Thursday, April 21, 2011


Ask a Clean Person: Mouse Turds, Copper Pots, and Onion Smells

I'm not sure if this counts as a cleaning question, but it's definitely household maintenance. My roommates and I have had a mouse problem for months. There's probably only one mouse, but I guess there may be many that look the same? We try to keep our kitchen generally clean, but the stove is weirdly not attached to the counters, so it's pretty difficult to clean between the two. We've put out two different kinds of sticky traps with cheese, with no mouse-catching luck. Every morning there are little mouse poops on the stove top/elsewhere on the kitchen counter ... gross! What's the most reliable and humane way of catching mice and/or discouraging the mouse population from pooping all over our kitchen? I just came back to the apartment from a week at my parents' house and there's SO much mouse poop on the counters : ( :' (

I've been lucky to have never had a mouse problem, which means that sometime tomorrow I can expect a family of Fievels to move into my home, so I consulted noted vermin removal expert Alex Balk for his thoughts on mouse combat techniques. Quoth Balk:

The best I can tell you is to get some glue traps and put them out where you see mice. This will unfortunately result in your having to cart dead (or worse, living) mice to the trash, but, you know, that's the way it is. More importantly, you need to figure out how they're getting in (it's usually through the pipes in the radiators; infestations tend to happen when the seasons change) and patch up whatever hole they're entering through. Steel wool usually does the trick; they can't get past it or eat through it. Most NYC apartments have an exterminator who comes through once a month. Check with your super and get him to do it.

Good luck! I hope you're not too creeped out. You WILL spend the next six months thinking that you've just seen something scurry across the room out of the corner of your eye, but eventually you will recover.

Now onto your stove; the gas line on stoves is usually installed with enough slack that the stove can be pulled out from the wall. You’ll need to grip either side of the unit and sort of shimmy it forward until it clears the counter enough for you to be able to angle it and crawl into the space you’ve created to clean things up.

Fill a bucket with the cleaning solution of your choice — you can dilute glass cleaner, countertop cleaner or just plain old ammonia (columnist’s choice because of its grease-fighting prowess but not without controversy due to an extreme case of OMG DANGEROUS CHEMICAL WARNING WARNING) with warm water, grab a sponge with a scrungy back, and wipe down the sides of the oven and exposed cabinetry. Once that’s done, turn your attention to the floor space. You’ll want to tackle the floors last, because as you clean the other surfaces gunk and dirty water is going to fall on the floor. I know how obvious it sounds when you see it written out like that, but paying attention to the order of things is important when discussing cleaning, and I operate under the assumption that the rest of you don’t spend your days thinking about this sort of stuff.

Once you’ve gotten everything cleaned up, shimmy the oven back into position. Remove any turdlets from your countertops, then spray the surface down with a heavy dose of an all-purpose cleaner (something like Fantastic or one of its ilk) and wipe down with paper towels. If it’s going to make you feel better about things go ahead and give it two spray’n’wipes, I’ll understand.

My mother has had this full set of copper pots and pans for as long as I can remember. So they're at least 18ish years old. I absolutely love love love copper, but this set just looks blah. (I once had a friend over in middle school and I remember her asking "Why do you guys have a bunch of dirty pots displayed?" THEY ARE CLEAN!)

I notice when I cook certain things that spill over, when wiped away we're left with a bit of shiny pretty copper. Is there a way to make ALL of these shiny and pretty? My mother isn't really one to cook, so they sit in a lower cupboard. I want to offer to take them off her hands and then shine ‘em up, if possible.

Ah copper. It’s the beautiful but temperamental silk shirt of the cookware world.

Copper, like silver, tarnishes quickly and therefore needs to be polished to retain its shiny loveliness. There are a number of copper polishes available, any one of which will do the job, but since Martha Stewart uses Red Bear that’s what I’m gonna tell you to go with. If you have a hard time locating it, Twinkle also makes a good product. In terms of application, you’ll follow the same basic steps as you would when polishing silver — use a soft rag, polish in a circular motion, rinse with warm water, etc. etc.

You can also use either vinegar or lemon juice if you’re looking for a cheaper-slash-greener alternative to commercial copper polish; the acid will counteract the copper oxides that cause tarnishing.

Would love some assistance with the following quandaries:

1) How to remove the scent of raw onions from a wooden cutting board; and
2) How to remove lingering food odors from reusable plastic storage containers.

