How to Prevent Bugs and Pests in Any Area of Your Home

Dealing with bugs and pests in your home can be frustrating and disturbing. However, there are many effective ways to prevent these unwanted guests from invading your space. With some diligent home maintenance and preventative measures, you can keep bugs and pests out of any area of your home.

Keep Your Home Clean and Clutter-Free

One of the best ways to deter bugs and pests is to keep your home clean and free of clutter. Dirt, debris, and mess provide ideal breeding grounds and hiding spots for many types of pests.

Make sure to:

  • Vacuum and mop floors regularly. Pay close attention to corners, along baseboards, and under furniture.
  • Wipe down countertops, appliances, and other surfaces frequently to remove crumbs and spills.
  • Clean dirty dishes right after use. Don’t leave them sitting in the sink overnight.
  • Take out the garbage regularly. Empty wastebaskets frequently.
  • Put away food after use. Don’t leave anything out on the counters. Store food in airtight containers.
  • Get rid of stacks of newspapers, magazines, and cardboard. These provide perfect hiding spots.
  • Clean behind and under appliances and furniture.
  • Organize cluttered areas. Store items away properly in closets, drawers, etc.
  • Wash bedding in hot water regularly.
  • Fix any water leaks quickly. Moisture attracts pests.

Keeping a tidy home goes a long way in removing resources pests need to survive inside.

Seal Up Entry Points

Bugs and pests find all sorts of sneaky ways to enter our homes. Sealing up cracks and openings denies them access.

Some key areas to inspect and seal are:

  • Around windows – Caulk around frames and seal ripped screens.
  • Around doors – Install weatherstripping and door sweeps. Seal gaps at bottom and sides.
  • Openings for pipes, wires, vents, etc. – Seal with caulk or expandable foam.
  • Gaps along baseboards and under cabinets – Caulk and seal with foam.
  • Cracks in walls or ceiling – Patch holes with caulk or expanding foam. Paint over for added protection.
  • Attic and crawl space entrances – Install tight-fitting screens, doors, and vents. Use flashing strips around openings.
  • Gaps where siding, stucco, etc meet the foundation. Caulk and seal with appropriate material.
  • Chimneys and fireplaces – Install screening over damper openings when not in use. Seal flashing.

Taking time to carefully seal any gaps, holes, and entry points denies pests easy access into your living spaces. Maintain these seals regularly.

Store Food Properly in Pest-Proof Containers

Pantry pests like moths, weevils, beetles, and rodents go crazy for our food. Improperly stored food provides them an unlimited buffet.

Outsmart them by storing all food in pest-proof containers:

  • Use airtight plastic, glass, or metal containers with tight fitting lids. This starves pests of oxygen.
  • Avoid cardboard, paper, or plastic bags, which allow odors and pests to get in.
  • Get lidded bins for bulk items like flour, rice, oats, etc. These are prone to pantry pests.
  • Keep pet food in sealed bins too. Rodents can smell it!
  • Refrigerate perishable foods like nuts, crackers, cereal, etc. The cold hampers pests.
  • Store seldom used items like cake mixes, pasta, cereal in the freezer – this kills any pest eggs or larvae.
  • Buy only what you will use in a short period and avoid stockpiling food.

Following proper food storage protocol denies pests their primary incentive for entering your home.

Remove Outdoor Food and Water Sources

Another pest prevention measure is eliminating outdoor food and water sources. This gives pests no reason to approach your home.

Actions you can take:

  • Remove pet food and water bowls overnight. Store them in airtight containers.
  • Clean up under bird feeders frequently. Rotting seed attracts rodents.
  • Clear out fallen fruit from under trees.
  • Keep compost bin enclosed and aerated. Turn compost regularly.
  • Fix leaks in outdoor faucets and irrigation. Standing water draws pests.
  • Clear clogged rain gutters so water drains properly.
  • Empty accumulations of water in plant trays, buckets, tires, etc. Change water in pet and bird baths regularly.
  • Keep trash bins tightly closed and avoid overflowing trash.

