To live a life fully without any problems from pests and the infestations they incur is nearly impossible. The truth is, most of these tiny little critters are all around us all the time, even if we don’t see them. When you do find new house guests it can be a real downer. Not only do you now have to worry about the fact that you have a pest problem, but you’ve got to figure out the best, safest way to get rid of them. Safety becomes an even larger concern when you have small children around the house. Before grabbing that bottle of poisonous pesticide, reach for some of these non-toxic, natural methods for pest control.

Prevention

If you already have a problem, this may be too little too late. But the easiest way to be rid of pests is to prevent them. This can include keeping all your food items stored in air-tight heavy duty plastic or glass containers. Most pests can chew through cardboard and flimsy plastic packaging. Be sure to always clean your food messes as soon as you can, but definitely before bed. When it comes to larger, rodent type pests, do a thorough and regular survey of your house to seek out any gaps in the structure. A mouse needs only a quarter of an inch sized hole to wiggle into your warm home. 

Ants

These little tykes will pop up in your kitchen the moment you leave food – especially sweet foods – out and about. A few remedies include leaving out mint tea or dried and crushed leaves or cucumber peels as natural deterrents. Ant bait can be made with a litre of water, a teaspoon of Borax, and a cup of sugar. (Finally! A use for Borax that isn’t slime!) Soak some cotton balls with the solution and store in an old yogurt container or cup wrapped with cling film and holes cut into the top. The sugar will attract the ants who will then take the bait back to their colony, eventually getting rid of them. 

Dust Mites

They’re everywhere. In your clothes, bedding, bookshelves. They’re not much of a nuisance unless you have an allergy to them. In which case your first line of defense is constant cleaning. Unfortunately, detergents don’t really do anything to eradicate dust mites. The only way to clean them out is by washing them in hot water that reaches at least 130 degrees fahrenheit. Vacuuming your mattress and pillows will also help, as will a quality mattress cover. Keeping shelves free of clutter (Marie Kondo suggests you should never have more than 30 books) is another way to eliminate hospitable environments for them.

Cockroaches

The worst of the worst. They say once you have a roach problem it’s a fight to the death, and roaches are notorious for outlasting everything. Except maybe Keith Richards. But there are a few things you can do, outside of preventive measures like getting rid of paper bags and cardboard (which they love to feast upon).

Boric acid is an easy fix that helps in an unlikely place. Roaches, turns out, really enjoy heights. Placing ON TOP of your kitchen cabinets (never inside) between the cabinet and ceiling – if you can – will work the same way the ant trap does. They carry the acid back to their nests and the problem resolves itself. Other deterrents are catnip, bay leaf, and cucumber peel. If these attempts don’t work, it’s time for the big guns.