Pests are a problem that many homeowners have to deal with. Be it ants, fleas, cockroaches, rats or mosquitoes, pests can invade your home no matter how tidy you are. Considering that just because your home is spotless, it doesn’t mean that your neighbor’s home is the same. So we thought that we should do an article on pest control tips for homeowners. But not just any pest control tips, do-it-yourself pest control tips, since there are a lot of things you yourself can do to both prevent a pest infestation in the first place and to get rid of the pests that have already invaded your home.
And what better way to do that than to ask pest control experts to share their top DIY pest control tips? After all, they are the people who have the education and the experience to tell us how we can make our homes pest-free.
But before we dive into all the great tips that our experts shared with us, I just wanted to remind you the sentiment that Matteo Grader, pest control specialist from Panther Pest Control, shared with us. And that is that you have to understand that “some pests you can get rid of on your own, some you can’t”. Which means that among the following tips there will be some that you can do yourself. And then there will also be some cases where the experts will tell you to seek professional help. So even though the topic of this article is top do-it-yourself pest control tips, when it comes to combating pests, sometimes DIY just won’t cut it.
Now that we have cleared that up, let’s check out what our experts had to say on DIY pest control!
Products aren’t everything in do-it-yourself pest control
One of the main things that is reflected in the advice that our experts dished out is that although there are many different pest control products and methods out there, sometimes simple repairs and preventative measures are the most efficient way to keep the pests away. Because things like sealing all the crack that the pests might use to get into your home, properly storing your food and generally keeping your home and its surrounding areas clean can go a really long way towards ensuring that pests don’t come near your house.
- Repairing your roof;
- Fill in gaps and seal holes in walls;
- Clean your drain and fix cracks near pipes;
- Fix leaky taps so there's no standing water in your home to attract pests.
- Keep your food in tightly closed containers so pests don't have access to it;
- Remove all sources of water from your home;
- Keep tidy and clean your home;
- Have trash cans with lids;
- And of course, you can combine these fixes with some store-bought products against pests, be it lamps, sprays, baits and traps, wool wires, electronic repellents, or any other kinds that you find reliable.
- Door sweeps on all entrance and exit doors and even at the bottom of any garage doors;
- Removal of clutter;
- Uing storage totes instead of cardboard boxes;
- Proper storage of dry foods;
- Mattress protectors on all mattresses and box springs.
Also remember on the exterior of the home to keep shrubs, branches, weeds and grass away from the home and foundation. If you store wood, don’t keep it close to the home. Clear out gutters and don’t allow standing water, these are areas mosquitoes love!“
- Emptying trash containers frequently and keeping trash containers clean both inside and out;
- Keeping full trash bags tied securely and placed in outdoor garbage storage areas;
- Clean outdoor garbage areas to remove debris (food);
- Using tight fitting lids and /or closed dumpsters to store garbage outdoors;
- Emptying sink strainers and running the garbage disposal frequently to prevent food build p in the drain area;
- Washing dishes immediately after meals to prevent pest from consuming food residual on dishes;
- Cleaning food particles and grease from kitchen appliances (toasters, ovens, under stove tops, and refrigerators);
- Storing pet food in re-sealable containers;
- Limiting the amount of time that pet food and water dishes are left out;
- Storing food in plastic snap-lid containers or kept in the refrigerator;
- Vacuuming and sweeping floors and furniture regularly, especially around eating areas such as kitchen and living rooms;
- Cleaning food storage areas and shelves regularly, where pest may be harboring;
- Sealing gaps around plumbing, wall outlets and switch plates to prevent pests from migrating from infested units to others;
- Screening windows and doors;
- Caulking cracks and crevices in and around the property to keep pests from invading from outdoors
- Running water frequently in spare bathrooms, utility tubs and toilets to keep pests from entering through dry drainage areas;
- Scanning grocery items, produce and other packaged food products, which may have been stored in infested locations prior to being purchased, before bringing them indoors or storing them.
- Inspecting children’s book bags and lunch pails on a regular basis to prevent transporting pests from school to home;
- Keeping branches and shrubbery well-trimmed away from the property;
- Removing old tires or other open containers around property that can fill up with water and provide a breeding ground for pest;
- Stacking firewood and lumber away from the house and above ground to eliminate harborage for rodents, spiders, termites, and carpenter ants;
- Pulling soil or mulch back from the foundation of the property to prevent termites and other pests.
- Channeling water from downspouts away from property’s foundation;
- Monitor and reduce automatic sprinkler times to properly reflect the season;
- Paying attention to the maintenance and upkeep of the property’s foundation;
- Insure all vents and covers are in good repair around the foundation.“
- Make sure that you identify the pest or the pest signs, so that the safest and most adequate methods/products are chosen;
- If you have a pest issue, study the pest's behavior to be able to achieve better results with the control methods; Always read the label on any product and use it in a safe manner. Do not underestimate DIY products, they can harm you if misused;
- There are always regulations and law that applies to the general public and products for commercial use, pest control methods and protected species.
