Finding a pest in your pantry can really ruin your day, not to mention cut into your budget. Although pests seem to find their way into pantries all year long, small rodents and certain insects invade more frequently when the cold weather hits. With winter right around the corner, here is a quick guide on how to pest proof your pantry this season.
1. Clean Everything
The first step in preventing pests from invading your pantry is to clean up any spilled food. Pests are attracted to spilled food and leftovers. Cleaning the pantry before the cold weather hits will help eliminate these food sources. Start by clearing the shelves and vacuuming crumbs and other debris. Make sure you get every corner and crevice. Then clean the shelves with soapy water or a mixture of vinegar. Allow the pantry to dry before re-stocking the food items.
2. Clear Floor Space
Storing food on the pantry floor, or any floor in the kitchen for that matter, is never recommended. In the pantry, the first shelf should be 18 inches high at a minimum. If you have food items on the floor, relocate them to an empty shelf. If you do not have any empty spaces on the shelf, consider purchasing an airtight container to store the food inside. This rule applies to pet food as well.
3. Check Food Regularly
Outdated food can attract a variety of pests to your pantry. You should get rid of any food that is outdated, including fruit that is overripe. Fruit flies are known to congregate around overripe fruits, such as bananas, and it does not take long before you get a swarm. After you throw away the fruit, make sure it does not linger in the trash too long. The trash can is another entry point for pests to gain a foothold in your kitchen.
4. Seal Gaps
Rodents can fit themselves into smaller spaces than you could imagine. Even the smallest gaps in your pantry wall can be an opening for mice or insects. The best way to keep them from infiltrating cabinets and walls is to make sure everything is locked up tight. Take a look inside your pantry and make note of any cracks or gaps where rodents might squeeze inside. Seal these holes with caulking to prevent any future break-ins.
5. Invest In Storage Containers
Storing food in airtight containers is one of the best ways to deter pests. You can choose plastic or glass containers, though the latter is a better choice when it comes to pests that chew. Mice have been known to chew right through plastic, though these types of containers are usually a safe bet for most homes. Although glass is more expensive than plastic, rodents will not be able to chew through the material, no matter how bad they want it.
6. Install Traps
Traps are a great way to catch pantry pests before they make of mess of things. You can find all kinds of traps at your local hardware store, including ones for fruit flies, mice, and cockroaches. Not only are traps a good way to eliminate unwanted invaders, but they can also inform you about the kind of pests that are lurking in your pantry. Just remember to check the traps on a regular basis to prevent any potential health hazards. If you do not want to kill the pests, there are more humane traps that catch and release.
7. Use Scents
Scents are a great alternative to setting traps. Certain smells act as a repellant and discourage the pests from taking residence in the pantry. Bugs, for instance, cannot stand dried bay leaves. Hiding a few of these leaves in each corner of the pantry can help keep the bugs away. Mint leaves and peppermint are also great deterrents for mice and other small rodents. With peppermint, simply mix together some vinegar, water, and a drop or two of peppermint essential oil. Wipe down pantry surfaces with this mixture every so often to keep mice away.