You’re on lady! Actually this is one where I’ll ask the commentariat to wow us with their weird and wonderful methods, but in my official capacity as A Clean Person here are two tried and true approaches:

1. To get the smell of onion out of a cutting board, sprinkle baking soda and kosher salt on the stinky surface and then rub it down with the juicy side of a half a lemon. Let it sit for 15 minutes and then wash with warm soapy water.

2. To get the stank out of Tupperware, fill the container with white vinegar, let stand for 30 minutes – longer for really strong smells – and then wash as usual.

OK your turn now!

Previously: The Answer Is Always Bleach.

Jolie Kerr is not paid to endorse any of the products mentioned in this column, but she sure would be very happy to accept any free samples the manufacturers care to send her way! Is anything you own dirty?

110 Comments / Post A Comment


Eek! Don't use glue traps! They are inhumane. You can get humane mouse traps-- please, please use those.

Hot mayonnaise

@precipice: I agree. Just use the old-fashioned snap traps.

Edith Zimmerman

Glue traps are tough. When you get live ones pulsing to get off but they can't, what's the most humane way to then kill them? Drowning seems easiest, but not particularly humane. One time I put one in a bag and beat the bag against the side of the [brick] building. : ( I still think this might have been the way to go, but it was horrible.

Edith Zimmerman

@Edith Zimmerman Like for the sudden-death factor, not because I am a monster.


@Edith Zimmerman
I actually got the smallest Hav-a-Hart trap I could find, reinforced it with screen mesh to make it escape-proof, and baited with chocolate or peanut butter. Then I took the mice to the park and released them to give them (and the owls and hawks and snakes) a shot.


Otherwise, a long piece of angle iron or a baseball bat: cover the glue trap with a paper towel, and give one mighty whack.

simone eastbro

@Edith Zimmerman Edith, what does Edith think about this? AWAITING HER REPLY REPLY.


@atipofthehat I am clicking on your little thumb extra hard (uh, for the first part). I haven't had to deal with mice (yet!) but I cannot imagine having to look at something struggling to get away and being like, noooooope.


@Edith Zimmerman I hate to say both these things, but I have more than enough experience with mouse infestations, and the most humane way to deal with them is something that will kill them quickly. If you set them free, they either come back, or die a horrible death in the wild. There is something called the rat zapper. Super humane, clean, and does not require any special technique to use. Better than the Hanta Virus!


@dearheart I know! And the Hav-a-Hart does work. Honestly, I keep imagining the mouse by the side of the road with a tiny bus ticket, trying against all odds to get back home, but there's a downside to every approach.


@atipofthehat I blame Beverly Cleary and Robert O'Brien, honestly.


@atipofthehat Oh god, tiny bus ticket! I think he has a backpack and a little hat, too.


@Edith Zimmerman The most humane way to kill little things is to stick them in the freezer. They just go to sleep and ~never wake up~


@Edith Zimmerman i just shot mine in the head with a BB gun.

*harrowing to say the least but got the job done!

Leo Smoot

@Edith Zimmerman A humane way to euthanize a living mouse on a glue trap is just to put the trap in a plastic bag and tie the bag tightly shut. The mouse asphyxiates. No mess, no hassle.


Isn't a glue trap the very, very bottom of the list for humane ways to dispose of a mouse? A snap trap will still kill them, but it's instananeous instead of slow and painful, like a glue trap. Plus, there are a myriad of methods to live trap them--I just googles "humane mouse trap" and several came up that you can buy or even make at home.


@SuperGogo: Whoops, looks like you guys are already on it with arguing this case--carry on!


@boyofdestiny: No, no, no the damn marble always misses the bottom of the big blue stick!

Shannon McConnell@twitter

@SuperGogo If you use a snap trap, chew up a tootsie roll and attach it to the part where the bait goes. Otherwise a mouse can steal the bait without setting off the trap.


To the friend with mice: I SWEAR by those ultrasonic mouse repellent machines. To be fair, they only work in small spaces, so if you have a big open kitchen in a big house, it might just oush the mice to a different spot. But in my tiny kitchen in a studio apartment, it worked wonders.

