Pest Resources

What Smells Deter Squirrels?

squirrel in the woods


The big bushy tail, the dainty faces, and the tiny hands. They are so cute. Yet, they are surprisingly destructive; squirrels can cause much more damage than expected when they begin nesting in the attic.

Squirrels are innocent-looking on the outside and have a hidden agenda in life that can cause some severe issues to you, your home, and your livelihood. 

Are you wondering what repels squirrels and what squirrels dislike?

With this in mind, here at Pest Resources, we wanted to advise and give you some tried and tested methods to repel these pests and keep your house safe. But, first, a brief introduction explaining why you need to know what smells repel squirrels, among other things.


red squirrel eating in a tree

Image credit: Gail Hampshire


Squirrels are major pests and can cause considerable damage if they can gain access to the inside and outside of your home. Your powerlines and telephone cables provide the internet, power, and cable TV you love, so many squirrels may chew through them.

However, the most common issues from squirrels stem from their activity in your attic. Much like their rodent counterparts – rats and mice – squirrels like to nest in your warm and secluded attic space.

Here’s a small list of possible squirrel damage and effects a squirrel infestation can have on your home:

  • Cause structural damage by tearing attic insulation.

  • Cause structural damage by chewing through timbers.

  • Cause structural, electrical, and water damage by tearing through pipes.

  • Destroying household items and stored goods.

  • Pose a fire hazard by stripping away vital insulation from cables.

  • They can be very noisy.

  • If they access and drown in a water tank, they will contaminate your water supply.

  • They will eat plants and destroy gardens.

  • Squirrels are known to carry various diseases, such as typhus, plague, and ringworm.

So, you do need to find what smells deter squirrels. Repelling squirrels from the yard and home is easier than you think.

What smells deter Squirrels?

Let’s take a look at what you can do to repel squirrels’. You can try a lot of things yourself to repel squirrels. They have sensitive noses, so squirrels hate strong smells. If you keep seeing the squirrel problem returning, consult a professional extermination company. The best advice is to call a pest exterminator to get rid of squirrels in the attic.

Is There a Way to Repel Squirrels Using Household Items?

Yes, some items may be lying around your home that could do the trick with deterring squirrels through scents and smells. This is because squirrels are deterred by the spells of strong spices and mints. So, a way to repel squirrels would be to encase your house in a lovely, spicy, minty mist.

What smells deter squirrels – Irish spring soap

Repelling squirrels with this cheap option is straightforward. Irish spring soap may seem strange, but it is very effective to keep squirrels away. Irish spring soap is very fragrant and irritates a squirrel’s nose. Grate the soap around your plants to protect them.

Do Dryer sheets keep squirrels away?

Yes, Dryer sheets have been used to keep squirrels away, other rodents, and insects for many years now. Orchard farmers have been known to tie dryer sheets around their fences to keep deer away from the fruit trees.

Do Coffee grounds repel squirrels?

Because squirrels have a good sense of smell, you can keep squirrels away from coffee grounds; nobody knows why squirrels despise coffee grounds.

We think it is because they do not have a natural scent making coffee grounds unfamiliar to squirrels. This makes coffee grounds an easy deterrent to use to keep squirrels away.

Place used coffee grounds around your vegetable garden, potted plants, plant bulbs, and garbage bins.

Jalapeño pepper-vinegar spray

The pungent smell of Jalapeño pepper irritates a squirrel’s sensitive nose. To keep squirrels away, mix with vinegar in a spray bottle and apply to areas in the attic.

Cayenne pepper

Pepper squirrels hate pepper! One thing you could do to repel squirrels is to mix cayenne pepper or black pepper with water and sprinkle it on the plants around your home. This will not harm your plants; the squirrels will be repelled by them.

Peppermint oil

Sweet smells can keep squirrels away, like peppermint oil. Some essential oil scents will keep squirrels away. If you have peppermint oil in the home or if not, peppermint oil can be purchased in stores and online; you can mix a few drops of peppermint oil with cinnamon oil or ground cinnamon and some water into a spray bottle and spray the peppermint oil mix around your plants and home.

