Few experiences fill a homeowner or tenant with dread as much as finding pests in the kitchen will. Knowing what to do is a matter of personal safety and important to the success of the fumigation.
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To prepare a home for fumigation is an arduous task, whether you're the contractor or the resident. In its simplest terms, fumigation is when a gas is pressurized to become a fumigant – and its job is to get into everything in order to kill pests. When using chemical agents like Master Fume and Vikane, this means there is no safe quarter beyond the tented perimeter installed by the pest control technicians. It is unsafe for anyone, including animals, to be inside the fumigated home for 24 hours. Plan to stay the night elsewhere.
The fumigant will get into anything that has a crack, as it's designed to get into walls and voids, anywhere pests can hide, so, if anything you own has been opened, it must be removed or packaged properly before fumigation. This means food products of any kind, including things in the fridge and freezer. Some people think pest control should just tent the fridge or freezer, but you can have pest eggs lain inside the housing, mice could be nesting in the back of the fridge. In fact, needing termite fumigation in refrigerators is common, so you need all appliances fumigated.
The good news, according to Unipest: as of July 2018, the natural options like orange oil fumigants mean the homeowners have to remove very little, but still have a 99.3 percent success rate in killing pests.
Notes for Successful Fumigation
To take care of all the critters, it's best to leave every door and cupboard open throughout your home – every dresser drawer, the bathroom cupboard, cabinets above the laundry machines, you name it. This will help the fumigant do its jobs.
Electricity can stay on, but gas needs to be turned off. Many companies will take care of this, if you've mentioned it to them.
What to Remove for Fumigation
For chemical agents, the motto is, "if in doubt, take it out," because the noxious chemicals are hazardous to people too. For glass, metal and ceramic jars and cans, if the air-tight seal has ever been broken, it's got to be removed or bagged. Any packaged food in any kind of container, bag, packet or box needs to be removed, even if it's never been opened. Vegetables, fruits, eggs, cartons of milk, jugs of fruit juice and even blister packs of pills also need to be removed or bagged.
In fact, any kind of resealable container, even that Rubbermaid and Tupperware you love, is not air-tight enough to withstand fumigation. Even vitamins, prescriptions, tobacco or other smoking products and pet foods have to removed or bagged.
For orange oil and other naturally-based fumigants, Unipest says all that needs to be removed are "opened food items, prescription drugs, people and pets, including beloved plants."
Using Fumigard Bags
There are a few brands of bags, like Nylofume fumigation bags and Fumigard bags, that are designed to protect goods during fumigation. It's a specially-formulated plastic bag system where you put one empty plastic bag into another. You fill the inner bag up to about two-thirds full, leaving enough space to properly seal the inner bag (twisting, then tying, maybe taping it down, and so on). Then, you would seal the outer bag over top of it. This double-bag system keeps things safe, but if you're concerned, removing products from the home is the best way to go.
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.