Home Improvement Published April 16, 2009 By Mauri Wills
Keeping Bugs Out of the House: 3 Tips

Many of the most effective ways to keep bugs out of the house entail good basic home maintenance. Keep your home clean, dry and well sealed to discourage most insects and pests from taking up residence with you. Consistent attention to your home’s structure, along with some strategic ammunition, will keep most mosquitoes, ants, roaches, termites and even bed bugs running the other way.

Keep Critters From Gaining Entry Into Your Home

The soil outside your home needs a balance of bugs for a healthy yard—but the structure of your home needs protection from potential insect infestation. Bugs from fleas to flies will seek out almost any point of entry, especially where there is moisture or decaying wood. Seal the envelope of your home by caulking cracks and holes in foundation, floors, walls and areas around pipes. While you keep out bugs, you also save on home energy costs.

Visually inspect your entire home exterior for any rotting wood or deterioration, which needs fixing—from siding to soffit and roofing to attic. Bugs, birds and even rats can also enter through the chimney. Seal off the chimney top with a spark-arresting screen. Mend any holes in screen doors and screen windows.

Keep the outside of your home clear of debris. Trim trees and bushes back from the exterior and move firewood away from the foundation. Keep garbage cans rinsed out and tightly sealed.

Cultivate an environment outside your home, which naturally keeps the bad bugs away, while at the same time attracting their predators. Some herbs and flowers many bugs don’t like include—chrysanthemum, nasturtium, dill, lemongrass, wormwood, pennyroil, garlic, peppermint, basil and rosemary. Ladybugs, birds and bees benefit your yard, while keeping insects in check. Plant their favorite flowers and shrubs from marigold to boxwood.

Be careful of the things you bring home. Inspect used furniture. Bugs love to nest in both upholstery and wood. Be cautious not to bring home bed bugs from vacation. Store your suitcase up off the ground and give your hotel room a once over before settling in.

Make the Inside of Your Home Unfriendly to Pests

Moisture, clutter and stray food make your house into a home for insects. Declutter closets with too many clothes or corners with stacks of old newspapers, papers and boxes. Any type of decaying cellulose, from paper to wood, is dinner for roaches and termites.

Fix plumbing leaks or damp areas around pipes, wood or foundation where ants, termites, fleas and a myriad of other bugs infest. Your house should also be well ventilated to prevent mold and insects, due to trapped moisture or condensation.

Keep your house clean, especially in the kitchen. Pick up or sweep up any food you drop on the floor. Ants have an extraordinary sense of smell. Keep the insides of cabinets and tops of counters clean. To protect cereals and grains, keep them stored high up and sealed in Pyrex or stainless steel containers. Before throwing any containers, cans or bottles away, rinse them out. Move fruits and vegetables past their prime time out of the kitchen (into a well-maintained garden compost preferably).

Many of the herbs in your kitchen are natural insect repellants. Basil, rosemary, cinnamon and garlic are just a few of the herbs with bug repelling compounds. Make a pillow sachet of lavender, cloves and eucalyptus for your bedroom closet and drawers. Or take a sachet with you in your suitcase when traveling.

Preventive Cleaning to Keep Bugs Out

Make it a habit to clean with natural insecticides so bugs never get in.

Essential oils—from eucalyptus and peppermint to lemon and lavender—are powerful insect repellants and cleaners. Mix a few drops of oil with water to spray around entrances or use to clean everything from countertops to floorboards.

Borax is an inexpensive, safe salt compound widely used to clean and keep bugs out of homes. You can find Borax in the detergent section of most grocery stores. Sprinkle some at likely points of entrance—around windowsills and doorways, under cabinets and in garbage cans. Mix borax with sugar as a bait for ants. For killing roaches, boric acid is more potent.

It is not advised to use Borax outside unless you are experienced with the subtleties of soil amendments. Although some plants such as sunflowers benefit from the boron in Borax, the compounds have a tendency to accumulate and leach into plants and soils causing damage.

Every time you change your bedding, clean lint and dust from crevices around your mattress and box springs with Borax solution and essential oil sprays. You will rest easier at night.

The most effective weapon against established bedbugs is extreme temperature of heat or cold—usually steam cleaning or dry ice. Call in a professional who uses nontoxic methods.

Clean your bedding and clothing with Borax. You can even scrub your sink and tub with it.

Use enzyme cleaners for even more cleaning power. Enzymes are powerful organic proteins that break down and digest molecules to eradicate dirt, mold and bugs. You can even make homemade enzyme cleaners by fermenting citrus and even garbage.

Keep up the maintenance and cleaning of your home and you will feel confident about keeping bugs out.

QUICK TIPS

• Keep your home clean, dry and well sealed to keep bugs out.

• Bugs will seek out almost any point of entry, especially where there is moisture or decaying wood.

• Keep bugs out of the house by caulking cracks and holes in foundation, floors, walls and areas around pipes.

• Mend any holes in screen doors and screen windows.

• Keep garbage cans rinsed out and tightly sealed.

• Plant flowers and herbs outside your home, which naturally keep the bad bugs away.

• Fix plumbing leaks or damp areas around pipes, wood or foundation where ants, termites and other bugs infest.

• Pick up or sweep up any food you drop on the floor since ants move in quickly.

• Many of the herbs in your kitchen are natural insect repellants.

• Borax is an inexpensive, safe salt compound widely used to clean and keep bugs out of homes.

• Every time you change your bedding, clean crevices around your mattress and box springs with Borax solution, essential oils or enzyme cleaners.

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About Author

Mauri Wills is a modern-day Renaissance man with extensive experience in a variety of areas. His broad range of knowledge is truly an asset to the National Fix and Flip Network.


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