12 Smells Squirrels Hate And How To Use Smells To Repel Squirrels

by | Rodents, Squirrels

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If squirrels are giving you problems, you are here looking for solutions. The good news is that there are many smells that squirrels hate, and using these products and smells in your yard and home can often be a great way to keep squirrels away.

Squirrels hate the smell of pepper, mint, mothballs, predator urine, skunks, coffee, and cinnamon, among others. Squirrels have an excellent sense of smell, which they use to find food buried up to 1 foot underground and stay away from danger. Strong smells irritate their nose and keep them away.

Knowing what smells squirrels hate and how to use these smells can help you repel squirrels naturally, without poisons or strong chemicals. Below is an alphabetical list of all the smells squirrels hate, with links to where to buy the items and tips on how to use them for the best results…


Eastern Gray Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis sniffing a dandelion in Maryland during the Spring

Squirrels hate the smell of cinnamon, especially strong-smelling cinnamon oil and ground cinnamon. When they sniff cinnamon with their sensitive nose, the smell of this spice goes into the animal’s nasal passages and irritate the delicate lining very quickly.

The following tips and products from Amazon can be used to repel squirrels with cinnamon:

  • Sprinkle ground cinnamon on the soil around plants you want to protect and on any areas that you don’t want squirrels to walk on. You’ll need to use a lot of cinnamon for the best results and reapply once a week because the cinnamon will get blown away by the wind or dissolved by rainwater.
  • Mix some cinnamon oil with cayenne extract and/or peppermint oil in warm water. Shake well. Wet cotton balls or rags with the solution and place the cotton balls or rags around your plants, in your attic or garage, and anywhere else you are trying to keep squirrels away. This method is smellier than ground cinnamon and usually gives better results that last longer.

Coffee grounds

Squirrels don’t only hate the smell of coffee but they also don’t like the scratchy feeling of coffee grounds under their paws.

Squirrels don’t know what coffee is, so the smell is foreign to them and even reminds them of humans, which are a natural enemy.

Also coffee contains chemical compounds called caffeine and diterpenes. These can seriously hurt squirrels and even kill them. You can read more about how coffee grounds deter pests here.

These are all reasons why squirrels stay away from things that smell like coffee.

The following DIY tips can be used to repel squirrels with coffee:

  • Sprinkle coffee granules on the soil around any plants that squirrels are attacking. Coffee is good for the soil because it has many nutrients in it, but you shouldn’t use too much of it because it is acidic. Keep an eye on your plants and stop using coffee grounds if the plants show any signs of distress. You can also mix coffee grounds with some top soil, to reduce the acidity in the spread. It’s perfectly safe to sprinkle coffee on your roof or in the garage if you see signs that you have squirrels in your house.
  • Soak cotton balls in strong, fresh coffee and place these balls on plastic lids or in shallow containers around the plants you are trying to protect.

Dryer sheets

Squirrels hate the smell of dryer sheets because they have a strong chemical smell that bothers a squirrel’s sensitive nose. But dryer sheets quickly lose their smell and are not a very effective or long-term solution to repelling squirrels in your yard or house.

If you still want to give it a try, tie dryer sheets on plants, trees, a fence, a birdfeeder, the roof, or any areas where squirrels are a problem for you. You can add a few drops of peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, or cayenne extract for extra potency. If the dryer sheets are left out too long and lose all their scary smell, they might become material for a squirrel’s winter nest.

People report having the best results with Bounce dryer sheets when using dryer sheets to repel squirrels.


Photo of garlic cloves - a smell that squirrels hate

Squirrels hate the strong smell of fresh garlic and stay away from anything that smells like garlic. But garlic isn’t a very effective or long-lasting DIY solution to repel squirrels, and many people have better luck with a commercial garlic spray or peppermint repellents and predator urine.

The following tips and products from Amazon can be used to keep squirrels away with garlic smells:

  • Spray this 100% natural spray in crawl spaces, on cracks where squirrels are entering your home, in the area around your bins, and around your garage. This spray contains peppermint oil, vinegar, peppers and garlic – lots of things that squirrels hate smelling. But garlic smells don’t last long, so you’ll need to spray several times a day for at least a week to scare off squirrels.
  • Or make your own natural spray by mixing chopped garlic, pepper, vinegar, and/or peppermint oil (whatever you have in your house that you know squirrels hate the smell of) with water. Leave the solution to sit for a few days before spraying it on fences, bins, walls, and garden stakes. Never spray a vinegar solution directly onto plants as they might burn or die.
  • If squirrels are eating your plants, crush garlic cloves and put them around the base of the plants. Replace these crushed cloves with fresh cloves every second day. You can also rub some garlic oil or crushed garlic cloves around the base of the plants’ stems, near the lower leaves, and near any leaves the squirrels are eating.

Irish Spring Soap

Squirrels hate the smell of Irish Spring soap original scent. Simply grate the soap around the base of plants to protect them. Or cut a bar of this soap into small blocks, put a few blocks into mesh pouches, and put the soap-filled pouches around your yard, hang them from trees or around your bins, and in your home.

