TheSmartLocal – Singapore’s Leading Travel and Lifestyle Portal

Skip to content
hdb cleaning tips - cover image

12 HDB Cleaning Tips To Get Rid Of Lizards, Cockroaches & Ants For Good In 2024

Cleaning tips to get rid of lizards, cockroaches & ants

As much as we hate to admit it, our houses are home to many unwelcome guests. They randomly appear out of nowhere, are stubborn to leave and sometimes even require professional intervention to get rid of. You guessed it – they’re our resident pests, namely lizards, cockroaches, ants and spiders.

More than being the unsightly stuff of nightmares, they can also be unhygienic and pose a threat to health and food safety. Before these little invaders take over your home, we’re here with cleaning tips to get rid of lizards, cockroaches and ants for good.

What you should know before cleaning your house to get rid of pests

Pests know they’re unwanted guests, which is why they stay hidden as much as possible. So the simplest way to get rid of them within your home is to declutter spaces. Make it a habit to stow away bulky items like electronic appliances in storerooms when not in use. You should also flatten and recycle boxes, so there are fewer spaces for pests to hide in.

Regular cleaning would help minimise the number of pests you have at home. But if it’s a recurring problem, you should treat your house for pests by professionals. A deep-clean for pests can take up to a week at a time and the treatment should be done quarterly for a year to fully eradicate the issue.

In between cleanings, you can keep pests at bay by spraying insecticides in dark corners. Do so in the early morning and in the evening, as that’s when they’re more active. This will deter them from staying in your home.

Pest Cleaning Method
Lizards Lay out lemongrass essential oils, tea bags, or leaves
Clean behind your fridge monthly
Lay out eggshells
Cover fruits left out in the open
Ants Mix vinegar and water for a potent spray
Clean indoor plants
Line corners with baby powder or put chalk at entry points
Cockroaches Rinse drink cans & cartons
Use pandan leaves
Clean the microwave oven weekly
Spiders Add peppermint essential oil when cleaning
Keep citrus fruit peels
Spray diluted bleach

– Lizards –

1. Lay out lemongrass essential oils, tea bags or leaves

hdb cleaning tips - lemongrass essential oils for lizards
Lemongrass tea leaves to help ward off lizards.

To us, the citrusy smell of lemongrass is refreshing and inviting, but it’s the complete opposite for lizards. In fact, they’re known to avoid areas with that certain scent – which is great news if you want a lizard-free home.

You can use lemongrass essential oils either with a diffuser or by mixing a few drops with water and some detergent for a DIY anti-lizard cleaning solution. Alternatively, you can hang unused lemongrass tea bags near potential entry points like windows and doors.

For a low-cost option, use real lemongrass leaves. On average, these cost only $1 or so, so you wouldn’t burn a hole in your pocket preventing these pests.

2. Clean behind your fridge monthly

hdb cleaning tips - clean fridge monthly

For lizards, the area behind the fridge is prime real estate. It’s dark, warm, and hardly touched by humans. The same holds true for other pests like cockroaches and spiders too. As such, it’s important not to neglect cleaning behind your fridge. Here’s a monthly fridge-cleaning routine to thoroughly wipe down all nooks and crannies:

  1. Start by removing all the food from the fridge – store it all in a cooler pack first.
  2. Make sure to unplug the fridge before thoroughly vacuuming and scrubbing the area behind since that’s where pests gather.
  3. Remember to clean the coils at the bottom of the fridge too! You can use some soapy water and an appliance brush to scrub them down.

3. Lay out eggshells

This pro-tip has been passed down from many generations before, showing that it actually works.  For one, this tactic tricks lizards into thinking that there are birds around and scares them into hiding. It also has a subtle odour that lizards find foul and tend to avoid.

hdb cleaning tips - eggshells for lizards

So the next time you crack an egg, keep the eggshells – it works for both boiled or raw eggs. Leaving them unwashed, lay the eggshells out where lizards tend to frequent, such as the kitchen, dining area and windowsills. They won’t be frequenting those places anymore.

4. Cover fruits left out in the open

hdb cleaning tips - cover fruits in the open
Image credit: Eatbook

While lizards may not like the smell of eggs, they do like the sweet scent of fruits and will come out from hiding to have a nibble. The easiest solution would be to store your fruits in the fridge, but that may hinder the ripening process of your produce. If you have to leave your fruits out in the open, your best bet would be to use a mesh covering to prevent lizards from getting to them.

– Ants –

5. Mix vinegar & water for a potent spray

Finding ants in your kitchen can be a big headache. Contrary to belief, ants aren’t only attracted to sugary food – they need water too, so leaving your water out, whether it’s a jug of water or dog’s water bowl, can attract some of these tiny foragers.

hdb cleaning tips - vinegar and water ant spray

Apart from keeping all drinking water tightly lidded, you can also get rid of ants using a mixture of vinegar and water. In a spray bottle, mix one part vinegar with one part water to create a non-toxic homemade pesticide. You can spray it on kitchen surfaces, countertops, windows and floors. Once it dries, you won’t be able to smell the vinegar, but the ants can – and will stay away.

6. Clean indoor plants

hdb cleaning tips - clean indoor plants
Image credit: Collective Gen 

Many people forget that their indoor plants need some cleaning too. All you have to do is use a damp cloth with water and a dash of dish soap to wipe the leaves, branches and stems.

This prevents little bugs called aphids from munching on your plant. On their own, these tiny, harmless critters aren’t really a problem, but they do produce a sweet secretion that ants would love to go to your indoor garden for.

7. Line corners with baby powder or put chalk at entry points

hdb cleaning tips - corners of house
Image credit: Don Pedro

The next time you spot an ant trail in your home, resist the urge to sweep or stomp all of them away at once. Instead, follow the trail to see where the ants are coming from – perhaps from an open window, a crack in the wall, or an unsealed kitchen cabinet.

