As city dwellers, it is easy for us to sometimes forget that we (and our pets) aren’t the only living creatures in the environment, and household pests can bring us back to reality real quick. Annoying at best and a health hazard at worst, pests such as roaches, fleas, and ants can really turn your home from a peaceful sanctuary to an insect battleground. Despite that being the case, many of us are quite hesitant about blasting your homes with industrial grade pesticides, some of which are known carcinogens, and while professional pest removal services (you can search for those that only use eco-friendly products, they will typically be certified by programs such as EcoWise, GreenPro, or Green Shield) are a great option, not everybody can afford to shell out for the professionals particularly in these uncertain times. Further, statistically speaking, it is the lower income households, which typically cannot afford such services which usually get pest infestations (although everybody has a risk of infestation if they do not take the necessary precautions).
The above is why in this article we will be sharing with you the three main steps you need to take to getting rid of any fleas or household pests in your home, and keep them out too.
Step 1: Sealing and Plugging
It is important to perform this step before going about eliminating the pests already in your home. Skipping this step means that the infestation is highly likely to reoccur. Before elimination, you’ll need to make sure that new pests don’t have a way to enter your home, and current pests don’t have a way to escape. Fleas are particularly known for their ability to seep in through the smallest cracks in your walls or ceiling (primarily due to their minuscule size), so you’ll have to be extra diligent here. You’ll need two things for this step: silicone caulk and steel wool.
We’re not going to mince details here; this step is quite tedious. You’ll need to carefully scrutinize every nook and cranny in your home, looking closely for cracks and crevices, holes in the floorboards, etc. basically any potential point of entry for pests. Remember we’re talking mostly about the smallest of insects like fleas here, so even the smallest crevice is usually enough for them to worm their way through. Fill up all of these cracks and crevices with the caulk and plug any openings that are larger than a quarter of an inch across with steel wool (vermin cannot chew through steel wool). Also if there are any holes or rotting wood in your floorboards, replace them immediately before you find yourself under siege by termites.
Step 2: Elimination
The step you’ve been waiting for: vengeance. We’re going to use two items here: boric acid and diatomaceous earth. These are very effective against most household pests, except fleas. There is a simple solution for killing fleas and getting rid of them however. A simple sprinkle of salt on the floorboards (or carpets, if you have them) will be enough to kill most of the fleas as they hop onto it. The salt will literally drain any moisture out of their tiny bodies and leave them dry and bleeding. For killing fleas on a more extensive level, these are the most effective ways to get rid of fleas on your pets. You should always start with your pets (whether dogs or cats, it doesn’t matter), because they are like transports for these pests and their fur is the ideal place for fleas to breed. Once you’ve killed all the fleas on your pets, you should then proceed with the rest of your house.
For the other two pest control materials, you can find both of them in your local hardware store (Boric acid may be labelled as Borax while diatomaceous earth may be labelled as Insect Dust). Boric acid is a slow acting poison to insects (fairly harmless to humans unless ingested in large quantities), while diatomaceous earth is a natural silica that works by damaging the insects’ exoskeletons as well as causing death by dehydration. It is also completely non-toxic.
You can elect to use either option or a combination of both; perhaps you have very young children or small pets and don’t wish to have boric acid around the house, which is completely understandable. One thing you must understand however is that while both these substances are highly effective at killing pests, only boric acid, as a poison, would be able to cause a chain reaction effect, meaning that ants may bring it back to their nests while in the case of roaches, which eat their dead, even one poisoned roach may be able to eliminate many more.
The application of either substance is fairly similar; just spread it around in thin layers (we emphasize thin here, as you large clumps will just cause the insects to maneuver around it instead of treading over it) in the affected areas. It is also possible to make bait traps with these. Avoid spreading boric acid on food preparation surfaces and not that moisture causes diatomaceous earth to lose some of its effectiveness and may necessitate more frequent reapplication.
Step 3: Maintenance
Unlike the first two steps, this one is an ongoing process. You’ve sealed your house and killed off the invaders, and now it’s time to make sure that you don’t attract them again. Common sense stuff, really; mop up spills immediately, keep your dishes clean, wash your pets’ bedding at least weekly. Basically, just keep your house clean; the extra effort is worth not having to go through the headache of pest removal again.