One pouch or bar of soap should repel squirrels in a 10-foot radius.


Squirrels hate the smell of mint, including spearmint and peppermint. You can plant mint plants or use mint essential oils to repel squirrels in your yard and home. Mint has a very strong smell that squirrels avoid because it irritates their sensitive noses.

The following tips and products from Amazon can be used to keep squirrels away with mint:

  • Grow mint plants in any areas of your yard where you want to keep squirrels out. Peppermint plants are the strongest squirrel repellents because they contain the highest level of menthol. Next in line is spearmint, followed by regular mint plants.
  • If squirrels are eating your plants, lightly water down the plants and sprinkle peppermint oil on top. For a longer lasting solution, soak cotton balls or pieces of cloth in peppermint essential oil. Place the cotton balls or cloth in shallow plastic containers and put them under the plants the squirrels are eating. You can also use these to plug up holes where squirrels are getting in and out of your house. Replace the cotton balls or cloths with freshly soaked ones when the smell starts wearing off.
  • Spray this rodent peppermint oil spray, which is natural and safe to use around people and pets. The spray is designed to scare away rodents like rats and squirrels. (Click here to find out how to tell the difference between rats and squirrels).
  • Or make your own rodent repellent spray by mixing 10 drops of pure peppermint oil with 8 ounces (250 ml) of water. The spray is safe to use on hard surfaces such as walls and fences, but do a patch test first to make sure it doesn’t stain or discolor the surface.


Squirrels hate the smell of mothballs. This smell comes from a white material called naphthalene, which has a very distinct odor. It’s what squirrels and animals smell when things burn, so mothballs remind squirrels of forest fires and they stay away from mothballs and the smell of danger.

Mothballs are poisonous and should not be left lying around if you have young children or pets.

To keep squirrels away with mothballs, scatter loose mothballs in flowerbeds, vegetable patches, potted plants, in the attic and around your house – wherever squirrels are a nuisance. Replace these with fresh mothballs about once a month, to keep the smell strong (if you can stand it).


Squirrels hate the smell of pepper, including white pepper, black pepper, red pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, paprika, and jalapeño pepper. In fact, hot pepper is often used in commercial squirrel repellents, to keep squirrels out of yards and homes.

The following tips and products from Amazon can be used to keep squirrels away with pepper:

  • If squirrels are eating your plants or knocking down your seedlings, lightly water the plants and the ground around them. The moisture will stop the pepper from blowing away in the wind. Sprinkle black pepper, cayenne pepper, or chili powder on the ground around the plants and on the bottom leaves of the plants. You’ll need to reapply the powder after it rains as heavy rain will wash it all away.
  • Spray your plants with a homemade pepper spray that you can make by mixing half a bottle of tabasco sauce with half a gallon (2 l) of water. Use this spray on a cloudy day or in the late afternoon, when the sun isn’t too harsh and could burn your plants.
  • To make pepper sticky, mix cayenne pepper with petroleum jelly and smear it around the base of plants’ stems or on poles and fences you want to keep squirrels off.  You can get a big tub of industrial petroleum jelly for a very good price. Wear disposable gloves or wash your hands very well after doing this.
  • Sprinkle cayenne pepper in the birdseed you put in your birdfeeder to stop squirrels from eating the birdseed. This is not harmful to birds and, in fact, they don’t even taste it.
  • Spray this ready-to-use hot pepper wax spray on fruits, vegetables, citrus trees, ornamentals, wooden furniture and fences, to stop squirrels from eating or destroying things on your property. The ingredient in pepper that burns and that squirrels hate is called capsaicin. If you’re buying a squirrel repellent spray, look for “pepper” or “capsaicin” in the list of ingredients.
  • Spread crushed red peppers or red pepper flakes on the ground where you want to stop squirrels walking.
  • Spray your attic, squirrel entry points, or the outside of your house where squirrels hang out with a strong homemade pepper spray. Make sure you first do a patch test to see if the spray stains or discolors the area. To make a squirrel repellent pepper spray, simmer two chopped jalapeño peppers or a handful of dried jalapeño flakes in 1 quart (1 l) of water for half an hour. You can add a tablespoon of any other pepper you have in the house such as cayenne pepper or black pepper. Once the water cools, strain it and put it in a spray bottle ready for use.

Predator urine

Squirrels are often eaten by badgers, bobcats, coyotes, dogs, foxes, raccoons, and weasels. Squirrels hate the smell of urine from animals that eat them because this urine tells squirrels that predators are active in the area. If squirrels smell predator urine, they stay away to avoid being killed.

The following tips and products from Amazon can be used to keep squirrels away with predator urine smells:

Most people have the best results when they use fox urine to repel squirrels…

  • Try this pure fox urine to repel squirrels. Soak sponges, cut-up pieces of an old towel, or carpet pieces in the urine, then place these where you want to keep squirrels away. Be warned that this product has a very strong smell and it’s best to wear gloves when working with it.
  • Or sprinkle these fox urine granules in the yard or attic, if you have a squirrel problem or want to stop any squirrels from moving in. The granules contain fox urine that makes squirrels think predators are in the area. Again, these granules have a very strong smell so don’t put them anywhere you will be spending a lot of time.


