Prevent Indoor Pests this Summer

rat holding wire plugged into wall

Pests are difficult to handle. They can chew through containers, crawl over and contaminate food, and leave their droppings behind in drawers and pantries. It's true, there's not much that's pleasant about pests. So, here are some tips for preventing summer pests and keeping your home fresh and clean for the duration of the season.

1. The Oldest Trick in the Book: Clean up After All Meals

You've likely known this trick since childhood. Didn't your mother always tell you to make sure you clean up after yourself in the kitchen? Well, this was for good reason: to keep those pesky critters at bay!

Your food smells appealing not only to you, but also to pests looking to make your kitchen their fully-catered home for the summer. Take preventative measures and clean up right away after cooking and eating. Don't tempt fate!

2. Use Your Refrigerator and Freezer More

Hotter temperatures in your kitchen can make food perish a lot quicker than it normally does in moderate temperatures. Be sure to use your refrigerator and freezer a lot more during the warmer months. Not only does this prolong the life of your food, but also it acts as a barrier that keeps the scent of your food out of the open air and keeps pests away.

3. Take Out the Trash Regularly

This is another "mother knows best" concept. If you ever had this chore as a kid, you've hopefully developed a habit of doing this regularly. Allowing your trash to sit in the kitchen and garbage cans will only send out invitations far and wide to pests to come on over and feast.

woman taking out the trash

Bonus: In addition to regularly taking out the trash, you can go the extra mile. Use a trash can with a lid to prevent odors from escaping and enticing bugs and other critters. Also, seal up all containers, such as juice cartons and sauce jars, before tossing them into the trash or recycling bin to further prevent the unnecessary buildup of old food waste on your receptacle.

4. Clean out Your Kitchen Cabinets

Inspect and clean your kitchen cabinets on a regular basis. Many of us are guilty of holding on to boxes of food without realizing they expired several months (sometimes years) prior to their disposal. Cleaning out your cabinets can rid your kitchen of unnecessary clutter and help you inspect for any exposed foods and crumbs, which are a pest's biggest treat. Plus neglecting to clean your kitchen could mean you've got dead bugs and/or feces deep within the clutter—ew! So, this tip is all-around beneficial.

5. Fix Leaky Faucets

Insects and pests, like us, need water to survive. Thus, a leaky faucet can be like finding an oasis on a desert island for them! Prevent the temptation for pest invasion and fix the leaky faucets in your kitchen and bathrooms.

6. Clear Your Drains of Leftover Food

If you have a built-in garbage disposal in your kitchen, be sure to regularly clean out the mechanism of leftover food. No, we don't suggest you dismantle the appliance to clean it (this can be a little hazardous). You can clean out your waste disposal, and all other drains, with ingredients that already live in your kitchen.

using baking soda to clean drain

Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1/2 cup of vinegar. Pour the solution down the drains. Wait five minutes, and then pour in some boiling water down to clean and flush everything out of your drain. This is a simple and effective trick to freshen up even the darkest depths of your home!

7. Go Au Natural with Essential Oils

Essential oils are powerful and effective at keeping bugs out of your home, and they have an added benefit: they smell absolutely fabulous! You can get extra crafty and make your own bug spray to mist throughout your house this summer. All you need to do is combine 2 1/2 teaspoons of essential oil and 1 cup of grain alcohol (vodka will do the trick) into a clean spray bottle.

Here is a list of essential oils you can use to keep certain pests at bay.

Citronella or lemon eucalyptus to scare away mosquitoes.

Geranium to shoo away flies and mosquitoes.

Lavender or lemongrass to keep mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, fleas, and flies away.

Patchouli oil turns away gnats.

Peppermint doesn't smell appealing to spiders and ants.

Rosemary thwarts fleas and ticks.

Tea tree oil to stop mosquitoes and ants in their tracks.

8. Use Peppermint Mints to Turf Out Mice

It can be very distressing if mice have found their way into your home. And of course, it's crucial to get rid of them as quickly as possible. There's a quick, low-cost solution that can be drive the little rodents away... Altoids!

If you have peppermint Altoids on hand, you can forget picking up the phone and calling pest control. Use the peppermint Altoids as a natural mouse repellent, as the little critters cannot tolerate the smell of peppermint and will soon turn to find food and sanctuary in a peppermint-free environment!

9. Spruce Up Your Home with Some Routine Maintenance

Did you know that mice can squeeze through a hole as small as a pencil? Well, you do now! Take the time to seal up any cracks around the home and use glue or caulking to seal any cracks. This can be done by you or a professional, and doing so prevents entrance for a variety of unwanted critters from visiting.