Many families face the same challenges when it comes to pest management. Our homes can attract mice, roaches, spiders, dust mites, and other pests that are not just sometimes visually disturbing, but harmful to our health. Microscopic dust mites can live in our carpets and beds, leaving behind waste that triggers asthma attacks. Mice can leave trails of urine on surfaces we eat from and our children play on as they search for food sources. They can even contaminate our food and spread illness to those living in the home. This is not the safe environment we want our families to live in! At the same time, many pest control treatments such as chemically-based foggers and sprays can be extremely detrimental to our indoor air quality and create even more problems. So what are we supposed to do to create a home our family can thrive in?
There is hope through a healthy home approach to dealing with your unwanted houseguests. The key to successfully keeping those pests out without endangering your family comes down to three simple principles:
- Starve Them Out
- Dry Them Out
- Keep Them Out
Just like us, all pests are looking for food, water, and shelter. By eliminating their ability to gain access to what they want, you will be able to take back control.
Starve Them Out
The first step to Integrated Pest Management is eliminating their food sources.
- Seal up boxes and bags of food securely.
- Store open food and pet food in plastic bags and containers
- Immediately clean up any spills or crumbs. It might just look like a few crumbs to us, but to pests that could be a whole meal!
- Eat your meals at the table to reduce the chance of leaving behind food sources elsewhere
- Wash your dishes right away.
- Keep a tight lid on trash and empty it often
- Over your mattress with an airtight cover and wash sheets and pillows in hot water. This eliminates food sources for microscopic dust mites.
- If possible, replace carpets with solid surfaces such as laminate and wood. If not, vacuum frequently with a strong vacuum with a HEPA filter.
- Consider upgrades to your air filtration system to eliminate dust that mites might feed on
Dry Them Out
Eliminating sources of water is an essential step to tackling the pest problem. Roaches can live up to one month without food but only one week without water.
- Always drain all water from your sink. It may be tempting to leave that big pot to soak overnight, but you are just inviting roaches in for a pool party!
- Wipe all spills immediately.
- Fix any leaky faucets, pipes, dishwashers, or washing machines.
- Maintain a humidity level under 50%. High levels of humidity can attract all sorts of pests and bacteria.
Keep Them Out
The last and most effective step is keeping the pests out of your home in the first place! Preventing the pests from gaining access to your home will save you from stressing over how to eliminate them safely.
- Repair holes in doors and window screens
- Clean up clutter such as cardboard boxes, newspapers, and paper bags.
- Set non-toxic traps with baits in closed containers, always out of reach from children
- Use the least toxic pesticides, such as boric acid powder.
- Seal cracks and openings around your sinks, windows, and pipes
- Make sure you do not have any roof or foundation leaks
- Air seal access points in the attic and garage.