If you’ve ever gone to your pantry for a bag of sugar or a box of cereal only to find that the corner has been chewed open and its contents are spilling out everywhere, then you already know that your pantry can easily become a magnet for rodents and insects.
The smells of the food stored in your pantry, along with the easy-to-chew-through packaging in which most foods are contained, make your pantry the perfect place for pests to find a meal. Luckily, it’s easy to keep bugs and rodents from making their way into your supply of food — you just need to know a few simple tricks.
Your kitchen is the last place you want these pests to find a home. But with the warmer weather and the damp spring air, the changing season is going to make your home prone to attracting wandering creepy crawlers.
Whether you’ve seen signs that bugs or rodents have been in your pantry or whether you simply want to take preventative measures, you only need to follow a few easy steps to ensure a pest-free kitchen.
Check through the items in your pantry and the crevices of your home to detect whether you already have an infestation. If the packaging is chewed through or if you spot bugs in bags of flour or sugar, toss them; these foods are unsafe to eat and may contain bugs and other pests that you don’t want in your pantry. Call an exterminator to rid the pests from your home.
Pests love cluttered areas with leftover food and residue. Don’t attract them accidentally — set aside some time at the end of the day to clean your kitchen counters, refrigerator, and floors. Do a little spring cleaning (you can use our ultimate guide to spring cleaning to help). Remember to clean these often-overlooked areas!
Insects need water to survive — so they’ll be scouring your place for an available water source to crawl next to. Don’t supply that water source. If your faucet is leaking, make sure you fix it quickly so you don’t attract an infestation.
A door sweep effectively seals the gap between the ground and the bottom of your door. Use one to keep out any pests that might try to sneak in under your front door. As a bonus, the door sweep also saves energy by keeping heat inside.
Place your pantry items onto your pantry shelves — never on the floor. Try to keep the lowest pantry shelf at least eighteen inches above the floor. If you have a large pantry, consider purchasing sturdy metal shelving (with adjustable shelves) at the hardware store so that you can control the height of the lowest shelf.
Insects and rodents can squeeze through even the tiniest holes in your walls or cabinets. Do a thorough walk-through of every crevice of your kitchen to search for potential entry points. Seal the holes with caulk found at your local hardware store to keep outdoor pests from sneaking in.
You can find traps for cockroaches, mice, and fruit flies at your local drug store—consider setting these traps around your kitchen to kill off any invaders. Some traps can also notify you of a pest problem that was otherwise invisible.
Control the odors in the pantry itself by storing all of your pantry items in airtight containers like resealable plastic food storage containers or glass jars. Glass jars have the added advantage of being chew-proof; even if a mouse detects a smell in your pantry, it won’t be able to chew through the glass.
Fruit might make for a healthy snack, but unless you’re baking banana bread or have another use for an overripe banana, you should throw away all the fruit that’s gotten too ripe. Fruit flies are attracted to overripe fruit. Throwing away these items outdoors will ensure you don’t get a swarm of them hovering over your indoor trash.
There are a number of pests (like ants and mice) that are deterred by the aroma of mint. Try placing a mint tea bag in the corner of your pantry or taping one to the side of the shelf.
Though the aroma isn’t unpleasant to humans, bugs don’t like the scent of bay leaves. Try tucking a few dried bay leaves into the corners of your pantry. You can also tape them to the sides or bottoms of the shelves to keep bugs away.
It might be impossible to keep out every tiny creepy crawler. But you can prevent the ones that manage to get in from multiplying by vacuuming them off your floor. Vacuuming is certainly a hassle, but considering your home has more than 15 items that are dirtier than your toilet seat, it’s worth taking the time to keep your home clean!