I used to find mouse poops in my kitchen drawers every morning until my bf told me about the sound machines. I ordered this http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00027D6DY and plugged it in in my kitchen. The mouse poops disappeared overnight, no joke. Again, I think it only works in smaller spaces, but for me, it was a lifesaver.


@littlebopeepshow warning: if you are the kind of person who can hear the noise tv's make when they are on mute in a different room, this device will drive you nuts. but you won't have mice. it's a trade off.


@itsureiswindy True. I have the hearing abilities of a 75 year old former factory worker, so this may contribute to my happiness with the sound machines.


I'm still haunted by the one time I used glue traps. I now use humane traps, a bit of peanut butter on a cracker, and a drive out to the woods to set them free. It certainly isn't the most elegant way of ridding oneself of vermin, but I can't stomach the alternative.

Jolie Kerr

@kayjay This is an important and nicely put point about personal choice. If glue traps make you uncomfortable, by all means use alternative methods. But not everyone cares about the relative suffering of vermin in their home, and I would hate to see this thread turn nasty. Share what works without preaching, please!

Also you're supposed to be talking about unstinkifying Tupperware! Priorities!


I do this, too. And I love the look on their tiny mouse faces when they realize I'm actually setting them FREE.


The person asked for humane methods, and also said that they've tried some kind of trap with cheese before and it didn't work. Based on this information, I'll let other people recommend a humane trap brand (I've never had to use one) but repeat advice on bait given to my parents by an exterminator: don't use cheese, use peanut butter. It's sticky so the mouse can't quickly steal it and run away, it has a strong smell, has fat/sugar/fiber which mice like, and it's cheap.


@Jolie Kerr Hoping I didn't come off as preachy. If it helps, I kill almost all insects with wild abandon...

Jolie Kerr

@kayjay Not at all! Which was why I responded to your comment and not some of the others - I liked your approach and tone!!

A reminder: I know nothing of vermin removal techniques, as it's not something I've faced (and also not what this column is about). I went to Alex because he had written a very funny personal anecdote about his mouse infestation on The HP's brother site; he generously provided his thoughts on what worked for him. If you have alternatives, by all means suggest them. Thanks!

Ella Quint

@Jolie Kerr And all concerned about micey lives - yeah, while I'm not intersted in watching this turn into a PETA rally, there ARE mnay humane trap options; use whatever suits yer conscience.

IMPORTANT INFO ABOUT MOUSEY TURDS NOT YET MENTIONED - certain species of mice can carry the hanta virus which you can catch from thier droppings!! Rubber gloves and masks when cleaning are important folks cause the ol' hanta can make you very sick!


Not only are glue traps inhumane, they also don't work all that well. I've seen the mice in my kitchen literally leap over a glue trap and continue on their merry way.

Tuna Surprise

@pearlforrester: I've woken up to glue traps that used to be under the fridge 5 feet away in the middle of the room. My mice are like little escape artists. Except the guy who got stuck in the spring trap I put under the radiator inside an empty Cool Ranch Doritos bag. Instead of getting killed instantly he managed to drag the snap trap under the couch where his corpse would rot and stink up the apartment. He didn't escape...but his final act was one of revenge.

Lily Rowan

You WILL spend the next six months thinking that you've just seen something scurry across the room out of the corner of your eye, but eventually you will recover.

This is totally true, though -- sorry. :(


@Lily Rowan WHEN will you recover, though? I had motherfucking RATS in my old apartment 3 years ago, and I am still seeing things out of the corner of my eye. And I am in a new place where I have never seen a mouse/rat/etc.

Also, after dealing with these long enough, you run out of compassion.

Lily Rowan

@cherrispryte Ugh, sorry! I'm not sure I personally would ever recover from motherfucking RATS.

Although I've decided I don't mind mice so much (although I don't have the kind of mouse poop issue described in the letter) after living in a mouse-free, but bug-filled apartment.


@Lily Rowan @cherrispryte I live in a city where even if you're supremely clean, roaches (aka palmetto bugs aka OMGTHATTHINGISFLYING) will get in every once in a while. They're huge and gross and absolutely unavoidable. So I have phantom bug issues, like, constantly. But last night I actually did see one and had to kill it, so, there's that.