Pests rely on outdoor food and water sources for survival. Removing these denies them the ability to thrive near your home. Proper sanitation goes a long way.

Add Physical Barriers

Installing physical barriers can help block pests’ entrance into your home.

Some options to consider:

  • Fine mesh screening over vents, pipes, chimneys, etc. This keeps out insects and rodents. Make sure screening is rust-proof.
  • Door sweeps on exterior doors create a tight seal along the gap between door and floor.
  • Weatherstripping around doors and windows seals air gaps that bugs can crawl through. Replace worn strips.
  • Caulk or seal all wall cracks and crevices, especially those leading outside. This foils pest entry.
  • Gravel, crushed stone, or sand barriers along foundations prevents termite and ant access. They don’t like crossing over these.
  • Hardware cloth over soil in potted plants denies access to burrowing pests.
  • Tree trunk guards prevent climbing pests like spiders, ants, and squirrels from accessing roofs and upper floors.

With diligent installation and maintenance, physical barriers provide critical pest exclusion around your home’s perimeter.

Keep Shrubs and Branches Trimmed Back

Letting landscaping grow wild right up against your home provides bugs and pests with convenient highways into your living areas.

Pruning back plants, trees, and bushes removes these pest superhighways:

  • Cut back tree branches and shrubs so they don’t touch the house exterior. Allow 1-2 feet minimum clearance.
  • Prune away any overhanging branches above the roof. These give pests access.
  • Keep plants, grasses, and mulch at least 1 foot away from the foundation. Don’t give pests a close-up hiding spot.
  • Trim vegetation touching fences or other structures adjoined to the home.
  • Clear 2-3 feet of space around air conditioning units. Don’t let foliage block airflow.
  • Thin dense clusters of vegetation so sunlight and air circulation can penetrate. This discourages pest buildup.
  • Remove vines growing on walls or structures. Rats use these to climb upwards.

Regular pruning gives pests fewer footholds near your home. It also allows sunlight and air circulation to disrupt pest travel.

Apply Pest-Repelling Plants

Using naturally repellent plants around your yard can deter nearby bugs and pests without harming your family or pets.

Some effective options:

  • Marigolds – Their odor repels aphids, mosquitoes, rabbits, and deer. Use throughout your garden.
  • Mint – Repels ants, spiders, and mice. Plant around home foundations and entrances.
  • Catnip – Deters mosquitoes, ants, roaches, and rodents. Border your landscape with these hardy plants.
  • Citronella – The potent aroma of this plant keeps away mosquitoes, roaches, and deer. Grow in pots or flower beds around patios and porches.
  • Lavender – This fragrant flowering herb deters moths, fleas, and flies. Include around vegetable gardens.
  • Basil – When planted copiously, its scent confuses pests and prevents them from establishing nests. Include throughout your garden.
  • Garlic – The sulfur compounds ward off aphids, slugs, borers, and fungi. Work bulbs into your landscaping design.

With some creative planning, pest repellent plants can create beautiful, functional surroundings while also keeping pests at bay.

Apply Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is an effective mechanical pest control made from fossilized remains of diatoms. It is completely non-toxic for humans and pets.

DE works by:

  • Dehydrating insects, slugs, and other soft-bodied pests. It absorbs the waxy outer coating that protects their bodies.
  • Lacerating tiny exoskeletons of crawling insects with its sharp, abrasive particles.
  • Preventing larvae and eggs from developing properly when they come in contact. The sharp DE scrapes away their protective outer membrane.

