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It happens to all of us. You mistakenly leave some food on the counter overnight only to find a parade of ants carrying bits and pieces of it out a crack in the kitchen window ledge. Or you notice a roach scurrying under the washing machine when you turn on the light in the laundry room. And what about those pesky moths that seem to have invaded your pantry?
You want these pests gone, but you don’t like the idea of spraying toxic chemicals in your home. Fortunately, you have alternatives. Did you know you have a host of natural solutions right there in your kitchen? Here are 15 natural pest killers you probably already own.
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I enjoy having a basil plant or two growing on my windowsill. For one thing, it tastes incredible in or on many Italian recipes. And for another, the plant’s distinctive aroma is a natural bug repellant. Another idea is to place dried basil in a small muslin pouch in places you’ve seen insects in your home.
2. Bay Leaves
You probably have a jar of bay leaves on your spice shelf. These inexpensive dried leaves can deter many household pests, including ants, weevils, and silverfish. Place a leaf near trouble spots or tape one inside a cupboard to discourage moths. You can even slide on under your microwave or other kitchen appliances.
You’ve read about garlic’s effect on vampires, but many bugs hate it too. Set a few peeled cloves in locations where you’ve spotted ants. Replace the cloves every day or two or when they have dried out.
If you like natural cleaning solutions, you probably have a jug of white vinegar under your kitchen sink. But did you know it can keep away bugs too?
Spray your countertops, floors, and cabinets with a 50-50 solution of white vinegar and water to clean away food and dirt that may attract bugs. (Don’t worry; the vinegary smell will quickly dissipate.)
To create a trap for fruit flies, combine white distilled (or apple cider) vinegar in a small bowl with a few drops of dishwashing soap. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then poke a few small holes into the surface of the wrap.
Ants will steer clear of cayenne pepper. Simply sprinkle ground cayenne anywhere ants are getting into your home.
Ground cinnamon is another effective deterrent to creepy crawlies. Sprinkle some in trouble areas. Another idea is to use a cotton swab to dab pure, undiluted cinnamon essential oil to those areas.
7. Coffee Grounds
You may love the smell of ground coffee, but ants hate it. Sprinkle some in windowsills or other areas bugs are entering.
Fragrant rosemary will ward off many insects. Grow some on your sunny windowsill or place some snips inside a few cheesecloth bags and tuck them inside your kitchen cabinets. Replace when the scent is gone. (Thyme and cloves work the same way!)
Do you peel your cucumbers before eating them? Instead of discarding those peels, try placing them in a dish that you set in areas where you’ve spotted pests. An alternative is to set out slices of fresh cucumbers to deter bugs. Replace them every day or two.
You can ban bugs by placing fresh lemon, orange, or lime peels in cupboards, shelf corners, windowsills, or other areas of pest entry.
Cornmeal is another natural pest deterrent. All you have to do is sprinkle some in the areas where you suspect the insects are entering your home.
We may find the smell refreshing, but many insects steer clear of mint. Try placing mint tea bags or mint leaves wherever you have seen ants or other insects. Or, try growing a mint plant on your kitchen windowsill.
13. Essential Oils
Essential oils smell great, and they can do the double duty of protecting your living space from an insect invasion. Insects particularly dislike lemongrass, peppermint, citrus, eucalyptus, tea tree, catnip, citronella, and lavender oils. Mix one cup of water with 25 to 30 drops of oil in a spray bottle. Shake well before spraying cracks and crevices.
If you have a furry friend who goes outside, you’ve probably encountered fleas in your home at one time or another. Did you know that fleas are repelled by salt? It takes diligence, but many people achieve success in ridding their carpets of fleas with salt.
Fleas have a three-day reproduction cycle. Salt your floor or carpet every day for nine days, vacuuming the area thoroughly every third day. Be sure to empty the vacuum every time by placing all waste in a tied bag in an outdoor trash can.
Cats go crazy for the smell of catnip, but pests, well, not so much. In fact, your natural roach solution may just be catnip. Try leaving small cheesecloth or muslin cloth bags filled with fresh catnip in areas where roaches are a problem.
Another method is to boil some catnip in a cup of water and then use the solution to spray around your baseboards or other areas you’ve seen roaches.
Preventing a Pest Invasion
The final most powerful natural way to rid your home of pests is through preventive measures.
Here are some tips:
- Locate the pests’ point of entry and seal it. Examine screens for tears and holes. Look for cracks around doors, walls, and windows.
- Make sure pet food bowls are clean and dry between feedings.
- Place cereal, flour, sugar, and salt in rigid containers with secure lids.
- Bugs aren’t just looking for food; they also seek water. And many thrive in damp locations. Check for leaky pipes or dripping faucets in your kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, and basement.
- Place indoor kitchen trash in lidded containers and take it outside bins regularly.
- Sweep or vacuum floors frequently.
- Clean out your kitchen garbage disposal.
For more ideas on natural ways to rid your home of pests, check out these resources:
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