Unless you have a pet tarantula or an ant farm, bugs are never welcome in the home. And yet they manage to appear where we least want them, like in kitchens, bathrooms, and even beds. Not only are they unsanitary, they are annoying. It’s hard to ignore itchy mosquito bites or the endless buzzing of flies. Some, like fleas and ticks, can carry diseases. And some, like ants and cockroaches, try for a full-on invasion. Fortunately, there are ways to make these pests feel unwelcome, particularly through removing their sources of food, water, shelter, and of course, their points of entry. Here are some simple ways to uninvite and evict these intruders.
Store garbage properly
No one can resist free food, especially not bugs. Unfortunately, they see the trash can as an all-you-can-eat buffet. So it’s imperative to store and dispose of garbage properly. Once you get in the habit, it’s easy to maintain. Start by designating one trash can in the house for food waste, probably in the kitchen. Avoid throwing out apple cores, empty yogurt cups, chocolate bar wrappers, etc. into wastebaskets in other rooms. Then, make sure the food waste trash can has a tight lid. Empty it daily, and clean and sanitize it on a regular basis, especially if there’s a spill. If you have a compost bin, line the sides with hardwire cloth to keep out bugs and close the lid tightly. 
Good ventilation is important in homes, especially during stuffy summer weather. But fresh air shouldn’t come at the cost of bug invaders. Fleas, mosquitoes, black flies, and other pests tend to increase during the summer so install screens to keep them outside. Choose a fine screen with 20-mesh or lower. And watch out for holes and tears. Even small openings can admit unwelcome guests. So carefully push the broken wires into place and paint clear nail polish or household cement over it to seal it in place.
Seal the doors
While you are installing screens, make sure your doors seal properly. You may be surprised at how many gaps may appear around the entranceway. For gaps at the sides and top of the frame, use door-seal kits or weatherstripping to close them up. Apply a clear caulk to seal the space where the wall attaches to the doorframe. As for the bottom of the door, install a sturdy metal threshold or a nylon door sweep, or both.
Maintain your outdoor space
Pests need to come from somewhere, so ensure they’re not coming from your own yard. Infestations of insects like fleas and mosquitoes often begin on the lawn and then follow people and pets inside. Reduce outdoor mosquito populations by removing any pools of standing water, including bird baths, buckets of water, pet water bowls, and puddles after rainfall. Clear gutters and drains, and eliminate any piles of leaves or debris where insects can hide and reproduce. Also, fix any drainage issues in your garden. (Your plants will thank you.)
Spray vinegar and essential oils
Utilize the power of smell to keep bugs away. Vinegar is known as a food and a cleaner but it can also repel bugs, like ants, that hate the smell of vinegar. If you clean areas of your home accosted by ants, you are also removing their scent trails that help them navigate. Additionally, you can trap fruit flies and gnats by combining liquid dish soap and apple cider vinegar in a dish. The insects will be attracted to the vinegar but will get stuck in the soap.
But if you also hate the smell of vinegar, turn to essential oils. Some studies show that scents like lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus can help repel bugs like bed bugs and dust mites. Dilute a few drops of oil with water and spray on bedding and carpets. But be sure to keep the oils away from children and pets. 
Read: How to Easily Clean Your Entire Oven (Including the Windows)
Many bugs, like spiders and cockroaches, are attracted to damp, humid spaces. Therefore, you should dry and air out any wet spots in your home. Clean up spills immediately, let the bathroom ventilate after showers or baths, clean the sinks so water can drain quickly, and check for leaky pipes. If you’re having mold or mildew issues, you may be at risk for creeping crawling visitors.
“Cockroaches like dark and humid places, so fixing leaking or sweating pipes is a must,” says Timmy Griffin, pest control technician for Fantastic Pest Control in London. “Dry all sinks, tubs, and showers completely, and plug the drains.” Plugged drains can prevent roaches from entering the home through the pipes, making them more susceptible to traps.
Look for pests once a month
Jett Hovell, pest controller at Fantastic Pest Control Australia, believes that early intervention is the best way to avoid an infestation. Therefore, make bug searches part of your monthly routine. Be sure to check commonly problematic areas like basements, attics, garages, doors, windows, baseboards, previous entry points, and other nooks and crannies. “Every infestation is a result of us not taking the steps to prevent it,” he says. “Keeping track of what’s happening in your home is very important.” 
When to call a pest exterminator
Not every infestation requires professional intervention, especially when it’s caught early. But prevention tips, home remedies, and store-bought traps and sprays could only do so much. Here are some signs to call an expert as soon as possible:
- Animal feces like mice and roach droppings since they contain many serious diseases
- Other signs of rodents like bite marks in food and scratching noises
- Nests around in or around your home that can also contain diseases and parasites
- A cockroach. They spawn quickly and need to be addressed ASAP.
- A nest of ants that set up shop somewhere in your home
- Finding bed bug bites on your body
- When your walls suddenly sound hollow or break easily. This might be indicative of termites.
- When you feel overwhelmed. If you think the situation is too much for an individual to handle, it might be worth calling in an expert for an assessment.
Keep Reading: How To Use Baking Soda To Kill Pests
- “10 Ways to Bug-proof Your Home.” How Stuff Works. Bambi Turner. December 7, 2021
- “9 Everyday Items That Can Help Control Household Pests.” HGTV. Shannon Phillips.
- “How To Get Rid Of Fleas, Ants, Fruit Flies, And Other Household Pests.” Prevention. Elizabeth Millard. October 5, 2017
- “This Is When An Expert Says You Need To Call An Exterminator.” House Digest. Ryan Hayward. October 19, 2022