Tips to get rid of insects and pests in the kitchen
Insects and pests are a menace an potentially dangerous creatures especially inside the kitchen. Though it is tough to get rid of insects and pests, a few preventive measures can keep them away from your house. Read this article to know about the solutions to get rid of insects and pests in your house and kitchen.
The common pests found in the kitchen are ants, cockroaches, clothes moth, rats, flies, silverfish, lizards, storage pests such as red flour beetle and weevil.
Common insects and pests found in the kitchen
- Ants are a very common sight in many places. Once they start entering the kitchen, it is very tough to get rid of the long line of ants which crawl up to the cupboards and almost any food item which is kept open mainly. On their way to getting into the food, ants also carry a lot of infection from the ground which can ultimately infect your food.
- Cockroaches love to hide in dark, humid places. They multiply very quickly. The little ones of cockroaches can even get past a 1 mm gap in the cupboards and cabinets. They grow in size also very fast. There is also a saying that the cockroach can never become extinct as it is very tough to get rid of them.It is even more tough to keep them away if you live in a flat as the insect crawls from house to house.
- The clothes moth is another very troublesome insect which causes harm to kitchen towels and other hand cloths which are used in the kitchen. Usually such cloths will have the remains of food particles or food stains. The larvae of the moth loves to feed on such stains.
- Rats are very dangerous pests especially in the kitchen as they are the biggest carriers of diseases which are even capable of causing death to human beings. Rats also bite human beings which allows the infection to pass on easily. Rats are a menace in another way because they love to chew on wires and electrical cords which can cause electrical shocks. Because they can chew through almost anything, it is very easy for it to find a way to get into the house. It is very tough to locate them even when outside the house as they hide themselves under piles of wood, leaves and garbage bins until it gets a suitable time to come out of the hiding place.
- Houseflies are basically harmless as they don't bite or sting but they are equally dangerous as they carry a lot of dirt and infectious diseases along with them. They mostly fly around garbage bins and gutters and then find their way into homes and sit on the food items. So it is very important that you don't ignore them and get rid of them as soon as they enter into the house.
- Silverfish is another insect which causes harm to food particles. They love to eat anything (even glue) that they get and it is also very tough to get rid of them. The toughest part is that they rarely come out of their hiding places in the daytime and are most active in the night-time. They live in cool and damp places.
- Lizards are another common sight in Indian homes. They usually hide themselves behind tube lights and paintings or other things that are kept on the wall. Usually these insects are helpful as they help to get rid of other insects such as houseflies and flying insects. But if they come in contact with food or any part of the kitchen which is used for cooking, they are equally dangerous as lizards also carry dirt and infection.
- Storage pests usually comprises the red flour beetle, saw-toothed weevil and khapra beetle. They are usually food in dry food items such as rice, grains and pulses. It is tough to recognize them as one will not know that while buying the grains and pulses from the store itself, the eggs of such pests might be dwelling inside the grains. The eggs wait inside the packets containing the food until it gets a humid and warm temperature which promotes its hatching. When you take the grains out for cooking, check for any tiny holes in the grains. Dry food items which have been stored in cupboards and cabinets for a long time are most likely to get infected. Even one egg can cause the entire damage. Storage pests keep feeding on the rice and pulses till the main part is over and only the shell is left.
Ways to minimise pest infection at home
- Maintain cleanliness - Make sure that you don't store leftover food that has been bought from a restaurant in the containers in which you received them. Such containers may contain eggs of pests which will ultimately cause more infestation in your fridge and to your other food items too. In India there are regular power cuts which cause the fridge to lose its coolness. Thus the fridge becomes humid and warm which is an ideal breeding place for cockroaches. In order to prevent this from happening, wipe the rubber lining of the doors of the fridge frequently. You can also get pest control done which is harmless for human beings and even babies. Always keep your cabinets and cupboards clean. Even when you keep some food in the fridge, make sure that it is always kept covered with lids or at least with a plate. Never keep any food opened even inside the fridge. Your pet's food is more likely to draw in more pests so make sure that the pet bowls are moved away from the floor after the pet has finished eating his supper. Another important thing to do in order to reduce pests is to throw away the trash from the garbage bin before sleeping as pests get easily attracted to the rotten food that is there in the trash. It is better to keep garbage bins which have lids so that rats cannot climb into them and hide there.