Lily Rowan

@alpelican Yeah, I still have some phantom bug issues. And palmetto bugs FREAK ME THE FUCK OUT, although I've never lived with them. I do have a cat, so I have only seen mice occasionally, which also helps. The bugs were unavoidable. shudder


@cherrispryte I now think that every thing that even slightly resembles a mouse poop - black sesame seeds, caraway seeds, chocolate sprinkes - is a mouse poop. I haven't lived in a house with mice for more than a year and I don't think I'll ever get over that paranoia.


@alpelican Ayeeee!!! Those fucking roaches!! One time I was charging out my front door late to work and one those things ran in my house like, wheeee nows my chance! I had to chase that thing around for five minutes. It is funny now but I was swearing a lot then.



OK, this is the BEST mouse trap ever. http://www.amazon.com/Victor-M2524-Electronic-Mouse-Trap/dp/B000E1RIUU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1303399384&sr=8-1

I've seen a mouse in my apt three times, and put this trap right near where I saw it and caught three mice! It shocks them and is considered humane because it kills them right away and does not cause a slow sticky disgusting glue trap death. you can just pick up the entire trap with a plastic bag and hold it over a garbage and open it and the mouse just falls out but you don't really have to see it. I used jsut a TINY bit of peanut butter on the very back but towards the side, so that the peanut butter doesn't go out of holes in the back and give the mice FREE LUNCH.

I swear by this. Also, After I got rid of the existing mice I took peppermint oil and mixed it with water and sprayed it everywhere because apparently mice HATE THIS. I also bought a sound machine (joke is kind of on me because the sounds it make sound like little mice and terrify me, but whatever, it's fine. Anyways I haven't seen a mice since.

sarah girl

@abc@twitter I second this trap!! My family had an AWFUL mouse infestation that lasted for years until they found this trap; they put 3 or 4 in the attic, and within days the mice were GONE. Amazing!


Re copper pots: ketchup (catsup, if you are Monty Burns or not from here) also works the same way lemon juice does.

Hot mayonnaise

@HairClip: It's the vinegar (i.e., acid). Also the old pots get shiny when something acidic (e.g., tomato sauce) spills over the outside.


On removing food odors from plastic - I switched to glass a few years ago, and I will never, ever go back. I just use mason jars of various sizes, but you can also get flat or rectangular containers that have plastic lids. I have only broken one jar in two years, despite dropping them on the floor often. And the best part is, they don't stain or hold smells like plastic - a good soak in soap and hot water takes out any grossness.


Agree -- throw away your Tupperware! Also, then you won't be tempted to microwave it.

I love these: http://www.crateandbarrel.com/kitchen-and-food/food-containers-storage/working-bowls-with-lids/f34102


@roadtrips Totes agree too! We got a big set of Pyrex storage container thingies and I really like them. No chemicals when I microwave them, and because they're more substantial I'm less inclined to just throw them out/forget them at work.


@roadtrips totally. I use mason jars, old glass jars from mayo and peanut butter and whatnot, and pyrex containers w/ plastic lids. I haven't broken anything yet, and my klutziness is legendary.


@roadtrips Agreed! I love my Pyrex set and I think it actually microwaves better/evener than plastic. I also save all glass jars I buy. After using up their contents I soak them overnight to get off labels/food. But this behavior might lead to a cabinet of hoarded jars. Don't care, love my jars!


I tried the humane mouse traps to no avail. I also had one of those electronic pulse things, to no avail. Being a vegetarian and secretly kind of in love with their little snuffly faces, I coexisted with the mice until one day.

I came into the kitchen and approached the toaster for my morning bagel. As I reached out my hand to switch it on - A MOUSE LEAPT OUT AND SCURRIED PAST ME. The toaster went in the bin and I bought some Rentokil FQ01 quickset mouse traps. They kill the mouse instantly and you don't have to touch the mouse/look at its little dead accusing face.


@littlevicious Toasters are full of crumbs. Mice like crumbs. If you a toaster and a mouse problem, chances are pretty damn high that the mouse has had itself a toaster party.


There's a psychological element to mouse-trappage that's gone as of yet unexplored. I've been in plenty of folks' apartments who have mice, and when one makes an appearance, they'll say "Oh, that's our little friend Pierre." (Or another cute name like Fluffy, or Blinky, or Fievel, to borrow a name from our esteemed Clean Person.) Now, these people may say they want the mouse gone, but really, having a buddy like Fluffy or Blinky or Fievel around isn't so bad, is it? There's a subconscious block to getting rid of it.

