5 Common Household Pests and How to Get Rid of Them Without Chemicals

Pests? No Problem.

We’ve come a long way since the Neolithic days. One thing that will never disappear, however, are the pesky pests that make their way into homes around the world. Sometimes, it takes more than just keeping clean to ward them off. Here are the top 5 common household pests and how to get rid of them without chemicals.

The Basics

While there are pest-specific measures you can take, there are some basic tips you can start with to help ward off all types of creepy crawlies and pesky critters.

Keep Clean.

This tip is especially relevant for the kitchen. You should always keep sugar, flour, and other dry food stuff in airtight containers. Remember to put leftover food away before you go to sleep, and don’t leave any pet food out at night either. Don’t wait to clean up spills, crumbs or dishes. If you don’t have time to wash dishes right away, rinse them off before you put them in the sink. Keeping the air clean with an air purifier can also help as well because it eliminates bacteria and particles missed while cleaning, by investing in an air purifier such as the Alen Breathesmart FLEX can remove 99.97 percent of bacteria from the air.

Keep Dry.

Many critters are attracted to humidity and bodies of water, but this is especially true for cockroaches and mosquitoes. Get a dehumidifier and keep it on if you live in humid environments. If you have any leaky pipes, fix them immediately. Don’t let water build up in the sinks, and wipe up spills right away when they happen.

Keep Up with Repairs.

Pests can make their way into your home from the tiniest cracks and holes. If you have any torn screens or holes in the wall, don’t wait to fix them. Caulk up any cracks or openings you might have around your windows, pipes or baseboards. If you use mulch or firewood, store it as far away from the foundation of the house as you can. Aim for at least 30 feet.

Now that you know the basics, we can move on to the most common household pests and give you some specific tips on how to get rid of them and keep them out.


We all know these dark colored little bugs with segmented bodies. Dark colored ants are not harmful, but they will set up nests in swarms. They live under the soil, so you can find their homes beneath buildings, near plants and trees and along sidewalks. They really like warm and damp areas, so it isn’t unusual to find them nesting in homes between walls, near heating systems or under floors.

To get rid of ants, you have to find the spot where they’re coming in and seal it shut. Get rid of garbage and recyclables daily, and store in a well-designed garbage disposal unit that can keep out ants. Leave a sprinkle of natural repellant around to make sure they don’t come back in. Ants hate cinnamon, coffee grounds, dried peppermint, chili pepper and lemon peel.


Termites look like ants, but they’re 1/2 – 3/8 of an inch long and have wings. These guys won’t harm you, but they will harm your home by eating anything made of wood, including the infrastructure. You can find them nesting in wooden buildings, mulch and decomposing trees or tree stumps. To get rid of termites, you need to keep any wood or mulch piles at least 30 feet away from your home, or as far as possible. You can treat any infested areas with natural oils, including neem tree oil and orange oil. If the infestation is in your yard, consider releasing some nematodes out there. They’ll eat up all the termites without causing damage to other plants or your home.

Bed Bugs

These little critters are a nightmare. Bed bugs have small, dark, oval-shaped bodies, six legs and are reddish brown in color. You can check for them in mattress seams, headboards, and bed frames, under wallpaper or wooden floorboards, bedroom furniture and clothing. Chances are you won’t see them crawling around freely. They come out at night for a blood snack and can live for up to 12 months between meals.
It is not easy to get rid of bed bugs. You need to remove all clothing and other cloth material from where you think they might be hiding, wash it in hot water with soap, and store it in airtight plastic bags or containers. While you’re washing that stuff, clean all surfaces with hot water and dry on a hot setting, using a heater or hot air blow dryer. Get a new mattress and immediately cover it and the box spring with a zip-up vinyl mattress cover. If you have any cracks in your floorboard or peeling wallpaper, seal everything up and treat the areas with something called diatomaceous earth.

Bees and Wasps

Bees and wasps build nests in trees, chimneys, and empty, shady structures, such as attics and barns. Sometimes they even build their nests underground. They might dwell near garbage cans or fruit trees because they love sweet plants, sap, and garbage. If you’re allergic to bee and wasp stings, having them around can be deadly.

The only way to get rid of bees and wasps is to remove the nest. The only way to remove the nest is to wait for the queen to leave. The queen is unmistakable as the largest one of the bunch. While she’s out, fill the nest with dirt and spray it with an essential oil spray. Use extreme caution. Bees and wasps will fight.


Cockroaches have long, oval-shaped bodies with six legs and wings (though they don’t fly often). They’re brown in color with black or light colored markings on the back. They thrive in cities and densely populated buildings and neighborhoods. They aren’t usually dangerous, but their feces and saliva can cause allergic reactions and trigger asthma. They have also been known to transmit dangerous bacteria, including Salmonella and E. coli.

Roaches are decent at hiding and they come out in the dark. If you see one, there’s a good chance that a lot more of them are hiding out behind the scene. They’re one of the only species that can survive a nuclear blast, so they aren’t easy to get rid of, but you can use roach traps to kill them. If you use roach traps, keep them out of the reach of children and pets. Keep your counters and drains clean, store food in airtight glass and metal containers or in the refrigerator. If you have any gaps in your floors or walls, seal them with caulk.

Remember to keep your home free of garbage and excess water and to store wood piles, mulch piles and garbage cans as far away from the house as possible to prevent infestations of most pests. If you live in an RV, ensure that your tote tank is well-cleaned. Good luck!

About the author

Janet Miller is a mom of four, home cleaning specialist and environmentalist. She is the co-founder of Jen Reviews. She has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, and Tiny Buddha.

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