Sure, they're cute as babies, but once baby raccoons grow up to be adults, they can quickly become a headache for homeowners. These masked bandits can make a mess of your trash cans, dig up gardens and cause general mischief at night. If you're being visited by raccoons on a regular basis, you might be wondering if there are ways to get rid of them without causing them harm.

The good news is that there are safe and effective strategies to get rid of raccoons. Plus, there are steps you can take to prevent them from making your home one of their stomping grounds.

Water reflections of a raccoon on a log.
credit: Betty4240/iStock/GettyImages
How To Prevent And Get Rid Of Raccoons

How to Get Rid of Raccoons From Your Residence

If you have a family of raccoons eating your garbage, terrorizing your pets and being a general nuisance, there are things you can do to evict them from the premises. First things first: raccoons are omnivores, which means they will eat anything. So before you try any of the recommended strategies to rid your property of these pesky creatures, make sure the area around your house is free from anything they might consider food.

If you store your garbage cans outside, put them in your garage. But if you have to leave your garbage cans outdoors, consider getting metal cans and using bungee cords to secure the lids. Some people even take it one step further and place a weighted object on top of the can such as a cinder block, wood blocks or a heavy metal object. Regardless of the type of garbage can you use, the most important thing is to secure the lids with bungee cords.

Do not leave pet food outside. If you have to feed your cats outdoors, put the food out during the day for a few hours, and make sure to bring it in before nightfall. Raccoons do prefer causing chaos at night, but when it comes to food, they are not opposed to visiting during the daytime hours. Since raccoons love water, getting rid of any unnecessary standing water sources you have outside is also important.

Bird lovers will also need to take steps to clear the yard of food. If you have bird feeders or bird baths, you may want to get rid of them for a while or consider storing them indoors at night.

Fruit trees and vegetable gardens are another popular food source for raccoons. If you have fruit trees, make sure you clean up fallen fruit on the ground. Another option is to fence off a vegetable garden with an electric fence.

Consider using natural repellents such as ammonia, cayenne and vinegar in areas where the raccoons are most frequently found. There are also several repellent products you can purchase online or in stores that are marketed for removing or preventing raccoons.

Spraying predator urine around your yard is another popular method to get rid of raccoons. You can purchase these products at stores or online, or consider contacting a licensed trapper for more information.

If the raccoons have taken up residence in an attic, garage or chimney, you will need to first determine how they got into that area. Often, the best way to handle this situation is to hire a licensed trapping professional. Not only do they know the best traps to use, they also know how to trap and remove raccoons in the most humane way possible.

Once the raccoons have been removed you need to block all access points with materials strong enough for the raccoons to not be able to get back in. Use products such as heavy metal, wire mesh, sheet metal or metal flashing.

How to Prevent Raccoons From Taking Up Residence at Your Home

If you've rid your property of raccoons and want to keep them away or you're wanting to prevent them from taking over your yard, here are some strategies you can try:

  • Follow the same steps listed above regarding food and water. If you are looking to prevent raccoons from coming to your home, the first thing you should do is secure your garbage cans and remove any outdoor food sources.
  • Make sure water sources are covered. This includes swimming pools, bird baths, etc.
  • Since raccoons love the darkness, consider installing bright motion-activated flood lights around your property.
  • If you have a sprinkler system, set a regular schedule and do your watering at night.
  • Keep an outdoor or garage radio turned on. Noise can be a deterrent for raccoons.
  • Inspect the exterior of your home and garage and close any and all access points. Remember, a raccoon only needs a very small space to squeeze into, so make sure to secure all open areas.
  • Spray ammonia all around your yard. Raccoons do not like the smell and may stay away if this is done on a regular basis. Cayenne pepper and vinegar are other products often used to keep raccoons away.