The last time I had a mouse, I named him Deathstroke the Terminator. He was my enemy, and he was a threat, and I dedicated all the resources I could to eliminating him. (We eventually trapped him in an empty garlic knot box and tossed him into the street.) Point being, the mouse isn't your friend.


@boyofdestiny I never named my resident mouse during his brief but traumatic stay, but friends kept telling me to think of it as a cute cartoon mouse so I would be more adept at coexisting with it. So faced with a cartoon nemesis, I declared my battle as follows: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBml1XZDg3w

It was, in fact, pretty cute when discovered, but it had to GO. I have a lot of additional thoughts on this, but I'll contain myself. Anyone else find that their mice play dead?


@boyofdestiny This comment cracked me up.

Tyler Coates

I once used a glue trap and the only thing it caught was my cat. Can you imagine how fun it is to un-stick a cat from a glue trap?


Yes, thanks to my cat who fought flypaper and lost.


@tylercoates I have given a cat a bath and I imagine that unsticking one would be a lot worse.


"Mouse Turds, Copper Pots, and Onion Smells" sounds kind of like Dickens fanfic.

Right after I finished TAing a reproductive biology lab where we had to euthanize absurd numbers of mice, I got one in my kitchen and it took me a really long time to get rid of it because I felt so guilty about its brethren. Finally it ended up in the bottom of the trashcan somehow so I could let it out outside.


Exciting things I have learned about mice due to a recent invasion:
peanut butter is the best bait for traps
they chew everything to bits
they crap everywhere (and urinate constantly, how hygienic)
if you poison them they crawl into the wall and die and rot there
if you use a live-release trap, do what it says and take it AT LEAST a mile away (I think one time the mouse beat me back upstairs to my flat).
I actually registered because this reminded me that our mice have now gone and I can put the baking pans back in the drawer under the cooker.

Onion smells in boards go away for me when I use *very* hot washing water and scrub the board with a nylon scourer.


clean everything and then put down twice as many traps as you think you need. anecdotally, i've found city mice go for gooey, peanut butter and chocolate candy while country mice like dried apricots.


Do not use glue traps! I did once and am still haunted by it, like @kayjay. Snap traps with American cheese squished on works for us. The peanut butter was just licked off.


Homemade catch and release mousetrap: paper towel tube with peanut butter dollop in one end set precariously on the counter with the peanut butter end over a smooth-sided trashcan (at least 20" tall or so) on a chair. Before I figured out they were coming in under the loose-fitting kitchen door, I caught several this way, then took them out to the back 40 and ran back to the house, hoping they didn't beat me back inside. *sigh*

Cleaning up after mice: this is one area where even hippies use bleach. After following Jolie's cleaning instructions, wipe down all surfaces with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. This is what they're using between patients when you take Mr. Whiskers to the vet.

A note on rodents as disease vectors, esp hantavirus: it is very important that you not sweep up mouse droppings! Use the 1:9 bleach and water solution, gloves and a sponge that you will banish from the house forever. Human infections of hantavirus are rare, but it will kill you through the dreaded flu-like symptoms. Here's the fantod-inducing FAQ at the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/rodents/cleaning/index.html


Also curious about what Question #2 was cooking when it ran over and cleaned a spot on her pot. Because, couldn't she use whatever was in that to clean the pots?

Hot mayonnaise

@kayjay: Tomato sauce or something similarly acidic.


But how reasonable would it be to clean an ENTIRE set of pots and pans with food? Nope. Could you soak them in vinegar or something or does it take some serious Cinderella scrubbing for an entire day?


My ex couldn't live with the thought of a mouse in our apartment overnight and our bodega didn't have traps. I wanted to just go to Duane Reade and put out a trap the next day. But no no no, he could not live with a furry friend for the night. So we cornered it and then we're like what do we do now? I gave him pliers thinking that'd be quick, but it was not at all! Mouse screams are not as bad as catfish screams, but still haunting! Couple of days later we were more relaxed but then another one tried to move in. I thought, maybe this time he'd be cool with the trap route, but nope he needed immediate removal again. So we cornered this one too and he stomped on it. No screaming this time. I put his chuck taylors in the wash. He washed up the kitchen and with every mouse poop felt less and less guilty.
Get a trap that works fast or get a cat. If you have a boyfriend willing to stomp on a mouse, you may have other issues but mice will not be one of them.


