Getting your camper ready for the winter is something that most of us dread doing.
Putting items away for the winter months can be time-consuming and irritating, not to mention the fact that you’re often inviting mice and other critters to make your RV their vacation home.
This is a problem that’s not only frustrating and unhygienic but can also cause serious problems with your RV’s wiring and electrical components if mice manage to nibble on them.
These damages can be expensive and time-consuming to repair, taking up time that you could otherwise be using to camp and enjoy the outdoors.
While sometimes you can have a mice infestation that won’t cause lasting damage, just hoping for that isn’t enough.
It’s important to have a plan to be able to eliminate a rodent infestation you’re dealing with currently, as well as a plan to prevent the mice from trying to bunk in your RV over the winter in the future.
In this post I will walk you through the best methods to get mice out of your camper, as well as prevent them from coming back in the future.
4 Steps to Mouse Proofing your RV
Step 1: Eliminate Mice Problems You Already Have
The traditional way to get rid of mice is still one of the most effective; wire traps, usually with a peanut butter or cheese as bait.
For those who might be less fond of the idea of killing the mice, there are also catch and release traps available, though they’re not always as quick to catch the mice since they’re not intended to do damage, so are easier to escape.
Either way, getting rid of mice is fairly easy and cheap.
Once the mice are gone, be sure to clean up all droppings, then bleach or use a germicidal cleaner on any area they might have crawled over or nested in.
Cleaning the area will remove any odors, and removing any nesting materials will make the camper less attractive to mice and other rodents in the future.
Step 2: Take Out Unnecessary Items From Your Camper
The first step to getting your camper ready for the winter is to remove anything that mice might want to eat or nest in for the colder months.
Mice are looking for somewhere warm out of the elements, so any nesting materials are a big no.
The most common nesting materials for mice are fabrics like blankets and shirts, but mice are also comfortable making nests out of things like newspapers and other scraps of paper.
It’s important not to leave anything that might invite them to make themselves a more permanent home.
Go through both your linen storage and your camping supplies, and make sure there’s no tarps, towels, or other inviting fabrics.
Another thing mice look for is free food.
Any birdseed or other grains that they like to snack on should be removed from your camper and stored in sealable boxes, so the mice won’t be tempted to just stick around where the food is.
Even the boxes might not stop mice completely, but if you keep them somewhere like your shed or garage it’s much easier to check and see if there’s been any nibbling.
It’s also not a bad idea to make sure that you sweep and mop the floors and wipe up all the crumbs as well since mice will view those as a source of food.
Step 3: Seal Up Anyplace A Mouse Can Crawl Into
Mice are opportunists, and they’re also very small. This diminutive size means that they can fit in gaps that you and I might not even consider possible.
This means that you need to find any and all gaps and seal them up before winter comes. There are a few ways you can go about this.
The first step is to crawl under your RV and look for any gaps and holes in the undercarriage.
Then, once you’ve determined whether or not there are any, go ahead and seal them up.
Another method is to wait until midday, and then look inside your RV.
Any place you can see daylight from needs to be sealed up so mice can’t get in.
Pay special attention to the wiring and plumbing gaps that might not be sealed all the way, as well as the corners and edges.
Check places where you might not notice a hole immediately, like the insides of closets or drawers.
Also, check any seals that might be coming loose or damaged on the outside. If the seal isn’t complete, it’s very easy for mice to chew their way inside.
Once you’ve found the places mice can come in, you need to seal them.
Spray foam that expands as it’s exposed to air is one popular method, and it’s easy enough to use, though you can’t force too much into small gaps.
Some people also recommend forcing some steel wool into the hole before the foam, so if the mice do get past some of the foam, they’ll meet those sharp fibers and be deterred.
For cracks and smaller holes, silicone caulking works well too. If you can’t seal up an entire area, then use a professional mesh or screen to keep the mice from entering that way. (You may also want to read this post I wrote on how to insulate a trailer)
Once you think you have everything, repeat the test as needed until you stop seeing daylight.
You can enlist a friend to give you another pair of eyes, and if you want to triple check your work, you can have them shine a bright light in the dark, so you can see if there are any gaps you missed in daylight.
Step 4: Choose A Good Repellent To Keep Mice Away From The Area
There are many natural mice deterrents on the market. We’ll cover some of the most effective types, as well as some of the easiest ones to get, so you can decide which repellent will work best for you.
Natural repellents work by using something that’s found in nature that whatever you’re trying to repel does not like.
Usually, this is because whatever is associated with the smell will make them sick. For mice, this natural repellent is peppermint or spearmint oil, which is good news, since it means that repellents usually smell minty fresh, instead of noxiously chemical.
The bad news is that most of the repellents use peppermint or spearmint oil, which is much much stronger than any natural occurrence of the leaf in nature.
This oil can be very pungent, so it’s important not to get any in your eyes or nose since it’s an irritant. It can also irritate your mouth and lungs if you breathe too much of it in, so be careful not to go overboard.
Using the product is simple. You place the product in your camper, usually in the corners so the smell reaches throughout the entire space, and isn’t clustered at one end.
There are already measured out repellents to make life even easier for RV owners.
If you’re looking for something without all of the extra plastic, you can purchase a concentrate called Mouse Away. You use Mouse Away by dipping a cotton ball in the oil, then leaving it in a glass or jar, lid open.
Once again, you’ll want to have enough cotton balls to cover the entire RV, so most likely one in every corner.
It’s important to note that while the mice don’t like them, you’re probably not going to enjoy the smell in the spring either.
These oils are strong, and you’ll probably have to air out your RV for a couple of days once you take it out of storage.
There’s also some common drugstore remedies for mice, like Bounce laundry sheets and Irish Spring soap.
The laundry sheets you can simply peel out of the box, while the soap will most likely be messier since you’ll have to break pieces off.
These likely work off of the same principle that the peppermint oil does. However, since the scent is diluted, it might also be less effective.
You might want to stop in once a month or so to see if you need to replace or refresh your laundry sheets or soap.
Still, if you don’t want to deal with peppermint, it might be worth a try to start with the Irish Spring, then step up your game if the mice aren’t deterred.
In conclusion, we hope this article has helped you know what steps to take to ready your camper for the winter months.
Remember that once you’re done with the camper it’s important to remove any food or nesting materials, seal up any gaps and then place your choice of rodent repellent around the camper evenly to keep away any opportunistic mice.
Stay warm and rodent free this winter!
I am a well traveled Marine Corps veteran that enjoys the outdoor and nomadic lifestyle that RV living provides. I am also a member of the National RV Inspectors Association (NRVIA.org). As the founder of Camperguide.org my goal is to provide you with well researched information so that you can enjoy the best of the RV lifestyle.