Alternatively, soak cotton balls in peppermint oil for a longer-lasting solution. Again, peppermint oil will not cause any damage to your plants, and you get the added bonus of having a minty-fresh home.

Garlic cloves

Another scent that most households can’t do without is garlic. While they are not vampires, squirrels hate the smell of garlic and garlic oil, so they will turn around. Make your own natural spray with garlic cloves by mixing chopped garlic with pepper, vinegar, peppermint oil, and water.

Leave the smells to develop and then spray it on fences, walls, and bins, NOT ON PLANTS. It will need to be re-sprayed several times a day, but keeping squirrels away will be worth it.

Does Apple cider vinegar spray deter squirrels?

If you have squirrels in your attic, soak towels or cotton balls in apple cider vinegar and place them in the attic to repel squirrels. Remember to refresh them when the smell of pure apple cider vinegar begins to fade on the towels to continue to repel squirrels.

You can use apple cider vinegar around your bird feeder for keeping squirrels away.

Apple cider vinegar spray will repel squirrels and other pests, including beneficial insects. If you place some in a spray bottle and spray it on plants, flower pots, soil, and other items. White vinegar works in the same way. You could add white pepper or cayenne pepper to the white vinegar to make it even more effective.

However, the one issue with these methods to keep squirrels away is their temporary habits. Simply deterring squirrels will not eradicate the potential for an infestation. Not only this, but you would need to constantly re-apply your deterrents around your home as they weaken or get washed away.


grey squirrel climbing a tree

Image credit: Gail Hampshire

Which Are the Natural Plants that Squirrels hate?

With this in mind, we thought we should delve into the world of plants and how plants can help to deter your squirrel problem, too. There are many natural plants that squirrels hate, and that will keep squirrels away. Of course, plants and flowers have their own smell, but the colorful and non-appetizing features are your way to repel squirrels here.

Here’s a list of natural plants that keep squirrels away. This includes the use of flowers and bulbs you can plant around your backyard and in your home to help prevent squirrels from invading:

  • Daffodils

  • Peppermint

  • Hot Peppers

  • Allium

  • Hyacinths

  • Lily-of-the-Valley

  • Geranium

  • Fritillaries

  • Galanthus

  • Marigolds


Squirrels hate Rosemary. They just do not like the smell of it. You will need a strong smell of Rosemary to keep squirrels away; a hint of Rosemary will not be enough to deter them.

You can make a Rosemary spray with essential oil, diluting it with water. Fill a spray bottle with six ounces of cooled boiled water. Add to it fifty drops of pure Rosemary oil. Shake the spray bottle to mix.

Use the Rosemary spray to get rid of squirrels on fences, flower pots, bird feeders, raised flower beds, vegetable patches, and anywhere else to keep squirrels away.

Alternatively, simmer a quart of water with one cup of dry Rosemary for around half an hour to bring the scent out. Next, put a quart of clean water in a large spray bottle and add the Rosemary water to it. Mix well and spray on areas you need to get rid of squirrels.

Can I Use Nature’s Predators to get rid of Squirrels?

Luckily, if you have a pet at home or some woodland wildlife nearby, there is another way to repel squirrels. You do not necessarily have to rely on natural plants that deter squirrels or what smells to deter squirrels from household items.

As per the natural hierarchy of animals worldwide, squirrels have predators. For example, they are prey to foxes, dogs, wild cats, badgers, weasels, foxes, falcons, owls, polecats, and more.

Therefore, the natural smell of these predatory animals will deter your unwanted squirrels from entering your home. Of course, here at Pest Resources, training a wild fox or owl to become your natural squirrel control service might be tricky. However, if you have a cat or dog, these pets should be able to chase away squirrels with their scent, movement, and hormones.