Not to step on Clean Person's toes, but I polish my silver with plain old toothpaste (smells way better than silver polish). Could the same thing work for copper?

Inquiring minds need to know.

Oliver St. John Mollusc

When we had mice, everyone told us to go find all the holes in our apartment and stuff them with steel wool and then spray that orange expanding foam over it to seal the holes. Maybe this works if you don't live in NYC and you can actually find and reach every hole in your apartment? Either way, we tried the plastic snap traps with the little jaws with limited success -- one mouse got caught by its tail and had to be scooped up and released outside (at 1 a.m. in the winter, might I add). But ever since I got a cat last summer: not even a scratchy sound in the walls. Highly recommended.


Tinfoil forced in and patched over with Durham's Rock-hard Water Putty also works!


We once had a mouse at the small non-profit I worked at. We used a glue trap and were horrified when we caught a baby one. My boss tried to free it, but ended up tearing off part of it's leg, and then she drowned it while we all wept. Most traumatic workday ever! I suggest getting a cat. Seriously! It's like the mice know you have one and they avoid your place.


@nancydrew - yes! We have two cats. We have never had mice.

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@nancydrew I don't think my cat would even know what to do with a mouse if she caught one! She's totally a lover, not a fighter. But it hasn't been an issue since they stay so far away from our house now. Really the best solution ever.


@nancydrew Oh no! That's so traumatic!!! I can't even imagine having to drown the poor thing.


@nancydrew Reading all these mice homicide stories practically has me in tears, I can't imagine what I'd do if I actually had a mouse in my apartment.

Elle Mc

Glue traps are awful! Just awful! They just starve to death on the paper or you will have to kill them yourself. Sometimes they squeak when they get caught. Use a snap trap, peanut butter works great. I also have heard that there is this poison that makes the mice thirsty so they leave your house in search for water and then die, so you are not stuck with dead mouse smell. In the past I have clean EVERYTHING (recleaned all dishes/pots, moved the stove and refrigerator to sweep and bleach),used duck tape/steel wool, put all food in plastic containers, and used those plug in noise boxes. Just Please do not use glue traps!


I had a house in Philly that was next to a shell and the shell provided many a mousy to my abode. I became skilled at baiting the traps. That's the key: not so much what kind to use as how to bait them. I always used the traps that snap down on the critter's neck (At least it's quick!) So for those kind, you don't want to put anough bait that they can nibble it and safely get away. Really press it INTo the bait-holder (which has a few openings in it). ALS, and I can't stress this enough, put out a selection of baited traps. One with cheese, one with peanut butter, one with something else. Mix it up. There is not accounting for taste, so give the mousy some choices. Also, this may be obvious, but array the traps CASUALLY but near the walls. They tend to travel near walls. Good hunting!


@Trilby Good point about firmly affixing bait. I have used dental floss to tie pretzel bits to traps (also, to tie traps to something else to prevent mice from dragging traps under the couch).


@Trilby Wow, sorry about all the typos! I get that I should be able to edit my remarks but I haven't figured out HOW.


@Trilby You can only edit immediately after you post a comment, as far as I can tell. :(

Hot mayonnaise

Contact me for info on trapping and drowning squirrel invaders.


@Hot mayonnaise don't do this in the UK unless you like to be arrested:
(and the best part of this is that it's illegal to release a grey squirrel here if you catch one)

Feminist Killjoy

peanut butter, not cheese!


I got nothin' on the copper pots or onion smells - except I do want to know if that same procedure will work on plastic cutting bards? Because mine are rank.

OK, rat story time: We have several peanut butter baited snap traps in our roof, and they usually work pretty well except for this one time when the rat was too big or something? and the bar just kind of got caught behind his shoulders, so he flailed around up in the attic space IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT making a hell of a racket banging the trap on everything while trying to get out of it... Finally I was able to catch him and all I could bring myself to do was release him in the backyard, upon which he limped off into the night and I assume lived happily ever after, often regaling his grandchildren with the story of his brush with death.

Jolie Kerr

@iceberg I'm imagining the rat version of Ralph from Wideacre coming back during a rain storm and burning your house down before stabbing you to death.


Salt should always be used to clean your wooden boards--It disinfects, dries any liquid that may cause warping, sands down the damage that you do by, you know, cutting things on it, and leaves you with wonderful exfoliated hands!

