Household pests, be it ants, roaches, flies or rodents, are a definite pain and going into battle with them always seems to involve never-ending chemical warfare. Pesticides, however, are well known for being toxic to humans, animals and the environment. While a growing number of consumers are not so keen on using chemical-laden products in their homes, there aren’t that many non-toxic alternatives on the market at the moment.
Thankfully, there are a few easy and natural remedies and repellents that may be able to help you fight off pesky problems in a safer way:
Bye Bye Flies
Flies, plus food, equals a nightmare, so to send those buzzing fiends packing from your kitchen, buffet or picnic spread, try this unlikely trick. Get a clear plastic bag, and fill it with water, then drop a coin or two in it. Tie off the bag and hang it somewhere nearby. Here’s how it works, when light is refracted by the water in the bag, it confuses the fly’s prismatic eyes. Some say it’s a hoax, while others swear by it, why not give it a try and see if it works for you? Another way to deter flies is to add some curry leaves to a glass of water and then place it on your dining table.
If moths have been wreaking havoc in your closet, and munching through your favourite garments, try not to reach for moth balls. Not only do they smell terrible, they’re loaded with toxic chemicals too. For a safer moth deterrant, make a potpourri out of peppercorns, rosemary, bay leaves and whole cloves. If you can get your hands on some dried lavendar and cedar chips, by all means add those too. Put the mixture into a few sachets, and hang them up in your closet.
Plagued by ants? It’s time to concoct a batch of potent, yet safe ant killers! Just mix one part vinegar with two parts of water. Then, using a spray bottle, spread the mixture all over the ants, their trail, and if possible, their ant hill. For a more potent solution, soak orange peels in your vinegar for at least a week, then use this citrusy liquid instead of plain vinegar. To prevent ants from getting into your sugar container, always add cloves and star anise.
To rid your home of roaches naturally, get your hands on some fresh pandan leaves. Make a knot out of a few leaves and place them in dark corners of your home, like drawers, cupboards and underneath cabinets. You can also use tea tree oil, crushed garlic, peppermint, bay leaves and dry chilli to achieve the same effect. Just be sure to change and refresh your repellent regularly to retain its potency.
If you have pets, there’s a big chance there are fleas in your home, especially in your carpet! To evict them from your floor covering, sprinkle baking soda and salt into your carpets and leave it overnight. The next day, vacuum the mix out of your carpet. To make a non-toxic flea spray for your pets, cut up a lemon and simmer it in water for about an hour. Strain the liquid and let it cool, before spraying it onto your pet’s fur (take care not to spray the mixture into your pet’s eyes, nose and mouth).
Rodents are some of the most difficult critters to get rid of but here’s a sure-fire way to keep them at bay… adopt a dog or a cat. If a family pet isn’t an option, however, try mixing a tablespoon of peppermint extract with half a teaspoon of chilli powder and eight cups of water. Spray this mixture liberally near the entry points of your home at least once a week.
Mosquitos carry a host of scary diseases, so there’s a definite need to ward them off in and around your home. To do this naturally, get your hands on some citronella grass, lemon eucalyptus, tea tree or cinnamon infused candle or oil. You can burn the candle and diffuse the aromatic oil in an essential oil burner. The pungent smell will provide natural protection against mozzies and other bugs too. If you’re heading outdoors, wear long sleeves and long pants in light colours and put on some eco-friendly mozzie repellent.
A very important point to keep in mind, during your non-toxic bug battle, is that like all living things, pests need food, water and shelter. If you don’t provide ideal conditions for them, they’re less likely to set up residence. Constant vigilance is key, so be sure to seal off all entry points to your home, no matter how small.
Next, regularly get rid of standing water and piles of rubbish, and make it a habit to clear out garden undergrowth and overgrowth. Also, keep the interior of your home clutter free, so pests have fewer places to hide. Last, but not least, food stuff must be kept in air-tight containers at all times, so pests can’t get to them.