Catnip Plant as a Natural Rat Deterrent

Using Natural Rat Deterrents and Repellents

Rats rank high on the list of pests we'd rather do without. As such, there are plenty of reasons why you may want to proactively deter rats from entering your homes.

Natural rat deterrents and repellents are sometimes preferred. This is because they offer a safe and environmentally friendly way to keep these rodents at bay.

Whether you're an eco-conscious homeowner or simply prefer a chemical-free approach, this guide is for you. We'll walk you through the pros and cons of natural deterrents and provide a list of 7 natural deterrents to protect your home.

What Are Natural Rat Deterrents and Repellents?

Before we start, it's crucial to understand what we mean by natural rat deterrents and repellents. These are substances that discourage rats from entering, staying, or establishing their nests in your home. They do this without causing harm to the rats or the environment. This approach is especially appealing to households with pets or young children.

Pros of Natural Rat Deterrents

  • Natural methods are proactive rather than reactive. This means you are taking action to prevent an infestation from occurring rather than waiting until it's started. Waiting too long may have more serious and costly implications, and may involve killing rats.
  • Another major advantage is the lack of poisons. Most rodenticides cannot only harm rats but may pose a risk to pets and wildlife. By using non-toxic deterrents, you avoid the risk of causing harm to non-target species.
  • Similarly avoiding snap traps prevents the risk of injury to pets, young children, or those setting up the traps.
  • Natural deterrents and repellents are also more convenient and cheaper. They use ingredients that are often already available in your home. This makes them a convenient first line of defence. 

Cons of Natural Rat Deterrents

  • The efficacy of natural rat deterrents and methods can vary. What works well for one household might not for another.
  • Rats may also build up immunity to the deterrents with time.
  • Patience may be required as natural deterrents can take longer to see results compared to chemical solutions.
  • In some cases, the odours or tastes that discourage rats might not be palatable to humans either. Therefore, it's important to choose methods that are safe and compatible with your living preferences.

7 Natural Rat Deterrent and Repellents

Here is a list of natural rat deterrents along with suggested strategies for their use. Remember, consistency and creativity in applying these tactics are often key to success.

#1 Peppermint Oil

Rats are known to have a keen sense of smell, and they're not particularly fond of the strong scent of peppermint. You can use peppermint cleaners or diffusers to freshen up your home, scatter minty sweets like Altoids, or even plant real mint.

Alternatively, you can soak cotton balls with Peppermint oil and place them strategically. Focus on areas where rats are likely to pass through to help deter them.


  • Place a few drops of peppermint oil on cotton balls and let it soak in.
  • Position the balls strategically around the house. Focus on the corners of rooms, near potential entry points, or close to gnawed materials.
  • Refresh the oil every couple of weeks to maintain a potent aroma.
  • Be careful around children and pets. Essential oils can be harmful so ensure they are out of reach.
Peppermint Essential Oil to Deter Rats

    #2 Ammonia

    Ammonia is a common by-product of decomposing animal urine. Its strong odour can act as a repellent as the smell senses danger, possibly from a predator, so rats steer clear. Placing ammonia-soaked rags in areas frequented by rats can help keep them at bay. However, use ammonia with caution as it can be harmful to inhale for both humans and animals. Here's a safe way to use it.


    • Mix one or two parts water to one part ammonia.
    • Dip a rag or sponge into the mixture, wring it out until it's damp, and place it near rat activity.
    • Be sure to keep it out of reach of pets or children.
    Using Ammonia to Deter Rats

    #3 Catnip

    Catnips are loved by cats because they mimic feline sex hormones. However, its aroma can serve as a rat deterrent. This is because rats are known to avoid areas where they sense cat presence, and catnip is no exception.


    • Plant catnip around the perimeter of your home or garden.
    • Place dry catnip in sachets or porous bags to contain and concentrate the smell in target areas.
    Catnip as a Natural Rat Deterrent

    #4 Bay Leaves

    Bay leaves, while a staple in many cuisines emit an aroma that rats find intolerable. They're easy to use and their effects can be long-lasting.


    • Crush dried bay leaves to release the scent. Then sprinkle the bits near entry points or areas where you suspect rat activity.
    • You can also tuck whole leaves into pantry corners, cabinet crevices, or under kitchen appliances.
    Bay Leaves as a Natural Rat Deterrent

    #5 Onions

    The pungent smell of onions can serve as a deterrent against rats. Like ammonia, the smell isn't harmful but can be unpleasant to live with for humans.


    • Slice the onions and place them near rat high-traffic areas.
    • Onions can also be used to create a boundary - spreading their skins around the perimeter of your home may prevent rats from coming too close.
    Onions as a Natural Rat Deterrent

    #6 Garlic

    Garlic's powerful aroma is a natural deterrent for rats but can also keep vampires away if you're into that sort of multitasking.


    • Crush the garlic cloves or place them in mesh bags.
    • Position the bags near rat pathways, preferably in shaded areas.
    • Be prepared for a bit of a garlicky smell in your home.
    Garlic as a Natural Rat Deterrent

    #7 Plant-Based Rodent Repellent Sprays

    Commercial repellent sprays made from natural oils can be an efficient option. They are great if you're looking for a convenient, ready-to-use application. Look out for ones with active ingredients known to repel rats, such as peppermint oil, castor oil, or garlic oil. Follow the instructions on the bottle for the best results.

    Plant-Based Natural Rat Deterrent

    Final Word

    Using natural rat deterrents and repellents is a great proactive way to manage and get rid of rats. With these natural deterrents in your arsenal, you can deter rats and prevent more serious and costly implications. This includes having to kill them or resorting to environmentally harmful chemical solutions.

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