But, Jolie, I question this vinegar to clean tupperware method. I (in my misguided, crafty youth) once made chive flavored vinegar in a big old tupperware pitcher. Over the years, I've tried everything (baking soda, lemons, excessive amounts of dish soap, etc), and it still smells like vinegar. Also, everybody should make chive vinegar, but maybe in glass or crockery. It's a pretty pretty pink, and make a delicious salad dressing :)

Jolie Kerr

@BethH It's probably because in order to make the vinegar you left it in the container for so long that the lingering smell is incredibly intense? If baking soda didn't work it might just be a goner (I hate to say that!!)

Also chive vinegar! Ooh la la!! Share the recipe/method please??


@Jolie Kerr First, you must grow chives, because you don't need the yummy green parts for eating, you need the pretty flowers.
1) Pick a whole bunch of chive flowers, and put the blossoms in a mason jar or other non-odor absorbing container. 2) Pour heated apple cider vinegar over blossoms(you could use other vinegars I suppose, but I would only recommend deviating to a white wine or rice vinegar). 3) Let sit unit the vinegar smells like chives and is a brilliant shade of pink--this will take at least 3 three weeks. 4) Strain out the now not-so-pretty flowers. 5) Mix with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and maybe some sugar for some excellent salad dressing.

You can do the same thing with leek blossoms and some other herbs, but the chive variation is just so pretty, and makes a lovely gift.


@BethH Both of the gardeners in my office just told me that their chives won't be blossoming for some time. But I want my chive vinegar NOW!


All these cat comments are true, but I have also seen my precious cat Googly Moogly catch a mouse and it is horrible. Not just this cat as well, many other cats I have/friends have had turn killing a mouse or bird into sadistic funtimes for themselves. Gahhhh! You have to send the cat outside all furious-styles to finish their business and they look up at you like "jerk, I thought this is what you wanted me to do."


Mouse sufferer:

Steel wool is a good tip, and another thing is that you have to COMPLETELY CUT OFF their ability to get food from your place. I've had great success with this method (twice, most unfortunately, in different houses with two different sets of filthy roommates). You have to shut it down, no food outside of the kitchen for a week (yeah, you'll have to eat in there, but it's better than finding mouse turds in your living room!). Do your dishes and clean up any food scraps or crumbs IMMEDIATELY. Make sure there's a lid on your trash can. Put all of your food that's not in the refrigerator or canned into sealed plastic boxes. You don't have to decant your rice into a tupperware or whatever, just throw everything packaged in a big plastic box so the mice can't chew through. And don't just clean off your countertops, clean out your cabinets too. If there are any little crumbs or anything, they will eat it. Cleaning out the cabinets is a good way to detect any place they've chewed through as well, so if you find a chewed hole in there (no matter how small it seems) plug it up with steel wool. The real stuff, not brillo pads or something.
The mice are in there and coming back because they're getting food, so you have to take the food away and cut off their access. You don't have to keep your food encased in plastic forever, just do it until you get rid of the mice. And definitely get an exterminator out there to plug up the holes they're getting in through.


Get a cat. My cat couldn't catch a mouse if you offered to pay her in limitless kitty treats, but they stay away anyhow. The last old apartment I moved out of in Boston got mice within a month of me and the kittyboo leaving.


After an traumatic experience with mice and glue traps, we just got a cat. Worked like a charm, and she's super cute too!


My cat once had the night of his life wherein he caught 2 mice! He played one to death and then put the other one in the bathtub for safekeeping. I was used to checking the bathtub for spiders in the morning and when I saw what I at first thought was a GIANT furry spider you should have heard me shriek! Then the mouse ran down the drain. My genius boyfriend put a small paper bag in the bathtub and when we turned out the lights the mouse came back out -- when the lights went back on this time he went in the bag, for easy removal to the outdoors.

I have heard that if you catch a mouse in a live trap and don't want to release it, putting it in the freezer is a humane way to kill them. I don't know how true that is.


We got our first cats because we thought they would kill mice, but they soon figured out that they got fed a constant supply of food even on the days they just slept on the bed all day, so I wouldn't recommend them.