- When you visit any kind of shared accommodation (e.g. hotels, hostels, air bnb, etc.) you should not place your luggage on the floor or near the bed, as bed bugs could hitch-hike it, like they always do on purpose, to get a lift;
- It is a good idea to check you luggage very thoroughly, as soon as you get back home. Look for live adult bed bugs around the seems of the luggage bag or suitcase. Hot wash on 60C any clothes that could be washed on such temperature;
- Delicate fabrics, even pillows and duvets could be only inspected thoroughly, as bed bugs cannot penetrate the fabrics. Dry cleaning or tumble-drying is another way to go with delicate fabrics;
- Do not use commercial DIY sprays and smoke bombs for bed bugs, as bed bugs are resistant to the active ingredients in the commercial products. Unfortunately, the active ingredient in commercial insecticides breaks down within 48 hours after application;
- Vacuum cleaning very thoroughly on a regular basis, disposing of the vacuum content in a safe manner afterwards, is far more efficient than using DIY bed bug sprays, which in most cases spread the bed bugs around the property, making the situation worse and complex.“
Don't feed the bugs! Poorly sealed food containers and piles of crumbs provide a feast for pests. Making sure that you thoroughly clean your kitchen can prevent a whole host of pest problems. Leaky pipes or dripping faucets can also attract thirsty pests, so have those fixed quickly.
Mind your landscaping! If you're used to fighting battles against ants or termites, it's time to take a look at your landscaping. Overgrown vegetation makes for a hospitable environment for pests, and shrubs planted close to your siding could be acting as a bridge for pests to find entry to your home.
If cockroaches are taking over your home try to scope out where they're entering from or where they're hiding. Once you can identify where they're coming into your house, you can seal those entry points. Gel baits and bait stations can be extremely effective in poisoning roaches. When a roach eats the gel bait, they'll travel back to their hiding places, die, and be eaten by the other roaches to pass the poison along. This can be effective to a point, but the only way to fully eliminate a roach infestation is to get to the source!
If they're already inside your home, pests like termites, bed bugs, or wildlife should always be left to the professionals. These require specific training and equipment to remove, and trying to do so yourself is not just less effective – it could result in injury or expensive damage to your home.
- Make it a habit to wash and heat-dry your clothes and personal items such as bedsheets, blankets and towels;
- Pay special attention to the kitchen and dining area. Dispose of your rubbish properly and regularly as it can attract hungry pests;
- Make it a habit to keep your house clean;
- Before they come inside, check your pets for fleas. Ince fleas are indoors, they can easily spread.
How to control cockroaches – eliminate food and water sources. Use baking soda, sugar and a bowl. The baking soda is not toxic the same is for boric acid. However, when these two mix together with the cockroach's acid it will cause it to die over time.
How to treat mice – except that you have to again seal and hide all food sources you need to seal all entry points for mice. Create a trap for the mice – the rolling log mousetrap:
1. Take a bucket, drill two holes across each other. You will need to find a wire hanger;
2. Measure what is the length between the two hole you drilled in the bucket, that's how long should be wire hanger be. For the next, you need something like a soda can, or a small plastic bottle (0.250ml). The idea is that it will work as a rolling rod. Drill one hole in the bottom of either the soda can or plastic bottle. Place it so that the wire hanger through the bottle. Make sure that it can spin. Then you need to find something that will work as a ramp for the mouse;
3. Fill the bucket with water, only 1/4 from it all. After that, all you have to do is put some peanut butter and wait for the trap to work.“
- Don't leave food lying around. Ants and roaches will find their way to your kitchen and they will infest your cupboards and make your food their free meal.
- Take out the garbage. The more regularly you do it, the less chance there is some organic leftovers ants and roaches will perceive as an open invite.
- Fix the leakage. This one applies for roaches. They love dark, humid places and they won't hesitate to claim your leaking bathroom as their own territory. They won't stick a flag in it, but you will definitely notice some roach action when you go in to take a shower. If you have a ventilation system, it's a good idea to make sure it works properly.
- Scrub the floors.. Both roaches and ants hate it when your place is clean. Ants get confused because you erase the chemical trails they've worked so hard to leave. Roaches have nothing to eat and call it quits. A clean, clutter-free home is by far the best DIY pest control method.
- Seal all points of entry. Ants and roaches usually use small holes to get inside. Seal those and they will have to find a new way in. And sometimes they just don't think it's worth it. Borax – if all else fails, you can use borax to solve your problem. Once these pesky insects inevitably bring it to their nest, it will deal a deadly blow on the infestation.
