By: Guest Contributor, Aby Nicole League
Image by Aleksey Gnilenkov via Flickr
It’s crazy how we sweat over small things. And by small, I mean tiny little creatures that share habitation in our home. These pesky little pests, insects, and termites make themselves at home and real occupants of the house end up smashing, squishing, and spraying all sorts of pesticides until our home reeks of stinking odor.
The problem with pesticides is that it is poison. It can be inhaled, absorbed through your skin, and ingested. The World Health Organization estimates that there are three million cases of pesticide poisoning each year including more than 200,000 deaths primarily in developing countries. Children are the most vulnerable to harmful effects of toxic chemicals found in most commercially-available pesticides. Exposure to toxic pesticides may damage the neurological system and linked to asthma, allergies, and even cancer and reproduction problems through hormone disruption.
Photo by jetsandzeppelins via Flickr
Pesticides are also harmful to the environment. They are a main source of water and air pollution. When they are sprayed, it is impossible to limit their reach to targeted pests only and inevitably contaminates the areas around them.
Beginning from the home, we must learn to get rid of pests naturally. Green and organic ways of cleaning the house have become increasingly popular these days and for a good reason.
Shut Them Out
The first rule: don’t let the pests in. Prevent these creatures from entering your home by getting rid of damp areas and standing water that attract insects. Don’t leave water under house plants and fix your plumbing system. Block possible hiding places and seal openings in walls. Don’t store newspapers and magazines for far too long because they make a cozy home for pests.
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Don’t inadvertently feed them. Manage food scraps and throw the trash frequently. Store opened food items in tightly-closed containers that pests can’t chew on. Don’t leave dirty dishes and even pet food out for too long. Regularly clean areas and cabinets where food is stored. Show these pests that they have no business in your home.
Operation: Ant Control
Do you see a trail of ants on your walls? A pinch of sugar left on the table or a piece of candy that a toddler leaves behind can start an ant revolution in your home.
There are green ways to clean our house of ants. Among the most effective is keeping a spray soap bottle. Just two teaspoons of liquid castile or vegetable-based soap in a gallon of water make a good natural alternative in dealing with pesky ants. The anti-bacterial substances found in soap keep ants at bay.
Most ants hate cucumbers so leave peels and slices in the ants’ point of entry, usually in the linings of the door or window. Trace the ant column and put tea bags of mint tea, cayenne pepper, citrus oil, cinnamon or coffee grounds. Ants are known to have aversion on these things.
Soak cotton balls in a solution of one liter of water, one teaspoon of borax, and a cup of sugar. Place the soaked cotton ball in a container with holes to allow access to ants. This will serve as bait that ants will carry over and kill their colony. Remember to keep soaked balls from children and pets.
Dust Mites In Our Midst
Dust mites are everywhere. They are in our sheets, mattresses, pillows, throw rugs, carpets, sofa, furniture, and our kids’ stuffed toys.
Wash your beddings at 55 degrees Celsius or higher because detergents have no effect on mites unless water temperature is high. Cover mattresses and pillows with laminated covers that dust mites can’t penetrate.
Create a mixture of baking soda and essential oils such as peppermint, eucalyptus, or wintergreen. They are known to absorb moisture, deodorize, and sanitize. This duo is known to be among the most effective natural cleaning alternatives. After washing in hot water, sift the mixture across your mattress and beddings and leave for at least an hour before vacuuming. Repeat this every two to three months.
Photo by Mark Faviell via Flickr
Citrus For Fleas
Fleas enter our homes through our pets or our visitors’ pets. Aside from bathing and grooming pets regularly, clean and vacuum areas in the house that they frequent. Before reaching for that pesticide, go for citrus. Citrus is a natural flea deterrent. Just pour a cup of boiling water over a slice lemon (including skin) to release more citrus oil. Let this soak overnight and sponge on your dog to kill fleas instantly. Adding garlic or apple cider vinegar to your pet’s food will also help. Remember that this is only advisable for dogs, never for cats.
Terminate Termites With Orange
When it comes to termites, prevention is still the key. When infestation becomes so great, expert intervention becomes necessary. Prevent termites from pestering the foundations of your home by clearing wood debris, wood piles, and stored lumber around your home and crawling spaces. Fix leaky pipes and make sure downspouts don’t direct water to your home. The same soapy solution used for ants can be sprayed on termites. You may also use orange oil. It is an extract obtained from orange peels and is insoluble in water. Drill small holes into the infested wood and inject orange oil. It will yield results within three days or three weeks depending on the degree of infestation.
Catnip For Roaches, Garlic For Mosquitoes
Cockroaches and mosquitoes are two of the most common house pests. A clean home is still the best defense and there are natural cleaning tips with green alternatives to defeat these little monsters.
Catnip is a natural roach repellent. It has nepetalactone, which is harmful to roaches but not humans. Leave sachets of catnip in roach-infested areas. You may also mix catnip in water and spray in the hiding places of cockroaches.
For mosquitoes, mix one part garlic juice with five parts water and dip strips of cotton cloth in them. Hang them in patios or areas in the house that mosquitoes love.
Cleaning your house regularly is still the best pest deterrent. Don’t make your home friendly to pests by finding easy, affordable, and green ways to clean your house. However, when pests manage to still get in, don’t grab that toxic pesticide spray right away. Go to your kitchen and find safe alternatives there to get rid of pests naturally and include them in your house cleaning routine.
About the Author: Aby League is a qualitative researcher and a passionate writer. She is an innovator and technology enthusiast. She has been writing about health, psychology, home improvement and technology. To know her more, follow @abyleague on Twitter.