Chipmunks in the garage can be a pain.
You’re probably tired of them leaving behind waste. Or chewing on your storage. Or messing up your car.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- Why chipmunks are in your garage
- Natural home remedies to get rid of them
- How to repel and keep chipmunks away- for good
By the end of this guide, you should have a good understanding of what you need to do to get them out of your garage.
Feel free to bookmark this page for easy reference letter.
Let’s dive right in.
What’s a chipmunk?
Chipmunks are striped rodents that are found all over the United States.
They’re an opportunistic scavenger that eats both food and plant matter. They’re omnivores that eat a variety of foods like nuts, fruits, seeds, and plant buds.
Some plants they eat are fungi, grass, plant shoots, and budding flowers. Vegetables, fruits, acorns, hazelnuts, and more are all favorites.
If you have chipmunks in your garage, chances are it’s either using your garage as a stockpile for the winter or scavenging for food.
Chipmunks will gather foods that don’t expire for the cold season so they have something to eat until spring.
They do this around autumn and will hide in their nest (i.e. your garage, basement, shed, deck, patio, or attic) until winter is over.
Chipmunks are destructive species and will wreck and destroy many crops.
They also nibble on your belongings that they may come across in your garage or storage areas.
Thus, many people consider them a pest.
Other common names for a chipmunk:
- Striped squirrels
- Chipping squirrel
- Chip squirrels
- Ground squirrels
- Siberian chipmunk (Eutamias sibiricus)
- Eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus)
- Least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus)
- Mini Bears
- Timber tigers
How to tell the difference between a chipmunk and squirrel
Chipmunks are often confused with squirrels as they’re both very similar in appearance.
Squirrels are a different species entirely and shouldn’t be confused with chipmunks, so it’s important to identify the difference between the two.
Squirrel vs. chipmunk
Chipmunks are smaller and have stripes. Squirrels are bigger and don’t. This is probably the easiest way to tell the difference between them.
They both have pointed ears, visible big eyes, and bushy bodies. The stripe and size happen to be the easiest way to differentiate a squirrel and chipmunk.
Why do I have chipmunks in the garage?
Chipmunks may have taken shelter in your garage because it provides a suitable place for them to sleep or nest.
The shelter shields them from the elements and predators that would naturally eat them outdoors. You could also have a source of food in there that is sustaining them.
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Chipmunks also hoard food for the winter, so they could be stockpiling in your garage to prep for the upcoming cold season.
The warmth and shelter provided by your garage can be suitable for them to nest in over the winter as they stockpile food. They cache foods that don’t expire in a “larder” which they hide in their underground burrows.
Your garage may have an entryway that allows them to harvest food and carry it back to their burrow. Or possibly they may have established a burrow into your garage.
You’ll want to find the entryway that they’re using so you can block them off. Find out how they got into your garage and seal it. This way, you can stop them in their tracks.
If you have a dryer, furnace, water heater, or another source of warmth, they could be seeking out some warmer temperatures from these appliances. Though this is rare. Chipmunks will overwinter in their burrows and feed on their cache of food.
They don’t usually establish a shelter in your garage unless there’s absolutely nowhere else to nest. So watch out for that and see if they’re actually living in your garage, or just looking for some food.
Food and shelter are the two main reasons why chipmunks would be in your garage.
Signs of a chipmunk infestation
It’s very easy to tell chipmunk problems from other pests because they’re extremely messy.
The most common sign of a chipmunk hanging out in your garage is stockpiled food or empty shells. If you see a bunch of shells from peanuts or sunflowers, that’s a good sign that you have a chipmunk in there.
Or if you see foods soaked up in a small area, that could be a nest or den the chipmunk has built.
You may also notice these common signs of chipmunks:
- Feces piled in a single area
- Unheated or partially-eaten food
- Scratching sounds
- Sounds of chipmunks running around
- Damaged items
- Burrows or tunnels
- Chipmunk footprints
- Peanut, sunflower, or other shells
What are chipmunks attracted to?
Chipmunks eat many different foods and are very easy to bait with peanuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, bird food, and more
They seek out warmth and food. If you provide them with both, then they’ll gladly make a home out of your garage.
Are chipmunks dangerous?
A chipmunk can bite and will bite if it feels threatened or cornered. Even though they’re small for their size, they can still pierce the skin with their teeth.
