House spiders: how to get rid of spiders humanely

House spiders make a return to our homes at this time of year. So, what can you do to get rid of spiders – without killing them?

House spiders: how to get rid of spiders
(Image credit: CBCK-Christine/Getty)

House spiders tend to wander into people's home as the weather cools, and there's less for them to eat outside. While many spider species are content to stay outdoors in their finely woven webs, some prefer the warmth and darkness of cupboards, closets, and dark corners.

If spiders make your skin crawl, you're probably not keen on sharing your home with them, and will want to be rid. We'll say outright, though, that we don't think it's necessary to kill them. The vast majority of spider species are not harmful to humans in any way, and even the ones that are tend not to attack humans unless provoked. If you live in an area that does have poisonous spiders (more on that below), and you're seeing more of them than usual, it may be time to call pest control rather than attempting to tackle the problem yourself. 

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Which house spiders are poisonous? 

The short answer is: all spiders are venomous. The longer (and far less terrifying) answer is that the vast majority of spider species either won't bite humans, or will only do so if threatened or picked up. 

In the UK, three spider species can deliver a painful bite: the false black widow, the cellar spider, and the woodlouse spider. All three species tend to be shy and like woodpiles, dark attics and cupboards, or cracks in walls. In other words, you're very unlikely to be harmed by them, but if you do find one, handle with caution, wearing thick gloves. 

In the US, three spider species are dangerous: the black widow, the brown recluse, and the hobo spider. These will deliver a very painful, dangerous bite that can, in some cases, be lethal, so you must seek medical attention immediately if you've been bitten by one of these spider species. All three tend to prefer living in piles of wood, cluttered attics, underneath patio furniture, and, occasionally, inside shoes. Do not attempt to handle these spiders, and call pest control if you have lots of them.  

How to get rid of house spiders

Getting rid of house spiders is usually simple: it's all about creating an inhospitable environment for them. Spiders don't like to be disturbed and thrive in cluttered, dark areas in your house. The cleaner your home is, and the less clutter it has, the fewer spiders you will have, and that's a fact. If you really can't bear them, there are things you can do to discourage them further. 

1. Keep your home very clean

Spiders like dusty corners and places that haven't been touched in a while. They're often found in dark cupboards and inside shoes (eek!). So, make sure you give everything a good shake-out at least once a month, put cedar shoe trees inside your shoes, and vacuum lots (with one of our best vacuum cleaners, of course). Ditto in the bathroom – the more often your bathroom is cleaned, the fewer spiders there'll be in it. Remember to clean the air ducts in your bathroom, too. 

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2. Spiders and conkers: fact or myth?

Sadly, it's a myth: there's no scientific evidence to prove that conkers or chestnuts repel spiders. They look nice as an autumnal decoration, though, so why not give them a go, just in case?

3. Essential oils that repel spiders

Spiders hate the smell of many essential oils – which is great, given that many people like them. Peppermint oil does wonders at repelling them (as well as mice, slugs, and other critters), so you can try soaking cotton balls in the stuff and placing them strategically in places where spiders have been seen. You can also try citronella, lavender, eucalyptus, or a blend of all three. 

4. Get rid of other insects

Spiders wander into your home partly in search of a mate, but partly for the same reasons you're there: domestic comforts such as warmth and food. And what do spiders like to eat? Insects. So, get rid of fruit flies, lady birds (you may have to vacuum them up, unfortunately), and any other bugs that have taken up residence in your house. 

5. Physically remove spiders from your home

This is a simple but effective solution: trap the spider under a jar or glass, and take it outside, away from the house. If you're afraid of being bitten, or simply can't bear getting close to a spider, use a spider catcher: it won't harm the spider, but will allow you to keep it at arm's length. 

6. Leave them be – they're only spiders

This may sound insensitive to those who really loathe them (sorry, people) – but unless you have a serious infestation (which is unlikely, because spiders tend to be solitary), you are unlikely to be disturbed by spiders in any way. That thing you heard about swallowing spiders at night? It's a myth. So, we say – forget about them, they'll do you no harm. 

Having said that, if you are in the US and are regularly visited by the highly dangerous spider species such as the black widow, it's time to call in professionals. They'll be able to identify where the spiders are coming from and decide how best to deal with them. 

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