To apply:

  • Spread a fine layer of food-grade DE along baseboards, under appliances, in cupboards, attics, etc. Wear a mask to avoid breathing it in.
  • Create barriers around gardens by sprinkling DE around the perimeter. Reapply after rain or watering.
  • Lightly coat ant mounds or trails. The ants will track DE particles back to the nest and kill the colony.
  • Mix DE into potting soil to kill soil-dwelling pests. It’s non-toxic for plants.
  • Dust a light coating over fur and bedding to repel fleas and ticks on pets. Avoid inhaling.

With proper and repeated applications, diatomaceous earth provides an effective pest barrier around your home and garden areas.

Keep Outdoor Areas Well-Lit at Night

Most pests avoid well-lit areas, as it leaves them more exposed to predators. Installing motion-sensor lighting around the exterior of your home discourages pest activity at night when they are most active.

Strategically place lighting:

  • Along pathways, patios, and porches to deter foraging pests.
  • Above garage and shed doors to deter rodent entry.
  • Along fence lines, under shrubs, and around trees to disperse hiding pests.
  • By compost bins and trash cans to repel scavenging animals at night.
  • Under eaves and above crawl space vents as extra barrier to climbing pests.

Choose energy-efficient, high lumen bulbs and directing lighting outward and downward. Avoid overly bright, white lights which can be disruptive.

Nighttime lighting provides 24/7 pest control and makes your property less attractive to nuisance pests searching for food and shelter at night.

Practice Good Sanitation Habits Around Your Home

Preventing pest issues relies heavily on eliminating food sources and habitat. Practicing consistent sanitation habits minimizes resources available to attract pests.

  • Take out garbage regularly. Use bins with tight fitting lids.
  • Pick up fallen fruit/berries from trees. Rotting produce draws pests.
  • Keep compost tumbling. Turn it frequently and bury food waste under layers.
  • Clean grease and food debris off outdoor BBQ grills after each use.
  • Routinely clean under appliances, furniture, and in attics and basements to remove food spills.
  • Fix leaky plumbing or appliances immediately. Pests need water. Don’t provide it!
  • Change out broiler pan trays – burnt on grease attracts roaches.
  • Don’t leave dirty dishes sitting overnight. Rinse or load into dishwasher right after meals.
  • Transfer human and pet foods into pest-proof containers. Never store in paper or plastic bags.

Good housekeeping and removing pest life necessities discourages them from moving in long-term. Stay vigilant!

Install Bird or Bat Houses

Installing nesting boxes for birds and bats encourages these valuable predators to take up residence near your home. They help naturally control pest populations.

Benefits of attracting birds and bats:

  • Birds eat massive quantities of insects daily – up to 1,000 per day for a family of chickadees! Plant-eating pests like beetles and caterpillars are gobbled up.
  • Nest boxes for bluebirds, swallows, chickadees, and wrens bring these hungry insectivores close by.
  • Bat houses allow bats to roost nearby and feast on flying pests. A single bat eats up to 600 mosquitoes an hour!
  • They reduce the need for chemical pest control methods.

Place nesting boxes 10-30 feet high on poles or tree trunks, oriented away from prevailing winds. Keep boxes clean and monitor for problems annually. With quality habitat, birds and bats provide natural pest control services daily!

Inspect and Quarantine New or Used Furniture and Clothing

Bed bugs and other pests can hitch a ride home on new or used furniture, clothing, books, etc. Take preventive steps when acquiring these secondhand items:

  • Carefully inspect furniture seams, crevices, and interior areas for signs of bed bugs – small dark stains, pale shed skins, or a musty, sweet odor. Use a flashlight to illuminate hidden spots.
  • Wash and heat dry any clothing or bedding on the highest heat settings for at least 45 minutes. Temperatures above 115°F kill all stages of bed bugs.
  • For non-washable items like furniture, bag them in black plastic and leave them sealed in direct sun for several days. The heat kills pests inside.
  • Store books and other items in sealed bins or bags to contain any hitchhiking bed bugs. The containment prevents infestation. Monitor containers for several months.

Being vigilant when acquiring used items prevents pests from riding into your home undetected. Identify and destroy them before they establish populations.

