4 chemical-free pest control tricks for your home


Nearly a billion pounds of pesticides are released into the environment every year as people try to kill insects and other critters in their homes, offices, and crops. It’s the never-ending struggle of man versus pests, and chemical insecticides are a powerful weapon. But commercial pesticides could be poisoning your immune system.

The idea may sound crazy, but it’s not. Some 76,000 women 50 years and older answered questions about their lifestyles and insecticide use as part of the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. Researchers found that women who had the most exposure to pesticides — and it’s not all that much — have a greater risk for developing autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.


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The biggest problem seems to be with long-term exposure rather than a single episode of pesticide use. So using various types of household pesticides, living on a farm, and working with pesticides on the job nearly doubled the risk of developing an autoimmune disease for some women.

The study is not proof that these chemicals will harm you, but it’s a good reason to use natural choices when possible. Here are four great chemical-free pest control tricks for your home.

1.  Vinegar

That old saying from Ben Franklin, “A spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar,” may not actually be true. In fact, vinegar works quite well to lure flies to their deaths.

If you’ve ever used apple cider vinegar to wash windows, you know how flies and gnats are attracted. You can just set out a bowl of vinegar and they’ll congregate. Add a teaspoon of liquid dish soap to the vinegar, and leave it out wherever you have a problem with flying insects. They’ll be attracted to the vinegar and try to land, but the soap breaks the surface tension of the water so they drown instead.

You can also use vinegar to keep your pets free from annoying pests. Spray your dog daily with a half-and-half solution of vinegar and water to ward off fleas. And apple cider vinegar can work from the inside out to keep your horse comfortable. Add a few tablespoons to your horse’s oats to cut down on biting flies.

2.  Baking soda

Nobody wants to deal with dead mice caught in traps, whether they’re the snapping kind or the sticky type. But you don’t want to expose your family to dangerous poisons, either.

Grab that box of baking soda from the pantry and use it to deter mice. Simply sprinkle baking soda around the edges of your basement walls, in dresser drawers, or in any other places where you see evidence of a mouse. When mice return to the spot, they’ll run through the baking soda. Then they’ll need to clean it off their paws by licking them, so they’ll swallow the baking soda. With no way of expelling the gas that builds up in the stomach, the mice will die.

3.  Peppermint

You can get double pest-prevention power with peppermint.

To deter mice:

  • Soak cotton balls in peppermint oil and place them in mouse-prone places, such as behind electrical outlets in the wall.
  • Dip a rag in peppermint oil and stuff it into cracks or openings.
  • Spray a bit of peppermint oil around door frames.

In addition, this pleasant-scented oil will stop ants cold before they can enter your home. Mix up one part peppermint oil with 10 parts water in a spray bottle for a no-ant spritz. According to folk remedy, you can also chase away ants with the popular Christmas candy version, too. Just drop crushed peppermint sticks on an anthill or sprinkle near the entrance to your home.

4.  Cinnamon

Insects hate the smell of cinnamaldehyde, the active ingredient in cinnamon. In fact, experts have even created a crop pesticide from cinnamon called Cinnamite. You can benefit from this remarkable natural bug repellent, too. Use cinnamon right from your kitchen cabinet to wipe out these three annoying invaders.

  • Ants. These pesky critters come into the house in search of food. Find the line their columns follow, and trace it back to the point of entry. Make a barrier by sprinkling cinnamon across the path. Ants won’t cross the line. You can also use chalk, ground black pepper, or turmeric as a barrier.
  • Moths. It’s not the ones you see gathered around a lamp that you should worry about, but the tiny moth larvae in your closets and drawers. Make sachets of cinnamon wrapped in cheesecloth to deter them from nibbling on your clothing. You can also include dried lavender or rosemary to give your closets and drawers a lovely scent. Also, be sure to clean linens and clothing before you store them. Moth larvae like fabric that’s soiled with food stains.
  • Silverfish. You may notice these insects in the damp corners of your kitchen or scrambling around under the bathroom sink. Put a little cinnamon inside drawers and cabinets, especially in damp, warm places. Silverfish hate cinnamon and will stay away. It’s also a good idea to vacuum the areas where you see silverfish to remove food crumbs and insect eggs.

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  • FC&A Staff Writer