders in keeping pesky mice away from your kitchen drawers and cabinets.

One sheet per drawer is usually sufficient, but you might want to place two or three sheets on different shelves in larger cabinets.

5. Peppermint oil or crushed peppermint

Like oleander, peppermint is a natural mouse repellent. Not only the pungent smell will keep rodents away, but the fresh peppermint scent can make your kitchen more welcoming.

You can add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to potpourri sachets or crush peppermint leaves and place them in fabric pouches. One pouch or sachet per drawer will usually suffice.

6. Try an ultrasonic mouse repeller 

Most ultrasonic mouse repellers are battery-operated devices that run on conventional or solar-powered batteries. Solar ultrasonic repellers are perfect for your yard or garden, whereas a repeller running on conventional batteries or electricity could keep rodents away from your home.

These devices don’t always work, but some homeowners found them helpful in preventing mice from nesting in their homes.

7. Set traps 

It should go without saying: setting mouse traps in the kitchen and other different areas in your house is the most effective way of keeping the rodents out of your drawers and home. You could use various mouse traps, including varieties that allow you to set the trapped mice free. 

8. Avoid keeping food in the drawers 

Often, it is easy to stuff open packets of snacks into a kitchen drawer, but this will do nothing but attract mice. You should avoid keeping food in the kitchen drawers if you’ve noticed signs of rodent infestation in your home. If you can’t help it, at least store the food in plastic or glass containers first.

If you believe that the mice have opened a closed packet or eaten from an open one, throw that food away to prevent getting sick.

9. Keep the drawers uncluttered 

Many people have that one kitchen drawer that holds all imaginable (and often useless) objects, such as towels, cloths, dozen shopper bags, promotional letters, bills, batteries, cables, and so on. If you’re one of those people, know that mice can use the cluttered space to build their nest.

Thus, you should eliminate any clutter in your kitchen drawers by throwing away anything you don’t need and keeping everything else organized. 

Best Way to Keep Mouse Away: Natural Mouse Repellents

Mousetraps are the most effective way to get rid of mice, but not everyone feels comfortable using them. If you don’t want to use a trap or live in the countryside and want to prevent pests from getting into your home, use these natural repellents.


Mothballs contain naphthalene, a substance that deters many pests with its pungent odor. When inhaled or ingested, naphthalene also alters the function of red blood cells, preventing them from carrying oxygen to the cells and tissues. 

Dryer sheets

The oleander scent might be pleasant for humans, but mice find it repulsive. Stuff a few dryer sheets into your kitchen drawers, but also in other areas of your home where mice might nest.

Clove oil 

Another odor that overwhelms rodents is that of clove oil. Soak pieces of fabric in clove essential oil and scatter them throughout your home and in the kitchen drawers.


When it decomposes, urine produces ammonia. This is true for all animals, including mouse predators. Thus, when smelling ammonia, rodents tend to flee due to fear of a predator lurking nearby. An alternative is sprinkling (used) cat litter around the home – although this method could disgust most homeowners.


We already mentioned peppermint and its repellent properties. Use either fresh mint leaves or peppermint oil to keep rodents away.

Cayenne pepper 

This spicy pepper won’t thrill the mice living in your home, and it could repel them. Likewise, you could use Tabasco sauce instead of cayenne peppers. 

Mouse Traps to Get Rid of Mice

If repellents don’t work, or if you’re dealing with a large infestation, you might have to use traps to get rid of the mice. There are four major types you can choose from.

Humane traps

As their name suggests, these traps don’t kill the mice. They trap it inside a chamber or cage closed by a trigger-activated door. 

These mouse traps are easy to set. All you have to do is open the door and place bait inside the trap. Mice prefer carbs, cereal, and nuts, so a piece of walnut or a peanut works as perfect bait. 

When the mouse gets in to snatch the bait, it triggers the door that will close and trap it inside. This mouse trap won’t harm the animal in any way, and you’ll be able to free it into the wild.

Snap traps

These are the classic mouse traps, the ones we’ve all seen in Tom and Jerry or classic movies. There are several types of snap traps, including bar, clamp, and hidden kill snap trap. All of them work in a similar fashion, killing the mouse as it tries to move the bait from the spring-loaded mechanism.

If you can’t stand to see dead mice, you could opt for a hidden kill snap trap which lures the mouse into a closed chamber where it rests hidden from view.

Electric traps

Electric traps look more or less like humane traps, but they deliver a fatal electric shock once the mouse gets inside. They are engineered to prevent humans or pets from getting shocked, so they are safe to use in all households. 

Electric traps generally have a light indicator that lets you know whether there is a mouse inside or not.

Sticky traps 

Made up of adhesive placed on a rigid board, these traps don’t kill the rodents but trap their feet and prevent them from escaping.

While these are the easiest mouse traps to use, they are the least humane. The mouse trapped in a sticky trap won’t be able to move and will be faced with a slow death. Moreover, it is near impossible to free the mouse from the trap without breaking its legs.

Sticky traps are also a risk for small children and other pets, and each trap can only be used once.

FAQs: Mice in Kitchen

How Do Mice Climb on Counters?

Mice are excellent climbers who can latch to any rough or uneven surface and climb even vertical walls. These surfaces include walls and wood cabinets. Due to the glossy finish, rodents might not be able to climb MDF or laminate kitchen cabinets, but they can still use the adjacent wall to find their way to the counter.

Why Do Mice Go in Silverware Drawers?

Mice go in silverware drawers in search of food or for a nesting place. They might also use the drawer as an access point to the kitchen.

To End

A rodent infestation is a serious issue to deal with. The methods above tell you how to keep mice out of the kitchen drawers, but you have to adopt measures to get rid of the mice that live in other areas of your home or in the house walls. Natural repellents and mouse traps can help, but you might have to call in a specialist to deter an extensive infestation.

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