Spring Cleaning? Think about Pests

Mouse - Integrated Pest Management

It’s already April, and for many people, including us, that means the beginning of spring… and spring cleaning. Officially, spring started on March 20th, but we like to wait for warmer weather to begin cleaning, so now is the time!

But spring cleaning can be daunting, and many people forget or choose not to do it because of the hassle. However, we at TermiGuard know two main reasons why it should be done, whether you want to or not. 1) a dirty home isn’t good, and 2) pests. Yes, you heard that right. If you don’t do spring cleaning, you are practically inviting pests into your home. And there’s a reason for this. Spring cleaning is the time to clean and do maintenance on your home, to proof it for the year ahead. Failure to do this creates openings for hungry pests to come inside and make your home their home. So in this article, we’ll cover a few tips and tricks to minimize stress during spring cleaning while proofing your home for bugs.

The kitchen is the place to be!

We see the kitchen as a place for family to gather and a place to cook delicious food, and bugs see it that way as well – a place of infinite food. No matter how clean you think your kitchen is, it isn’t, and that attracts bugs. Below are some ways to clean and proof your kitchen.

  • Clear and organize your counters. Move kitchen appliances to clean behind them, and try to minimize the objects occupying your counter space to clear up the area for a cleaner look that reduces the places pests can hide. The corners of the kitchen where people tend to store blenders, cutting boards, and other tools are common hiding areas for pests, especially cockroaches and ants. They often aren’t cleaned, and crumbs and spilled liquids tend to gather in those areas, out of sight and out of mind. 
  • Clear, clean, and organize your pantries, cabinets, and fridge. Crumbs tend to gather in these places, hidden behind food objects and cans and tubber ware.  Especially in the pantry and cabinets, as these places have corners that are hard to reach or see and can sometimes go for years without a good cleaning, creating a perfect habitat for mice, cockroaches, and ants. When you clear these spaces, do your best to organize them, sorting tubber ware and getting rid of anything that looks pest-infested or damaged. Be especially careful to throw out 1-use spice packets, such as packets of taco seasoning or red pepper flakes. These are the easiest foods for pests to get after crumbs. If you do feel the need to keep them, store them in a thick plastic container with an air-tight lid. Get rid of utensil packs as well – mice will chew through them to get to the napkin, which they can use for bedding.
  • Discard stale spices and food items, especially ones with paper packaging. If expired, there’s no need to keep them, and keeping them only attracts pests.
  • Eliminate spaces where food can fall, if at all possible. Many people have gaps between their stoves and cabinets, or between the fridge and the wall. Do your best to eliminate these spaces by pushing your bigger appliances as close to other surfaces as humanly possible.
  • Clean behind and under fridges, stoves, and other standing appliances. If your stove has a warming drawer (which most people keep cookie sheets in) take everything out and clean thoroughly with disinfectant – pests like to hide out there.

Clutter Be Gone!

The kitchen is the most common area for pests to live, but there are other areas too. Those areas include basements, attics, and garages where clutter piles up that is not often disturbed. Even if it seems like a daunting task, it’s finally time go to through them. 

  • Throw away items you don’t use or see yourself using in the next three to four years. 
  • Move items from cardboard boxes into airtight bins or storage containers, which should be made out of plastic or metal. Boxes can be fodder for mice, so it’s better not to use them.
  • Sweep out any leaves, debris, or loose insulation
  • Store bigger objects off the ground if at all possible. 
  • Clear underneath stored furniture, and clean all corners

It’s also important to clear away clutter in the rest of your house as well, mainly because clutter can be a safety and a fire hazard in addition to attracting pests. Make sure your stairs and hallways are always free from clutter for that reason. As for more areas pests like to hide out, clean underneath beds and couches. Use the handle of a broom or a stick to reach if your arm isn’t long enough, and if your vacuum is slim enough to fit under, vacuum what areas you can reach. Also go through and clean out closets. Many people hoard clothes that don’t fit them or they don’t like for years, which mice and rats quickly turn into nesting material. Take all the clothes out of your closet, vacuum, and store away clothes you don’t plan to wear or don’t like for later in the season (or just throw them out). If you spot clothing with pest damage, throw it away immediately, in case eggs have been laid in it, and wash all articles of clothing that were in the same closet with hot water (if washing instructions allow). 

Maintenance this, Maintenance that…

Maintenance is also another big part of spring cleaning, and one of the most hated parts. Here are some of the simpler maintenances you can do that can help your house be safe from pests.

  • Hire an electrician to fix any chewed through wires or cables that have been damaged by rodents
  • Seal cracks, crevices, and gaps in your walls, floor, or ceiling. Besides repelling pests, filling these areas can help save you from water damage, energy costs, and help secure your home
  • Fix leaky faucets and pipes
  • Eliminate standing water in your house and yard (such as fixing a sink that doesn’t drain well or emptying out that kiddy pool)
  • Clean up your yard. It can be as simple as putting tools, toys, and other objects away, and cleaning up leaves. Trimming big bushes also helps eliminate hiding places for pests, and trimming tree branches can keep pests from climbing up them and dropping down onto your roof.
  • Replace or re-install window screens. A lot of window screens get damaged (i.e. rips, warping, etc.) and many just simply get displaced, popping in and out during storms or big chances in weather. These increase the chances of bugs getting in, so be sure to replace them or re-install them so they are secured.
  • Make sure your windows fully shut, and if they don’t, eliminate obstructions. Often, little things such as beads, safety pins, and trash get in the way of windows shutting properly, leaving cracks for ants, beetles, and cockroaches to get in through. While the window may look closed, it might not be. One way to check is to close the window and try and fasten the window lock. If you struggle locking the window, the window isn’t fully closed. Another way to check is backing up to see the bottom of the window frame. The window bottom should sit firmly against it’s rack and the sill. If there’s a gap, the window isn’t fully closed.
  • Clean your gutters. It’s not a fun task, but getting rid of leaves and junk eliminate areas pests like mice and bugs like to hide out in because it’s humid and moist.
  • Pour bleach down your drains. Every once in a while, it’s a good idea to pour bleach down all your drains to kill off any insect bugs or larva that might’ve gotten in. 

Anything else I can do? What about prevention?

Other good things to do can be to check electrical boxes, and behind washing and drying machines, as critters like to hide out there. As for prevention, simply doing things like storing objects in air-tight containers or cleaning clutter can also help, as can avoiding feeding pests. Pick up any remaining pet food after twenty minutes of giving it to the pet to avoid it becoming a feast for insects and mice. Ensure food isn’t taken out of the kitchen and dinning room, or, if it is, vacuum immediately after to get rid of food crumbs that might attract pests. Store birdseed and pet food in metal containers (plastic ones can be gotten into by pets), and clean the feeding areas of pets and birds regularly. 

And, of course, we do pest control plans too, since this is TermiGuard‘s area of expertise. With spring comes an influx of pests – and we’re here to help you handle it.