Although the fat furry thing lying on my bed right now sometimes kills moles, yay?

sorry your heinous

This is one of the weird benefits of having a dachshund (or at least every dachshund I've had). They are the absolute most humane/quick/efficient vermin killers. They either catch them out-right or upon presentation of a trapped one do the gentlest little neck snap. All over in a second and they somehow know, "I've done my job" and softly lay the animal on the ground for disposal/burial.


My old apartment had this pesky mouse that we could just not catch. We even saw him grab a piece of cheese off the mousetrap without setting it off! Finally, we put thinly SHREDDED cheese all over the mousetrap...motherfucker got greedy and met his maker.


To clean and shine copper, scrub it with kitchen salt and vinegar, it works wonders. USE RUBBER GLOVES, though.
However, I prefer copper with some patina: it's warmer and looks more like a family heritage.

Oh, and for the smelly Tupperwares: use baking soda, deodorizes better than vinegar. Fill them, close and leave overnight. Or shift to glass containers...


I once saved a mouse from a glue trap like the first day I moved into my college dorm, with the help of a vegetarian orientation leader. It limped away. If I had the problem I would definitely use an instant death trap although the Havahart-lined-with-screen method sounds compelling too.


So, ok, not a super humane method of mouse-killing, but OMGBEYONDEFFECTIVE:
-You'll need a board (about 2 inches wide, and about 2 ft long), a big bucket (5 gallons, ish), a 1 lb coffee can. and a wooden dowel.

Fill the bucket about halfway up with water. Drill a hole in the bottom of the coffee can and punch one in the lid, spear it with the dowel, and suspend it over the bucket. Coat the coffee can with peanut butter. Lean the board up against the bucket, like a ramp. The mice see/smell the peanut butter, run up the ramp, and fall in the water and drown. If you have multiple mice (and, really, when there's one, there's ten), they don't see/smell their fallen comrades and so will keep on coming until they've all drowned.

Warning--if you're faint of heart, you may end up rescuing some of the mice (I totally have). They will squeak a bit for the minute or two that they can tread water (again, really not a humane method. but mice have diseases and plague and stuff, and so every man for themselves, right?)


when I had mice I tried EVERYTHING. Humane traps, no touching traps, glue traps, old fashioned traps. Finally I gave up and left out a huge bowl of poison pellets. I'm not happy about it, but I spent 2 months trying to get rid of them humanely.


I'm surprised no one's mentioned this, but PEPPERMINT OIL. You can find it at Whole Foods in the essential oils section. Mice hate the smell--it's too strong for their sensitive noses. Either put some in a Glade thing or one of those hot oil diffusers or sprinkle some on cotton balls and place where you see the little fuckers. You do have to keep refreshing the cotton balls or refill the oil supply to keep the scent constant. Also, if you plant mint near entryways, it'll keep them away.

I agree with what everyone says about glue traps. They're awful--my neighbor had a mouse chew its leg off (we had some hardy little bastards in DC) to escape the glue trap. Sorry to the PETA enthusiasts, I lost my compassion for them after they peed and shat everywhere and ate my food. Peanut butter and snickers bars are great bait.

Also, be wary of pet food. They love that shit.

Leo Smoot

With mice, the best thing to do is very thoroughly and methodically seal up every entrance they might have. Steel wool works well, but caulk works even better. And caulking holes it actually sort of fun, like Play-Doh or something.


@Leo Smoot
A mouse's skeleton is "floating", so a good rule of thumb is that if you can fit a ball point pen in the gap, a mouse can unhitch its bones and get through.
Apparently, a rat can fit through a hole about the size of a 50cent coin and bed bugs can get through a gap you can slide a sheet of paper under. This is partly from my plumber/gas fitter/odd-job man friend and partly from some gross show about infestations I saw the other day. It pretty much freaked me out for the next 48 hours and my husband is now teaching Sooty the Lakeland Terrier to catch rats and mice with one of those pull-string toys. He's doing pretty well so far!


Sorry to steer the conversation away from mouses n'shit (ha! literally!), but back on to PANS. You can clean tarnish of practically any metal with tomato ketchup. I cleaned the filigree work on my husband's steel sword (yeah, don't ask- he's in the army) with tomato ketchup and an old toothbrush, and buffed it up with a clean soft rag (chopped up t-shirts or old tea towels are good). It's really good for brass, copper steel (basically the shiny metals- not so much iron) and isn't as abrasive as chemical cleaners.


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