People like to think that just being clean is enough to avoid pest infestations, but sometimes it's just down to bad luck. They may try any number of solutions before finally paying for professional fumigation, which has nearly a 100% success rate, whether with noxious agents or even something natural like orange oil. But whether it's fumigation or just spraying a pesticide, there are safety issues after pest control cleaning in the kitchen.
If in Doubt? Out!
Fumigation is designed to be invasive and go everywhere to exterminate bugs. Even orange oil, considered natural with no ill effects after 48 hours, is considered dangerous if it enters food products. A spray may not be as invasive as fumigation, but it's airborne and its range of travel is further than what the human eye sees.
So, nearby fruit and vegetables, packaged crackers and breads, foil-wrapped cookies and blister-packed pills are susceptible to fumigant or spray permeating the skins or packaging of all food products in the cupboards. For fumigants, even the fridge and freezer contents should be bagged or removed, as the appliances are intended to be fumigated too.
If you suspect anything has been subject to spraying or fumigant, don't gamble – ditch it.
The upside to removing everything from the cupboard: it's an excellent opportunity to clean and organize. But you're generally not supposed to "clean" the residue of pest control products, so it's important to clean before the pesticide or fumigant is used.
Same with cleaning after roach spray. It's supposed to remain as a deterrent, so cleaning it can negate its impact. The thing is, though, it's only the perimeter that really matters, because that's where bugs travel. They never cross the middle. So, you may be able to wipe the center of shelves and the walls, and the floors too, but not the corner or the perimeters, especially for professional sprays designed with a 30- to 90-day life. Follow this "perimeter" rule for the duration.
Before putting everything back, this is exactly what shelf paper is great for. Even if you can't wipe down the bottom of the shelves after spraying, you can always lay down new shelf paper.
Dishes and Cookware
If you're not keen on washing everything after the pest control's job has been done, then remove all the dishes, gadgets, cookware, pots and pans from the kitchen, too. Double bag them with fumigation bags or take them to a neighbor's. If you do leave everything as-is, you'll need to wash everything before you use them.
Seeing More Bugs After Spraying
It's totally natural to see an increase in bugs for up to 10 days after pest control cleaning, believe it or not. With roach bait and the like, they'll take the poison back to their nests or colonies, and the die-off should begin within a few days. If activity continues after 10 days, most pest control companies will return for another treatment or two, so make sure you find out what their policy is regarding subsequent visits. Critters like roaches need water when they're dying, so make sure you leave no standing water in your home after spraying, and wipe down the sink, tub and shower after use.
For advanced bug problems, taking action sooner than later is important. But once you've taken pest control measures, follow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's recommended advice with their pest control do's and don'ts from June 2017. This way, you can start over fresh and adhere to their pest prevention tips, so you don't repeat your pest control experience.
Steffani Cameron is the daughter of a realtor and interior decorator mother and a home contractor father. Steffani is a professional writer with over five years' experience writing about the home for BuildDirect and Bob Vila. Raised with a mad love for decorating, Steffani gave up her Art Deco apartment to travel and work remotely for five years. She's in love with experiencing traditional decor around the world, including stays in Thai teak plantations on the Mekong River and cave homes in Turkey.