The area that’s bitten often swells with pain, streaks, and possibly even get an infection. Chipmunks can also transfer rabies, as reported by the CDC. The chances are rare, but it can still happen.
They’re also very destructive. The damage they can do to your car, books, stored goods, and other stuff can be quite bad.
They’ll chew, scratch, and defecate and urinate on the stuff that you have packed in your garage.
They can also pose a fire hazard by leaving cracked and dirty peanut shells that just keep piling up.
Shells that pile up and block vents for electrical appliances can pose electrical and fire hazards. So you should get rid of the pest ASAP and not procrastinate. Get it done. Fast.
What is a home remedy to get rid of chipmunks?
How to get rid of chipmunks from your garage naturally
Here are some home remedies to get rid of them for cheap. Do these first and if you still don’t have any results, consider hiring a professional exterminator.
Does cayenne pepper keep chipmunks away?
Cayenne pepper happens to be one of the most effective repellents for chipmunks because of the spicy taste.
You can use cayenne in multiple ways for the management of this pest. Here are a few of them.
Cayenne pepper spray
Buy some powdered cayenne pepper at the store, you can find it ground up and ready to apply.
Add 1 tablespoon of ground pepper to 1 cup of water. You can add more if you want to make a stronger mixture.
Pour the ground cayenne and water mixture into a spray bottle, and then spray it around your yard, bushes, garbage, and garage.
The scent of the pepper will annoy chipmunks. This can help get chipmunks out of your garage.
Cayenne pepper stations
You can buy whole cayenne peppers or ground cayenne powder and then apply it around your garage’s perimeter. If you use whole cayenne, cut it up so the scent and flesh are exposed.
This will leach spicy aroma into the air. Since your garage is a contained area, the smell will eventually spread throughout the whole room. This will make an effective deterrent to keep them out.
You’ll need to use enough of pepper so that the smell is strong enough. You should be able to smell the pepper intensely every time you walk into your garage. Keep the garage door shut for the best effect.
Secure your garage with a “pepper perimeter”
You can also sprinkle cayenne pepper around your garage’s perimeter. If you have an outdoor door from the garage, add some pepper under the door gap.
Also sprinkle some in the crawl spaces, between the cracks, or under the car.
The ground pepper will act as a powerful deterrent for their poor noses.
Will mothballs keep chipmunks away?
Mothballs release a chemical called naphthalene which chipmunks hate.
The chemical scent from this chemical repulses them and helps keep them away. Since they’re very sensitive to scent and because it’s one of their more common senses, mothballs can be an effective repellent to repel them.
You can use mothballs outdoors where they nest, such as crawl spaces, crevices, cracks, tunnels, chambers, logs, bushes, and other contained areas.
Mothballs work best where the scent can spread throughout their entire nest.
Since chipmunks usually nest in small and contained areas, the naphthalene spreads throughout their entire nest.
Thus, they’re driven out.
You should never use mothballs as a repellent in your home because naphthalene can be harmful to humans, especially in closed areas that have no air circulation.
Personally, I’d avoid using mothballs as the risks may outweigh the benefits.
And you should also be aware that using them under your home or in crawl spaces can leech the scent into your living spaces.
Does Juicy Fruit kill chipmunks?
There are a few reports online that Juicy Fruit gum works to kill chipmunks. The gum clogs their digestion and then kills them.
Since Juicy Fruit sweet, this only helps them eat it as a tasty bait that lures chipmunks easily. To use it, you’d just place a few pieces around their nest or where they’re hanging out. They’ll eat it and it’ll kill them like a poison.
But I can’t confirm if this guy actually works or not. It’s worth a try though since gum is cheap (25 cents?), but only if you plan to actually kill the chipmunk. I’d avoid this when possible and would suggest using a passive way to get rid of them.
Will coffee grounds keep chipmunks away?
Coffee grounds can be an excellent repellent for chipmunks.
Since they use their nose for identifying food and finding their way around, the strong odor from coffee grounds will annoy them and can help keep them away.
You can buy coffee grounds from the store (generic, cheap brand), or get some for free from most coffee shops. Just ask for used coffee grounds and they may give you a bag.
Sprinkle the grounds around your yard and nesting areas where the chipmunks are staying. The scent will help deter them from coming close because of the powerful aroma.
A cheap, natural, and effective measure to use against these critters. This one I’ve used myself with decent results. The chipmunks slowly vanished over time and only the most persistent ones stayed.
