When pests invade our home it can be tempting to reach for a can of bug spray to eliminate them quickly, but there are often much safer ways to get rid of pests. In many cases, the best and most long-term solution is to keep your home from being an attractive refuge for insects and critters in the first place.
Keep Your Kitchen Clean
Cleaning your kitchen may not be your favorite chore, but it will really deter pests looking for a free meal. Wipe down your countertops with a solution of half water and half vinegar. Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher, put away all food, remove garbage and recycling often, and keep items like grains, nuts, and dry pet food sealed in glass or plastic containers if possible.
Remove Their Water Source
Like us, pests need water to survive, so if you are fighting pests make sure you don’t give them a source of water. For example, fix leaky faucets or pipes, don’t leave water in trays under houseplants, and don’t leave pet water bowls out overnight. Even dampness or high humidity can appeal to pests.
Keep Pests Out
To prevent pests from coming inside, seal up entry points including windows and doorframes, dryer vent, and any place where pipes or TV/cable wires enter your home with silicone calk. This also has the added benefits of sealing up air leaks and can help make your home more energy efficient. For larger holes, stuff them with steel wool or cover with wire mesh. If your pets go outside, make sure to monitor them for fleas and ticks, and brush, comb, or bathe them as necessary. Also wash their beds, mats, or blankets, and carefully vacuum carpeted or upholstered areas where they sleep.
Not only do pesticides kill bugs, but many can be harmful to you and the environment, and are especially hazardous to kids or pets. Before you reach for chemicals, start with physical controls such as flyswatters, traps, and vacuuming. There are many types of insect traps from pheromone traps, to sticky traps to traps with lights. You can also try some of the natural or “low-risk” pesticides such as cedar oil, citronella, garlic oil, mint oil and diatomaceous earth. If all else fails, hire a professional. They can help you determine the best – and least toxic – way to get rid of pests and keep them from returning.