Kirby Hamilton/Getty Images
En español | Keeping your kitchen sparkling clean all year long isn’t always easy, especially in summer, when the battle of the bugs really heats up. But you can do it. In addition to making sure counters are wiped down and food and dry goods are stored in airtight containers, try these seven somewhat surprising (and natural) hacks for a pest-free kitchen.
This prolific garden plant is a natural insecticide that repels ants, spiders and mosquitoes. Apparently, they just can’t stand the smell. Place a few drops of peppermint oil on a cotton ball, and then place that ball in areas where you find insects. Or make a spray by adding four or five drops of peppermint essential oil to water in a spray bottle. Use it on spiderwebs or anywhere else that bugs gather. An added bonus: Peppermint also deters mice and raccoons.
This herb may be great in your pasta sauce, but it also repels houseflies and mosquitoes. Plant basil in containers and place them in your kitchen or anywhere you like to entertain or hang out. According to the Natural Society, you can make an insect repellent spray by adding 4 ounces of boiling water to a container filled with 4 to 6 ounces of clean, fresh basil leaves. After the leaves steep for several hours, remove them and squeeze all of the leaves’ moisture into the mixture. Then pour 4 ounces of supercheap vodka into the basil-water mixture. Store in the fridge and apply as a spray when going outdoors. Just don’t get it in your eyes, nose and mouth. One more thing: Outdoor basil plants can attract whiteflies, despite their ability to ward off domestic houseflies.
Ants won’t walk across a chalk line or anything else that interrupts their scent trail. So if there’s a particular area of your kitchen that you want to keep ants out of, draw a chalk line around it. The bad news, though, is that chalk usually stops them for only a brief period. Eventually, the determined little critters will set out and cross it.
As the name suggests, flypaper is a tried-and-true way to trap flies. The paper, which you can buy at Target or just about any convenience store, is coated with a substance that has an alluring, sweet fragrance. And it’s so sticky that any fly or bug going near it gets trapped. Flypaper can be hung from walls, windows and ceilings. But don’t forget that when you walk into your kitchen in the morning, you’re going to face a lot of little dead bugs.
Fruit flies come out in summer and breed quickly, meaning an infestation in your kitchen can go from small to large in just a few days. If you don’t like the idea of spraying harmful chemicals where you prepare and eat food, try using vinegar to get rid of the little annoyances. Here’s how to make a vinegar trap, courtesy of EcoWatch:
- Pour about 1 inch of apple cider vinegar into a tall glass jar and mix in a couple of drops of dish soap.
- Cover the top with a piece of plastic wrap, secured with a rubber band; poke a few holes in the wrap.
- Fruit flies are drawn to the strong vinegar. They can get in through the holes in the plastic wrap, but they can’t get out.
- Refresh your trap every few days until you’re not catching flies anymore.
Who doesn’t love the smell of lavender? Fleas, flies and other bugs. Tie a few bouquets of lavender and place them around the house to keep bugs outside. You can deter insects from gathering on your patio or anywhere else you hang out in during the summer by planting lavender in containers or in gardens. Another tip: The oil works well as a mosquito repellent if you apply it to your skin.
Believe it or not, salad fixings can actually repel insects. Just toss a few cucumber slices onto the windowsill or wherever pests gather, and you may get rid of at least some of these annoying bugs. Ants in particular hate the taste of cucumber — go figure.