Keep Mice Out of the Christmas Decorations This Winter
Picture this: It’s January 2nd. The holidays have come and gone and it’s time to clean up the aftermath. The tree, the lights, the inflatables, the wreath, the mistletoe -- it’s all got to go. Of course, you don’t want to buy new Christmas decorations every year, so you have to carefully pack your decor into a basement, attic or some other storage spot. But if you’re not careful, next year you might end up unpacking more than you bargained for.
Before you start storing this year’s boxes, heed our professional advice for how to pack and prevent mice from making a home in your Christmas decorations during the off-season.
Pack Like a Pro
Attics, basements and other storage areas are prime real estate for rodents, and for some good reasons: There is little to no human traffic, it’s relatively warm, and there are nearby food sources. On top of those enticing reasons, mice will also find plenty of nesting material to strip away -- namely, insulation and electrical wires.
What sounds like paradise to mice can spell disaster for you. But how would you know if mice made their new digs out of your decorations?
Read the Signs
For starters, if you enter a storage space and it smells foul, there’s a good chance mouse droppings or a dead mouse are stashed away somewhere inside. If you open up the tinsel and find the box has been gnawed on, strands have been stripped off and droppings are present, you can bet that a family of mice somewhere nearby has a fabulous new nesting spot.
Much damage caused by mice occurs when they strip material to create a soft, warm nest to sleep and breed in. Any material will do, so long as it’s soft and fibrous. When looking for a spot to build a nest, rodents seek out covered shelter -- just like people. Those boxes full of Christmas tree ornaments are perfect.
Christmas lights present another challenge. Mice have to keep their ever-growing teeth filed down and sharpened, and wire makes the perfect tool to do this. The small wires on Christmas lights are the perfect size to fit into a mouse’s mouth to keep its smile looking sharp.
To protect your decorations, you have to eliminate all of the things that make a storage space attractive to rodents. A string of popcorn may hold some lovely memories of the holiday, but you’re best off not trying to keep it until next year.
You should also wash all table linens, stockings, and anything else that smells of food before packing it away. If at all possible, pack your decor in airtight, sealed bins. Using airtight containers prevents mold and mildew, two things that also attract rodents. Make sure, too, that the containers are thick enough to deter rodents from gnawing their way in.
Store your unused decorations in an orderly, non-cluttered stacks. Mice like hidden pathways, not wide open thoroughfares. You should also eliminate clutter outside near your home and other buildings that could attract mice.
Shore Up Small Spaces
Eliminate any openings where mice can enter the home, such as by installing door sweeps and weather stripping. Any openings around your home that are larger than a dime or wider than a pencil should be sealed with construction materials like a silicone-based caulk or even steel wool.
As a last resort, you may consider setting mouse traps in your storage area, but creating a space that does not attract rodents in the first place is a safer, cleaner, simpler option. If anything, mouse traps are best used as a monitoring device, to ensure that your preventative measures are doing the job and to nip new rodent activity in the bud.
When you unpack next year to decorate for the season once again, be sure to check all of your decorations thoroughly and test the lights before you attach any to the house or tree in order to ensure another merry Christmas and happy New Year!
If mice have followed Santa down the chimney and ruined your Christmas decorations, contact us and request a free quote.