We don’t need to convince you: critters are creepy. Especially when they get into your food supply. Whether it’s a giant ant infestation or a flour bag full of moths, most pest problems can be handled effectively without the use of harmful chemicals or pesticides. Here are 3 natural pest control solutions to send even the most tenacious household vermin packing.

Kitchen pest: Pantry moths
Solution: White vinegar wash and bay leaf sachet

A pantry moth (or moth larvae) infestation can impact your wallet and your sanity. These pests love laying eggs in grain-based products like flour, rice, cereal, and pasta. If you discover grain moths in your cupboard, take quick action. Inspect food and food packaging for any signs of larvae or moths and discard anything that’s open or shows signs of infestation (you might see larvae, moths, webs, or eggs).

Then, it’s time to clean: vacuum shelves, corners, and pantry surfaces thoroughly. Next, wipe down pantry surfaces with hot soapy water, and then give all surfaces (including unopened cans and jars) a white vinegar wash (a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and warm water). If you have peppermint or bay essential oils, add a few drops to the mix for good measure.

To keep the moths from returning, store dry goods in glass or plastic containers with airtight seals and leave a sachet of bay leaves in the cabinet as a parting gift (the smell repels them).

Kitchen pest: Ants
Solution: Lemon peel spray

Ready to repurpose some rinds? Ants are repelled by the strong smell of citrus. To make an effective lemon peel spray, you’ll need:

  • Lemon peels from 2 to 3 lemons
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • A spray bottle

Add your lemon peels to a pot with the water and the vinegar (if lemon peels aren’t fully submerged, add equal parts water and vinegar to cover them). Warm the mixture until steaming, remove from heat, and allow to steep over night. Once cool, transfer the mixture to an empty spray bottle and shake well before using. Target areas where you see active ant trails or where infestations are likely. Repeat as necessary until the ants are no more.

Kitchen pest: Fruit flies
Solution: Beer bottle trap

Fruit flies may be tiny, but they’re a giant nuisance and they multiply fast. The beer bottle trap takes seconds (and pennies to make), and it can take care of a healthy fruit fly population in a day or 2. Use the the leftover beer from the bottom of a glass bottle (balsamic or apple cider vinegars also work just as well). Add a few drops of dish soap to the mix and leave the bottle out near fruit fly activity. Drawn by the smell of fermentation, flies will enter the bottle, but drown before making their way back out.

And if you’ve got (gulp) other pests? Check out our tips on how to permanently banish vermin from your dwelling.

Can’t get enough kitchen tips? Find out how to maximize your small cooking space, and then help the kids get in on the fun.

DIY hacks | Home and garden | Safe and smart | Home safety


about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.