Keep squirrels away with animal urine

Squirrels hate the smell of animal urine or similar. Most pest sprays mimic animal urine because pests like squirrels think there is a predator in the vicinity. The squirrels run away from the area to safety.

Natural Coyote urine and Fox urine

Foxes are natural predators of squirrels. To keep squirrels away, purchase some fox urine online or from a zoo; natural coyote urine is available in affordable bottles from American Heritage. Spray these scents squirrels hate around fences, walls, and foundations to deter the squirrel population.

How to use predator urine

Go to your nearest outdoor stores and purchase predator urine. Squirrels will develop a fear when they smell predator urine.

Shake the bottle of predator urine and sprinkle the animal urine in the yard to keep squirrels away.

Skunk odor

Skunk odor can be used in the yard to keep squirrels away. Squirrels hate skunk odor. You can purchase skunk odor at various outdoor stores, pet stores, and online. Use sparingly in the yard as the smell is intense.

What Other Things repel Squirrels?

While the main focus of this article has been to provide you with pest resources and knowledge of what kind of smells repel squirrels, there are other ways to repel the squirrel population from your home. And they don’t require a squirrel’s nose to be on point.

So, here is a small list of items you could use or things you can do to help remove squirrels from your home:

  • Light candles or heat essential oils as a squirrel deterrent.

  • Purchase a standard hardware store critter repellant.

  • Use electronics such as motion detector lights around your garden.

  • Keep your water sprinkler systems turned on.

  • Place mesh netting in the ground around specific plants in your yard.

  • Locate a squirrel feeder away from your property.

  • Incorporate giant statues, gnomes, scarecrows, and other beasts in your garden design.

  • Use a high-frequency sound machine (only if you don’t have other pets).

  • Set up a squirrel trap (while they won’t repel squirrels, they can stop them from getting into your home to cause damage).

There is a reason squirrels are in your yard and attic; food sources and shelter

What will attract squirrels? Squirrels enter your yard because of food, water, and shelter sources. Remove food sources like bird feeders and bird seed. If this is not an option for you, squirrel-proof the bird feeders.

Purchase bird feeders made of metal they cannot chew through to get to the bird seed. Spicy odors, hot pepper, and spicy smells repel squirrels from bird feeders. Sprinkle some chili powder, black pepper, or white pepper on the bird feeder to keep squirrels away.

How to get rid of squirrels in the home

  • Remove any tree branches within ten feet of your home and roof. Squirrels will use the branches to access the roof and get into the attic.

  • If you are aware of which tree the squirrels are climbing up to get to your roof and attic, wrap the tree with sheet metal. Ensure the metal is two feet wide and place it six feet up from the trunk of the tree.

  • Secure the metal with springs and wire to allow the tree to grow and breathe. Squirrels will not be able to grip the metal. They will slip down and not be able to scale the tree.

  • Have the squirrels trapped and relocated if state law allows.

  • Search and inspect your property for entry points. Check for gaps, cracks, and tiles missing on the roof. Have them repaired quickly.

  • If squirrels are getting onto the roof of your home by running cables purchase some slim PVC pipes. Cut them to length and place them over the cables. Squirrels will slip and get thrown off because the pipes spin when they try to run along them.

  • Keep the yard tidy, and pick up fallen fruits and nuts from trees.

  • Encourage the squirrels to leave the house by putting up a good quality squirrel nest in a tree nearby. It is their natural instinct to live in trees if they are tree squirrels. Hopefully, the squirrels will leave willingly.

Final thoughts

And there you have it. Your definitive guide to finding a way to repel squirrels. Be it through household and kitchen items, plants, or natural predators. It turns out squirrels will turn their noses up at many smells you have to offer.

Don’t forget to keep checking in to the Pest Resources website and blog to ensure you are up to date with all the pest know-how and extermination processes.

Good luck!

Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each pest control method, product and process. Each pest resource we list on our website goes through an in-depth fact checking process.

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