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How to Get Rid of Pests Without Pesticides

Spring is officially here, and with it comes a whole horde of pests that can quietly invade your home if you’re not careful. From rogue ants on your kitchen counter to gnats swarming your houseplants to mice running amok in your basement, any type of pest infestation can make your life at home difficult. But rather than trying to find reactionary solutions on how to get rid of them, we can take steps to prevent them from coming in in the first place. Here are some easy things to do right now to prevent pests from taking over. 

Put cinnamon on your plants

My grandmother grew up on a farm and knew everything there was to know about plants. And when it came to spider mites, gnats, whiteflies, and other common pests, her go-to preventative measure was sprinkling the soil with cinnamon. Not only does it repel them, but it can also act as an insecticide if you already have a small infestation. (And bonus: it also helps curb fungus and mildew on plants!) Simply sprinkle cinnamon on the soil and leaves, and rest easy you won’t ever have to battle an infestation.

Plant basil to get rid of flies

Do you constantly have to chase flies out of your house? Whether you have a window screen with a hole in it or they sneak into open doors, no one likes their incessant buzzing inside. Plant basil on your windowsills to create a natural force field around your home. Flies are repelled by their scent, so plant them in spots where they usually sneak in to deter them from hovering. The good news: Basil is non-toxic to cats and dogs.

While deer are cute to look at, they can also wreak havoc on gardens and landscaping. If you’re tired of seeing your vegetable garden or hydrangea bushes pillaged, a good way to deter them is with a bar of soap, like Irish Spring. The scent is said to deter them from grazing. While some people recommend adding soap shavings to the ground, that can get messy once it rains and could potentially harm your plants. Instead, you can nail a bar of soap onto a stake next to your garden or hang it from a mesh bag to get the same effect.

Repel mice with steel wool

Sure, no one likes to see rodents lurking around their basements or baseboards, but many people also prefer not to harm them either. If you have a mice problem, deter these critters from entering your home in the first place with some carefully placed steel wool. Pack medium-grade steel wool pads in holes along your foundation where mice are prone to sneak through. They won’t like the bristly feeling when they try to chew through it and may go somewhere else altogether. 

Deter fruit flies with scent

Fruit flies are annoying, but you can keep them from sticking around with the power of scent. They are said to be deterred by the smell of basil, peppermint, cloves, eucalyptus, and lavender, so you can easily bag these herbs into satchels and leave them around your home. If you don’t want sacks of herbs lying around your windowsills or tables, you can also use essential peppermint oils in a diffuser, which is scientifically proven to be effective. 

Keep ants away with vinegar 

A great way to keep ants at bay is by wiping down your kitchen after eating so you don’t have any crumbs waiting to entice them, but sometimes they’re persistent and scout ants come around anyway and make scent trails for other ants to follow to food, so you want to disrupt those on the spot. In that case, seal any cracks near windows and doors with caulk, so they don’t have an easy way in. If you already notice them milling about, destroy ant trails with a 1:1 ratio of water and vinegar.

Repel dust mites with essential oils

Whether you have an allergy or just want to ensure you don’t have microscopic bugs on your mattress, you can keep the dust mite population to a minimum and deter them with a non-toxic DIY repellent spray. Create a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water, and then add in a few drops of lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus essential oils, which are said to repulse these pesky bugs. Shake it up and spray it on everything from your mattress to your couch to your curtains to get the best results.

Turn away cockroaches with fabric softener

Cockroaches don’t like the smell of fabric softener, so create a repellant spray by mixing fabric softener with water in a spray bottle, using three parts softener and one part water. Spray it daily in places you traditionally battle with cockroaches (like kitchen cabinets and trash cans), and you might not have any more sightings this season.

Marlen Komar


Marlen is a writer first, vintage hoarder second, and donut fiend third. If you have a passion for finding the best taco joints in Chicago or want to talk about Doris Day movies, then she thinks an afternoon coffee date is in order.

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