Fleas, ants and roaches are common household pests. There are many products that claim to kill these annoying critters, but most of them are full of harsh chemicals, require you to leave your house for a few days, or leave a toxic residue in the carpet that you wouldn't want your children or pets to be playing around on.
Instead, there are a number of safer home remedies to get rid of fleas, ants and roaches, using household products and good hygiene practices. Keep reading for 12 awesome methods:
1) Dishwashing detergent. It's like liquid poison to fleas, according to Rapid Home Remedies. Try washing your pet with detergent, which will clean their fur and kill any fleas. It is best to use a natural formula and test a small area first, as some animals have sensitive skin. Secondly, you can make a flea trap by pouring dishwashing liquid into a very shallow bowl or plate. Fleas are drawn to light so try placing a candle into the middle, or keeping it under a lamp - over a week or so you should see fleas becoming trapped into the viscous liquid.
2) Wash and vacuum. WikiHow explains that to get rid of fleas you need to also get rid of their eggs and larvae, so spend a day washing everything in the house where they might live. Throw all your bedding, bathroom mats, clothes and soft rugs into the washing machine, paying special attention to your pet's favourite blankets or cushions. If you have pets and the flea problem has been bad, it may be worth throwing out their bed and getting a new one, as fleas lay their eggs in the stuffing as well as the cover. Next, vacuum your house thoroughly and be sure to get into all those dark spots; fleas love to live in areas which don't get a lot of sunlight.
4) Salt your carpet. According to Rapid Home Remedies, a layer of salt will dehydrate and kill the fleas living in your carpet. You'll need to use finely ground salt and sprinkle a generous layer over your entire carpet. Leave it for 1 - 2 days or as long as you can and then thoroughly vacuum.
5) Make a natural flea spray. Once you've controlled the initial flea population using the steps above, you can make your own natural products to keep the fleas away. Rapid Home Remedies list a couple of natural recipes including rosemary oil and citronella oil. Neither of these contain any harsh chemicals and are safe to use around the home, but be careful not to use rosemary oil or powder on your cat - it might have an adverse reaction.
6) Deter ants. If you can see where ants are coming into your kitchen, spread a line of petroleum jelly, duct tape or talcum powder across the entry point, as suggested by WikiHow. According to Top 10 Home Remedies, you can also wipe the trails clean with diluted cinnamon oil, or place ground cinnamon or whole cloves near the entry points. Spraying white vinegar, fresh lemon juice or diluted peppermint oil across old ant trails also works to remove their chemical scent so that the colony doesn't continue to use the same path. Readers Digest suggests drawing a line with chalk around the entry points, because ants are repelled by the calcium carbonate. If you're having a picnic, try placing a water-filled container under each table leg - the ants won't be able to get onto the table at all.
7) Bait or trap the ants. DIY Natural suggests making a home-made bait by mixing one part borax with three parts powdered sugar. The sugar attracts the ants, and the Borax poisons them. The ants will then carry the poison back home and exterminate the colony. You can also make an ant trap by pouring a little honey into a shallow dish. The ants are attracted to the sugar but become stuck and can't get back out.
8) Find the ant nest. Be careful - some ants are aggressive and have painful bites! They also play an important part in our ecological system, so only destroy the nest if other methods have failed. Try pouring boiling water into the entry point of the nest - it will flow throughout the tunnels and kill the colony. You can also use a solution of camphor oil and methylated spirits, according to WikiHow. Your aim should be to kill the queen, who is responsible for reproducing in the colony.
9) Starve roaches. Roaches can't live for more than a week without water, according to WikiHow, so make sure that you don't have any leaks in your house. This way they'll be more keen to nibble on any liquid baits you leave out for them. The same goes for food: make sure that your kitchen is totally clean, without crumbs or food splatters anywhere. Roaches love grease, so give that stovetop a thorough wipe.
10) Deter roaches. As with ants, there are natural chemicals and scents that roaches can't stand. Home Remedies Care lists several of them, including bay leaves, mint oil, Listerine, cedar, cucumber and lemon. You can mix your own solutions and spray in the affected areas of your house to keep away the roaches.
10) Use roach bait. There are many types of store-bought bait, but you can also make your own. WikiHow details a recipe using Boric Acid, flour and sugar. This method takes a few weeks to work, and you need to kill a few generations of roaches before the numbers decline significantly, but it is effective if you can be patient.
11) Make your own roach spray. How? Just using soap and water. Spray the mixture directly onto roaches and it forms a layer over their shell, effectively suffocating them. This method works quickly and doesn't require any harmful chemicals, but be sure to dispose of the roach immediately as it could recover if the mixture dries too quickly.
12) Make a roach trap. Roaches need water, so they'll go to great lengths to get it. Partially fill a jar with water and place it where you've seen frequent roaches. They'll climb in for the water and won't be able to get back out. WikiHow also shows you how to make a great 'soda bottle trap' based on the same principle. Try putting coffee grounds in with the water - the roaches are attracted to coffee.
A bad infestation is a health hazard, and at some point you may need to use a chemical bug spray, insecticide bomb, or even call in the professionals. But try these natural home remedies first - they're better for your family, your pets and the environment.