Top Ten Ways to Pest-Proof Your Home Without Using Toxic Chemicals

Spring is almost upon us! According to the Smithsonian Institute, "At any time, it is estimated that there are some 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) individual insects alive." And, according to logic, SOME of those ten quintillion insects are likely to end up in your home. What are some bonafide, non-toxic, tried-and-true methods to keep those critters outside your home and off your kitchen counter? Check out this list to find out!

Top Ten Ways to Pest-Proof Your Home Without Using Toxic Chemicals


1. Repair and/or Seal Openings
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Insects can *definitely* gain access through cracks like these
      It's about to be really nice outside so why not spend some time perambulating the perimeter of your home in search of any sort of opening that pests can use to gain access? Look out for cracks and gaps in brick and cement and consider patching these yourself or hiring somebody to do it for you. The upside? You may be saving yourself heating/cooling costs in the long run, especially if any of these holes prove to be particularly drafty. Better energy efficiency means reduced carbon footprint, too! Also consider adding or repairing screens in windows and adding "sweeps" to the undersides of your exterior doors.

2. Don't spray flies -- make a homemade fly trap
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Sorry, fruit flies!
     Having fruit flies in some of these old Richmond homes seems almost an inevitability during warm spring/summer weather. Instead of spraying tons of toxic chemicals in the air and on the surfaces where you prepare food, why not make your own fly trap?
Three good examples:
a. Add a few drops of dish soap to a shallow glass of apple cider vinegar. Flies will be attracted to the vinegar but that bit of soap will prevent them from extricating themselves from their soapy situation.
b. Got an overripe banana? Make banana bread! OR.. mash it up in a jar and cover that with plastic wrap. Flies will fly in... they will not fly out.
c. Or instead of bananas, use some old red wine in a jar!

3. Repel Ants Naturally
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The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah♫
     Ants use pheromone trails to follow one another to sources of food so why not clean up those "scent trails" not with toxic sprays or solutions but instead with something simple like soapy water or white vinegar? You can even try using spices that deter ants such as turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, mint, and red chili powder. Yum!

4. Move Firewood Away from your Home
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Your stack of firewood -- pop. 1,000,000 ants
     Maybe you have a nice backyard firepit you use in the fall and winter. And maybe you keep some firewood nice and dry on your back porch or otherwise near your house -- well... DON'T! These piles of dry wood are the PERFECT home for any number of insects. The closer this Insect Empire is to your home, the more likely they are to end up next to you when you sit down to dinner.

5. Controversial Suggestion -- LEAVE THE SPIDERS ALONE
Macro Jumping Spider Insect Cute Eyes Spider
You wanna step on me?!
     Why spray or otherwise use toxic chemicals to remove insects and spiders when you could just leave the latter alone and allow them to take care of the former? Is it because you're scare of spider bites? From LiveScience.com: "Most so-called "spider bites" are not actually spider bites, according to researchers and several recent studies. Instead, "spider bites" are more likely to be bites or stings from other arthropods such as fleas, skin reactions to chemicals or infections, said Chris Buddle, an arachnologist at McGill University in Montreal." Spiders in your house? Leave 'em alone and let them dine on the blood of your enemies (pest insects, that is)!

6. Marvel at Mosquito Mitigation
Female aedes albopictus mosquito insect close up detailed macro
Bzz 
Thanks for leaving that backyard kiddie pool filled with stagnant water all summer long! Bzz
     If you have any standing pools of water around the exterior of your home, turn them over -- right now. It's about to be prime mosquito breeding time and you'll be doing yourself and your neighbor a favor by overturning that empty trashbin filling with water or that empty, rusting paint can that screams "Mate in me, mosquitoes!" Won't you be a good neighbor?

7. KEEP. THAT. KITCHEN. CLEAN.
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Prime example of a kitchen that is NOT a "bug buffet"
     After you prepare food wipe all surfaces (including the stovetop) with a wet, soapy sponge and give the kitchen floor a quick sweep. It takes forty-five seconds and could save yourself a world of trouble down the road. If you need a hand getting your kitchen to a good "maintenance point," I hear World Class Cleaning does a HECK of a job tidying up.

8. You keep *your* eating area clean -- what about your pets'?
Obama family pets Bo, left, and Sunny sit at a table in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 10, 2014. The table settings will be used at the State Dinner for President Franois Hollande of France. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Is your pet's dining area as clean and tidy as the Obamas' was?
     We haven't invented a way to get pets to clean up after themselves (yet), so be sure to clean up after them to prevent that pet kibble from attracting ants or even worse... roaches (gasp!).

9. Get Your House DRY
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If this is what it looks like inside your bathroom cabinet, you may have some uninvited guests
     Wet, damp surfaces --especially wooden surfaces-- are the perfect environment for insects to live and breed. Check your pipes and faucets for leaks and get on the road to a DRY home!

10. Try Some of these All-Natural Old School Remedies
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A good example of a tried-and-true classic
     From lifehacker.com: "A mix of peppermint oil and white vinegar is a solid go-to for repelling several pests, especially spiders. But research from Auburn University suggests the mix is good for the peskiest of pests too. To make your own cockroach deterrent spray, Brittney Morgan at Apartment Therapy recommends dropping 10 drops of peppermint oil into a spray bottle willed with two parts water, one part white vinegar. Spritz it around cupboards, under the sink, in the bathroom, and anywhere else that roaches might want to hang out. You can also use straight peppermint oil to wipe down countertops. Not only will it keep pests away, it’ll smell nice too."

As always, consider bringing World Class Cleaning into your home to take care of the bulk of your home cleaning solutions, this will give you plenty of time to put all of these suggestions into practice!