The Foolproof Way to Keep Mice and Other Pests out of Your Van

Keeping Mice out of Your Van, Skoolie, or RV

Nothing says #VanLife like grabbing your box of Ritz crackers in the middle of the night to find the plastic shredded and half of your tasty, butter flavored crackers pre-chewed.

No, it’s not your roommate Jim eating your stash. You, my friend, have been visited by a mouse, and if you don’t act soon, he’s going to move his entire family into your place without asking. Like a jerk.

If you’ve been keeping up with my Instagram lately, you know that we have had a heck of a time dealing with a mouse infestation.

how to catch mice in van or rv
Catching mice in a van

What started as an innocent trip to BLM land in Oregon for a few weeks turned into a hellish nightmare of mouse turds and late night chewing.

We have had a lot of different infestations over the years. From the fire ant debacle in Georgia to the snake incident of 2018, I thought we had already been through the worst of it.

I was a fool.

Don’t get me wrong, I love fuzzy mammals just as much as the next middle-aged woman, but mice can’t live with you under any circumstances.

What Kind of Damage Can a Mouse Do to a Van?


In addition to leaving trails of tiny turds everywhere, mice are notorious for spreading diseases. Scary diseases like Hantavirus, Salmonellosis, Rat-Bite Fever, and my favorite, BUBONIC PLAGUE (source).

I don’t know about you, but last time I watched House MD and saw someone with Bubonic Plague, I had nightmares for a week.

Anything sickness that includes anal bleeding and gangrene is a big “no” from me dawg.

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Don’t care about Bubonic Plague? Or think you’re too cool to suffer from Hantavirus?

Well, maybe you do care about your wiring and engine.

Mice get their kicks chewing all of the insulation off of your wiring which then causes short circuits and damages your engine. Over a long enough timeline, they will completely dismantle all of your electrical work before starting in on your upholstery.

If you thought it was the Ritz crackers drawing them in, you were wrong.

store food properly to avoid mice
Store food properly to avoid mice

Mice are, first and foremost, looking for shelter, so when they find your cozy van, they will immediately start looking for items to build a nest with.

This can include items like toilet paper, cotton balls, Q-Tips, notebook paper, oven mitts, clothes, napkins, and whatever else you could possibly think of that could provide a sense of warmth.

Remember that wiring insulation? Yeah, they go after that for their nest.

Considering all of the time and money you’ve probably already invested in your buildout, this kind of thing can set you back weeks and hundreds of dollars to fix.

And if you don’t get rid of them completely, they’ll just chew through everything again.

Popular Mouse Elimination Methods That Don’t Work

Ok, so you’ve decided Mickey Mouse has got to pack his shit and go.

Now what?

If you are anything like me, your first instinct will be to go to the store and try to find a nonkill option. You’ll set it up with the “good” peanut butter, all excited to meet the little jerk that ripped apart your favorite hat. Your plan will be to confront him, and tell him how upset he made you before you drive him to a beautiful field and release him back into the wild.

After several days, you will then realize that he has chewed your nonkill trap apart, eaten the plentiful offering of said “good” peanut butter you’ve left while he continues to destroy your shit.

how to keep mice out of car
mice are cute but they gotta go!

I hate to admit this, but the small nonkill traps don’t work at all. I have tried almost every one out on the market and each time the mouse has escaped with a belly full of food. There are some traps like the bucket technique, which could work, but if you’re living in a van or RV, you most likely won’t have the space for that.

Our mice like to enter and chill out under our couch. It’s almost like they know how impossible it is to get under the damn thing. I can get traps down there, but when it comes to really ripping things apart and cleaning, it’s really difficult.


Here are a few other things I’ve tried that also don’t work at all.

1. Plug in Mouse Deterrent Boxes Designed to work by emitting sound waves that mice and rats hate, these traps work great in basements that don’t have any furniture. You see, the waves have to be able to reach every corner of the room. If you have a couch or cabinets in the way, the waves won’t be effective at all. Also, there’s the constant electricity you’ll need to have available. They just won’t work in a van or RV.

2. Essential Oils- Nope. Tell your Aunt Karen who is involved in the pyramid scheme that peppermint oil does nothing. After a day or two, it will lose its strength and they will go right back to making your house their home. Bonus points if you put it on a cotton ball and just contributed to their cozy hideaway.

3. Moth Balls Moth balls stink, and mice aren’t bothered by them.

Also, mice aren’t moths… so…

4. Sticky Traps For a split second, I was sold on the sticky trap idea until Dusty told me a particularly heartbreaking story about the time he used one and couldn’t free the mouse he caught. Those suckers are sticky! Like, REALLY sticky. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands and are comfortable lubing up, then manhandling a mouse, just stay away from these things.

While it feels humane to not kill them outright just think about how horrific it would be to get stuck on something and then slowly starve to death.

5. Poison Not only is it creepy to drive around in a van carrying poison, but also just think of the repercussions of what happens when that little mouse dies INSIDE YOUR WALL.

…And you don’t find the body

…….And it’s summer

…………And now not only are you driving a van full of poison, but you smell like death.

dont use mouse poison in car
Only serial killers drive around with dead bodies in their vans…


How to Eliminate Mice from Your Van, Rv, or Skoolie

Now that we know what doesn’t work (because I have made all of these mistakes for you) what can you do to actually get rid of these mice once and for all?

1. Mouse Traps– Get what ever kind you like, but make sure it kills mice quickly. My trap of choice is this Tomcat Press ‘N Set I found on Amazon. It is super simple and there is almost no chance of snapping your own fingers inside of it while setting. Just load up the tray with what ever peanut butter you like. Although, I always use the good stuff because I like to make their last meal special.

best mouse trap for cars
Tomcat Press ‘N Set: Best Mouse Trap Ever

Sure, you can use the old school wooden ones since they are 100% cheaper, but I don’t like the idea of having to touch them after the fact. With the Tomcat Press and Set, all I have to do is squeeze the back and the mouse pops out. But choose whatever you’re comfortable with.

2. Steel Wool Next, find every available space that a mouse can enter through, and fill it with steel wool. Mice are tricky and if you use anything other than steel wool, they will chew through it in record time. Steel wool must feel awful on their stupid little teeth, so when they find something blocked by it, they’ll try another entrance before eventually getting tired and heading to someone else’s van.

Not sure where the mice are entering? Here are some ideas of what to check:

Air Vents

Cracked Windows

Cable Holes

Pedal Shafts

Steering Column

Shore Power Cord Opening

Once you secure those places, move on to the next step,

3. Clean All The Things!– Now that you’ve murdered the mice and sealed their entry points, it’s time to thoroughly clean every surface. Vacuum up all the poop, spray EVERYTHING with a mixture of bleach and water, then let sit for at least 5 minutes. The goal here is to get rid of all that nasty Hantavirus and Bubonic Plague I told you about earlier.

Also, your food probably needs to be stored better. Instead of leaving your Ritz Crackers in sleeves under your pillow, consider investing in those airtight heavy-duty food storage containers. They aren’t perfect, but it sends a strong message that your food is for you and not the freeloaders.


Now that your mice are gone, it’s time to go kick back and relax, right?


Unfortunately, even with all of these steps being taken, you can still get mice.

It sucks, but being clean and constantly checking for signs of critters is just a part of van life.

Just like you check your oil and other fluids, looking around for signs of mice and other rodents should be a part of your routine. It’s way easier to stop it at the first sign of mice than to wait until you have a full blown infestation.

Contemplating #VanLife with someone you love?

Read my articles “How to Survive in a Van With Your Significant Other” and “The #VanLife Couple Next Door, Tips and Tricks From the Road”

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