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 12 cleaning tips to get rid of lizards, cockroaches and ants for good.
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.
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:
This protip 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rinse out all cans and cartons
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
This post was brought to you by Municipal Services Office.
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