Guide to Keeping Pests Out of Your Kitchen
There are few things as horrifying as seeing a line of ants march across your kitchen countertops or feeling the dread of seeing fruit flies swarming your bananas. Pests can destroy your enjoyment of a good meal faster than almost anything. However, the last thing you want is to use poisons where you prepare food for your family and friends.
The wet spring and summer in most of the United States is spurring on pest infestations this year. While they won't all be kitchen pests, the environment is ripe for more than ever before. Even in drier regions, ants, cockroaches and flies will move indoors in search of food and water. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to remove them quickly and safely.
1. Seal All Food
Pests such as ants, gnats and roaches are attracted by food. One of the first steps you should take when you notice an infestation is sealing all food sources. Put cereal in airtight containers, place open cracker sleeves in a sealed plastic bag and move fruit to the refrigerator.
Even if you don't yet notice any bugs, it's a smart move to seal anything dry in your kitchen and pantry. Pests often start as a small problem and grow into a larger one. Prevent them from taking hold in the first place.
2. Fix Cracks and Openings
If you're having an issue with ants or mice, these creatures are getting into your home from somewhere. Inspect the outside of your house for gaps and cracks in the foundation. Plug up any holes where mice might enter. Track down where ants are marching into formation. Fill any open spaces and remove the easy entrance to your home. Of course, very small pests such as ants will likely find a way inside anyway, but you don't have to make it easy on them.
3. Remove Infested Food
It might seem obvious, but if you notice even one pest in your cereal or flour, remove the food entirely. Where there is one bug, there are almost always more. Getting rid of the food source may also remove much of the temptation to the creatures invading your home. Seal new items the minute you bring them into your home.
4. Call an Exterminator
If the infestation doesn't seem to get better, don't be afraid to call an exterminator for help. A professional can identify the species of bug and give you steps to remove the problem, as well as prevent it in the future. Yes, you will pay for the services, but you'll avoid months of aggravation and living in unsanitary conditions.
5. Use Natural Repellents
There are some natural things you can use that bugs simply don't like. Natural solutions are typically safe for your family and pets and much less costly than commercial solutions for getting rid of pests. Mosquitoes and flies don't like basil, so plant some and hang the dried herb in doorways. Peppermint drives away spiders. Use the same method of planting around the outside of your house or bringing dried peppermint into your home.
You could also try using essential oils. Fleas and moths dislike lavender and cockroaches hate catnip.
6. Sweep and Mop Regularly
Invaders such as ants are known as spilled food pests. They love to find debris and feast on it. Sweep and mop your floor regularly to keep food pieces to a minimum and remove the temptation for them to enter your home. Mop up spills the minute they occur and clean out cupboards and drawers regularly. The cleaner your kitchen is, the less chance these pests will find something to survive on.
7. Eat Your Fruits
Eating plenty of produce is healthy for you, so many people leave a fruit basket out on the table or counter. The problem arrives when you don't eat your fruit quickly enough and it begins to decay. Rotting fruit is nirvana to fruit flies, who will enter your home and lay eggs so fast you'll have dozens of them before you know it. Remove any spoiled produce and put out a small amount of red wine in a tall glass to trap the flies already in your kitchen.
Be the Food Police
Since food is the top culprit that attracts kitchen pests, make sure everyone eats in designated areas, cleans up after themselves and puts everything away in the refrigerator or a sealed container. Over time, you'll get rid of any pest problems you have and avoid finding new ones.
Guest Contributor, Holly Welles
Holly Welles is a home improvement writer who believes anyone can make the most of their space. You can find more of her work on her blog, The Estate Update.