Pest Control: The Ultimate Guide to Natural Pest Treatment

Pest Control: The Ultimate Guide to Natural Pest Treatment

We all get pests in our homes from time to time. From the fairly harmless ant to the horror that is bed bugs, sometimes pests invade our space and drive us insane.

But fear not, we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to getting rid of the most common household pests. And without a chemical in sight.

We’ve put together the best natural remedies with instructions on how to get rid of bed bugs, cockroaches, mice, ants, and fruit flies. And once you’ve rid your house of these annoying animals, there are tips and tricks on how to stop them returning.

So read on to learn how to get rid of pests from your household using natural home remedies.

Bed bugs

Usually transferred from person to person on clothing or by human contact, these nasty little critters survive on blood (hence the horrible red, itchy bites they give us). They can also survive for months without food, so won’t die off of their own accord. You need to be proactive here!

How to get rid of bed bugs:

  1. Wash all your linens – bed sheets, pillows, curtains, everything! – on a hot cycle, then dry on the hottest setting of your machine for at least 30 minutes. Make sure your linens can handle this beforehand by checking the labels. Cotton is fine in the high heat but more delicate fabrics might not fare so well.

  2. If the infestation is heavy, you’ll need to buy a new mattress. Be sure to wrap the old one tightly in plenty of plastic before disposing of it, so as not to spread the bugs around. If there aren’t too many bed bugs to get rid of, scrub your mattress with a stiff brush and then vacuum before covering with the newly-washed sheets.

How to prevent bed bugs returning:

Stop this plague from coming back by mixing essential oils (try clove, cinnamon, tea tree, or lavender) with equal parts water. Spray this everywhere to deter the pests – from furniture to beds to curtains. As a bonus, this will leave your home smelling amazing.

bed sheets bed bugs

Cockroaches

These bugs will supposedly be one of the only living things to survive the apocalypse, probably due to the fact that they can go so long without food. They’re attracted by food and will eat literally anything – even cardboard. And they’re especially big fans of warm, dark, damp environments.

How to get rid of cockroaches:

  1. Make a natural cockroach killer using three parts boric acid (or borax) and one part icing sugar. The icing sugar works as cockroach bait while the borax kills them. Sprinkle this mixture along the edges of cupboards and in any dark places the cockroaches might like to hide. Boric acid isn’t toxic to people or pets but it can irritate skin and eyes, so use gloves when making this mixture.

  2. Trap and kill cockroaches with a simple, natural trap. Put a few centimetres of water in a jar and add a little oil. Then place a piece of fruit in this jar to attract the roaches, and leave it somewhere the pests like to hang out. The cockroaches will climb in but not out, and will eventually drown.
  3. How to prevent cockroaches returning:

    1. Deep clean your home. Cockroaches can live even on tiny crumbs of food, so be sure to clean everywhere thoroughly. Pay special attention to dark areas that usually get overlooked when cleaning (underneath furniture, inside cupboards, behind appliances, etc.). Of course if you can’t find the time to do this, we can match you with a cleaner to take care of the cleaning for you.

    2. Seal up any cracks and holes, especially ones leading outside. The roaches have to get in somehow! Seal them up with a tube of caulk. If you’re not confident doing this, try calling a handyman to help out.

    3. Remove sources of food and water. Although they can survive for a long time without food, cockroaches won’t last without water. So make sure to check for any leaking pipes or taps, or any leaks in your appliances such as your washing machine or dishwasher. To remove food sources, be sure to store all food in your cupboards in airtight containers, and all perishable food in the fridge. To clean up little spills and crumbs that could attract cockroaches, it’s wise to thoroughly disinfect your surfaces and floors at least once a week.

    white-mouse-pest

    Mice

    Though fairly cute as far as pests go, mice spread bacteria through their urine and droppings. Not to mention that they eat your food!

    How to get rid of mice:

    1. The best way to get rid of a mice infestation from your home is to use humane traps. Avoid sticky and snap traps as these cause a very slow and painful death for the mice. Mouse traps that catch mice in small cages work well, allowing you to release the mice outside afterwards – far away from your home.

    2. When it comes to catching mice, speed is key. The longer you wait, the more time they have to breed. Set plenty of traps to catch as many as possible in one go, until there are no more left to catch.

    How to prevent mice returning:

    1. As strange as it may sound, use aluminium foil to deter mice. Any surfaces you’ve found evidence of mice activity on, cover them with foil overnight. This will deter the mice from getting their paws on your worktops. You can also block up any gaps with foil to stop the mice getting inside in the first place. Mice are not keen on chewing through this highly unnatural-seeming material, and will eventually give up on trying to take advantage of your cosy home.

    2. Try filling gaps with copper wool if the foil doesn’t do its job. Copper wool doesn’t rust over time unlike steel wool, and is more difficult for mice to chew through or pull out. Use a narrow implement (the handle of a wooden spoon or a pencil would work) to stuff the copper wool in tightly, using several layers if the gap is large.