Squirrels hate a strong smell of rosemary, but a light rosemary scent doesn’t bother them much. This makes rosemary a bit of a hit-and-miss option when it comes to repelling squirrels. If the rosemary smell isn’t strong enough or the smell starts wearing off, squirrels won’t stay away.

The following tips and products from Amazon can be used to keep squirrels away with rosemary:

  • Make a strong rosemary oil spray by filling a spray bottle with 6 ounces of boiled water that’s cooled down. Add 50 – 100 drops of pure rosemary oil to the water. Shake to mix well. Spray this rosemary repellent on fences, birdfeeders, pots, raised beds, and anywhere else you want to keep squirrels away.
  • Or simmer 1 quart (1 l) water with 1 cup of dry rosemary for about half an hour. Strain the water to remove all the dry rosemary. Put 1 quart (1 l) of clean water in a large spray bottle and add the rosemary water. Shake well and spray on areas where you need to repel squirrels.

Skunk smells

Squirrels hate the smell of skunks. Skunks have a gland under their tail that sprays a stinky oily liquid, which gives skunks their distinct odor. Because squirrels have such sensitive noses, the strong smell of a skunk really bothers them and they stay away from it.

Soak cotton balls in this skunk essence and place the cotton balls in areas that you want to keep squirrels away from. Replace the cotton balls with fresh ones every few days. Be sure to wear gloves when working with skunk essence because it doesn’t smell very good to humans either.

There are plants that look pretty and give off a skunk odor that repels squirrels. These plants are: crown imperials, skunk cabbage, and cleomes (spider flowers). Grow any of these plants around your yard or in areas where you want to repel squirrels.


Squirrels hate the smell of vinegar, including white vinegar and apple cider vinegar, and they stay away from areas and things that smell too much like vinegar.

The following tips and products from Amazon can be used to keep squirrels away with vinegar:

  • To keep squirrels out of your attic, soak an old towel, old clothes, or old shoes in apple cider vinegar and put them in the attic. Refresh the towel/clothes/shoes with fresh apple cider vinegar when the smell starts wearing off. If squirrels are getting into your attic, place the items soaked in apple cider vinegar near to the entry and exit holes, where squirrels are coming in and out.
  • Spray pure apple cider vinegar onto hard surfaces such as floors, decks, wooden furniture, fences, poles, barbecues, appliances, and flower pots. Don’t ever spray vinegar directly onto plants as it could burn and kill them.
  • Make your own vinegar spray to repel squirrels by mixing two parts vinegar (white vinegar or apple cider vinegar) with one part water in a spray bottle. Spray this solution directly onto a small section of the plant that squirrels are eating and leave it overnight, to see if the plant is happy to be sprayed with this solution. If the plant shows no signs of distress, then you know it’s safe to spray the entire plant with your vinegar spray. Avoid using this spray on hot days and in direct sunlight, to make sure the sun doesn’t burn the plants where the acidic vinegar has been sprayed.

How to get rid of squirrels in your house

If you want to move squirrels out of your house, try the following tips and products available on Amazon (just click on the blue links provided):

  • Cut down the branches on any trees that are within 10 feet of your house, so they can’t access your roof.
  • Stop feeding them: remove bird feeders, secure your garbage bins, and keep your yard clean by picking up fallen fruits and nuts.
  • If squirrels are getting onto your roof by running along cables, get these slim PVC pipes (they come in many colors and can easily be cut to the length you need). Cut the pipes along one side and slip them over the cables. When the squirrels try to run along these pipes, the pipes will spin and throw the squirrels off.
  • If you know which tree the squirrels are climbing to jump onto your roof, wrap this sheet metal about 6 feet up the tree’s trunk. Make sure to use sheet metal that’s at least 2 feet wide, and keep it in place with springs and wire so the tree can breathe and grow. When squirrels try to run up the tree, they will slip on the metal and won’t be able to get up.
  • Close all the holes in the roof except the biggest one, which is their main hole. Check every area of the roof to make sure you got all the holes. Trap the squirrels and relocate them if state laws allow this. Or use a one-way exclusion door to let the squirrels out of the main hole but not back in (don’t use these methods if there are babies in the nest in early spring or late summer as the mother will chew her way back in to get her young). Wait at least 30 days. When all the squirrels are out, seal up the main hole with steel, so the squirrels can’t chew a hole to get back in.
  • Put a good-quality squirrel nest in a nearby tree, to encourage the squirrels to leave your house and move into the tree. Their natural instinct is to live in trees if they are tree squirrels, so they might move out willingly.

I'm Monique. I love gardening and spending time in my backyard growing things. Here's where I share what I know about backyard pests and what to do about them, so you can enjoy your yard too.

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Monique loves gardening and spending time in her backyard, where she grows flowers, succulents, herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

Monique spends a lot of time researching how to protect her backyard from harmful pests and trying to attract beneficial insects and animals.

She shares everything that she learns and tests here at Backyard Pests.


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