Few things are better than coming home on a cold day to snuggle up in warmth — turning up the thermostat, lighting the fire and curling up with a cozy throw. However, you aren’t the only one who finds your home inviting, and you don’t want to cuddle up with a cockroach.
Pests like insects and outdoor creatures like rats and raccoons also need cozy spots to spend the winter — and your house offers the perfect abode. Eliminating a severe infestation can cost well over $1,000, money better spent on heating oil or holiday gifts.
Prevention is far better than a cure. The following five tips teach you how to keep your home pest-free this winter.
Your first step in keeping your home pest-free this winter is to discover how they get inside. Sometimes, this task is easy, thanks to visible signs. For example, if you have cracked windows covered in spider webs all over the exterior, it isn’t a mystery why you occasionally spy an eight-legged friend crawling up your living room wall.
You might have to get down and dirty to complete this step — consider hiring a pro if you’re squeamish. For example, your crawl space is a favorite area for large and small critters to take up residence. You should install wire mesh to prevent entry from rats, squirrels and other rodents. Replace rotten beams and avoid storing food in this area. Do a similar inspection on your attic, using leftover mesh to cover vents and deter bats and roof rats.
Evaluate your home’s ingress and egress points. It doesn’t take much of a crack for an army of ants to march through straight to your countertop. Fortunately, it doesn’t cost much to apply weather-stripping and under-the-door barriers or apply caulk — you’ll make your money back on your first cold-weather utility bill.
Wire mesh around egress and ingress points like vents isn’t the only method of creating a pest-proof barrier around your home. You can also use non-toxic means to deter wildlife and creepy crawly critters.
- Vinegar: Ants follow scent trails, but a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water confuses their navigation. Spread wherever you see these pests appear.
- Borax: Do you have a severe roach infestation? Mix sugar and Borax and leave in areas where you frequently see these pests. The sugar attracts them, while the Borax dehydrates and poisons them.
- Cinnamon oil: Does your home make you sneeze? The problem could be dust mites. Deter these microscopic pests by mixing a few drops into a solution of water and denatured alcohol and spraying all over your bedding and furnishings. As a bonus, your stuff will smell like a cookie.
- Citrus peels: Pests like spiders hate the scent. Sprinkle peels in your garden as fertilizer and to deter insects from entering your home. Make an essential oil mixture to spray around doorways and windows.
You probably don’t want to keep your house freezing in winter to deter pests. However, they also need water and food to thrive, just like humans. Your job is to eliminate as many sources as possible. Take the following steps to clean and bug-proof your home:
- Start with your cabinets: Store pet food, cereals, flour and sugar in sealed plastic containers that eliminate the odor.
- Clean up your garbage: Keep your trash cans covered. Consider a locking storage crate if you keep the big bins outside to deter large wildlife like javelina that may knock it down to find a meal.
- Use your dishwasher: Please don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink or, worse, scattered around your home. Rinse them and put them in the dishwasher after use.
- Banish boxes: Bugs love big cardboard boxes for making cozy homes. Get rid of stacks of old newspaper and replace your storage with plastic or metal bins, adding a sprig of bay or two inside each one to further deter insect pests.
Remember that squidgy little whine that fax machines made? Imagine sharing your home with that sound — 24/7. You would probably pack up and move within the week.
Pests are likewise averse to nasty sound stimuli, but fortunately, their hearing ability differs from humans. You can find plenty of ultrasonic pest deterrents on the market designed to drive bugs crazy without you hearing a sound. However, studies cast aspersions on their effectiveness — they might be worth a try, but don’t invest too much money.
Bedbugs are a particularly annoying indoor pest that is hard to eliminate. Here, too, prevention is better than cure. Use caution buying secondhand furniture such as mattresses or couches — you could unwittingly introduce them to your home. Of course, you could also pickup stragglers from a luxury hotel in your luggage, so you ultimately have to balance precaution with practicality.
Keeping your sheets clean helps you fight infestation at the first sign. Likewise, use caution if you utilize a shared laundry facility, using a plastic bag to transport your items back and forth. If you do get an infestation, you’ll likely need to call in a professional or invest in a pricey heat-steaming unit to treat affected furnishings.
Your home is your cozy haven in winter. You don’t want to share it with bugs.
Follow this guide to keep your home pest-free this winter. You’ll enjoy a more comfortable cold season and sleep more soundly without worrying about creepy crawlies.
*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.
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