How to Keep Mice Out of Campers? What the Science Says

By Ryan Wilson

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how to keep mice out of campers

Learning how to keep mice out of campers is important. Mice in campers can damage your wiring and insulation, costing lots of money in repairs.

As a professional wildlife biologist, my biggest concern of mice in my ALiner camper is the risk of disease from mouse droppings, especially from Hantavirus. 

Hantavirus can cause severe illnesses in humans [1] and is primarily through inhalation of particles from rodent droppings, urine, or saliva [2]. 

There are many tips and tricks discussed online for how to keep mice out of campers. Most sites, however, don’t provide scientific evidence to back their claims.  

As a scientist, I like to make decisions based on scientific research.  I used my research background to determine which techniques and devices have scientific support for keeping mice out of your camper. 

How to Keep Mice Out of Campers

1. Barriers

spray foam

The best technique for how to keep mice out of campers is to make it impossible for them to get in [3]. Unfortunately we’ll never be able to keep these pests out completely.

The most effective tip for how to keep mice out of campers is to seal up any holes where rodents can get in.  Using expanding spray insulation foam is great for this. 

Only use spray foam for cavities or places where you don’t have wires, pipes, or other hardware as the rigid foam will encapsulate them.

Another technique for sealing up holes is to use copper mesh screen and tightly pack it into the hole.

Complete List of Pop Up Camper Weights

To prevent mice from climbing into your trailer cabin, you can create sheet metal cylinders around any point that touches the ground. 

Whenever possible set up your camper far enough away from vegetation that mice can’t jump onto your camper.  Stack your firewood away from your camper as well [3]. 

2. Cleanliness

Mice want into your camper for shelter and food. So keep a clean camp.  Clean up crumbs after meals, seal food in hard-sided containers, and don’t leave pet food sitting unattended.

3. Repellents and Deterrents

Different types of scents are often proposed for how to keep mice out of campers.

These methods are the most discussed, but also filled with a lot of claims not backed by science. Thankfully, many of them do have support based on scientific research.

Scents and Odors

Scientists have studied the following essential oils on rodents and found them to reduce time rodents spent in areas with food.

Others suggest peppermint or cinnamon oil can repeal mice, but I couldn’t find any scientific research to support these claims.  It doesn’t mean they don’t work, but there is no research to support their use.

You need to apply these oils daily, at high concentrations (10%) for them to be an effective tool to keep mice out of campers [5].  

Applying predator odors might be more effective than essential oils to keep mice out of campers. Predator-avoidance is a strong motivator for small rodents. Researchers have tapped into how to use this behavior to our advantage [7]. Studies show avoidance of rodents to areas applied with different types of predator odors, such as cat [8], fox, and ferret [9]. 

Keep in mind that a lot of these predator odors are pretty strong and not pleasant.  You need to apply these often to have any effect.

Others have claimed that mothballs, dryer sheets, or Irish Spring soap can be effective at keeping mice out campers. I could find no research to support (or refute) these claims.  Although many individuals have reported that bars of Irish Spring are ineffective. There is no harm in trying them, but I would stick to the scents and odors with scientific data supporting their use.


owl flying

Devices that emit ultrasonic noise claim to deter mice.  Unfortunately limited evidence of them working exists [10].  Even for those that have an effect, it is short-lived [11].

Recorded calls from owls can deter rodents from an area [12].  But it is probably necessary to use calls from an owl species in the area of your camper. Pairing a predator recording with predator odor could also enhance the repellency [7].


Stringing lights under your camper is another technique described for how to keep mice out of campers. Mice want to avoid detection by predators, especially owls, so any device that makes them more visible to predators is likely to deter them.

One study found that illuminating an area can reduce rodent presence [13]. 

A string of LED lights are inexpensive and can create a nice ambiance, so it might be worth trying it out. 

4. Traps

mouse hole

Using all the above techniques will never prevent all mice from getting in campers. When you have mice in campers, trapping is probably your next step. 

There are four main trapping devices on the market today:

Of those 4, I can only recommend live traps and snap traps as acceptable.  

You should avoid glue traps because they are not humane. You should also avoid common types of bait poisons used to kill mice.  They are also not humane, and can be lethal to pets and children if consumer [14]. Mice poison can get into the food web and cause predators that eat the mice to die [15].  It has become a real problem.

The other problem with poison is that the mice can end up dying in walls or other hard to access places leading to a horrible smell. 

The use of live traps or snap traps are acceptable. The CDC recommends using snap traps because they reduce disease transmission compared to live traps [16]. 

Mice released from traps can also quickly return to your camper. Once you’ve removed them, make sure that you have placed proper barriers in your camper to keep the mice out! 

When handling any trapped mice, be sure to wear gloves to avoid disease.


The best way for how to keep mice out of campers is to prevent them from entering your camper by sealing gaps where mice can get in. 

Make your camper undesirable to mice by keeping it clean and deploy one (or more) of the sound, scent, or visual deterrents.

No one method will ever be 100% effective. You will likely need to deploy more than one tool to ensure no mice get in. Including the use of traps as a final line of defense.

Keeping mice out of your camper can save you money fixing the damage they cause and protects your family from harmful diseases.

Now that you’ve learned about how to keep mice out of campers, look at our post on how to keep your camper secure with a trailer coupler lock

Photo of author


Ryan is an avid outdoorsman who loves camping, hiking, and backpacking. He was initially reluctant to join the camper world, but after his first camping trip in one, he became a convert. He especially loves how camper ownership extends the camping season and makes it easier to be more adventurous with young kids. When not enjoying his free time, he works as a professional wildlife biologist studying the ecology and conservation of large mammals in Alaska.