When I was in school, my family and I shifted houses quite a bit. Sometimes it was due to moving to a new city for my father’s job and sometimes shifting from rented houses to self-owned properties. Anybody who has moved to a new home knows that each place comes with its own set of problems, the biggest of which are dealing with household pests. Over the years, my Mom & I have collected various tips and tricks from mothers who have successfully battled these creatures with the help of simple everyday household items. No chemicals, no expensive sprays. Herewith are shared these natural remedies to keep nine of the most troublesome pests at bay.
Lavender Oil – For Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes live the indoors. It’s warm and cosy and has a regular supply of food – us. We’ve tried many off-the-shelf repellents including coils, mats and liquids. They were always expensive and un-sustaining, and the mosquitoes always seemed to get accustomed to them. Finally, a neighbour told us her secret. She’d dab some drops of lavender oil on to ribbons and tie them near open windows and doorways. It acted as an instant mosquito repellent and the house smelled wonderful, too. Just remember to dab the ribbon every few days as the oil will wear off.
Peppermint Oil – For Ants
This one we got from our domestic help. My mother stepped in to the kitchen to find the maid laying ‘Polo’ pieces near the crevices where ants lived. We soon had a more sophisticated system – cotton balls were scented with peppermint or clove oil and placed near ant colonies. We can now leave food unattended and be sure that no ant will get to it.
Dried Lavender Flowers & Thyme – For Moths
For the longest time we used naphthalene balls in our wardrobes and cupboards to keep moths from eating into our clothes. However, the clothes always ended up smelling of naphthalene and nobody at home was really pleased. It was a chance encounter at a networking meeting where a mother of two espoused the use of lavender flowers and thyme to keep moths at bay. Sachets of dried lavender flowers and thyme are placed in closets and storage spaces to protect clothes and render a lovely aroma.
Baking Powder & Sugar – For Cockroaches
Cockroaches are the most resilient creatures on the planet. They can survive almost everything including extreme nuclear radiation. Next to mosquito repellents, the most amount of money we have spent on pest control is on getting rid of cockroaches. It was one of my grandmother’s society friends who clued us in on a simple roach control solution. A mixture of baking soda and sugar powder in equal quantity left at strategic places in the home effectively kills cockroaches.
Cucumber Slices – For Flies
The FIFA World Cup bug bit our family in 2006. After some particularly hair-raising parties with family and friends watching the matches, the trash we took out was humongous. I will never forget the tongue-lashing we received from the garbage collector. You see, in all the excitement, we had not covered the bags properly and had left them lying in a damp corner where flies had collected. She gave us the same advice that she had shared with her daughter – place slices of cucumber on top of the garbage. That’ll keep the flies away.
Citrus Oils – For Spiders
Having enjoyed the success first-hand of lavender and peppermint oils in keeping bugs away, we started frequenting the local department store for essential oils. The woman tending the counter introduced us to the efficacy of citrus oils in keeping spiders away. Ever in search of a simpler and cheaper remedy, instead of using oils, we rubbed citrus peels on all the usual spider haunts. The only web now is the internet.
Mint & Lavender – For Bed Bugs
Invariably when shopping, even on vacation, we have always been on the look-out for natural pest repellents. At an exhibition, we stumbled upon a mother of five who gave us this tip to combat bed bugs. Make tiny sachets of mint and lavender and place them under the pillow and on the mattresses. She made a killing that day selling bed spreads and pillow cases to us.
Peacock Feathers – For Lizards
This is a tip handed down from my grandmother who heard it from hers. Peacock feathers are more than decorative. They keep lizards away, too. The lizards assume that the feathers mean that a bird is nearby and stay away out of fear of being eaten. Of course, you may still want them outside your house as they make for excellent mosquito predators.
Mint Leaves – For Mice
Mice have been a constant menace. Countless days have been spent in trying to drive away or capture them. At a local community gathering, one of the mothers mentioned how sprinkling mint leaves can effectively get rid of mice. Ever since, we have planted mint in our small vegetable garden and placed its fresh leaves in areas that mice like to frequent.
I can, now, say with much pride that our home is successfully pest-free.