    3. Strong smells can deter mice from coming into and staying in your home.
      – Traditionally, peppermint is the scent of choice when it comes to these rodents. To deter them from nesting near your home, try growing mint plants in your garden or windowsill (though if you don’t want a garden overrun by mint, it’s best to grow it in pots!). The strong scent puts mice off and will keep them further away from your home.


      – Inside your abode, use peppermint oil dropped on cotton wool balls and place these around your home. Use plenty of peppermint oil on each piece to make the scent strong, at least 10 drops. Important tip: make sure to place the cotton balls not only in places you’ve seen the mice inside, but also places you think they might be entering your house. It’s all well and good deterring them from nesting in your wardrobe, but it’s much better to stop them from coming inside in the first place. Be sure to refresh these cotton wool balls at least once a month.


      – Use clove oil on cotton wool balls in the same way. If you can’t find clove oil, wrap whole cloves in scraps of old cotton t-shirt and place them around your home. The scent isn’t quite as strong, but can still act as a deterrent to mice.
      – The scent of dryer sheets is also off-putting to mice. Line the bottom of your cupboards with these sheets, or squeeze them into gaps between walls and appliances. You can also try lining the bottom of your trash bin with them, which will simultaneously make your bin smell fresher and put mice off trying to explore it.


    4. peppermint-natural-mouse-deterrent

    5. Create a mice deterrent spray using chilis. We all know how much chili burns our mouths (and our eyes if we’re unlucky enough to get it there!), and has the same effect on those furry pests. Use the hottest chilis you can find – habanero peppers are some of the hottest you can find in the supermarket, and are around 100 times hotter than jalapenos. Ouch! Wear gloves when making this mixture, and goggles are advisable.


      – Put half a cup of habanero peppers and two tablespoons of hot pepper flakes in a blender and blend until roughly chopped.
      – Place the chili mix in a very large bucket, and carefully pour over four litres of boiling water. Cover this mixture and let it sit for a day.
      – Strain the peppers out of the mixture using cheesecloth, pouring into another large bucket.
      Then fill a spray bottle with the liquid and get spraying! It’s best used outside the house to deter mice from entering at all. If you want to use it inside, don’t spray it on carpets or fabric as it may discolour them. Test a small area first to be sure. If using inside, wipe up the old spray after a few days and reapply. You can keep this liquid covered and out of sunlight for a few months.

    6. Seal all food tightly in non-cardboard containers. This will reduce any food sources attracting the mice. Don’t just seal up food for your consumption, but also animal food. Any seed or grain you might keep for birds, for example, also needs to be sealed up. Mice will eat almost anything!

    Ants

    The universal annoyance, most of us have experienced an ant infestation at least once in our lives. Attracted particularly to anything sweet, ants can destroy your food as they invade your home.

    How to get rid of ants

    Use the same recipe for ant killer as for cockroaches. Mix boric acid or borax with some icing sugar. The icing sugar will attract the ants while the boric acid will be transported back to their nest and kill them off.

    How to prevent ants returning

    1. Smear petroleum jelly on any places you think the ants are entering your home to deter them. But be careful not to do this on carpets or fabric, as petroleum jelly is notoriously difficult to wash out!

    2. Repel ants by sprinkling ground cloves, coffee grounds, paprika, cinnamon, or dried and ground peppermint in places you’ve noticed an infestation. The strong scent will deter the creepy crawlies.

    Fruit flies

    Those tiny little buzzing bothers may only live for a week, but can lay up to 500 eggs each during their short life. So it’s best to get rid of them as soon as you notice them in your home.

    How to get rid of fruit flies

    1. Mix a couple of centimetres of vinegar with some dish soap in a bowl. The flies will be attracted to the vinegar, while the dish soap cuts the surface tension. They’ll be caught in the mixture and drown, leaving your home fly-free.

    2. Put a little apple cider vinegar, red wine, or beer in the bottom of a bowl or jar, and cover it with cling film. Poke a few small holes in the cling film so that the flies can get to their bait. They’ll fly in but never back out, leaving them in the jar rather than on your food.

    Fruit-Flies-9-1024x681

    How to prevent fruit flies returning

    1. Keep some rue (a leafy green herb) next to your fruit bowl. The scent repels fruit flies very effectively.

    2. Make sure to store any leftovers as quickly as possible. Cool leftover food in a thin layer and quickly cover with cling film or in an airtight container. The fewer attractions there are in your home, the fewer reasons the flies have to be there.

    3. Keep your home clean, especially bins and towels. The smell of bins attracts the flies, so empty them every couple of days and clean them once a week. Just some simple dish soap and hot water, or a natural mix of lemon juice and water, will do the trick. Change towels regularly, as the dampness makes them the perfect place for the flies to lay their eggs. Every few days is best.
      Using these tips and tricks, you can enjoy a pest-free home without having to use harsh chemicals. Not only safer for your family and better for the environment, but can save you some money in the process.

    So kick out those critters and reclaim your home! No need for chemicals or expensive solutions. Keep your home pest-free the natural way, and save the environment (and a few bucks) in the process.

British Natalie lives in Berlin, but is a Parisian at heart. Her love of all things clean and organised means she's always got a useful tip or two up her sleeve.

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