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Smart Home

How to keep pests out of your home

From bedbugs to mice, here's your all-natural antipest guide.

Summertime is the prime season for pest invasions. Fruit flies, roaches, bed bugs and mice can become huge problems if you're not vigilant. If little creepy-crawlies are your least favorite kind of visitor, here are some tips to keep your home pest-free, the all-natural way.

Fruit flies

Fruit flies can be transported into your house by, well, fruit. You may not see them, but some of the produce you buy has fruit fly eggs on them that hatch when you get home (gross, right?).

This is why it's important to wash your produce as soon as you bring it in the door. A simple mixture of water and baking soda will not only remove eggs, but it will also remove pesticides. Just fill your kitchen sink with water and sprinkle some baking soda in it. Let the produce sit in the mixture for 8 minutes.

Fresh fruit in red bowl

Wash your fruit as soon as you get it home to prevent fruit flies.

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More than likely, though, the fruit flies come into your home when a door or window is open. The key is to eat or freeze fruit before it starts to ferment, because that's what attracts the flies inside.

If fruit flies are already a problem, there's an easy all-natural trap you can make to catch them. Pour apple cider vinegar into a glass, and secure a square of plastic wrap over the opening with a rubber band. Then, poke a small hole into the plastic wrap. The flies will be attracted to the scent, go through the hole, and will be trapped underneath the plastic wrap.

Roaches

Close-up of bay leaves on white background

Bay leaves can be the key to keep roaches away.

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If you live in apartments or close to other homes, you've probably dealt with roaches at one time or another. You probably also already know that keeping your house clean and putting away food is the best way to keep the bugs out of your home. That doesn't always stop them, though. Sometimes roaches invade homes in search of water.

I hate chemical sprays. They give me a headache, so I like to use something a little more natural. The only thing I've found that can truly keep a home roach-free, even during the dry season, is bay leaves. Yep, those whole leaves you can find in the herb section of the grocery store. Just place a couple leaves behind bookcases, in cabinets, behind appliances and under the sinks. For some reason, roaches hate bay leaves.

Bed bugs

The very thought of this bug makes my skill crawl. Once you get bed bugs, they are super-hard to get rid of. The best way to keep bed bugs at bay is to never go anywhere and to never let furniture come into your home. But since that's not very practical, there are other ways you can prevent infestation:

  • Bed bugs love to hide in -- you guessed it -- beds. Use a zipper-style cover that encases your whole mattress and box spring to keep them away from the fabric. The light color also makes the them easier to see.
  • Inspect any type of upholstered furniture before it comes inside your house. This goes for new furniture as well as hand-me-downs and thrift store finds. Bed bugs like nooks to hide out in, so look under pillows, around seams and even under tags.
  • Wash clothes from sleepovers and trips to a hotel immediately after returning home. Putting your dryer on high heat will kill bed bugs before they have a chance to invade, according to the EPA.
  • Vacuum daily.
  • If you use a laundromat, don't let your clothes touch anything after they come out of the dryer. Put them straight into a clean laundry bag and take them home. Wrinkled clothes are better than itchy ones.
  • Install a door sweep on your front and back doors. It literally sweeps bugs back outside when the door closes.

Mice

Though my cats love it when mice come for a visit, I don't. The best way to keep out mice is to seal cracks and holes in walls and floors. Mice will use even tiny holes as their own personal point of entry. Don't think you have any holes? Check around pipes under sinks, behind your washer and dryer, around areas where gas pipes enter the home, and in the garage, to be sure.

Also, take the trash out daily and keep food in the fridge or in sealed containers. This will make your home smell less attractive to rodents.

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