When I was a little girl, my mom didn't believe in pesticides. Because this was three decades ago, what this meant was that I learned to identify nearly every native Texas bug that could fly, crawl, or otherwise gain entry to our home. Shudder. This also means that, each time spring arrives once again, I eagerly begin preparations to make sure the bugs and I have clearly defined boundaries for who belongs where. If you have pets, young children, or an allergic sensitivity to regular pesticides, these all-natural options can keep your home pest-free safely.

Who’s the cost-savings champion? Regular vs. natural pesticides

Not only is taking the all-natural approach to pest control safer, but you’ll quickly discover it’s also much cheaper! Take a look at the average cost range for one professional pesticide treatment for many common pests.

  • Fleas: $150-$300+
  • Ants: $250-$500+ (depending on ant species)
  • Cockroaches: $300+
  • Spiders: $200+
  • Termites: $1,200+
  • Bed bugs: $500-$1,500+
  • Bees & wasps: $250-$500+
  • Dust mites: $200-500+

Now compare this to the cost of buying a few fresh basil or mint plants…a bottle of dish soap…a bag of oranges…a few cinnamon spice sticks…a bottle of cheap cooking wine… or a six-pack of inexpensive beer.

And the winner is…natural pest control!

1. Plant fresh basil

Who doesn't love the gorgeous scent of fresh basil crushed on top of a salad—or a pizza? Apparently, flies don't share humans' enjoyment of basil. There are several options. You can plant fresh basil in window boxes or near doorways. You can also use crushed basil, rubbing it around doorjambs and windows occasionally to keep the scent strong.

2. Embrace citrus

Just as flies flee at the scent of basil, so do spiders speed away upon encountering citrus. So instead of discarding those lemon or lime rinds, squeeze just a bit of fresh juice into some water and add the rinds. Shake. Then spray. You can wipe down countertops, spray walls, even scatter rinds in with mulching near doorways to keep the spiders at bay.

3. Cultivate catnip

Certain seasons bring out that bane of all banes—mosquitos. Not only do they carry a multitude of diseases, but they cause itching discomfort and unsightly bumps that take days to fade. But you can enjoy a mosquito-free spring and summer (and fall!) by rubbing a bit of catnip—or catnip oil—on skin. You can also grow it in window boxes or near doorways to discourage hovering mosquitos from following you indoors.

Note: If you live in the South, this solution can also work on that most pernicious of pests—cockroaches.

4. Scent your home with cinnamon

The smell of cinnamon evokes fresh baked goods, holidays and everything warm and wonderful—but not to dust mites. Mites, which can be found in everything from bedding to houseplants, dislike cinnamon intensely. The easiest way to discourage mites from making your home their home is to add cinnamon oil (5-10 drops should suffice) to a half-and-half solution of water and denatured alcohol (a common, inexpensive cleaning product). Then spray on affected areas and watch the mites relocate.

5. Enjoy some mint

Fresh mint is delicious in everything from lemonade to mojitos. It’s also a natural ant and slug repellant. Just encountering mint—mint plants, mint oil, mint tea bags, crushed mint leaves, or even just mint essence—will redirect them effortlessly.

6. Break out the rosemary

Silverfish are widely regarded as the cockroach's smaller, but no less repellant, cousin. There are several effective natural remedies to combat silverfish, of which rosemary is one of the most effective. This common household spice can be sprinkled into strategically placed sachets along common silverfish pathways. You can also plant fresh rosemary (delicious in breads!) or use rosemary essence or oil diluted in water.

7. Use soap and warm water

Wasps, bees, hornets and other stinging things can’t withstand an encounter with ordinary warm water and dish soap. Fill a spray bottle with very warm water and a few squirts of dish soap, then shake until suds form. Spray the solution at individuals or nests (for nests, do this in the early a.m. or late p.m. when the insects are sluggish and inattentive). The warm water will damp down their wings and the soap will exterminate them.

8. Garlic it up!

Garlic, like other powerful odors, confuses and repels all kinds of insects—indoor and outdoor. You can spray it on plants, use garlic oil dabbed in strategic places, make a garlic sachet, or even place whole or crushed cloves in areas where rodents and insects have been seen.

Note: Because garlic will kill good and not-good pests, use with care.

9. Pour some vino

Fruit flies adore, well, love fruit. Or anything sweet really—they also enjoy burrowing in houseplants and then perform aerial displays in front of your dinner guests. One of the best remedies for fruit flies is a bit of red wine in a dish covered with plastic wrap. Puncture the plastic wrap with a few small holes. Flies will venture in, but won't be able to determine how to get out.

Note: This is a great way to re-use wine that has become undrinkable. If you don't have red wine in the household, white vinegar or cider vinegar will also work well.

10. Pop a brew

Finally, beer is an equally great insect repellant. Slugs and snails find it particularly abhorrent, while roaches and fruit flies can't stay away. Either way, some stale beer, strategically positioned, will get rid of those unpleasant pests. You can use the same technique—pouring some beer into a dish and covering with punctured plastic wrap—or smearing a bit of Vaseline around the edges will work just as well.


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