Install Screen Doors at Entrances

Screen doors create an added barrier preventing flying and crawling pests from entering whenever exterior doors are opened. They let air circulate while filtering out pests.

  • Choose tight-fitting doors without tears or holes. Repair or replace damaged screening.
  • Look for screen doors with high quality charcoal or black fiberglass mesh. These offer better durability and insect blocking.
  • Ensure doors seal tightly along edges when closed. Add weatherstripping if needed.
  • Install spring hinges so doors close automatically behind you. Don’t rely on manual shutting.
  • Use magnetic strips to keep doors closed when not in use. Avoid propping doors open.
  • Ensure screen doors open outward so insects can’t drop directly into the home’s interior when opened.

Screen doors provide the first line of defense and deny easy access to many flying and crawling pests trying to gain entry through exterior doors. Install them wherever practical.

Apply Cracks and Crevice Treatments Judiciously

When facing a serious pest issue, targeted application of low toxicity insecticides into cracks and crevices can provide added population control when done carefully. Limit use only where truly needed.

Some tips for effective and discreet application:

  • Use specially designed narrow applicators to insert insecticide deep into cracks and crevices. Avoid widespread spraying.
  • Treat along interior baseboards, under sinks, behind appliances, around plumbing pipes, etc. Target pest hiding and breeding spots.
  • Apply insecticidal dusts like diatomaceous earth into wall voids and around electrical outlets. Avoid overuse.
  • Utilize bait stations and gels containing boric acid for targeted roach and ant control in confined areas.
  • Carefully follow all label precautions and warnings on any insecticidal products. More is not better with pesticides.
  • Avoid aerosol sprays which contaminate the air. Stick to targeted dusts, baits, and gels applied only where pests travel and nest.

With judicious use, limited insecticide applications into confined spaces can provide added pest reduction without spreading chemicals through the living space.

Check for Possible Entry Points During Home Inspections

When buying a new home, be sure to inspect thoroughly for possible pest entry points and conducive conditions during the home inspection. Addressing issues prior to move-in is ideal.

Watch for:

  • Cracks, holes, and gaps along the exterior. Inspect all sides for potential access. Pay special attention near utility lines, vents, and joints.
  • Torn window screens. These easily allow pests inside. Replace damaged screens.
  • Missing door sweeps, broken weatherstripping, and gaps along thresholds. Pests crawl through small exterior openings.
  • Peeling exterior paint or siding. Look for termite tubes along foundations and moisture damage.
  • Leaf litter, debris, or plants piled against exterior walls. These allow pests to approach the structure.
  • Excessive moisture issues – leaks, standing water, condensation, etc. Wet conditions attract pests.
  • Clutter and unsealed food storage in kitchen and pantries. Disorganized areas with open food provide pest habitat.

Insisting on remediation of conducive conditions and sealing up pest access during home inspections prevents inheriting someone else’s pest problems down the road.

Maintain a Vegetation-Free Border Around Structures

A pest-free zone around your home’s perimeter helps deny access to crawling invaders. Establish a vegetation-free border to isolate your foundation.

  • Remove all plantings within 1-2 feet of the exterior walls. This plant-free strip deters pests.
  • Rake mulch 1-2 feet away from the base of walls. Mulch encourages spiders, ticks, centipedes and other crawlers close to structures.
  • Cut back vegetation touching the sides of sheds, fences, decks or other structures adjoining the home. Don’t give pests an interconnected highway.
  • Pull weeds growing along walkways, driveways, and patios adjoining the home. Keep at least a 6 inch bare zone around hardscapes.
  • Sweep away leaves, grass clippings, and organic debris piled against the foundation or walls. Remove pest food and habitat.
  • Replace wood chip mulch around plantings with gravel or rock. Wood shelters destructive termites next to your home.

Establishing a clean vegetation-free zone around the home’s perimeter discourages direct pest contact with