Now that you know the entry point, line these entrances with baby powder, talcum powder or chalk. Ants don’t like the powdery feel of tiny particles, and will avoid coming into your home. You can even sprinkle baby powder directly on the ants for a fatal hit as it renders them unable to breathe through their skin.

– Cockroaches –

8. Rinse drink cans & cartons

hdb cleaning tips - rinse bottles and cans
You should rinse out all cans and cartons before recycling anyway.

Cockroaches always manage to slip into bins and crevices to look for food, making them one of the hardest pests to keep away. To get rid of them, it’s crucial that you minimise what attracts them in the first place – including the sweet remnants of your drink cans and cartons.

After finishing your sweet drinks, hold off recycling the can or the carton immediately and give it a good rinse first. Make sure to wash the insides thoroughly to make sure there aren’t any leftover sugary treats for the cockroaches. Additional steps include taking out the trash as frequently as you can, and ensuring that your bins are well-covered at all times.

9. Use pandan leaves

Fresh pandan leaves are used primarily in food, but cockroaches aren’t big fans of its aroma. As such, you can place fresh pandan leaves in the kitchen and at entry points like doors and windows to help ward off cockroaches. You can also use them in your vehicle by leaving them in the back seat or in the car boot.

hdb cleaning tips - use pandan leaves

A word of caution is to only use fresh leaves instead of dried ones! Once they’ve dried out, the pandan leaves will become food rather than repellent for cockroaches.

10. Clean the microwave oven weekly

Microwave ovens come in handy to heat up food quickly, but they’re also nesting grounds for pests like ants and cockroaches who love the warmth and scraps of leftover food. None of us wants them anywhere near our food, so keeping the oven as clean as possible is a must.

hdb cleaning tips - clean microwave ovens

For starters, you can use a microwave-safe cover for your food when heating it up, so it doesn’t splatter all over the inside of the oven. On top of that, clean your oven thoroughly once a week by using a handheld vacuum to clean up any small pieces of food stuck inside.

You can also use a water and vinegar mixture to wipe the oven on all sides to clean up stains and keep the cockroaches away.

– Spiders –

11. Add peppermint essential oil when cleaning

hdb cleaning tips - peppermint oil for spiders
Image credit: Silhouettes Cafe

Granted, spiders may be helpful for catching flies and other small critters, but they can still be a nuisance. To repel spiders without relying on heavy insect sprays, you can make your own anti-spider pesticide by adding 2 tablespoons of peppermint oil to 1 litre of water.

Use this mixture to wipe or mop places where spiders usually are – at the corners of desks, bathroom countertops, or even on your kitchen floor. As spiders smell and taste with their legs, they’ll avoid walking through these places with the strong smell of peppermint oil. If you prefer floral or spicy scents, lavender or cinnamon oils will also do the trick.

12. Keep citrus fruit peels

hdb cleaning tips - citrus fruit peels for spiders
Image credit: Garden Collage

Citrus fruit like oranges and lemons may leave a sour taste in our mouths, but pests bear the full brunt of its acidic properties. The fruits, including the peels, contain an organic acidic oil that is toxic to spiders and ants.

The same oil, known as d-limonene, is found in many insecticide products but you can also opt for a more natural source. Leave citrus peels out wherever these pests tend to congregate. Not only will it repel spiders and ants, your home will have a fresh, fruity scent.

Alternatively, you can create a DIY cleaner using citrus peels and vinegar. Simply soak some citrus peels in vinegar overnight, ensuring that all the peels are well-submerged. Mix one part of this mixture with one part of water and you’ve got yourself an anti-spider cleaning solution.

13. Spray diluted bleach

hdb cleaning tips - diluted pitch
Image credit: Golden Maid

If the spider population in your home is getting a little too big for comfort, this tip will come in handy. Create your own strong pesticide by mixing one part bleach with three parts of water in a spray bottle. You can spray it on spiders directly or at their nesting areas to get rid of them.

While the homemade pesticide works wonders on the pests, use it carefully around children and pets! The mixture can be toxic to them in large quantities, so use it sparingly and make sure that it’s properly diluted before use.

Cleaning tips to get rid of pests

Pests like lizards, ants, cockroaches and spiders might be a common sight in our homes, but they don’t have to be. With simple steps like wiping your indoor plants and laying out citrus fruit peels, you can easily get rid of pests from your home with these cleaning tips.

To make sure they stay away for good, we should keep our vicinity clean and litter-free. Leaving trash and food scraps lying around isn’t just unsightly – they’ll also welcome lizards, ants and cockroaches to our estate. If you spot litter, trash and clutter lying around in your neighbourhood, you can still prevent pests by using the OneService App (iOS | Android) to report such cases.

In fact, you can use the OneService App to report any estate issue that you can’t solve on your own. These include but are not limited to:

  • Dirty public areas
  • Overflowing litter bins
  • Bulky waste in common areas
  • Bird issues
  • Sewage smell

You can also use the app to find out about what’s happening in the neighbourhood, such as hawker centre closures, HDB block washing dates and even updates on dengue clusters.

The best way to get rid of pests for good is to keep our surroundings clean, and now that’s easier than ever with the OneService App. You don’t have to worry about which agency to contact – simply ‘spot’, ‘shoot’ and ‘send’ to submit your feedback on municipal issues through the app.

With a clean and litter-free neighbourhood, pests like lizards, ants and cockroaches won’t have reason to invade our homes again. You can check out MSO’s Instagram and Facebook for regular updates.

Download the OneService App here

This post was brought to you by Municipal Services Office.
Originally published on 24th October 2020. Last updated by Raewyn Koh on 7th March 2024.