How to deter rats – 5 expert tips to stop them coming into your home

No one wants furry little intruders in their house so we spoke to pest control experts to ensure your home stays rat-free for good

rats next to kitchen utensils and food to support an expert guide on how to deter rats from your home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Nothing quite strikes terror in your heart like finding rats in your home, whether you're an animal lover or not. These rodents can not only carry disease but they can also cause a lot of damage, which is why we spoke to pest control experts to learn how to keep them out. 

Whilst you may have mastered how to keep rats out of your garden, your house may need a little further protection. Even if your home is pristine and sparkling clean at all times there are various other reasons these rodents might be tempted to pay you an unwelcome visit. 

With this in mind, we asked pest control experts for their foolproof tips on keeping these furry visitors out for good. 

How to deter rats from your home 

Not a fan of sharing your home with small creatures? From knowing how to get rid of flies in your house to deterring foxes from your garden, it can be difficult to keep control when it comes to keeping pests away. 

This is why it's important to arm yourself with some of the best expertise to get the job done quickly and efficiently. 

1. Take away their food source

sweeping brush with crumbs on floor

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the best ways to deter rats from your home is to take away any possible food source that may be drawing them in. Similar to how you'd stop pigeons coming into your garden, taking away food will make a huge difference in both prevention and solution.

"Household waste containing leftover scraps will soon attract unwanted visitors, so ensure all rubbish is disposed of in a bin bag and put securely inside your outdoor bin," says Laurence Barnard, pest control expert at BASF Pest Control Solutions

He points out that whilst rodents can chew through plastic, they are less likely to even pick up a food scent if it's stored inside a closed bin. 

Home Centre 7L Odour-Proof Compost Bin with Lid, £11.85 at Amazon (was £13.95)

Home Centre 7L Odour-Proof Compost Bin with Lid, £11.85 at Amazon (was £13.95)

This sleek compost bin is both odour-proof and has a secure lid with an animal-proof handle - perfect for keeping pests away.

2. Keep clutter to a minimum

Aside from taking away their food source, reducing the amount of clutter in your home can majorly deter the rats from wanting to take shelter in your home. 

Without daily habits to keep your home clean and tidy, it can be easy enough to let clutter overwhelm your space and create perfect hiding spots for unwanted pests. Knowing how to declutter your home might seem simple but keeping on top of it can prove difficult.

Another point to consider is the effectiveness of moving your furniture around. Pest control expert at MyJobQuote, Robert Collins says, "Rats don’t like change. They’re very wary when objects have moved or new objects have appeared." 

It might be a good idea to keep changing up your smaller rooms, places like under stairs storage and pantries, whilst also making sure there's minimal furniture to begin with. Try following the small living room layout rules to keep it minimal.

3. Ensure all gaps are sealed

picture of a protective grate over a home vent

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sealing any gaps in your home is both a necessary prevention tip and an important step in ridding your home of rats after an infestation has been established. 

Robert explains that sealing these gaps is a little harder than you might suspect. He says, "Rats can fit through holes as small as 2cm in diameter. They can also gnaw through materials to widen smaller gaps, making it easy for them to enter your home."

Luckily some options will effectively work and can keep both rats and mice out of your home. Robert recommends using wire meshing or steel wool, he says, "They're cost-effective materials to use for this. Rats can’t easily gnaw through them and they’re quite easy to use for plugging holes as you don’t need too many DIY skills."

GERAWOO Stainless Steel Mesh Gap Blocker, 20ft: £9.99 at Amazon

GERAWOO Stainless Steel Mesh Gap Blocker, 20ft: £9.99 at Amazon

If you've found gaps in either your external structures or drainage pipes then using a steel wool mesh like this is great for keeping any small rodents out. It's designed specifically to stop rats or mice from being able to squeeze through.

4. Natural rat repellents

Just as you use eggshells in your garden to naturally deter snails and slugs, there are certain natural deterrents you can do in your home that can gently sway the rats away. 

"Rats aren’t big fans of strong scents, so you could find that peppermint oil sprinkled around the exterior of your house can help to deter them. However, this would need to be reapplied regularly to keep it working," explains Robert. 

5. Choose a suitable treatment

rats in humane cage

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Should you find rats in your home then will want to immediately choose a direction for treatment. Whilst prevention is extremely important, sometimes rats will still find a way into your home. 

Shield Pest Control's managing director, Daniel Steward, says, "Ultimately, rat control can prove to be difficult to control yourself, so we always recommend calling in a professional pest control specialist in order for the infestation to be dealt with in an effective and safe manner before it gets out of hand." 

Once you've spoken to a professional the chances are they'll give you a few different courses of treatment you can go down, however for a rat infestations the measures may have to be a little more drastic.


What attracts rats to your house?

The main attractions for rats are the basics for their survival, food, shelter and water. Unfortunately, these things are exactly parallel to what we need which makes our homes so habitable for the furry creatures. 

"Like many animals, rats and mice need three things to survive – food, water, and shelter – so the key to deterring rodents is to make it harder for them to access all three of these," explains Laurence. 

"Food is perhaps the most appealing of the three, and they aren’t fussy about what they’ll eat! Household waste containing leftover scraps will soon attract unwanted visitors, so ensure all rubbish is disposed of in a bin bag and put securely inside your outdoor bin," he continues. 

It's also a great idea to keep external spaces clear too, knowing how to declutter your garage and shed will also work against rats making a home on your land. 

What damage can rats do to your house?

Pests can be a nuisance in more ways than one, for example having leatherjackets in your garden lawn will cause major damage that will cost you big in money and time. Unfortunately, rats are no exception to this. 

Richard explains that rats are inquisitive creatures by nature so they are always scouting out food and safe hiding places. He says, "They also have teeth that keep growing, so they’re constantly moving around and gnawing. This means they can cause all kinds of damage to the fabric of your home, from chewing skirting boards to wiring."

It's not just chewing that can be an issue, rats are also renowned for spreading diseases such as Weil's disease, E.coli and salmonella. So they're certainly not the best house guests to welcome in. 

Whilst there are many ways to prevent rats from entering your home, sometimes infestations are inevitable, especially if you live in a wooded or urban area. If you are struggling with a rat issue it's always best to contact professional pest control experts and get accurate advice on your specific situation. 

Emily Smith
Digital lifestyle writer

Emily joined woman&home as a staff writer after finishing her MA in Magazine Journalism from City University in 2023. After writing various health and news content, she now specialises in lifestyle and home writing where she covers all things cleaning, interiors and homeowning.