You spent a lot of time, effort and probably money to get rid of your mouse problem. However, this can all be for nothing if a mouse from outside finds its way into your home through any small opening it can fit through. One of the most common ways mice enter homes is through the dryer vent. Fortunately, there are ways to mouse proof dryer vents and other small openings from pipes and other utilities.
Mouse proofing dryer vents
A mouse proof dryer vent is crucial for keeping mice out of the home. Clothes dryers attract mice because they are warm and secure. Clean the dryer, lint trap and hose with white vinegar if mice have been present. Secure steel mesh or a commercially made galvanized steel cover over the dryer vent.
How big of a hole does a mouse need?
Mice may appear to be chubby but don’t let that appearance fool you. Mice can flatten themselves out so they can fit through very narrow tunnels – such as your dryer vents. Mice have been known to squeeze through holes as small around as a dime or about one quarter of an inch wide. If you don’t have a dime handy, stick a #2 pencil in the hole. If it fits, then a mouse can fit, often by quickly chewing around the hole.
It’s a common misconception that mice possess collapsible skeletons. They don’t. They do have differently shaped shoulder blades than most mammals. They slope at a steep angle, so they do not get stuck in holes. A mouse’s head is the widest part of its body. If the head fits, then the rest of the body will, too. Most dryer vents are wider than a quarter of an inch, so sooner or later you will have to mouse proof dryer vents in your home.
Signs that mice have been in your dryer vent
Perhaps you don’t have mice or think that you do not have mice. Could they be using your dryer vents as a mouse highway? How can you tell? Actually, it’s easy to tell if mice have been using your dryer vents:
- The dryer and your laundry will smell peculiar.
- Sudden appearance of small, rice-shaped dark brown or black pellets in your laundry, dryer filter or the dryer itself. These are mouse droppings. Wash your laundry again.
- The dryer doesn’t get clothes completely dry anymore or you need to run clothes through many times in order to get a load dry.
- Look at the outside of your dryer vent. If it’s bent or broken in any way, that means a mouse has been working on it.
- Strange sounds coming from the dryer or the exhaust hose like thumping or scratching. If you hear squeaking, that’s a blinking neon sign that mice are there.
What to do if you have a mouse in your dryer vent
If you open your dryer and see a dark blur shoot away or, when you start to mouse proof dryer vent exhaust pipes and see that a mouse is in there, you need to get the mouse out before you block it up. Otherwise, the mouse will die in in there. Besides being incredibly gross, the smell of a mouse corpse can be overwhelming, to put it politely. It’s a good reason to make sure there is no mouse in your dryer vents.
Usually, all you need to do is make a lot of noise such as banging on the dryer and vent and the mouse will run from the sound. If possible, have someone stand quietly at the outside exhaust vent to make sure the mouse comes out.
Cleaning your dryer
Don’t use your dryer again until you give it a thorough cleaning. Mouse droppings and urine can get you very sick. Put on gloves and, if you are prone to asthma or have any kind of breathing problem, put on a protective face mask.
Clean the lint trap and spray it with white vinegar. Rinse it well to remove the vinegar. Let the lint trap air-dry before replacing it.
Before cleaning the dryer, the hoses or the dryer vents. UNPLUG THE DRYER. This will save you a nasty shock. Clean the dryer with white vinegar and the hoses with vinegar and a long brush. You can wrap vinegar-soaked rags around the brushes to help better clean the hoses. Dry with clean rags. If you have an air compressor, use that to blast any mouse debris out. Dry with a clean rag. If all of this is too much for you to handle, simply hire a HVAC handyman to do it for you.
How to stop mice coming through your vents
Now that the mice are out and the dryer is clean, it’s time to shut down the mouse highway through your dryer. Here are the steps recommended:
- Make sure all plants and shrubs cannot get into your dryer vent. Trim is away at least a foot.
- Place a cover at the end of the dryer vent outside of your home. Each kind has its different directions. One of the most popular kinds is a galvanized steel mesh cap to keep out not only mice but also larger critters like snakes or squirrels.
- A no pest vent usually comes with mounts and holes so you can screw them in place. However, if this doesn’t work, you can “glue” it on with epoxy.
- Check the dryer exhaust vent for any holes or gaps. Cover these with steel wool and caulk.
Can you just use steel in the dryer vent?
Some websites urge a quick way to make a mouse proof dryer vent merely by sticking a huge wad of steel wool up the vent. Steel wool will allow the exhaust from the dryer to get out and keeps critters like mice from getting in – or so the theory goes.
Although using steel wool helps, it is no replacement for a no pest dryer vent cover. You still need to put one on. Steel wool can shift if not secured and get in your dryer, plug up the hose or fall back out of the vent.
You can use steel wool for the inside and to fill in gaps while covering the outside of the vent with steel mesh. You do have to be handy in order to make your own mesh cover. If you only know basic DIY skills, stick with a pre-made vent cover. If you completely lack DIY skills and don’t even have a screwdriver handy, you’ll save a lot of time and headaches by hiring someone to do it for you.
Related Question: Can a mouse get through a chimney?
Mice, as well as any other wild critter, are attracted to chimneys. They are warm and have three nice secure walls. They also make great critter highways to your nice, warm, food-filled home. If you are taking the trouble to block up your dryer vents, make sure you have a chimney cap, too.
If you have a fireplace, then check the chimney flue for anything alive and shut it securely when the fireplace is not in use. Since you need a ladder and walking about on the roof to get a chimney cap on, it may be safest for you to hire someone to do it rather than risk doing it yourself.
Making sure to mouse proof your dryer’s vents and the chimney are great ways to keep any unwanted critter like mice out of your home. If mice have been there, be sure to clean the dryer vents thoroughly. Cut away any plants or branches that touch the dryer vent. Place a dryer vent cover over the vent or make your own with steel wool and wire mesh. Plug any gaps with steel wool and caulk.