You’ll have to use powerful grounds though. Get the smelliest ones you can find out on the shelf. You can use this to help keep chipmunks out of your garage.
You can toss some coffee grounds around your garage to help drive them out.
Does peppermint oil keep chipmunks away?
Peppermint oil has a reputation for being a very powerful and effective essential oil.
Spray the solution around voids, cracks, and crevices outside. You can also spray your trash, trees, shrubs, pet food areas (dog or cat food), bird feeders, or even the chipmunk nest.
Reapply daily to keep the scent going. Avoid spraying near sensitive pets and people. Spray some around your garage perimeter and line the entire area with peppermint oil.
Does Irish Spring soap repel chipmunks?
No, this soap doesn’t seem to work against chipmunks. There are people online that say Irish Spring soap works against rodents and pests, but I couldn’t find anything for chipmunks. Irish Spring works against skunks, but not chipmunks.
You should try using hot pepper or essential oils.
What essential oils keep chipmunks away?
You can use essential oils to scare them off. There are a bunch of them out there, but the best ones to use for chipmunks are peppermint, lemongrass, or citrus oils.
All of these annoy their nose and will help keep them away. You can make your own spray at home by adding a few drops of essential oil to a cup of water.
Use a spray bottle to apply the oils outdoors in food or nesting areas. After you get the chipmunks out of the garage, essential oils can help keep them out.
What smells do chipmunks hate?
They dislike smells that are spicy or strong, which is why things like mothballs, peppermint oil, cayenne pepper, or other essential oils work so well against them.
Since they use their nose and sense of smell for everything, using a scented approach can be very effective to make them go away.
And since your garage is likely closed off from the outdoors, this makes it easy to set up some kind of scented approach. The smell will collect rather than dissipate if it were outdoors.
The only problem is that you’ll have to smell it too when you go into your car.
Chipmunks will stop and raise their nose into the air to measure any nearby food sources or mates. The scent from hot peppers or oils will disturb them.
What’s the best bait for chipmunks?
The best bait to use with chipmunks is the natural foods they already eat: peanut butter, peanuts, sunflower shells, bird seeds, millet spray, nuts, and shelled nuts.
You can easily set up a trap and use any of these as a bait. Peanut butter works very effectively.
How to keep chipmunks out of the garage
After you get the current pest out, you’ll want to prevent future chipmunks from coming into your garage.
You can do this by setting up a combination of repellents such as peppermint oil, cayenne pepper, essential oils, and more.
Set up some deterrents and then seal up your garage from future chipmunk entry.
To keep them out of your garage, you can do the following:
- Sprinkle cayenne pepper under your door that leads to your garage
- Spray peppermint oil
- Set up chipmunk traps using peanut butter or nuts
- Use mesh to block off any crawl spaces
- Clean up your garage and get rid of clutter
- Prevent any possible nestin sites by moving things around or sealing them off
- Caulk up any entryways in your foundation
- Repair cracks and crevices in your walls
- Fix any damaged vents
- Don’t feed your pets in your garage, or at clean up any excess food
- Secure any trash cans or garbage bins
How to keep chipmunks out of the yard
If you have a yard that leads into your garage, they may be getting in that way. You can make your garden less appealing to them by removing sources of food and tidying it up.
This means doing things like disposing of leaf litter, securing your trash, harvesting your fruits and vegetables early, and keeping an overall tidy appearance.
You should also use mesh or fencing to seal up any possible entryways into your garage or basement. If you have a shed, watch out for tunnels that go below the outhouse.
Sometimes pests like skunks like to burrow under homes and sheds.
The easiest way is to remove all sources of possible food, which are likely attracting the chipmunks. If there’s no food, then there’s no reason for them to be around your home.
You should also prevent them from being able to make a nest outdoors by keeping your bushes pruned and filing any burrows you come across. Clean up gutters. Dispose of dried leaves.
Don’t leave grass clipping around. Prune your plants. All of these tips can help prevent chipmunks in your yard and garage.
Upkeep is important to any yard to prevent pests. Don’t be lazy.
Here are some other resources you may find useful:
Did you get rid of the chipmunks in your garage yet?
You now have all the details you need to form a plan and get started.
The trick is to be persistent.
First, identify the location of the infestation and secure it.
Then add repellents to naturally get rid of them.
And then keep them out permanently by practicing regular housekeeping and tidiness.
If you have any questions, leave a comment. Or if you found this guide helpful, let me know.
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.