Smart Ways to Naturally Keep Pesky Bugs Out of Your Kitchen and Pantry Closet

Natural Ways to Keep Bugs Out of the Kitchen
credit: Ana Stanciu

When bugs appear in the kitchen or pantry closet, we want them gone, fast. That line of tiny black ants headed straight for counter crumbs. The fruit flies that appear as soon as summer fruit season begins. The pantry moths that mysteriously invade an unopened bag of flour.

To avoid using chemical-filled bug sprays where you cook and eat, we're offering natural solutions and deterrents for household pests. These non-toxic solutions work for all kinds of kitchen pests and will help you avoid getting annoying visitors in the first place.

Start With Early Prevention and Store Food Properly

Avoiding bugs in the kitchen starts with prevention. When food comes into the kitchen, make sure you are storing it properly to avoid creating a giant invitation for bugs.

— Transfer flours and grains out of their packaging and into tightly sealed glass containers. Even better, store them in the refrigerator or freezer.

— Fresh fruit and vegetables stored on the counter can quickly turn into bug magnets, so toss out ripe items as quickly as possible. Even better, throw them in an outside trash can to avoid creating a breeding ground in your kitchen trash can.

How to store food to prevent bugs
credit: Ana Stanciu

Eliminate the Food Sources That Attract Pests

It's impossible to keep a kitchen immaculate all the time, but to avoid bugs, you need to channel your inner Mr. Clean to starve them out.

— Don't let dishes pile up in the sink and keep the garbage disposal and drain cleared out.

— Immediately wipe up spills and food debris from countertops and floors. (Try using this lemongrass natural spray cleaner for its great smell and disinfecting power.) Same goes for the pantry; don't let crumbs accumulate on the shelves.

Ways to Keep Bugs Out of the Kitchen

Your pet's food is also a source of food for bugs so move their food and water bowls out of the kitchen and avoid having them sit out all day.

Deter Common Pests With Non-Toxic Solutions

If you're already dealing with unwanted pests, try these non-toxic solutions for some of the most common kitchen invaders.

Ants

Look for the areas where ants appear to be entering the house and use an effective ant treatment that's nontoxic to humans. Sprinkle an unbroken line of dry diatomaceous powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon (powder or oil), lemon juice, cucumber peels, or coffee grounds where you see ants crawling, and they won't want to pass through.

Use peppermint leaves and essential oil to create a natural bug spray. Mix 10 to 15 drops of peppermint essential oil with one cup of water and a few drops of dish soap in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray along cracks and crevices or wherever ants are seen.

Natural ways to keep ants out of the kitchen
credit: Ana Stanciu

Fruit flies

Natural remedy for fruit flies
credit: Ana Stanciu

With cantaloupes, tomatoes, and the occasional overripe banana on the counter, the tiny little pests inevitably inhabit kitchens in the summer. Fill a small cup or vase with equal parts water and apple cider vinegar, and mix in a few drops of dish soap. Fruit flies are attracted to the vinegar, and the soap traps and drowns them.

Pantry moths

If you get pantry moths, first do a thorough cleaning of the cupboard. Throw out any infested or open food items and vacuum the shelves, cracks, and corners. You don't want any spilled or infested material to remain or the annoying bugs will be back.

How to get rid of pantry moths
credit: Ana Stanciu

Keep pantry moths at bay by using cedar chips, rosemary, or lavender sachets in the cupboard. The pungent scent of bay leaves is another good way to repel pantry pests so add them to containers or lay them on pantry shelves. Replace when the scent fades.

House flies

How to make homemade fly strips
credit: Ana Stanciu

Flies are not fans of peppermint or basil, so use the same spray as used for ants and keep basil plants near windows and doors.

You can also make homemade fly strips by soaking strips of craft paper in 1/4 cup of syrup (honey, corn syrup, or maple syrup) mixed with a tablespoon each of granulated sugar and brown sugar. Soak the strips and let them dry overnight, then hang them from the ceiling or along windows to trap incoming flies.

Spiders

Lemon and orange essential oils are great spider deterrents. Combine 10 drops of each essential oil, five drops of dish soap, and one cup water for a non toxic spider spray. Pure undiluted lemon juice can also be spritzed around cracks. Place lemon and/or orange peels in cupboards, on book shelves, and other places where spiders and other pests like to lurk.

Make a homemade spider deterrant
credit: Ana Stanciu

Vinegar and salt are another great combo to get rid of spiders. Use a mixture of one cup white vinegar, one cup water, and two tablespoons salt. Pour it in a spray bottle and spray in corners, on windowsills and wherever you see spider webs. The smell will keep the spiders from returning to that area, so re-mist every so often to refresh the scent.

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DIY Bug Repelling Candle
credit: Ana Stanciu

Stephanie Gerber

Stephanie Gerber

Stephanie Gerber is the founder and editor of the beauty and wellness site, HelloGlow.co. She lives in Nashville with her husband and three children.