From natural remedies to prevention tactics, find out how to get rid of insects at home using these fail-safe methods.
Creepy crawlies like cockroaches and ants tend to visit us indoors when the temperature drops and they are a real headache when a couple of sightings turns into a full-blown infestation.
Your first go-to might be to call upon the services of your local pest control expert or maybe you're contemplating bringing out the big guns yourself with artificial repellents, sprays or baits - which can not only be poisonous, if not lethal, for pets but can also cause breathing issues and skin irritations for you.
Luckily, there are a number of ways to prevent, discourage and treat bug infestations without spraying toxic chemicals or coughing up for a hefty bill from Rentokil.
"When it comes to any form of insect infestation, you will want to get rid of them as soon as possible. Insects can get into your home through numerous entry points, so preventing them from entering is always a good place to start. Food is usually the prime reason insects invade homes, so storing food properly and securely can solve the problem. Maintaining a clean kitchen will also get rid of insects; you can do this by simply using dishwashing liquid and warm water on surfaces, as well as adding the mixture to a spray bottle to target areas where insects are getting in," explain Alice Shaw-Beckett, Head of Content at Cleanipedia.
Without further ado, we identify a few great ways to rid your home of these little space invaders and keep them firmly in the great outdoors.
- If you're battling with ants, check out our in-depth how to get rid of ants guide.
1. Make your own natural insect repellent spray
You might know a thing or two already about how to get rid of insects at home but have you made your own bug spray yet?
It's pretty simple and you can pretty much spray it in every nook and cranny to repel little nasties - just make sure you check how each ingredient might affect your pets if you have any.
Here's how to make your own critter spray:
- Use essential oils that bugs don't like, such as peppermint, basil, clove, lavender, mint or lemongrass, or create a lovely fragranced blend.
- Mix with water until fragranced to your liking.
- Et voila, spray it around your kitchen and around doorways and windows to make your home smell great and deter those critters from making an entrance. It's a win-win.
- Check out our guide on how to get rid of pests for more handy tips and tricks to control critters great and small.
2. Keep your home clean and tidy
This is an obvious no-brainer but it's still important to explain why you should keep up with your household chores. Bugs of all kinds love dirt and the dirtier the environment the better.
Keeping your home clean and tidy is the best way to keep pests from lurking, especially your kitchen where any crumb or morsel is a potential tempting treat.
- You'll find handy kitchen cleaning hacks in our definitive guide.
3. Keep your eyes peeled for the warning signs
Ok, so, insects have quite the set of skills – flies have ninja-like reflexes, mosquitos can fly, spiders can jump and cockroaches can supposedly survive the apocalypse, but what they can't do is teleport into your home.
The only way you can really defend your space is to stay vigilant and look for the warning signs and potential problem areas to stop the creepy crawlies from coming in in the first place.
- If you've spotted a few ants in your kitchen, it's worth noting that ants send out spies to scope out your space so this could be the first sign to get pest-proofing, before they invite their pals in.
- Another top tip is to look out in your backyard and learn where these critters like to live. For example, standing water is a mosquito's breeding ground, ants and termites like to hang near/in wood and flies love trash.
Keeping your garden in good condition never seemed so important.
- Take a look at our list of the best gardening tools to keep your backyard shipshape.
4. Shut down the bug buffet
When the snacks are away, the party's over - and that goes for pesky pests too.
Make your home as inhospitable as you can by putting all your grub away and store them in sealed containers or back in the refrigerator.
Your fresh fruit display might make a pretty table centerpiece, but insects of all kinds, especially one of the most stubborn, fruit flies, are attracted to them.
Don't forget those pet bowls and litter trays, too – keep them clean and covered when not being used.
5. Drain away any standing water
Wet areas can serve as both a drinking fountain and a breeding ground for bugs.
Dirty dishes in a full sink should be your first go-to but also think about less obvious places like leaky pipes under you kitchen sink or bathroom basin and get a plumber out, stat, to fix this up.
Damp can also be found in basements and attics and a great environment for creepy crawlies to find refuge, especially cockroaches and mosquitoes.
If you find signs of damp in your home, set up a dehumidifier to soak up excessive moisture in the worst hit areas.
- Take a look at the best dehumidifiers in our buyer's guide.
6. Secure your home from the great outdoors
Your job if you choose to accept it is to keep insect invaders outside.
Any area that connects you to the outside can be a trouble spot. Think windows, doors, vents, chimneys and pipes - these are only some of the many spots bugs can creep through.
If you notice any damage to these entry points, repair or replace where necessary, and use mastic or caulk for small cracks and steel wool to fill gaps.
7. Tend to your houseplants regularly
If you are an indoor plant aficionado, at some point you'll probably have to deal with plant pests. It just goes with the territory. They can creep in on new plants, bags of compost, open windows and doors, outdoor plants and fresh produce.
Tiny bugs or mites feed on the leaves, stems and/or roots and houseplants can be more susceptible during their dormant months in the winter, when humidity levels are lower than the warmer seasons.
If you spot pests on your plants, the first thing to do is isolate the plant from others in the home and clean its leaves with an insecticidal soap or mild liquid soap (always spot test first on sensitive plant varieties). Make sure you clean its pot and tray including the bottom.
To make sure these tiny bugs don't make a comeback, try applying neem oil to the plant as a natural insecticide.
- Here are 5 houseplant tips to keep your indoor jungle healthy.
8. Call in the professionals if things get out of hand
So, you've tried everything and you feel like you're fighting a losing battle, swatting and chasing bugs around. We feel your pain.
You've done all you can to keep them at bay but sometimes there's nothing for it but to bring in the pros in the form of the pest control experts if you suspect you've got a bigger infestation on your hands.
For example, if you're getting covered in bites in bed, or you're noticing termite droppings, we recommend having an experienced exterminator on speed dial.