No one likes to deal with pests in the home. They skitter across the floor, get into your food and add a general yuck factor. Some pests such as rats and mice and some insects carry 35 different diseases. In addition to the skin-crawling grossness of having pests in your home and around your food, you have to worry about them transferring diseases to you or your children.
However, using harsh pesticides to rid your home of pests isn’t a healthy solution either. One of the top causes of pesticide exposure is from home pesticide use. Combining different chemicals is also dangerous. If you have small children who crawl or play on the floor, then the issue becomes more concerning.
Fortunately, there are natural ways to remove pests from your home and prevent or reduce the need for pesticides.
1. Seal Up Food
Pests tend to live in specific areas of your home and are attracted to food or unsealed items. If you have open food they can get into, mice and roaches will head for those areas every time. Your first step to rid yourself of pests, whether rodent or insect, is to seal up absolutely everything. Get plastic containers to keep crackers, cereal and any other type of food that isn’t naturally airtight. If in doubt, you can also store many things in the refrigerator.
If you have young children who drop crumbs when eating, restrain eating activities to a single location and clean the floor immediately after meals and snacks. Clean any dishes immediately and put them away to prevent leftover food attracting pest.
2. Throw Out Cardboard
Roaches love cardboard boxes. Pests like roaches are sometimes carried into your home via a box that arrives. Go through every inch of your home and get rid of any cardboard materials. If you have a cardboard box of photos in the guest room closet, replace the cardboard with a plastic storage container. Get rid of any nesting materials — aka cardboard and paper. Decluttering helps you see everything clearly and prevents mice or other pests from taking up residence in a closet without your knowledge.
3. Eliminate Fruit Flies
Fruit flies are annoying, but you can eliminate them by first throwing out or containing any fruit they congregate around. Make a natural trap by putting red wine into a mason jar or adding apple cider vinegar and dish soap in a tall drinking glass or mason jar. In the future, store fruit in the refrigerator or eat it faster to avoid attracting fruit flies. They seem to appear without warning one day but are very difficult to get rid of, so be patient as you wait for them to leave your home.
4. Clean Drains
Flies are sometimes attracted to your sink drains because food and debris accumulate there. A straightforward way to clean out your drains involves pouring half a cup of salt down the drain followed by half a cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar. The vinegar interacts with the baking soda and bubbles away the buildup.
5. Use Diatomaceous Earth
Use 100 percent food grade diatomaceous earth to rid your home of pests such as fleas or any creature with a hard shell. The bugs walk through the powdery substance, and it dries out their exoskeletons and kills them. However, do use this substance with caution. You want a very fine dusting around the edge or walls and such. You don’t want to breathe the powder in. You also have to remain cautious with cleanup. Diatomaceous earth must first be wet down and then carefully removed, so it doesn’t send dust particles into the air.
7. Fill in Cracks and Crevices
Figure out where your pests come in and out of the house. Fill up any small cracks and crevices throughout your home and entries. You’ll save money on energy because your house will be better sealed.
If in doubt about where the critters enter into your home, get under your crawlspace and see if you can find any hidden areas. You may want to enlist the help of a professional exterminator who uses natural methods.
8. Use Essential Oils & Spices
Different types of pests are repelled by different types of oils and spices. For example, ants dislike cayenne pepper. If you have young children, sprinkle on the outside of doors and windows and not inside where little hands might touch the pepper and then get it into their eyes.
Moths and cupboard pests dislike bay leaves, so tape them to bags of flour or inside closet doors. Spiders dislike citrus and peppermint, so make up an essential oil mix to spray around windows and doors. Using too much peppermint, though, overpowers and may cause headaches, so dilute appropriately.
9. Clean with Tea Tree Oil & Cinnamon
Control the ingredients in your household cleaners by making your own out of distilled water, essential oils and white vinegar. Tea tree oil and cinnamon are thought to kill dust mites, so adding a few drops of oil to your all-natural cleaner help control these pests. Studies show tea tree oil has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties.
10. Create a Barrier
To keep pests out in the first place, create a barrier they won’t want to cross. Mice can’t chew through steel wool, so you could plug up holes and cracks with steel wool. Ants dislike crossing over cayenne pepper, salt or coffee grounds. Cockroaches dislike whole vanilla beans.
Try Multiple Approaches
Just one approach may not work, prepare to incorporate more than one. You may need to declutter, seal up food and flush out roaches with substances they dislike. If one natural solution doesn’t work, don’t give up, instead try something new. The key to using natural remedies is to get right on top of any pest problem before it gets out of control. With a little prevention and natural methods, you can keep your home healthy and pest free.