- Fleas are a common enough problem that even if you don't own a pet, you should be prepared to deal with them. There are several crucial points that you need to be aware of if you want to solve the problem on your own.
- Vacuum thoroughly. You should be aware that your pet is not the sole source of fleas. In fact, pets are responsible for but a small percentage of flea populations in urban areas. The rest of them are hiding in your upholstery, your carpets, drapes, and wooden floors. In order to get rid of them, you need to do a through sweep. Using a vacuum cleaner would be best. Use disposable bags – you don't want to open a bag full of fleas, believe me.
- Spray insecticides around the house. After you're done thoroughly vacuuming, spray insecticides around the house. There's plenty of commercially available products that don't require a license and should do the trick. Repeat this procedure in two weeks, and in four weeks in order to ensure you've gotten rid of everything.
- Clean the yard. Fallen leaves? Cut grass? Debris from last year's home renovation? Everything must go. All of these have the potential to house different pests, and not just fleas. Remove them as soon as you can. Be careful lest you get a nasty surprise if they're already infested. Spray it accordingly afterwards.
- Take your pets to the vet. You can try to take care of the entire problem on your own, but it would be better to involve the vet in this one. This way you can ensure your pet's safety and the efficiency of the product you end up using.
- Wash your pet's bedding and toys. Fleas love to hang out where your pet resides. This gives them an instant access to food. Make sure to dis-infest the area.
- Use peppermint – ants hate the strong pungent smell of peppermint. This is because the strong smell normally disrupts their smelling capability and hinders them from detecting food sources. Take a cup of water and add drops of peppermint oil. Spray the solution in all entryways and other infested areas twice daily and this will repel the ants.
- Use lemon – the strong scent of lemon tends to mask the scent trails of ants. Pour some lemon juice on window sills, door thresholds and other possible entry points. You can also scatter slices of lemon peels around entry points and ants will be completely gone.
- Use cinnamon – cinnamon yields positive results in repelling ants. Take a cup of water and add a teaspoon of cinnamon. Wipe down the solutions on all possible entry points until all ants are gone.“
So as Jay from Pirate Pest Control mentioned in his paragraph, you don’t need fancy products or pest management training and education to protect your home from insects, rodents and other pests. Sometimes all it takes is to have a shovel and a flashlight on hand to be able to avoid a pest infestation and keep your home free of these unwelcome guests.
When DIY just doesn’t cut it
However, there are situations when DIY pest control won’t work and when you should call in a professional, first to asses your pest problem and then to treat it. Which is why some of the experts we talked to told us about the situations when calling a pest control service should be your only option.
- Rodent Control - I often get calls from customers that are panicked and just want their place "bombed" against rodents. That is unnecessary in most cases. Place a trap or two around the property and wait for results. If you catch a rodent, but you continue to spot droppings or hear sounds from inside the walls. Call a pest control company ASAP. Rodents are reproducing fast! However, if you catch a mouse and all the previous signs of rodent presence stop showing, you just might be lucky enough!
If you have problems with other rodents like squirrels, it is better to call in a professional right away. A pro will resolve the matter without killing the poor animal. The only reason for a squirrel to occupy your home is to build one of its own. They are loud and unpleasant tenants. However, this is no excuse to kill them.
- Insect Control - Now here it gets a bit tricky. You can "go easy" on some pest and for other, it is absolutely important to eradicate them as soon as possible!
- Ants - Ants are not actually a big threat to you or your property. They are in it only for the food. You can easily trace the line of ants to their nest. You can fill the hole from which they are walking out of and stop them for a while. If you have pets and kids living with you, you should consider calling in a professional. It is unknown how many ant nests you have around as ant colonies can have more than one queen, meaning that they can spread pretty fast.
- Bed Bugs - Don't try to cut any costs from bed bug control! Bed bugs are spreading extremely fast, they are happy to live in any piece of furniture, not only beds. They are adaptive and true survivors. Trust me, you want nothing but "The Heavy Artillery" against this pest!
- Cockroaches - Those creatures can eat almost everything from paper to themselves! They can survive without a torso or without a head even for a couple of weeks. If you recently started seeing (or smelling) signs of a cockroach infestation get your hands on some cockroach gel. This thing is pretty effective because it is a tasty threat to them and it poisons their meat, so when the cockroach dies in its nest the others will eat the corps (that is what they do) and poison themselves and so on. However you can't rely simply on the gel if you are dealing with a serious infestation, call in for a professional.
- Flies - Those are annoying, yes, but a threat, hardly. Flies are not dangerous to people. DIY methods, sticky strings, sugar water traps, electric zappers, all of those will do the job. If all of those does not work you may deal with a bigger problem and you should call in a pro to check things out.
