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 on.
Instead, a number of safer home remedies can get rid of fleas, ants and roaches using common household products and good hygiene practices. Keep reading for 12 awesome methods:
1. Use dishwashing detergent against fleas
It's like liquid poison to fleas. Try washing your pet with detergent, which will clean its fur and kill any fleas. It's best to use a natural formula and test a small area first, as some animals have sensitive skin.
Second, make a flea trap by pouring dishwashing liquid into a very shallow bowl or plate. Fleas are drawn to light, so place a candle in the middle or keep it under a lamp; over a week or so, you should see fleas becoming trapped in the viscous liquid.
2. Wash and vacuum ... everything
To get rid of fleas, you need to 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 favorite blankets or cushions.
If you have a pet and the flea problem has been bad, it might be worth throwing out its bed and getting a new one, since 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 that don't get a lot of sunlight.
3. Salt your carpet
A layer of salt will dehydrate and kill the fleas living in your carpet. Use finely ground salt, and sprinkle a generous layer over your entire carpet. Leave it for one to two days or as long as you can, and then thoroughly vacuum.
4. Make a natural flea spray
Once you've controlled the initial flea population using the steps above, make your own natural products to keep the fleas away. 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.
5. Deter ants with household products
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. 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. Try drawing a line with chalk around the entry points, because ants are repelled by calcium carbonate. If you're having a picnic, place a water-filled container under each table leg; the ants won't be able to get onto the table at all. For a step-by-step guide to get rid of ants, be sure to check out these 4 easy ways to keep away ants.
6. Bait or trap the ants
Try making a homemade bait by mixing 1 part borax with 3 parts powdered sugar. The sugar attracts the ants, and the borax poisons them. The ants will 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.
7. 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. Pour 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. Your aim should be to kill the queen, who is responsible for reproducing in the colony.
8. Starve roaches
Roaches can't live for more than a week without water, 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.
9. Deter roaches
As with ants, there are natural chemicals and scents that roaches can't stand. Some of these include bay leaves, mint oil, Listerine, cedar, cucumber and lemon. 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. One recipe uses 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're patient.
11. Make your own roach spray
How? Just using soap and water. Spray the mixture directly onto roaches. It forms a layer over their shells, effectively suffocating them. This method works quickly and doesn't require any harmful chemicals, but be sure to dispose of the roach immediately because 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. You can also 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 or 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.