Does Oregano Really Double As An Effective Mouse And Rat Repellent?

Finding a mouse or rat in your house is a significant cause for concern. According to the CDC, these furry pests are known spreaders of disease, and you can contract everything from salmonella (which causes fever and diarrhea) to monkey pox (which causes swollen lymph nodes, fever, and muscle aches.) They can also bring other pests like fleas and ticks into your house and cause considerable structural damage by chewing through insulation and wires. Because of this, most people are in a rush to remove them, but they will often try a DIY remedy first before calling a professional. However, not all deterrents are created equally, and some work much better than others. You might have heard that oregano was an effective deterrent, but does it work as well as promised? Unfortunately, it probably won't solve your rodent problem

There is no scientific evidence to support that this pungent herb will repel mice or rats from your home. There is some anecdotal evidence, but it's not overwhelming to the point where you will likely see results. However, if you have a jar of oregano in your pantry and you want to jump into action ASAP, it's still worth a try. Just don't expect immediate and comprehensive results. Here's why.

Why oregano won't help you solve your rodent problem

The reasoning behind this rodent deterrent seems pretty sound: Since mice and rats have a strong sense of smell to avoid predators and hunt for food, they will be repelled by pungent smells. These scents will overwhelm their senses, convincing them to leave or avoid the premises altogether. While that might be true, using herbs such as oregano likely won't solve your problem. There are two reasons for this. The first is that rats and mice are both small and smart, so if you sprinkle oregano near windows, doors, wall cracks, or any other crevices, the rodents will likely just move away from that area and go somewhere else in your house or yard. 

Second, according to trusted exterminators, this can be a hit-or-miss hack since herb scents fade relatively quickly. That means you will have to keep reapplying the scent (if using an essential oil) or replenishing it with fresh herbs. Even if it's fresh, the scent only permeates a small circumference, allowing the rodents to move to a less-pungent part of the house instead. However, while this likely won't get rid of your mice or rats, it might be helpful in preventing them from entering the house in the first place. If left near suspected entrances, the aromatic smell might convince them to keep it moving rather than entering. Just be aware it doesn't have a high success rate and requires constant reapplication, but it doesn't hurt to try.

What to use instead

So, what at-home remedy can help you push these furry critters out of your house or yard? One of your best bets is to use chili oil or powder. Capsaicin — the compound that makes chilis spicy — can irritate the nose and eyes of these rodents, and the reaction can be deterring enough to convince them not to return to the area. Researchers at Chulalongkorn University found that mice avoided the bait with chili oil on it, showing that it can be an effective repellent. However, the researchers shared that more studies need to be conducted in order to see how effective this scent deterrent is in real-world situations. For example, there is still the issue that the spice would do nothing more than convince the rodents to head into a different room or area that is chili-free. 

Also, keep in mind that these DIY methods are best utilized if you suspect you only have one mouse or rat in your home. They will not work if you have an infestation. At that point, there will be too many rodents to deter, and you don't want to let enough time pass before they potentially begin breeding. In situations like those, it's best to call a highly-rated exterminator.