Professional treatments for flies are a rare thing, often on properties that were not in use for a long period and now are getting new owners. If you bought a house that was sitting unattended for a long period it is a good idea to call in pest control team.
- Fleas - Fleas are also bloodsucking pests, but unlike bed bugs they are carrying diseases! A flea infestation is not something you should take lightly. Homemade remedies may bring them some discomfort, but it will only make them move from point A to point B. If you have a pet, it gets even easier for them to move around the property. A single flea lives up to 100 days and it only needs one mate to produce up to five hundred larvae! They are fast, they can jump long distances and they have hard shells to protect them as well.
- Silverfish - If you see silverfish bugs in your home, know that they are not your only problem. A silverfish infestation is a sign of a damped area on your property, because silverfish bugs love to hide in places that are warm and with high humidity levels. They infest basements, attics, bathrooms, and kitchens. In order to deal with this pest, you need to take care of the dampness.
- Spiders - If you have a lot of spiders in your home, you probably have other pests as well! Spiders are hunters, and they go only where they can find pray! It is important to know what kind of spider you are dealing with. If you can't identify it yourself call in a professional. The best way to deal with this situation, is to call in for an examination of your property. After that is done and indeed you have problems with other pests as well, take care of the other insects, and leave the spiders to move out on their own.
- Moths - It depends on the severeness of your infestation. If you spot a couple of moths in your dresser rush out and buy a store-bought solution, or test out a homemade remedy. But if you spot more than 5, there are holes in your curtains, and one or two of your favorite dresses is ruined... Call in the pros, because you are probably looking out for generations of moths.
- Woodworms - This pest can cause a lot of damage your property and furniture. They are gnawing on everything made out of wood and are unseen for most of the time. Don't panic if you see markings on a single piece of wood, it is not a rare sight, but if you have doubts better call in a professional inspection.
- Wasps and Bees - If you are having a nest on your property you should probably leave it be. By the end of the summer wasps or bees will leave the nest. But, if the nest is low and it is bothering you, it may be near your pet house or your child's playground. In that case, you should seek out help from professionals. In case of a wasp nest, pest control teams can take care it fast and effective. If you are dealing with a bees nest you would have to call in a beekeeper to help you out. Those are protected by government regulation and if you deal with them on your own you might end up not only with the unpleasant feel of many stings, but also a lawsuit against you!“
Not only do they not have the education required to perform the application necessary to control the pest, but most do not have the knowledge of how to identify the pest, fungi, or reason they have a problem. Nor do they possess the proper application equipment or safety equipment needed to protect themselves from the products they intend to use.
Most homeowner applications eventually turn into new clients for us. The amount of money the customers “saves” by doing services themselves, usually ends up costing more than the professional service would have cost them in the beginning and my company would have taken care of the problem more efficiently. My best suggestion? Hire a professional!“
- If your DIY control methods don’t seem to be doing the trick, it’s probably time to call in an expert. The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) highlight the risks of inadequate control and offer guidance in what to look for when searching for a pest control contractor;
- Pests have the potential to contaminate the your home or workplace, spread disease, damage products, foodstuffs and property, and even ruin your reputation leading to loss of business and even prosecution;
- If you have a pest problem, you're responsible for a site that attracts pests. It's essential that you put the right provisions in place to protect yourself, your family, and your customers.“
DIY pest control checklist
- Seal all the cracks and crevices or possible pest entry points into your home that are larger than a dime;
- Screen windows, doors and all other vents leaving the home;
- Make sure the roof of your home is repaired and in good order;
- Keep branches, weeds, grass and shrubbery away from your property, especially the foundation of your home;
- Keep your backyard, lawn, and garden clean of any fallen leaves, debris, etc.;
- Clear out gutters, remove clutter and don’t allow standing water anywhere on your property;
- Empty trash containers frequently, equip them with tight-fitting lids and keep them & your outdoor garbage storage area clean;
- Don't store firewood and lumber close to your house;
- Keep your automatic sprinkler times in accordance with the season;
- Chanel water from downspouts away from your home's foundation;
- Pay attention to the maintenance and upkeep of your property, especially the foundation of your home.
- Wash dishes immediately after meals;
- Keep your kitchen appliances clean from grease and food crumbs;
- Empty sink strainers and run the garbage disposal frequently;
- Store your dry food, including your pet's food, in sealable containers;
- Clean your pantry, other food storage areas and kitchen regularly;
- Use mattress protectors;
- Vacuum and sweep both your floors and furniture frequently;
- Run water in less-frequently used bathrooms and toilets often;
- Wash your pet's toys and accessories regularly;
- Wash and heat-dry both your clothing and bedding religiously;
- Pay attention to the maintenance and upkeep of your house, fix everything as soon as it's broken, especially leaky pipes and faucets.