Home Remedies for Pest Control

Do you often have to throw away your toddler’s ant-covered candy? Or rescue your teenager from a roach-infested bathroom? Don’t worry. Here are some amazing home remedies to get rid of pests.

By Team ParentCircle  • 15 min read

Home Remedies for Pest Control

One of the biggest threats that children face inside the house comes from pests. They can range from tiny ants and termites to something as big as a rat. Pests such as mosquitoes, termites, bed bugs, rats and cockroaches are dangerous because they are carriers of disease, no matter what their size. While an occasional fly or two won’t be much of a problem, an infestation of cockroaches in the kitchen or bugs in your garden is definitely a cause for concern, and needs to be dealt with immediately. But you have to practise a lot of caution while exterminating them. Especially, you should bear in mind that chemical-based pesticides and repellents can be harmful to the health of your family and pets. 

Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of chemical pesticides. Therefore, it is high time we banned these concoctions from our households. According to a report titled, ‘Pesticide Exposure in Children’, published in the journal American Academy of Pediatrics (Dec 2012), children are exposed to pesticides daily and this carries a risk of acute poisoning. There can be serious health implications to both acute and chronic exposure to pesticides, including paediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioural problems. Children can also develop skin and respiratory allergies.

So, what can you do to get rid of pests safely?

Well, there is no need to panic. There is no dearth of natural home remedies for pest control. All you need to do is look around your house, and you’ll find some home-made antidotes for bugs, roaches and the like. You will be surprised at how effective these can be.

Here we give you some simple hacks that will help you get rid of pests naturally:

1. Home remedies to kill mosquitoes: Lemongrass has long been used as a natural insect repellent. This is an ornamental grass that is native to Asia and grows well in wide pots. It is a good idea to grow this strong-smelling grass in your garden or balcony in containers, to keep away mosquitoes. Burning the grass inside the house can also give good results. Alternatively, citronella oil, which is extracted from lemongrass, is quite effective in keeping mosquitoes away. Just heat some oil in a diffuser or light up citronella-based incense sticks, particularly in corners of the house, and watch the mosquitoes do a disappearing act. Other natural mosquito repellents include clove, peppermint, eucalyptus, basil, neem, catnip and thyme. Oils made from these are also effective in driving away mosquitoes or killing them.

2. Home remedies to kill ants: Sprinkle generous amounts of talcum powder into crevices in the house and behind doorways, as ants are likely to colonise such places. You’ll be surprised to find that this really works. If you see a line of ants on the floor, just dust some talcum powder on the creatures. They will either disappear or become immobile. This is how it works – ants breathe through their skin and the substances found in regular talcum powder dries their skin out, so this eventually kills them. A thick line of chalk in an area frequented by ants will also do the trick. Mint, vinegar, lemon juice, cinnamon, cayenne pepper/black pepper and food-grade diatomaceous earth are some other common natural remedies used to drive away ants.

3. Home remedies for bugs: Neem is a great natural repellent and neem oil works on almost all kinds of bugs and beetles. Instead of using harmful insecticides, try this all-natural solution – in a spray bottle, mix a few drops of neem oil or a paste of neem leaves with some crushed garlic, a little liquid soap and chilli powder, and top it up with water. Mix this well and spray on places that are infested with bugs. This solution can also be used in your garden, as it will help keep whiteflies or mealy bugs away from your plants. If you have bed bugs at home, some natural remedies to get rid of them include food-grade diatomaceous earth, tea tree oil, baking soda, lavender, black walnut tea, bean leaves, thyme, mint leaves, clove and cayenne pepper.

4. Fruit fly extermination - home remedy: Everyone hates seeing these tiny but pesky flies sit on kitchen counters and fruits and vegetables, contaminating them. If you have tried many different measures but have still not been able to get rid of these stubborn creatures, don’t lose hope. Here is an effective fruit fly trap that you can make at home — take a shallow bowl and fill it with a mixture of apple cider vinegar, detergent and water. Cover the top of the bowl with cling film and make a few holes in it. Keep this bowl where there are a lot of flies. The smell of the vinegar will attract them and they will fall into the bowl and die. You can also add banana or essential oils to the mixture.

5. Home remedies to get rid of lizards: It’s very unnerving to have lizards darting about in your kitchen. We don’t know what it is about eggshells and garlic, but both work well to repel these reptiles. Keep eggshells on your kitchen windowsill or any corner which is frequented by lizards. They are likely to stay away. If you do not like the sight of eggshells all over the house, try garlic pods. The strong smell is enough to keep lizards out. Other natural products that control the lizard menace include a coffee-tobacco mixture as well as black pepper powder and cut onions.

6. Cockroach removal - home remedies: It is difficult to get rid of cockroaches from the house as they are very resilient creatures. The best thing is to prevent them from infesting your home. For this, keep your house and surroundings clean, making sure that spilt food is not left uncleaned on the floor or counters. There are a few things that cockroaches don’t like, so you can try them. Shred some bay leaves and place them around the house. The strong smell forces the cockroaches to avoid those areas. Baking soda and sugar, boric acid, lemon peel or lemon juice, coffee powder, and food-grade diatomaceous earth are some other natural ways to get rid of cockroaches.

