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Natural Spring Cleaning Tips for Keeping Pests Out

By: EarthKind

Spring is a time of rebirth and warmer weather. This can also mean it’s a time for increased pest problems, like rodents and insects, in the home. This makes deep cleaning during this time of year an even more important task.

Spring cleaning is different from everyday cleaning because we don’t always take the time to clean every little thing. That’s okay because some things don’t need attention as 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 to be done during your regular cleaning routine.

Paying attention to hard-to-reach and seldom-used spaces just a few times a year will help keep your home happy, healthy, and also pest-free. We’ve put together a few of our tried and true tips to make your Springtime to-do list a little easier.

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Regular Cleaning Tips

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

23 Spring Cleaning & Pest Prevention Tips

Before you start your deep cleaning process, it’s good to take inventory of all the spaces you are hoping to tackle. Below you’ll find natural cleaning solutions along with spring pest control tips that will keep your home truly clean — not just of dust and dirt, but of harmful chemicals that so many packaged cleansers contain.

  • 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.
  • Dust the hard-to-reach places around your home – Make your own eco-friendly dust cloth by applying one part glycerin and one part vinegar to a soft clean cloth and wipe your problems away. You can cover a mop with the cloth and clean floors and ceilings, too!
  • 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.
  • looking at sweaters for moth larvae or damageWash or dry-clean winter sweaters – Time to pack away your winter wardrobe? Moths, just like most pests, love to make their nests in tight places. Take the time to remove any items you’ve grown tired of and once you’ve pared down your wardrobe, be sure to clean the ones you are keeping to remove moth eggs before storing them away. For extra protection, place a pouch of Stay Away® Moths in the storage bins.
  • 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. Regular linen washing and floor vacuuming can keep early infestations small.
  • 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.
  • Store food properly – Transfer dry food into airtight containers made of glass, metal, or plastic to protect it from moths, weevils, and small beetles. Then place a repellent like Stay Away® Moths in the pantry to prevent spring infestations.
  • Clean up pet food – Pet food is a great food source for pests! 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.
  • Resolve any leaks or spills – A leaky faucet or a spot with frequent spills 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • family mother and child boy cleaning the room with vacuum-cleaner - houseworkDeep clean the nursery – As cozy as carpeting can be in a baby’s room, it can also be a hidden reservoir for dust mites, mold and mildew. Use untreated carpeting with jute or latex backing or be sure to give old carpeting a non-toxic professional cleaning. While you’re looking around the room, check out the furniture. Much of today’s baby furniture is made out of pressed wood, which is glued together with formaldehyde based glues that can release gas into the baby’s room for the life of the piece. Choose real wood furniture if you can. The mattress is also important. If an organic mattress is not an option, enclose a standard crib mattress within a cotton barrier cover to avoid plastic or polyurethane encasements. To keep moisture from leaky diapers from getting in, invest in a wool puddle pad and place it between the baby’s mattress and sheet.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Keep the shimmer on your silver without giving yourself a headache from toxic polish fumes – Dab some white toothpaste on your finger, rub it into the dark spots, and wipe away the tarnish with a clean cloth. For bigger pieces, you’ll want to use baking soda and a clean, damp sponge. First, create a paste of baking soda and water. Scoop the paste onto the sponge and rub it into the silver. Rinse the silver with hot water and then polish dry with a soft, clean cloth. For really bad tarnish, leave the paste on the silver for an hour before cleaning.
  • 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 spring pests homeowners find in their gutter are bees, wasps, mice, termites, and birds. So clean those leaves out regularly!
  • Keep ants away from your yard – Be sure to sweep and spray down your outdoor areas like decks and patios so ants don’t set up a summer-long picnic. If you have evergreens in your yard, carpenter ants gravitate towards these when their nests overpopulate. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth and hot cayenne pepper powder around the trees and ants will be making their way towards a new home. The soil around these trees provide the ideal environment for ants to create satellite sites and easily burrow tunnels for food storage, potty sites (even ants like their privacy!) and social time. The closer the trees are to your home, the more likely the ants are to make their way inside.
  • Even your bird house requires a little spring cleaning – Birds are susceptible to respiratory infections. To keep them healthy and chirping, use a natural disinfectant cleanser once a month to clear their backyard homes of unhealthy bacterial growth. Also be cautious about how much stale bread you toss out into the backyard. While it’s fun to watch the birds fly in for a special treat, the bread can become damp and susceptible to growing hazardous molds. Healthy birds are happy birds.
  • Keep beetles away from your spring garden – You may not have noticed, but beetles might have been hibernating in your trash cans all winter. When you’re sprucing up for spring, use a non-toxic cleanser to clean out the garbage cans, too. Beetles consider your garden a lovely place to lay their eggs. As convenient as it seems to keep a trash can close by while you’re gardening, unfortunately it’s convenient for pests that are drawn to your pretty flowers and tasty food too. Move the garbage can away from the garden when you’re done for the day.
  • Use botanical pest repellents – Replace traps and poisons with plant-based repellents like EarthKind’s Stay Away® Spiders, Ants and Cockroaches, and Moth pouches to help prevent pest infestations. Stay Away® products bring fresh scents using essential oils all while keeping pests out!

Specific Information on Different Types Cleaning

All of these cleaning tips are a good reminder, but there is a difference between regular cleaning, spring cleaning, and the best practices recommended by official organizations for 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.

Now that you’re armed with what you need to know, get ready to enjoy a stress free, mess free, pest free home!