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Pest Patrol: Use Natural Products to Rid Your Home of Bugs

Every summer I dread the humid weather, the hot temperatures, and most of all, the pests that seem to beeline across every floor in the house.  I could call a professional to spray in and around my home, but the costs can quickly add up to hundreds a year. Instead, I like to use homemade solutions to stop the annoying little raiders:

Inside the House

Baby powder creates an ant barrier around the house. The fragrance also causes ants to lose track of their scent trail back to the colony. Sprinkle a generous amount of the baby powder around the baseboards of problem rooms and pay special attention to vents, doorways, and windowsills. Bonus: carpets smell fresher. Here’s a Johnson’s coupon to pick up some powder on the cheap.

Vinegar has many uses. Its acidic nature makes it a natural insect repellent. I rinse a washcloth with water and pour a small splash of vinegar in the middle. Any surface where I have seen insects get thoroughly wiped down: mainly kitchen floors, counters, and the base of the refrigerator. This method works best against ants and flies.

Hedge Apples, a common fruit found in forests and parks on the Osage Orange tree each fall, contain an extract called elemol which is known to repel insects. I place them in the garage, basement, and kitchen. The lifespan is about three months, but they work wonders against ants and spiders trying to find a way inside.

Iodized Salt will become your best friend in the fight against silverfish. Pour lines along the floor where you see the intruders and against any holes or cracks that could be entry points. As the silverfish crawl through the salt, the water inside their bodies diffuses outside, causing them to shrivel up and die. Walgreens often sells their 26 oz. container of salt for only $.50 after in-store coupon, but the regular price of $.99 isn’t bad either.

Old Fashioned Cleaning: Dirty kitchens attract ants and roaches and keep them coming back year and after year. When a pest problem arises in a specific room, remove all of the furniture (if possible) and scrub the floors with hot water and soap. Get every nook and cranny. Pull out the refrigerator and stove. Vacuum at least weekly. Focus attention on the laundry room too.

Newspaper and Rubbing Alcohol: Aside from hiring a 24/7 bug patrol, you can turn to natural repellents to keep the ants and other creepy crawlies from the kitchen. I soak old sections of newspaper in a little water and rubbing alcohol and place crumpled pieces on windowsills, in room corners, and on higher surfaces. The cold, wet paper balls will attract ants, earwigs, silverfish, and spiders and dries them out so they die.

Outside The House

Spices: Many gardens actually attract insects due to the odor and oils found in different flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Sprinkle garlic powder, black pepper, or chili powder around the house and in the garden to cover the scent of these plants while repelling most insects. Cuter pests, like rabbits and deer, will also want to stay away from such strong and unpleasant odors.

Vinegar, Again: This old standby works well for earwig infestations. I mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spritz the base of the house, making sure to include windows and garden areas near the house. The vinegar mixture should be applied biweekly and after each rainfall.

Witch Hazel: Is a natural astringent that keeps bugs at bay in the yard. When vinegar just isn’t doing the trick, I combine equal parts water and witch hazel in a bottle and spray the areas where I see aphids, ants, and earwigs. Be on the lookout for “try me free” rebate stickers I’ve seen on T.N. Dickinson’s witch hazel bottles this year, good through 2013.

Mint: Plants from the mint family, such as peppermint, catnip, and lemongrass have potent oils that repel insects, making them perfect additions to gardens and kitchen windowsills. Pick up starts for these plants for just a few dollars at local greenhouses or pet stores for catnip. Arrange plants in the garden so that each side has a minty plant guard.

Vegetable Oil: Earwigs are a common problem in my neighborhood, usually a result of new plants and mulch in the garden. I fill empty yogurt or butter containers with a thin layer of inexpensive vegetable oil. The scent attracts earwigs and the oil prevents them from escaping. Mwahaha!

Good Old Soap: A simple soap and water mixtures help to alleviate pests from the yard. I like to use Green Works dish soap and stock up whenever Target has really great sales. After boiling some water, squirt in a few tablespoons of soap and quickly spray the suds on the garden plants and around the outside of the house. Not only will the soap help to keep everything clean, but insects won’t want to hang around a cleaner that breaks down their bodies.

A Caution

Be careful when using commercial bug killers and repellants around the house, as they are dangerous for pets and children. Diatomaceous earth, while being a natural insecticide, can be lethal if inhaled, and is more expensive than other methods mentioned above.

 This has been a guest post by Caitlyn from Davenport, IA
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!

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18 thoughts on “Pest Patrol: Use Natural Products to Rid Your Home of Bugs”

  1. Anonymous says:

    If you have a slug problem, you can fill an empty butter container with an inch or beer.  They love the smell, but can’t get back out.