7. Getting rid of termites: It is important to keep furniture safe from termites. A simple hack to kill termites is to spray them with soap water. This makes their outer shells impermeable, thus making it impossible for them to breathe. Take a spray bottle and fill it with a solution of two to three tablespoons of liquid soap mixed in about four cups of water. Spray this on the termites. Once the effect of the solution fades, repeat the process if necessary. You can also use orange oil, clove oil, canola oil, garlic oil, aloe vera gel and white vinegar to kill termites.

8. Driving away rats and mice: Ammonia spray is very effective in getting rid of rats and mice from your home. These rodents hate the smell of ammonia, as it is similar to that of cat urine. Prepare a solution by mixing one cup of ammonia and one cup of vinegar and put it in a spray bottle. Spray this mixture in the parts of the house that you know the rats frequent. You can also dip cotton balls in the solution and place them in these spots. Other natural rat control methods you can try include peppermint oil, cut onions and a mixture of Plaster of Paris and cocoa powder.

"It is not always required for the entire family to be out of home during a pest control treatment, because nowadays, the treatment procedures have become more specific and precise (targeted only towards pests and their harbourages). However, sensitive individuals and pets should remain away from the treatment area. The period can be confirmed from the pest control agency you have engaged." — Zakir Hussain, General Manager - Technical Training, at Rentokil PCI.

5 Ways to make your home pest-free for your child

Children are particularly susceptible to illnesses. As pests are known to spread diseases, it is better to prevent them from overrunning your home, rather than trying to get rid of an infestation. Here are some ways in which you can keep pests away from your house.

1. Keep your house clean and tidy

The first step in your fight against pests is to maintain a clean house. Vermin have a field day in an unclean home. So, don’t let clutter build up at any cost. Give your house a thorough cleaning every day, if possible. Your cleaning routine should include sweeping and mopping the floor (ideally with a child-safe disinfectant), wiping down all the surfaces, cleaning all the rugs, furniture, carpets and the ceiling. Take care not to leave any open food lying around the house. These steps will not only prevent pests from entering the house, but also improve the general well-being of your family.

2. Maintain a clutter-free kitchen

The kitchen is a great nurturing ground for pests. The warmth, moisture and food there make it the ideal spot in your house for a pest infestation. So, no matter how tired you are at the end of the day, don’t leave any unwashed dishes in your sink. This is akin to leaving an open invitation for cockroaches and other pesky creatures. Ensure that all eatables are stored in air-tight containers. Keeping your kitchen spotless will go a long way towards deterring pests.

3. Block all entry points

If you give pests even the smallest of openings into your house, they’re bound to enter in droves. Sealing all the little holes, cracks and all other entry and colonising points in and around your house will help you a lot in the fight against these creepy crawlies. While you are at it, get your plumbing work sorted and fix all the leaky pipes around the house. Cutting off all unnecessary sources of moisture will work in your favour.

4. Dispose of garbage effectively

Vermin are attracted to garbage like moths to a flame. Disposing of garbage in an effective and timely manner is the key to combating this attraction. Dispose of your garbage every day without fail. You can also wash the cans and other containers that you intend to throw away before putting them into the garbage bin. And, be sure to wash the bins after you’ve emptied them. If you don’t wash them thoroughly, traces of the waste will remain and attract unwanted visitors. Remember also to keep the bins closed at all times.

5. Take care of your pets

Pets are a beloved part of the family. They are also loved by pests for obvious reasons (think warmth and a source of nourishment). Pets have a whole ecosystem of their own on their fur and bodies. But, this does not mean that you have to keep your little pup away from the kids. All you have to do is get your pets bathed, groomed and vaccinated at regular intervals. Consult your vet to make sure that your pets don’t get ticks, fleas or mites. Remember to keep their food in a place where pests don’t get access to them. Ants and many other pests feast on pet food, so it is in your best interests to not leave the food lying around the house unattended.

Besides these home remedies, you should also get your house inspected periodically to ensure that any pest infestation you might have missed can be dealt with by professionals. Just make sure that the chemicals used are not harmful to you and your family.

"How many times in a year should you get pest control done at your home entirely depends upon the pest, the material and method used, and the hygiene and sanitation condition (pest food, hiding and breeding areas) of the area for managing the pest. For example, three treatments in a year are required for managing cockroaches, while for managing termites, a one-time comprehensive treatment in a year is enough, depending upon the severity of the issue." — Zakir Hussain, General Manager - Technical Training, at Rentokil PCI.

Every child deserves to grow in a clean environment, and as parents, it is our responsibility to provide it. Get your children to help you to carry out these anti-pest measures regularly, and it will become a habit that will serve them well throughout life. Let’s keep our homes and the surroundings free from pests and provide our children a healthy and safe place to grow up in.

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