One guest most homeowners are not happy to host is a pest. If unwanted pests take up residence in your home, try these natural, DIY solutions for getting rid of insect infestations of all types. From cockroaches and ants to silverfish and carpenter bees, here are homemade methods to get rid of pests and solutions to prevent them from coming back.
DIY pest control: how to get rid of roaches
Make homemade insecticide—Mix together borax and sugar in equal parts. You’ll want to avoid inhaling the mixture, so wear a face mask at all times. Apply the powder along baseboards, in cracks, and under sinks. When roaches ingest the mixture, the borax damages their digestive system and outer skeleton, ultimately killing them. Boric acid is often found in commercial pest control solutions, but this method is less expensive. Since borax is slightly toxic, keep the mixture away from children, pets, and food prep areas, baiting only areas that your family or pets won’t come into contact with.
Use coffee grounds—Trap roaches by filling a jar with one cup of water and two tablespoons of dry coffee grounds. Line the edge of the jar with petroleum jelly. Roaches will climb in to get the coffee grounds but will be unable to climb back over.
How to prevent a cockroach infestation
Roaches hate the smell of essential oils. Make a preventative spray with ½ cup of water and 8 drops of citrus or peppermint oil. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and target dark, moist areas of your home, like your basement baseboards and bathroom floors.
Clean all dishes after meals, seal food in containers, and wipe down kitchen counters.
Leaky faucets will attract roaches, so check your plumbing system and fix leaks as soon as possible.
Check your home for cracks in door frames, windows, countertops, and walls. If you find any holes, seal them with caulk.
Attract ants with boric acid—Boric acid is a slow-acting poison and an effective ingredient in ant bait. You can purchase boric acid at your local pharmacy. Create a mixture of one part corn syrup and one part boric acid. Spread this mixture on a piece of paper and wait for ants to eat it. Keep boric acid away from children, pets, and food prep areas.
Mix together baking soda and sugar—Make a mixture of three parts baking soda and seven parts sugar. This solution will react in an ant’s digestive system and kill it. Leave the mixture in small containers for ants to eat and take back to their nests.
Use food-grade diatomaceous earth—While non-toxic to humans and pets, food-grade diatomaceous earth is extremely poisonous to ants and will dehydrate and kill them. Sprinkle this powder anywhere you see visible ant trails. Only use food-grade diatomaceous earth, as other forms are poisonous to humans and other animals.
Use essential oils—Mix a few drops of peppermint, tea tree, or clove oil with water. Put this solution in a spray bottle and target visible ant trails around your home.
How to prevent an ant infestation
Clean up after meals (wash dishes right away, wipe down counters, and take out the trash) and seal all leftover food in containers.
Don’t leave out pet food, as this may attract ants.
DIY pest control: how to get rid of flies and fruit flies
Make homemade fly traps—Cut a paper grocery bag into strips. Boil ¼ cup of sugar, ¼ cup of honey, and 2 tablespoon of water in a small pot. Using a fine paint brush, coat the strips of paper in the mixture and hang the strips from your ceiling to attract and catch flies. Throw away the strips after a couple of days.
Set out wine or vinegar—If you’re dealing with fruit flies, pour one tablespoon of red wine or vinegar into a small bowl and add some sliced fruit. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and poke holes in the top with a toothpick. Flies will flock to the mixture and won’t be able to escape. Throw away the contents of the trap after the flies have been caught.
Use essential oils—Thyme, clove, geranium, basil, lavender, lemongrass, and peppermint repel flies. Mix a few drops of one of these essential oils with water and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray the mixture around your kitchen and living room, and anywhere else flies are visible.
How to prevent a fly infestation
If your windows or doors don’t have screens, keep them closed at all times.
Fruit flies will be attracted to open trash, so bag food waste before throwing it away and invest in a trash can with a lid.
Clean your sheets—Wash all bedding and pillows in hot water and run them through the dryer on high heat.
Vacuum floors and furniture—Bed bugs can hide in small cracks and crevices, like along floorboards or within headboards. Use a regular-sized vacuum to clean floors and a handheld vacuum to clean along mattress seams and headboards.
Steam clean clothing—If you find bed bugs in your bed, steam clean any clothing close to the bed to remove any bed bugs hiding in your clothes.
Make a homemade bed bug solution—Mix one part water and one part lavender or tea tree oil and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray the affected area to kill lingering bed bugs.
How to prevent a bed bug infestation
Inspect second-hand furniture for signs of bed bugs, like reddish-brown fecal stains, discarded skins, or bed bugs themselves. Remember to never take furniture from the curb, especially wooden or upholstered furniture and picture frames that typically have bed bugs lurking within them.
Use a protective mattress cover to eliminate bed bug hiding spots.
Reduce clutter in your home and vacuum frequently to prevent bed bugs from nesting.