  2. HELP, Please!!!!!!   Do you, KCL or anyone else know how to get rid of those teeny, tiny crazy ants?  We’ve lived in our house over 13 years and we’ve never had to hire anyone to come in and spray because we keep a clean house and never had a bug issue…but 3-4 months ago we noticed these little irritating ants in our bathrooms, then the kitchen, then our laundry room and hallway….they walk around the top of the wall where it meets the ceiling (and then some walk down the trim or just keep pacing at the top)  or they are around the sinks…last week they got into my sugar container and some cereals (that were in what I thought were sealed containers)….I don’t want to have to spend $$$$ to have pest control come out but I’m at my wits end.  We don’t have a ton of them (usually we only see a few at a time) but once they got into food that freaked me out.  Ace Hardware said to get Terro, which they didn’t touch.   Can anyone help?  Many Thanks!!!!!

    • Vicky Coble says:

       Windex is great at killing ants.  I spray the ants directly to kill them, but then I also spray around the doorways, windowsills, etc.  Another thing that works well is ant killer in a syringe tube.  I found it at walmart.  I put little pea-sized drops in cracks, windowsills, behind appliances, under sinks, anywhere the kids and pets can’t reach and it keeps the ants from coming in the house as well.

  3. Cheryl says:

    I haven’t used commercial cleaners in yrs! I am now phasing out Eco-Friendly cleaners (method, seventh gen and green works), using more vinegar, baking soda and borax to clean with! I have saved wipe containers and washed them out, I use paper towels with vinegar to wipe down my bathrooms everyday. Also keep the wipes in kitchen. They work great on cleaning bathroom mirrors! I also have a spray bottle with plain vinegar in it to clean my kitchen, works great on tile floors and I do not mind the smell!
    I also am fortunate to have a Dyson vacuum, so I vacuum 3x a week. I have cats and I live in an apartment, who knows what lurks deep in the carpets…besides i never have to set aside 1 day to clean apartment now! I spray my tub/ shower after every use and every other day wipe it down with my wash cloth before I get out. Whenever I cook, I wipe down kitchen..I dunno my husband says I have OCD with cleaning..but it works for me!

  4. Cathy says:

    I love all these “tips” articles & want to print them to use when needed.  This may sound crazy, but when I try to print them the print is so small I can’t read it.  Any suggestions to someone very unknowledgable on a computer?  Thanks!

  5. Misspynk42 says:

    Awesome article!

  6. Michael says:

    Just wanted to clarify about using Diatomaceous Earth, there are two different kinds, one that is Food Grade and not lethal, and another primarily used in Pool filtration that has has been chemically treated and heated making the silica crystalline which is the dangerous ingredient for ingestion and inhaling.  Food Grade DE has less than 3% crystalline silica and are primarily Amorphous Silica which is harmless to humans.  I would never buy the DE used for pool filtration if using it for home pest control, just get the Food Grade. Yes its all expensive, but is very effective and lasts a long time once applied.

  7. Drfaljumairi says:

    What a great article, thanks for the tips. I live in a first floor apartment and my house in summer time is overflowing with ants, the one that bites!!!!! Ouch, they bit my 15 month toddler yesterday!! 2 years ago I tried the natural way as recommended above it worked perfectly in the beginning but after few days the ants came back. Last year I tried raid ant bait ( the black small containers). The things about them is that they have to be close to the colony. In 2 weeks all of the ants were gone !!! This year I could not use them, because the colony is right under my toddler high chair!!!!!! any tips people ???

    • guest says:

      Have you tried calling your property management. A lot of times they will treat for big problems. Especially if you have attempted to get rid of them and they are still there.

  8. Anonymous says:

    i am soooo tired of the silverfish in the bathroom.  awesome idea!  and CHEAP!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m definitely going to be trying a few of these out tonight. Thanks!

    • That makes me so glad!

    • Kristinag says:

       So am I!! Thank you for this article, it’s a big help!! Does anyone have any good ideas to get rid of Honeybees? They are becoming a problem!!!

      • Don’t kill the honeybees! They are disappearing! You may need someone who specializes in bees to help you with this. The disappearance of honeybees is a big deal (Google it for more info) as they are important in the food chain and eco-system. 

      • Coupon Queen says:

        Yes, please don’t kill the bees…get a local beekeeper to help you out. Just google for your area.

      • Natalie says:

        Often the beekeepers will come take them away for free. They do in my area.

      • Poolside1 says:

        Please, please don’t harm the honeybees!! They are dissapearing by millions!!! With all the pesticides people are using to controll bugs with their landscape or their gardens, this has become a VERY big problem!! Along with the mosquito truck and the mosquito plane, I haven’t seen lighting bug in 3 1/2 years.