Winterizing Your Boat: A Guide to Keeping Mice and Critters at Bay

As winter sets in and temperatures drop, boat owners of lakefront property face the challenge of ensuring their vessels remain in top condition during storage. One common concern is the invasion of mice and other critters that can wreak havoc on boats when left unattended. These unwanted guests can damage wiring, chew through upholstery, and leave behind unsightly messes. In this guide, we’ll explore effective strategies to keep mice and other critters out of your boat during winter storage, helping you preserve your investment and ensuring a hassle-free boating experience come spring. So when winterizing your boat, keep these helpful hints in mind.

Thorough Cleaning and Inspection

Before storing and winterizing your boat, it’s essential to give it a thorough cleaning. Remove any leftover food, crumbs, or spills that might attract rodents. Vacuum the interior, paying special attention to hidden corners and crevices. Inspect the boat for any existing signs of rodent activity, such as droppings or chewed materials. Addressing these issues before storage will help create a less appealing environment for mice and critters.

Seal Entry Points

Mice and critters can squeeze through surprisingly small openings. Inspect your boat for any gaps, holes, or vents that could serve as entry points. Common areas to check include around hatches, windows, and utility ports. Seal these openings with weather-resistant materials, such as silicone caulk or steel wool. Pay attention to areas where wiring enters the boat, as mice often use these pathways to access the interior.

Use Rodent-Repellent Products

Several commercially available rodent-repellent products can help deter mice and critters from making a home in your boat. Place natural deterrents like peppermint oil-soaked cotton balls in strategic locations. The strong scent of peppermint is known to repel rodents. Additionally, consider using ultrasonic repellent devices that emit high-frequency sounds, undetectable to humans but irritating to mice. These devices can create an unwelcome environment for critters without the use of harmful chemicals.

Employ Humane Traps

For lake boat owners who prefer a humane approach, live traps can be an effective solution. Place these traps in areas where you suspect rodent activity, using bait like peanut butter or nuts. Check the traps regularly and release any captured mice at a safe distance from your boat. While it might require some effort, humane traps provide a non-lethal way to address the issue without resorting to toxic substances.

Store Food and Supplies Properly

Remove all food items and supplies from your boat before storing it for the winter. Even small crumbs can attract mice, making your boat an inviting space. Clean out galley areas, cabinets, and storage compartments thoroughly. If you plan to leave any non-perishable items on board, store them in airtight containers to reduce the likelihood of attracting rodents.

Elevate and Cover Your Boat

Elevating your boat off the ground, if possible, can make it less accessible to rodents. Use boat stands or a trailer to lift the vessel and create an additional barrier against critters. Cover your boat with a securely fastened tarp to prevent rodents from entering through openings like hatches or vents. Ensure the cover is tightly sealed to discourage mice from finding their way in.

Regular Checks and Maintenance

Even with the best preventative measures in place, it’s crucial to check on your boat periodically throughout the winter. Schedule routine visits to inspect for any signs of rodent activity or potential entry points that may have developed. Addressing any issues promptly will help prevent a small problem from turning into a significant headache when it’s time to take your boat out of storage.


Protecting your lake boat from mice and critters during winter storage requires a combination of proactive measures and regular maintenance. By winterizing your boat and following these tips, you can create an inhospitable environment for rodents and ensure that your boat remains in top condition, ready for your next maritime adventure at your New England lakefront property. Taking the time to implement these strategies now will pay off in the long run, saving you from the headaches and expenses associated with rodent damage. Winterizing your boat properly is not just about protecting it from the elements; it’s about safeguarding it from all potential threats, no matter how small.

Posted by Scott Freerksen “The Lake Guy”

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