detox your home (how to fight pests naturally)

I have a husband. Who leaves the door to the backyard open. Wide open. All the time. We live a kind of half in-half outdoor lifestyle. Did I mention we live a block away from wetlands? So we get bugs. In the house. All the time.

A year ago I was spraying the suckers with enough insect spray to kill a horse. In fact I did this to a couple of spiders a few weeks ago and didn't even realise what I'd done until I'd done it. Habit. Tsk tsk.

But, since then, I've read up (in gorgeous 1970s home-keeper books) on how to fight the little buggers naturally. And I've been testing the methods, and they work!

Via justcreativedesign

Firstly though, why you should avoid bug sprays - and that includes personal insect repellents - at all costs:

they contain petrochemicals that pollute the air, leaving residue on all your furniture, kitchen bench top, food, your skin (not to mention the amount you inhale).

any toxin you apply to your skin eventually ends up inside your body.

The good news is, research shows essential oils can be as effective at deterring bugs, as well as eliminating harmful bacteria and fungi, as man-made petroleum-based chemicals.

Here's a few safe, all natural and effective pest thwarters:

mosquito repellent

Eucalyptus oil. Especially the lemon-scented kind (also called lemon-scented gum). The US Centers for Disease Control has actually recommended lemon-scented eucalyptus oil equally along with DEET and picaridin for protection against mosquitos. Add some to water in a spray bottle, or mix some into a natural cream, which will help keep it on your skin for longer. Just don't apply it directly. 

A New England Journal of Medicine study found that it's 6 times more effective at repelling mozzies than citronella. It also has excellent anti-fungal properties and is a great air purifier. Otherwise try citronella (lemongrass), basil, rosemary or sage.

fly repellent

Again, eucalyptus oil comes up a winner, as do any of basil, bay, sage or peppermint oils. They say hanging a bunch of wormwood over your doorway works too. A completely spray-free trick is to close all but one curtain leading to the outdoors. The fly will, theoretically, fly towards the light and find itself outside. Theoretically. I've had dumber flies than that in my home.

ant repellent

Peppermint or rosemary oils are the two most effective. Ants hate the smell. It kind of stops them in their tracks. They get in a tizzy and head back to where they came from. I've done this with a few crushed sprigs of rosemary. That works too (although you have to keep replacing with fresh twigs). The best thing to do of course is keep all food stored away properly, benches nice n' clean, that sort of thing.


Place bay leaves throughout the cupboards.


Cloves. Apparently they hate cloves. Or you can set up a little trap for them by placing a small dish of icing sugar and borax near where they hang out. They're attracted to the sugar, but the borax kills them.


  1. Thanks for those tips. I'm always on the lookout for natural pest control ideas.

    Moo Goo makes a "Tail Swat Spray" which I've found effective against mosquitoes (my son and I get nasty reactions to bites so am always protecting ourselves)

  2. Do love the Moo Goo products, they're all clean of nasties. Thanks Jenny!



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