Using Steel Wool For Mice Infestations

By: Contributors  | 
A brown mouse walking on a table beside a loaf of bread and a metal pot.
Using a mixture of steel wool and caulking compound to seal holes will ensure the mouse doesn't get back in the house. Tambako the Jaguar / Getty Images

The best and most permanent way to stop mice in your home is "exclusion" or "building them out". In other words, eliminating any openings through which they can enter. And believe it or not, using steel wool for mice infestations is an incredible way of keeping rodents outside your home.

Seriously, can steel wool stop mice? You bet! By following these steps and finding the right steel wool pads for your situation, you can serve eviction notices to all of the mice frequenting your residence.


Where to Place Steel Wool

It's important that you mouse-proof any areas where you store, process or use food. Using steel wool pads, make sure you're sealing holes in your walls. This means gaining access to your crawl space and any wall juncture that could be an entryway for mice. Additionally, you'll need to check electrical and plumbing entrances, doors, gutters, vents, and chimneys for rodent access.

Seal any opening that is larger than one-quarter inch (0.6 centimeters). We're talking small holes! And although mice can't get through them, it might be a good idea to seal holes that are even smaller than this, as well. Mice are known for chewing their way through things, so before long that small hole might just be big enough for a mouse to gain entry.


Don't use plastic sheeting, wood, rubber or a screen to close off an area because the mice can gnaw right through it. A mixture of steel wool and caulking compound makes a good plug to seal small openings. You can't use steel wool on its own because the mice will be able to pull it out or chew through it. The caulking compound makes the patch surface smooth so that mice and other pests can't get through it.

Using Steel Wool Pads For Pest Control

Identifying Entry Points

Although we've touched on this already, it's important to emphasize how important it is to locate all possible entry points. Check around your home, both inside and out, for any openings.

Pay particular attention to utilities and pipes leading into the home, gaps under doors, around windows, in the foundation, and in the attic. Even dryer vents! Remember, any crack or hole that leads outside can be a gateway for mice.


Selecting and Cutting Steel Wool

Choose the right type of steel wool for this task. Coarse grades, like #0, #1, or #2, are more effective because they are tougher and more challenging for mice to chew through.

Once you have your steel wool, cut it into pieces that are large enough to completely fill the holes and gaps you've identified. You may need a variety of sizes depending on the irregularity and size of the openings.

Stuffing Steel Wool Into Holes

With your cut pieces of steel wool at hand, start stuffing them into the holes. Push the steel wool in firmly to make sure there are no gaps or loose areas.

Mice can pull out loosely packed materials or find their way through small openings, so compactness is key. In some cases, you might need to use a tool, like a screwdriver, to help wedge the steel wool deep into narrower or more awkward spaces.

Securing with Caulk for Added Durability

To ensure that your steel wool barrier is as effective and durable as possible, it's advisable to use caulk. Apply caulk around the edges of the steel wool, effectively sealing it in place.

This not only prevents mice from pulling out the steel wool but also protects the wool from environmental factors that might degrade it over time. For outdoor use, make sure the caulk is weatherproof.

Regular Checks and Maintenance

Over time, the steel wool barriers may shift, degrade, or be disturbed by other animals or environmental factors. Periodically inspect all the places where you have used steel wool to ensure that it is still in place and intact.

If you notice any wear or gaps, replace the steel wool and reapply caulk as needed. Regular maintenance is vital to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of this method.

Implementing Additional Deterrents

While steel wool is a great way to block physical entry points, it's also important to make your home less attractive to mice in the first place. This involves keeping your house clean and free of food scraps, storing food in airtight containers, and eliminating clutter, especially in areas like basements and attics where mice might nest.

Also, consider using natural deterrents like peppermint oil in areas where mice might enter as an additional layer of protection.


The Benefits of Copper Wool

You may want to try copper wool instead of steel wool for several reasons. Because of the way it's woven, copper wool is said to get stuck in rodents' teeth, making it difficult to move or chew through.

This means you'll be able to skip the step of mixing the material with caulking compound before stuffing it into the holes. Also, while steel wool is known to rust, copper wool does not, which means you don't have to worry about rust stains on your brick, wood siding or internal walls.


This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.