Recently, I heard from a reader asking if I knew of any natural pest control to rid an apartment of fleas — a method that would not be toxic to small children.
Treating their pets and animals would be the first step, but surprisingly, these folks have no animals. The truth is that flea infestations often can occur simply when neighborhood cats or dogs like to lounge near your home, or if you have purchased an infested piece of furniture from a yard sale.
I headed right for my collection of pest control recipes and retrieved the perfect solution for fleas. I thought you might enjoy knowing that one, plus remedies for all kinds of home and garden pests.
Repel an ant invasion with this natural pest control: Wash countertops, cabinets and floors with equal parts water and vinegar.
Or, if you have ants or other bugs around the house, pour a 50-50 mixture of Blue Dawn dish soap and water into an empty spray bottle, and keep it handy. When you see the insects, spray them with the mixture. Provided you really saturate those little critters, the soap actually breaks down their exoskeletons, and they die almost immediately. Cheap and easy cleanup, too.
Mix 1 gallon water, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons liquid dishwashing detergent. Spray on plants where aphid damage is evident.
Mix ¼ cup shortening with 1/8 cup sugar. In a separate container, mix ½ pound powdered boric acid (also available at pharmacies) and ½ cup flour. Add to shortening mixture. Stir well with enough water to make a soft dough. Form into small balls the size of marbles, and hide in those out-of-the-way places roaches love to hide. This recipe works far better than commercial products. Just make sure you keep this out of the reach of children and pets.
FOR THE HOME
Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth onto your carpet with the sifter, and then brush or pound it in with a broom. Leave for 24-36 hours, and then vacuum up. This is a nontoxic and environmentally safe treatment, but wear a face protector because it is fine as powder. The diatomaceous earth you get from a pool supply store is not food-grade. It has been chemically altered and does not kill fleas. Check with a garden supply store, or look for my favorite, Harris Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth, online.
FLY AND INSECT SPRAY
Rubbing alcohol makes a great fly and insect spray. Fine mist evaporates quickly and is not harmful to anyone but the pests. This doesn’t necessarily kill them, but it anesthetizes the little guys, so once they’re asleep, dispose of them quickly.
Set out a small dish of apple cider vinegar (white vinegar will not work; it must be apple cider vinegar), to which you’ve added a drop of liquid dishwashing soap. Cover with plastic wrap, and then pull back the wrap along part of the edge to give an entry point. Fruit flies fly in and never come out.
The detergent breaks the surface tension of the vinegar so they can’t just sit on top of it; they’ll fall in.
The easiest way to rid a home of mice is with oil of peppermint (aka peppermint essential oil). Put it on cotton balls where you have evidence of mice. You will never see them again. This has worked for me when I found their evidence in a grains cabinet. Gone for good. That was about 10 years ago. A friend moved into a rental, and the garage was infested with mice. I told her about the oil of peppermint, and she rid the garage in two days. She said it was a “miracle.” Thanks, Nina!
To get rid of silverfish, put about ¼ inch of flour in a small, straight-sided glass. Run a strip of adhesive or masking tape from bottom to top on the outside to provide traction. Silverfish will travel up the tape and drop into the glass, but they won’t be able to get back out. Place one of these traps in each room where you’ve seen silverfish.
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”