How to Control Household Pests - Naturally

How to Control Household Pests - Naturally


With a little bit of effort and a few simple changes to your living habits, you can minimise uninvited ‘pests’ in your home, without taking to toxic and potentially very harmful chemicals that could be endangering your health.

There is much research now about the harmful effects of common household pesticides, insecticides and herbicides, and the findings are of huge concern.

In short, these highly toxic substances have been found to cause life harming and threatening diseases such as respiratory damage, neurological damage, endocrine disruption, reproductive damage and unexplained headaches and nausea to name only a few.  A 2002 study links exposure to household pesticides to increased risk of childhood leukemia and further studies show links to Autism, behavioural and mood disorders such as ADD/ADHD along with other learning difficulties. 

Although most of us really do not enjoy the buzzing of flies, jumping of fleas, crawling of ants or scuttle of rodents in our home, are the 'old school' convenient chemical solutions really worth compromising our health?

We have put together the best advice we have found on how to control critters in your home naturally, safely and as inexpensively as possible.  And the common theme is PREVENTION!

NB:  We recommend that once you have eliminated pesticide products from your home that you do a thorough clean of all surfaces, including floors, ceilings and walls using a non-toxic soap based product to remove any toxic residues left behind from previous chemical use.


The general rules are:


  • Make sure all members of your household are on board!  
  • Reduce clutter and places where insects can hide
  • Keep rubbish bins sealed and take out often
  • Compost!  Don’t throw food into your general rubbish bin - use a sealed composting system like this great Bokashi system that starts the composting process there in your kitchen - watch your rubbish reduce!
  • Trap and remove pests using nontoxic and humane traps
  • Organise your pantry and keep dry food in well-sealed containers
  • Keep pantry and cupboard shelves wiped clean
  • Clean stove, oven, sink, and floor regularly
  • Clean your waste disposal system often
  • Wash and dry dishes and put on shelves straight away
  • Don’t leave water sitting in the sink or in dishes
  • Wipe benchtops and surfaces clean of crumbs and sticky substances
  • Keep pet food and treats in airtight containers
  • Clean up around your pet’s food bowl
  • Keep bathroom floors and toilets clean
  • Vacuum floors to remove dust mites and ants
  • Wash laundry piles to avoid lice and flea infestations
  • When you see a pest, try mechanical methods of removal (eg. fly swatter, cup on cardboard to relocate kindly)
  • Add fly screens to your window and/or door openings
    (An economic DIY way to do this is by adhering Flymag magnetic strips around your window frames and on a cut to size piece of mesh which you can then attach to your window opening)


  • Seal cracks and other areas where pests can enter your house
  • Weather-proof windows and doors
  • Keep outdoor rubbish bins sealed
  • Trim overgrown bushes, trees, and plants (especially near the house)
  • Remove any standing water in the yard (ideal mosquito breeding areas)
  • Keep grass around your dwelling short using a sharp lawn mower blade
  • Add door sweeps to the bottom of exterior doors

  • Rodents
    - Refrain from putting food scraps in the garden for birds or other animals.
    - Throw out food left in dog or cat bowls. 
    - If you have an aviary, keep birdseed in rodent-proof dispensers. 
    - Pick up and dispose of fallen fruit from any fruit trees.
    - Trim plants such as creepers regularly
    - Keep potential nesting places, such as wood and rubbish piles off the ground. 
    - Consider using traps (humane), but do not lay traps in areas where children, pets or native animals could be harmed

  • Flies 
    - Keep a tight lid on outdoor rubbish bins. 
    - Put garden compost in a well-sealed container 
    - Flies don’t like pyrethrum, which is a common ingredient in fly spray. Try  planting pyrethrum daisies near your front and back doors to repel flies and other insects naturally. 
    - Install screens on windows and/or doors 

    - Drain any collected puddles of water, as this is where mosquitoes breed
    - Change the water in bird-baths at least once a week
    - Run your swimming pool filter each day 
    - Regularly clear your gutters of leaves and other debris that may collect water
    - Install screens as per above in the Flies section

  • - Make a non-toxic ant bait and or spray
    - Adhere to general rules above

  • Fleas
    - Wash pets, their blankets and other bedding regularly. 
    - Vacuum carpets and furniture regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner
    - Try these Top 8 Flea Home Remedies
  • Cockroaches 
    - Remove any sources of water such as in the base of the shower, back of fridge unit, in sinks or in dishes left in the kitchen - cockroaches need a daily source of water to survive. 
    - Don’t keep piles of wood chips or mulch near the house.

    - Adhere to General rules above


More on how pesticides harm our health

Pesticides can take the form of a solid, liquid, powder or spray. The form will influence the way in which the pesticide can enter your body and potentially affect your health.

Pesticides can enter your body if you:

  • swallow a pesticide, eat, drink or smoke after handling pesticide, or consume food or drink that was exposed to a pesticide
  • have skin contact with pesticides – directly, through pesticide-soaked clothing, or by touching pesticide-treated surfaces
  • inhale pesticide vapours, sprays or dust
  • rub your eyes after handling pesticides or cause pesticides to come into direct contact with your eyes.

If you minimize your exposure and take care when you come into contact with pesticides, you will reduce the chance of damaging your health.


Pesticide poisoning

Poisoning by exposure to pesticides may occur shortly after a single exposure (acute poisoning) or gradually after repeated exposures over a period of time (chronic poisoning).


Acute poisoning from pesticides

Symptoms of acute poisoning from pesticides may begin shortly after exposure and may include:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhea
  • blurred vision
  • excessive eye watering
  • sweating
  • excess saliva.

More severe poisoning may also lead to changes in heart rate, chest tightness, muscle weakness and twitching, difficulty breathing and walking, constricted pupils and incontinence. In very severe cases of poisoning, seizures and unconsciousness may occur.  Seek emergency medical advice.


Chronic poisoning from pesticide

Symptoms may occur gradually, after repeated exposures over a period of time, and may include:

  • muscle weakness
  • fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating and remembering things
  • generally feeling unwell.

The type of symptoms you have, how long they last and how severe they are may vary depending on factors such as:

  • the type and concentration of the pesticide used
  • the degree of exposure
  • the health and age of the person exposed.

Many of the potential symptoms are not specific to pesticide poisoning – they may be due to other conditions, such as illness or allergy. You should always consult your doctor for an accurate diagnosis of symptoms.


Risk factors for pesticide poisoning

Although anyone may be affected by exposure to pesticides, certain groups of people are particularly susceptible including:

  • unborn babies and young children
  • pregnant and nursing women
  • elderly people.


Give the natural methods a try - it's got to be better!

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