DIY pest control: how to get rid of moths
Vacuum all shelves in the pantry—If moths are in your pantry, vacuum the shelves with a hand-held vacuum and get deep into cracks where eggs and larvae could be hiding. Immediately throw away the contents of the vacuum outside.
Get rid of affected food—Look for moths in and on food packaging and for larvae on spice jars, unopened packages, and sealed containers. Grain-based products like flour, cereal, pasta, and baking mixes are a moth favorite. Toss any infested foods you find.
Use a vinegar solution—Use a clean towel and mixture composed of one part vinegar and one part water to wipe down all shelves, jars, and containers.
Tend to your clothes—If you find moths in your clothes, iron them and put them in the freezer to kill moths, eggs, and larvae.
Hang herbs—Place strong-smelling dried herbs, like lavender or mint, in your pantry or closet.
Hang wool clothing on cedar hangers—Cedar has been known to be an excellent moth repellent.
How to prevent a moth infestation
Keep food in your pantry stored in airtight containers.
Don’t put dirty clothes back in your closet or leave them lying around—moths lay eggs in dirty clothing.
Clean up messes right away. Lingering crumbs and spills are more likely to attract moths.
Make a natural spider repellent—Kill spiders with a solution composed of one part water mixed with a few drops of lavender, citronella, cinnamon, citrus, peppermint, or tea tree oil. Spray this solution on a spider and wipe up the remnants with a paper towel.
Lay out homemade traps—Mix one part water and one part corn syrup in a pot and bring the solution to a boil. After letting it cool, spread the mixture on index cards and place them around your home. Spiders will become stuck on a trap and die. Once you’ve caught a spider, throw the trap away.
Spread cedar chips around your home—Much like citrus or peppermint, cedar is often used as a spider repellent. Sprinkle cedar chips on your lawn or in your garden to repel outdoor spiders. For indoor spiders, place cedar chips on window sills, along doorways, and in closets.
How to prevent a spider infestation
While spiders aren’t attracted to light, many of the insects they feast on are. Leave your porch lights off.
Create a homemade termite repellent—One of the easiest forms of DIY pest control is making a homemade solution to get rid of termites. Mix one part borax with one part water and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray the liquid over an affected area to kill a termite colony.
Use orange essential oils—Mix a few drops of orange oil with water and spray the walls in your basement, attic, and bathrooms.
Purchase nematodes—Beneficial nematodes are naturally-occurring microscopic roundworms that will eat termites. You can purchase them at a gardening or farm supply store.
How to prevent a termite infestation
Regularly check for termites by looking for discarded wings or sawdust-like material. Also check for bubbled or cracked paint in walls—this is a sign of a termite hole.
Don’t leave piles of wood outside your home.
Treat your wooden furniture and outdoor decks. Termites prefer untreated wood to treated wood.
Make a boric acid trap—Sprinkle boric acid on a cracker and place the cracker on an index card. Silverfish will die after eating the cracker and ingesting the boric acid. Keep boric acid away from children, pets, and food prep areas at all times.
Dehydrate silverfish with food-grade diatomaceous earth—Place this powdery substance around baseboards or other places you’ve seen silverfish. Diatomaceous earth will stick to their outer shells and dehydrate them. Make sure you get food-grade diatomaceous earth, as this is the safest form to use around children and pets.
Silverfish tend to live in places where they won’t be disturbed, like stacks of old newspapers. Clean up piles of mail, books, or newspapers you have lying around the house.
Since silverfish love damp places, keep the air dry by using a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity in your home.
DIY pest control: how to get rid of fleas
Bathe your pet—Scrub your dog or cat with water and a pet shampoo containing natural insecticides to kill adult fleas. You may also use water mixed with rosemary or lemon peel.
Clean pet materials—Wash pet bedding, sheets, blankets, and pillows with laundry detergent and hot water.
Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth on your carpet—Fleas have an exoskeleton that’ll be cut by the sharp edges of the microscopic diatom causing them to dry out and die. Leave diatomaceous earth in your carpet for several hours, then vacuum the area. Immediately dispose of the vacuum bag.
Make a homemade flea repellent—Mix one part eucalyptus oil and one part water and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray the repellent all over the home, especially in areas that have been affected by fleas (like your living room, pet bed, and carpet). Eucalyptus oil isn’t safe for cats, so use another pet-friendly method, like food-grade diatomaceous earth.
Vacuum often—Fleas multiply quickly and their eggs can live for a long time, even when adult fleas are dead. Vacuum frequently (about once a week) to remove any leftover eggs.
How to prevent a flea infestation
Since fleas like an overgrown yard, keep your lawn trimmed at all times.
Don’t leave pet food outside—the absence of food will discourage wild animals with fleas from entering your yard.