Tried-and-tested natural repellents to 5 household pests March 24, 2016 03:50

Being a parent has made me gentler on the creepy crawlies I share my house with.  Somehow, having kiddo present as witness leads me to scoop them up on scrap paper and release them out into the wild (ie. out the window), rather than just squashing them flat without a second thought.  That, and I'm a lot more wary about using common bug sprays (which are generally poisons that contain chemicals that have been shown to be carcinogenic and to affect the brain and nervous system on exposure) in a home where tiny humans practically live on the floor.  

All that said, I don't view them any more kindly when they invade my space now than I used to, so here is what I do for natural and effective pest control -

1. Ants

Oh, these used to drive me nuts in the kitchen - even with those stick-on ant repellants (or ant powder or whatever it was I could get my hands on) out in full force...  until I found out what worked better!

Natural pest repellent: Coffee grounds (or used coffee capsules) make for an aromatic repellant for ants (and a convenient one at that if coffee is a regular at your home!).  Peppermint (whether the fresh variety, dried, as used teabags or in essential oil form) is another one that works well.  Just leave them around areas where ants are about.

2. Cockroaches

They have survived since the stone ages so they can survive anything.  Better to chase them away with aromas they don't fancy.

Natural pest repellent: Pandan leaves (also known as pandanus or screwpine) have been used in Southeast Asia for years to repel cockroaches.  Simply cut the leaves and tie them in a knot.  Replace when dried out.

3. Spiders 

They are only ever cute in that nursery rhyme.

Natural pest repellent: Any citrus scent - spiders have a distaste for citrus.  Make a spray out of orange or lemon essential oils (or juice, if that works better for you) and water!  I spray this around the home once a week.

4. Mosquitoes

Natural pest repellent: Neem, citronella and eucalyptus oils work to keep mozzies away when applied to clothing or (with appropriate dilution) on skin.  I also tried adding them to my mopping water for a blanket repel, but that made my tiled floors a tad too slippery for unstable toddlers.

[If your child does get stung, breastmilk or lavender essential oil (the latter, appropriately diluted) helps with the itch.]

5. Centipedes

While not a common household pest, I had the good fortune of meeting a few in my previous home...  and given the panic and mayhem they cause, I wouldn't wish them on my enemy.

Natural pest repellent: Cayenne pepper.  I used the powdered form at all entrance points to discourage them from dropping in.  (Sure, it raised questions when people saw the red powder, but would you rather have centipedes instead?)

I have to say, I rather like the potential good karma I must be getting from choosing repelling over killing!
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