This is the time of year when I occasionally run into little critters around the house, which I cover with cups and ask my husband to relocate. I prefer not to find such surprises in my home, so it is a good time to keep the counters wiped, the floors cleaned and piles of paper to a minimum. As summer begins, I am inspired to get clean and organized as I regroup to keep the pests at bay.
Piles of stuff are good places for creepy-crawlies to hide. Minimize the number of residents in your house by reducing clutter. Sort out your piles. Recycle papers you no longer need. Make new piles of books and magazines to give away or return to the library, and put aside clothing you no longer wear to drop off at a thrift store. Put all loose photographs into one box until they find homes in albums or frames. Throw away old cosmetics. Prepare a box for hazardous waste disposal, such as old batteries, burned-out fluorescent bulbs (in Ziploc bags), empty paint cans, etc. Dispose of these items at the Environmental Service Center (1570 Terry Road, 601-960-0000).
For items you want to keep, group them by type to get organized. Choose durable, long-lasting storage containers. For attic or garage storage, choose water and pest-resistant containers, such as large Rubbermaid bins, to protect your possessions long-term. For kitchen pantry storage, consider glass Ball jars. For daily use items, choose small heavy-duty baskets that allow easy access. Avoid large closed containers like toy chests for daily use storage, since it is too easy for kids to forget about toys when they are out of sight. Toys can last much longer when they are stored in smaller containers by type. When you know what you have, you will save money and natural resources by not overbuying.
Do a deep clean of your house using one of the many new, green cleaning products available at local stores. Even some big national brands are jumping on the green bandwagon. Look for clear, unscented products, which are less toxic than perfumed alternatives. Also consider old-fashioned basics such as baking soda, vinegar, or soap and water.
Work to keep clutter out on a daily basis. Institute a 10- or 15-minute cleanup time at the end of each day to make sure that everything is in its place, that the kitchen is clean and that you are ready to start the day fresh in the morning.
If cleaning and organizing is not enough to keep unwanted visitors at bay, use natural alternatives to traditional pest control. Peppermint oil is a good deterrent for ants and rodents. Cedar chips will repel moths. Boric acid is good for killing ants and roaches, but be sure to keep it away from children, pets and food because of its toxicity.
I prefer to use just a few commercial ant and roach traps in out-of-the way places instead of boric acid or insect sprays.
Besides keeping our homes clean and clutter free, one of the best pest control methods of all is to welcome spiders into the house and yard with open arms. Encouraging birds to spend time in your yard is another good way to keep insects in and around your house under control. To create a safe habitat for spiders and birds, avoid the use of insect sprays and lawn pesticides. And unless you see a black widow spider, resist the urge to squash our eight-legged friends.