Winterized RVs are protected from the elements, but rarely is every hole and nook sealed to repel mice. An EPA-approved indoor product called Fresh Cab hopes to do just that with a scent that’s fresh-smelling to humans, but strong enough to deter rodent invaders.
“Fresh Cab is a serious repellent. Even though it’s natural and safe, it meets EPA standards for efficacy, which is really hard to do with (rodent) poisons,” said Kari Warberg Block, CEO of Earth-Kind, the company that makes the Fresh Cab rodent repellent. Earth-Kind is headquartered in Bismarck, N.D., and manufactured in a plant in Faribault, Minn.
Fresh Cab is newly represented by Tom Manning and Associates. The product, which is packaged in four individual pouches per box, is available by major and regional RV distributors. Consumers simply place a Fresh Cab pouch in their RV before winter and it keeps mice out for three to four months, Block said. Fresh Cab, which has an outdoor “evergreen-type” scent to humans, has tested to be 90 percent effective at deterring extreme mice infestations.
“In an enclosed area where there’s no airflow in-and-out, the (Fresh Cab) scent will last six months and we’ve recorded it to last as long as nine months,” she said. “People that put it in their RVs in the Fall, when they go in there in the Spring they still can smell it and it smells fresh.
“If Fresh Cab is placed in an older RV with air leaks, or if it’s a camper stored outside in the sun, it’s going to wear off a little bit faster,” Block said. “We recommend in a heavily infested area that the (Fresh Cab) pouch is changed out every 30 days. If it’s parked where five or more mice everyday are trying to get in, our EPA testing and lab results show that 90 percent of the time it kept them out.”
Fresh Cab’s primary natural scent is created by balsam fir needle oil and corn cob chips are used as a carrier scent. Mice and rats have very poor eyesight and sense danger through smell. Block tried numerous combinations of natural scents, including peppermint, before she found one that she said consistently discouraged mice.
“I was a farm wife. All the mice were getting in, and chewing on all the wires. There wasn’t really anything that I could use that kept them out and was safe around my kids and pets,” she said.
Kari Warberg Block founded Fresh Cab rodent repellent in the 1990s while living on a farm in North Dakota. She said she was driven by the pain mouse infestations were causing farmers and others: "It was hard at first having that problem and not having a solution because I knew so many people would benefit from a product like this," Block said. She is now CEO of Earth-Kind, which produces Fresh Cab out of plant in Faribault, Minn.
Block invented the Fresh Cab recipe in the 1990s, but didn’t bring it to the national market until 2007, when the company earned EPA-approval. It’s now offered in 15,000 farm, hardware and home retail locations in every state. Last year, Earth-Kind failed to bring Fresh Cab to the RV market as a private label brand through a company called Northern Explorer.
“The partners broke up, so it never really made it out onto the market. So, after that we made a decision: We were going to bring it to the RV market ourselves and do it right, so we were happy to have Tom Manning take it on,” Block said. “Bringing the Fresh Cab brand out into the RV market ourselves actually saves the customers money.”
Getting a product EPA-approved comes with a heavy price. Earth-Kind pays every state a fee once per year and pays the federal government twice per year for the EPA designation.
"The cheapest state is $275 per year, and the most expensive states are around $1,500 per year,” she said. “It’s a lot and consumers might not understand the Fresh Cab name, but they’ll know that it works, and know they can trust it and rely on it.”
Block said Earth-Kind is committed to creating environmentally-friendly and non-toxic products. Fresh Cab packaging is printed with soy ink at a plant powered by wind energy. The company also prides itself in diversity, employing a full-time team of 12 developmentally handicapped workers at its plant. The plant hires an additional 60-65 developmentally handicapped workers every fall during peak season.
“They help us do some assembly and help us pack it all up and get ready for shipments,” Block said. “They are so fired up every day that they come to work and when they see our product in the store. Their families know what they do and they are so pleased to be a part of what we do.”
Fresh Cab has been tested and approved by members of the Good Sam Club and the National Home Gardening Club, according to Earth-Kind.