Spring Cleaning Tips for Keeping Pests Out
Many things – like spring cleaning AND pest problems – are influenced by Mother Nature’s calendar. These days, health and hygiene are more important than ever before. While we aren’t experts in the medical science field, we’ve long understood the connection between keeping your home clean and preventing pest infestations. We’ve put together a few of our tried and true tips to make your to-do list a little easier.
First, we’d like to point out that there is a difference between regular cleaning, spring cleaning, and the best practices recommended by official organizations for cleaning and disinfecting. We’ll review a couple of key points for all the different kinds of cleaning and provide a free download at the end with a spring-cleaning checklist to make those tasks a little easier.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
*Check with federal, state, and local organizations for specific recommendations. The CDC points out the difference between cleaning and disinfecting in a household setting by saying this:
- Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
- Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
Some cleaning products kill germs, viruses, and bacteria, but some do not. Pay attention to the labels and follow their directions. Look to see what the active and inactive ingredients are and if there are any special precautions you should take when using, storing, or disposing of the product. You should also know what type of first aid is appropriate if you inhale, ingest or come into direct contact with the product.
CDC recommends using EPA registered disinfectants, solutions with at least 70% alcohol, or diluted household bleach solutions for disinfecting.
Regular Cleaning and How it Differs
Regular cleaning is an important (if not tedious) fact of life. Life is messy, we get it, but your home doesn’t have to be. We’ve done our research and found a few tips and tricks that make this never-ending chore way easier!
Make three passes, or waves.
- On your first pass, tidy up. Pick up objects that are out of place and assess what is needed so you have the supplies you need for the next steps.
- On your second pass, you will do the real cleaning – this means getting rid of dust, debris, streaks, and sticky spots. Since you did a visual assessment on your first pass, you’ll have the right products (like glass cleaner or all-purpose spray) and supplies (like paper towels, microfiber cloths, or a feather duster) to get this done quickly and efficiently.
- The last pass is to clean the floors. By saving this for last, you don’t have to be as careful if a few crumbs or dust fall on the floor in the earlier passes, you’ll take care of them now.
Spring Pest Control & Cleaning Tips
Spring cleaning is different from regular cleaning because we don’t always take the time to clean every little thing. That’s okay because some things don’t need to be cleaned that often. Springtime offers an opportunity to take care of tidying up these overlooked areas, fixing small repairs, and working on projects that don’t always need attention during your regular cleaning routine.
Paying attention to hard-to-reach and seldom-used spaces just a few times a year is all that is needed to keep your home happy, healthy, and also pest-free. Spring is a time of rebirth, and that goes for the insects and rodents you don’t want near your home, too. This makes deep cleaning during this time of year even more important.
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Make sure you’re getting the most out of your efforts by focusing on these spring pest control tips and cleaning tips:
- Clean underneath and behind – Dust bunnies aren’t the only things that congregate under sofas, beds, and dressers, so be brave, take a look and get rid of whatever critters may be hiding. Pay attention to the backsides of upholstered furniture and dresser drawers; moths love to hide here.
- Windows (and window tracks) – Use a toothbrush to get rid of the dirt that comes in open windows and settles in the tracks. A handheld vacuum can help here, along with a damp cloth.
- Window coverings – Follow instructions on the label to launder or steam clean fabric curtains; use the brush attachment on your vacuum or a microfiber cloth for blinds.
- Seal cracks and remove dirt buildup on outside walls – Look closely to identify tiny cracks in the walls, windows, doors, and around plumbing and electrical wires. Seal them with caulk or weatherstrip so pests can’t get in. Termites, like many other pests, swarm in the spring and often travel underground to look for cracks and crevices in the walls of your foundation to enter – so the basement is a good place to start. Also, look for parts of your home that are made of wood that may be touching the soil, such as siding. Consider lowering the dirt so that you don’t give pests easy entry points to your home.
- Wash or dry-clean winter sweaters – Before storing sweaters away, clean them to remove moth eggs and prevent infestations. For extra protection, place a pouch of Stay Away® Moths in the storage bins.
- Clean up pet food – Clean up areas where traces of pet food may be present to eliminate attractants that can lure pantry moths, ants, and mice into the space.
- Fix any leaks – A leaky faucet or water seeping indoors will encourage critters like spiders, ants, and cockroaches to come in and stay awhile.
- Remove spider webs and prevent new ones – Vacuum them up and spray the area with half a cup of water, half a cup of vinegar, two tablespoons of dish soap, and 20 drops of thyme oil. After you clean, place Stay Away® Spiders in the area for added protection. Remember to look up high and down low for spider webs because they accumulate in the corners. Other dirt and dust piles also accumulate in these areas such as fan blades, picture frames, and light fixtures. Thoroughly check these places and tidy up accordingly.
- Store food properly – Transfer dry food into airtight glass, metal, or plastic containers to protect it from moths, weevils, and small beetles. Then place a repellent like Stay Away® Moths in the pantry to prevent spring infestations.
- Ditch the cardboard boxes – Store winter items in air-tight storage bags to protect them from pests that are attracted to cardboard, like cockroaches, silverfish, moths, and termites. Pests of all types love clutter, so organizing and storing items will also remove their hiding spots. Bed bugs specifically love clutter so decluttering can help prevent unseen infestations and it allows you to spot infestations sooner. And regular linen washing and floor vacuuming keep early infestations small.
- Move furniture – Move all furniture to thoroughly vacuum for crumbs, and wash windows with treatments according to their labels. Pests are drawn to all the dirt, clutter, and crumbs that accumulate where you spend the most time.
- Blast music while you clean – Spiders love quiet, undisturbed places. The music’s vibrations will interfere with spiders’ ability to detect their next meal, and they’ll quickly leave in search of a quieter spot.
- Spray the insides of your dresser or wardrobe with a vinegar-based cleaner – Then wash it with a warm soap solution. Remove any drawers before you begin cleaning because the gap between the wall of the wardrobe and the shelves is a moth’s favorite place to hide.
- Steam your carpets to remove moth eggs and larvae – For sofas and armchairs, use a hairdryer on the highest heat setting and slowly move it over the fabric. The hot air will quickly take care of unseen eggs to prevent a pest problem.
- Leave out lemon, lime, and orange peels in the kitchen – Citrus peels are toxic to the fungi that ants feed on and act as a natural repellent.
- Use botanical repellents – Replace traps and poisons with plant-based repellents like EarthKind’s Stay Away®
Spiders, Ants and Cockroaches, and Moth pouches. Stay Away® brings fresh spring scents in while keeping pests out!
Bonus Tip! Clean out your gutters. Clogged gutters can overflow and cause damage to your roof and foundation due to the water running down the side of the house instead of away from it through the downspout. They also provide a great place for pests to make their home because they have easy access to standing water and they can hide from predators. The most common pests homeowners find in their gutter are bees, wasps, mice, termites, and birds. So clean those leaves out regularly!
Get our Spring Cleaning Checklist in PDF form so you can print and keep these useful cleaning and pest control tips close!