Image by Martin Knize from Unsplash
If you’re worried about the amount of pesticides you and your family may be exposed to, then I’ve got some good news for you. With a few simple steps, you can reduce your use of pesticides around the home, and get one step closer to making your home toxin-free.
8 simple steps to reduce your pesticide load
Eat certified organic locally grown food where possible and filter your drinking water. Check out Top 20 Australian Foods with Most Pesticides by Friends Of The Earth.
Don’t wear shoes inside your home, and place a thick pile doormat by the entrance and get everyone to brush their shoes prior to entry. This can reduce the amount of pesticide-containing dust in your house by more than 50%.
Look out for notifications from your council, or contact them directly, for information about when pesticides are sprayed in local parks and playgrounds, and keep your house closed and hang washed clothes inside on those days. You can also operate a Home Air Purifier on those days too.
Avoid lice shampoos that contain lindane or permethrin. Instead, use a generous amount of hair conditioner and a lice comb every four days for two weeks.
Avoid insect repellents and cover up with clothing and shoes instead, and use a mosquito net canopy over your bed.
Most pesticides will be found in the dust around your house. Dust your house with a damp microfibre cloth and vacuum carpeted rooms with an asthma-friendly vacuum cleaner that has a motorized head, electrostatic bag, and a disposable HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) filter, which filters particles down to 0.3 microns. A HEPA filter will prevent dust and other particles in the exhaust air from re-entering the room, which happens with most standard vacuum cleaners. The bag should be replaced with each use and the HEPA filter replaced at least every six months. Have a look at 'Your Roadmap to a Healthy Home' blog for allergy-friendly vacuum cleaner options.
Don’t use conventional weed killers or pest control applications around your house. Instead of Round Up or other glyphosate-based products, simply use steam. Most steam mops can be taken outside and used to steam the pavers and any places where weeds are growing. Failing this, you can also use boiling water.
Avoid conventional fly and cockroach sprays inside the house, and use a fly swatter (or even a shoe) and employ permaculture or biodynamic farming methods.
Natural pest control
If pests are a problem, don’t worry - you can effectively deal with them without chemicals, simply by removing their food and shelter, and creating physical barriers to stop them from entering your home in the first place.
It might take a little more time than using a spray, but the benefits to your family are more than worth it. You don’t have to do them all at the same time, either. Even if you put one or two into action, it’s much better than doing nothing at all.
So, decide what you can do, and go for it.
Starve them out
Pests eat just about anything, but if they don’t have easy access to a quick meal, then they’re more likely to leave you alone.
Seal up boxes and bags of food. Keep tight lids on rubbish bins and take the compost bin out every day.
Clean up any spills and leftover crumbs immediately.
Don’t walk around the house while eating! Eat at the table, not on the couch.
Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight and clean up straight after meals.
Don’t leave pet food out overnight, keep it sealed in bags or containers.
Open windows in the kitchen and put the exhaust fan on while cooking, and for 15 minutes after. Odours attract pests, so you want to get rid of them as soon as possible. But make sure that the exhaust is ducted outside, not into your roof cavity. Having a good airflow in the house is essential for deterring pests.
Dry them out
Roaches can live up to one month without food, without water they’ll die in a week’s time.
Always drain dishwater from the sink, and wipe any water and spills off sinks, vanities, and counters as soon as you see it.
Fix leaky faucets, dishwashers, and washing machines. Check under the fridge and sink regularly for signs of water, and have all your appliances serviced regularly.
If you have sprinklers around your house, make sure they’re pointing away from external walls.
Don’t leave water sitting in plant pots and stands - these become roach magnets.
Keep them out
Pests love cracks, and can squeeze in just about anywhere!
Seal any cracks and openings along skirting boards, behind sinks, and around pipes and windows. Repair any holes in doors and window screens.
Compost and garbage bins should be kept at a distance from the house as they’re a huge attraction to pests and rodents.
Keep the perimeter of your house clutter-free. Don’t store piles of wood or other debris or clutter immediately around the house, as this provides the ideal home for pests.
Set up traps to control rats and mice, and use sticky traps to catch roaches.
Install fly screens to prevent insects, dust, and pesticide particles from entering the house.
So there you go; some simple, effective ways to reduce your pesticide use around the home, and effectively get rid of pests. It does take a little time and some forethought.
But if you get stuck, or it feels like the methods you’re putting in place aren’t working, then don’t hesitate to get help. There are heaps of great resources out there, as well as Integrated Pest Management companies that can help and support you in managing any household pests in a safe, pesticide-free way.
Check out these great resources for more information:
If you need help pest proofing your home naturally, check out Easy on Earth Pest Control, if you are in Sydney.
A healthier home one step at a time!