How a Little Mouse Infestation Actually Made Me Love My Kitchen More

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Minette Hand)

To start, I feel the need to point out that I’m really talking about a little infestation. Actually, I don’t even like the word infestation — we caught ONE mouse and haven’t seen anything since then. I know what most of you are going to say: There’s no such thing as having just one mouse. But we caught the one and that was it. So there you go, we had one mouse — and it shockingly made me love my kitchen even more. Here’s what happened.

My husband and I had been out of town for Thanksgiving and we got home late one night that weekend. In my sleepy stupor, I started putting away the leftovers that my mother had lovingly packed up for me. That’s when I saw it and I called my husband over.

“Does this look like mouse poop to you?” He looked, picked up an empty beef jerky wrapper, which had been full and sitting on the counter (my best friend had been visiting and she brought jerky for Sunday morning bloody Marys), and said, “Yes, I’d guess so.”

I was totally freaked. To be fair, we live in a 269-year-old stone house in the mountains and it was shocking this hadn’t happened to us before. Still, I went to bed feel all sorts of creepy-crawly.

In the morning, we went out to buy traps and I got to work seeing what damage had been done. The little pantry cupboard, which is across the kitchen from where the jerky had been eaten, was unscathed. (Shockingly.) But I hate to report that I found mouse poop in the silverware drawer and all along the counters, and the mouse (mice? We weren’t sure at the time!) had chewed through some of my favorite oven mitts to use the stuffing as bedding.

“I’m really not sure I can ever cook in here again,” I told my husband.

“You’re right, we should probably just burn the house down,” he replied, NOT getting how freaked out I was.

(Image credit: tenra/Getty Images)

We didn’t cook that day, though. We set the traps and went out for lunch and dinner. That night, we caught a mouse. The traps stayed out for a few more days and went untouched. There were no more signs of mice, and our trusty pest control guy came out and said we looked good. That meant it was time to reset the kitchen.

I got to work taking out every dish, spatula, organizer, pot, container, fork (you get the idea) that we owned. I washed every single thing either by hand with hot, hot water and a super-soapy sponge or in the dishwasher. I took everything off the counters and wiped down every appliance (small and large) with cleaner and disinfectant. And then I wiped the counters. And the floors. And the insides of my cabinets and drawers. And then I wiped everything down again.

When it was time to start putting everything back, I took it as a chance to reconsider my “collection” and my organizing strategy. Did I really need two garlic presses? Would it make more sense to keep my travel mugs over there? What if I stacked these sheet pans on their sides?

I spent an entire half day on this project (which wasn’t nearly as long as I thought it’d take!) and, when it was all done, I was so impressed and proud. The kitchen was the cleanest — and most organized — it had been since we moved in. As much as I hated Mr. Mouse (I’m just assuming he was a boy?), I appreciated that he made me do this. I never would have pulled EVERYTHING out of my kitchen if it wasn’t for him. While I would have rather he not come for a visit, I was happy with how my kitchen was looking.

I’ve also learned one very valuable lesson: Do not leave beef jerky on the counter when you leave town for a few days.

Have you ever had to deal with mice in the kitchen? How’d you handle it?