How to Use Steel Wool to Keep Out Mice and Rats

mouse near a hole with steel wool on its entrance

Steel wool isn’t just for scrubbing your pots and pans, it’s also a weapon in the battle against mice and rats. Learn step-by-step how to use steel wool to seal holes and gaps to keep out mice and rats. 

Discover the power of fine and medium-grade steel wool and its differences with copper mesh to get rid of unwanted rodents. In some cases, copper mesh is the preferable option.   

Why Does Steel Wool Repel Mice and Rats?

The secret lies in steel wool’s rough and abrasive texture, which presents a challenge for rats and mice. For them, it’s like gnawing through a pile of nails: it’s not exactly a mouse’s idea of a tasty snack. 

The coarse fibers of steel wool create a barrier that’s tough to breach, putting the brakes on any rodent invasion. So, while mice might be able to squeeze through tiny cracks as small as 6 millimeters in diameter when met with a wall of steel wool, they’ll quickly realize they’ve bitten off more than they can chew.

How to Use Steel Wool to Keep Out Mice and Rats

Follow this step-by-step guide to using steel wool to keep out mice and rats:

1. Identify Holes Inside And Outside Your Home

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To start your rodent-proofing mission, sniff out any potential entry points. Mice, which are smaller than rats, can squeeze through tight spaces (holes as small as the width of a pencil), so be thorough. 

Check the following places inside your home for cracks and crevices:

  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Fireplace area
  • Around windows and doors 
  • Behind appliances like the refrigerator or stove 
  • Pipes 
  • Washing machines 
  • Dryer vents 
  • Attic, basement
  • Crawl space
  • Wall junctures
  • Around beams that intersect with walls
  • Floorboards

Now, take the investigation outside. Pay attention to the following places:

  • Among the rafters, gables, eaves, and soffits of your roof 
  • Windows and doors without weather stripping 
  • Between the foundation of your home and the ground 
  • Around the attic 
  • Crawl space vents 
  • Holes for electrical, plumbing, cable, and gas lines 
  • Garage doors
  • Garage walls that share a wall with your house

While steel wool is fantastic indoors, when exposed to any level of humidity it can quickly rust, compromising its effectiveness. For outdoor gaps and entry points, where moisture is inevitable, opting for copper mesh proves to be a more durable solution. Though slightly pricier, copper mesh offers the same level of protection without the risk of rusting.

2. Gather Your Tools

Now that you’ve scoped out the entry points, it’s time to arm yourself. Before diving into the mouse-proofing mission, make sure you have all the necessary tools at your disposal. 

  • A pair of trusty work gloves
  • A set of wire cutters 
  • Medium-grade steel wool rolls 
  • Caulk 

3. Select and Cut Steel Wool

Now it’s time to prep your steel wool for action. Not all steel wool is equal for this task, you’ll want to opt for fine or medium-grade steel wool for maximum effectiveness. First, don’t forget your gloves! The fibers of steel wool can be sharp and abrasive, so it’s essential to protect your hands from any unwanted cuts or irritation.

Then, grab a roll or pad of steel wool and gently pull it apart, creating a small barrier the size of the hole you’re looking to cover. This process might require a bit of finesse, so take your time and ensure you’re creating a snug fit. 

4. Seal Up Holes

steel wool on a white background
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With your steel wool prepped and ready, it’s time to put it to work and seal the entry points. For smaller holes take a small piece of steel wool and firmly push it into the hole, ensuring no gaps or loose areas. You want to create a snug fit that’s impenetrable to any rodent-sized invaders. Once the steel wool is in place, grab some caulk and carefully seal it to keep it securely in place.

For bigger gaps and openings, reach for materials like lath screen, lath metal, cement, hardware cloth, wire mesh, or metal sheeting. They’re all good options for patching up larger holes and securing the steel wool in place. 

Remember to cut the material to fit around pipes, ensuring a tight seal that leaves no room for mischief. With your holes sealed tight, you can rest easy knowing your home is well-protected against rodents.

5. Regular Checks

Before you relax, there’s one last crucial step: regular maintenance. Over time, the steel wool barriers you’ve installed may shift or degrade. To ensure your home remains rodent-proof, it’s essential to periodically inspect all the places where you’ve used steel wool.

Regularly check for any signs of wear, gaps, or damage, these could become potential weak points. If you spot any issues, simply replace the worn or damaged steel wool and reapply caulk as needed to maintain a secure seal. 

Best Steel Wool for Pest Control

The best grades of steel wool to create an effective rodent barrier are Fine grade steel wool #0 or Medium grade steel wool #1. These grades strike the perfect balance between density and texture, creating a formidable obstacle for any would-be mouse or rat intruders. 

It’s important to know that not all steel wool is created equal. Steel wool comes in various grades, ranging from super fine #0000 to extra coarse #4. 

Super fine#0000
Extra fine#000
Very fine#00
Medium Coarse#2
Extra Coarse#4

Copper Mesh vs. Steel Wool

Similar to steel wool in its function, copper mesh presents an alternative solution with its own set of advantages. 

While both materials act as physical barriers against rodents, copper wool is resistant to rusting and wearing out over time. This durability factor makes copper mesh the best option for areas prone to moisture or outdoor exposure. 

Additionally, use copper wool when sealing gaps around copper pipes. Steel wool can trigger a galvanic reaction when in contact with copper, leading to damages over time. Instead, opt for copper wool as a safe alternative. 

FAQ About Rats and Mice

What diseases can rats and mice carry?

Rats and mice are carriers of various diseases that pose risks to human health. Among the diseases they can transmit are leptospirosis, hantavirus, salmonellosis, and rat-bite fever.

How can I protect my car wiring from rodents?

One effective way to protect your car’s wiring from rodents is by using rodent tape. This specialized tape is designed to deter rodents from chewing on wires and causing damage. 

Do rodent smoke bombs work?

Rodent smoke bombs may work. However, they are not a permanent solution to rodent infestations. If you want to get rid of outdoor rats, it’s better to use traps or contact a professional pest control service. Natural deterrents like peppermint oil spray may offer some assistance in deterring rodents, but they are unlikely to completely eradicate an infestation on their own. 

Hire a Pro to Get Rid of Rats and Mice

If you still find yourself facing unwelcome rodent activity despite your best efforts to utilize steel wool to fortify your home against mice and rats, don’t despair. Sometimes, these persistent pests require a professional touch. 

In such cases, reaching out to a pest control professional near you is your best bet for reclaiming your home from rodents. These experts can tackle even the most stubborn rodent infestations.

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Cecilia Acevedo

Cecilia is a writer focused on keeping homes clean and healthy. When not exposing the secrets of home invaders, she digs into the latest pest news, offering practical tips to kick them out. Join Cecilia for straightforward information and advice on dealing with pesky intruders.