Make sure that the kitchen sinks, countertops and the floor of the kitchen is always cleaned of any grease. Do not leave spills of atta, masalas, salt, sugar etc on the countertops. Wipe them off immediately so that you do not forget to do it. It is advisable to keep one day in the week, preferably the weekend to do a thorough cleaning of the kitchen. Even the garbage bin has to be washed regularly and disinfected. Try not to keep wet utensils lying around. As soon as they dry a little, wipe and keep them inside the cupboard. Wash your kitchen towels once in a week or more often is needed. Wherever it is possible, use paper towels. If you have a choice in designing your kitchen, get countertops of materials that can be cleaned easily for e.g granite is very easy to clean. Always make sure that you get cabinets and cupboards made of steel. Never use wood for constructing these things as wood promotes humidity inside the cupboard which becomes a great sheltering place for pests. Keep dry foods in containers that are insect proof. It is better to use metal jars for this purpose instead of plastic. If you go for plastic, use heavy plastic. But never store food items in cardboard boxes as they are the most loved places for pests. The most dangerous foods that attract pests are those which are perishable by nature and those which have a water content that is more than 70%. If you find insects inside grains, discard the grains off immediately. Make sure that food particles do not linger in any part of the kitchen or kitchen appliances.
- Block entry points of pests - You can pour kerosene slightly on the entry points of the pests as these will repel the pests. Install plastic sheets or metallic screens on the windows of the house. If any part of your house is used for storing junk items, check them regularly and get rid of all unwanted stuff. Do not let newspapers and magazines to lie around the house. Keep them up in the cupboards neatly. If there are big trees around your house, make sure that its branches do not touch any part of your house as it makes the entry of insects and pests easier. Make sure that the windows and doors of your house close properly. Any openings in them should be repaired as soon as possible.
- Keep your drawers and cupboards clean and free of unwanted clutter. If there are any cracks in your cabinets or drawers, get them repaired. Many people use newspapers in the cupboards thinking that it will help to keep the clothes neater. But these papers attract more pests especially cockroaches. So avoid using newspapers in cupboards and drawers.
- Any leaks in the pipes around the house should be repaired immediately. Always keep the drains also clean as they are the best places for pests to breed. Keep the wash basins dry always. If you see even one pest in your house, call the pest control company and tell them to get the house sprayed with chemicals which repel the pests and insects. Do not worry as these chemicals are usually not harmful to human beings and even to babies and children. If there is one pest in the house, there is full chance that there are many more in the house which are hiding away during the daytime. Even if you cannot see the pests, their hair, urine and faeces are equally harmful.
- If you feel that any food item has been infected, throw them off immediately. After vacuum cleaning the house, make sure that you throw away the trash in the vacuum bag as the eggs of some insects and pests might be breeding inside them. Pest-control your house at least once in a year. While cleaning the house, one must not forget the nooks and corners which are usually left out due to laziness. Pests and their infectious materials such as hair, urine etc reside in these parts of the house also. If your cupboards have got infested by insects or pests, vacuum them also properly.
At home solutions to get rid of insects and pests
The only way to keep pests away from the house is to deny them food, water and a place in which they lvoe to shelter such as humid and warm temperature areas. Cockroaches and other insects are fast becoming immune to pest controls and chemical sprays.
- Do not try to use chemicals by yourself in the kitchen. You are not an expert in it and thus you might end up contaminating the food items with the chemicals. It is always better to call the pest control company and get them do it in a professional manner.
- In order to get rid of fruit flies which keep lingering around the fruits in large numbers, fill a glass to ½ inch with apple cider vinegar and 2 drops of any dishwashing liquid. Mix this mixture well and keep it beside the fruits. The flies get attracted towards this solution and get stuck to it.
- You can use ant-prevention chalks to get rid of ants at home. Draw a line around the area and wait for sometime. The ants will die soon and then you can sweep them away. You can also get rid of ants by mopping them away with a cloth that has been soaked in soapy water. If you are lucky enough to spot their nesting place or the ant hills, pour boiling water over them. Ants also get repelled by baby powder, vinegar, cinnamon, lime juice, black pepper and bay leaves. So just place any of these in the corners where ants can be found. Ants are mostly attracted to sweets though they can practically eat anything. So make sure that you never keep sweets opened. They should always be kept in tightly covered containers.
- Another food item which helps to reduce pests and insects is neem leaves. Dry the leaves in the sun and then place some of them in the cupboards to save your house and food items from pests. An effective way of using the neem leaves is by boiling the fresh leaves in water and then making a paste of it in a mixer. Then spread this paste in any area which can be an attractive spot for pests. Cracks of drawers, cupboards and cabinets are the most susceptible places, so put the paste in such places.
- Houseflies can be caught using fly swatters. It is basically very difficult to get rid of houseflies as they are fast to move as soon as you reach them. So you will have to keep a lot of patience until you outdo them. Glue strips can also be hung around the house. Flies get stuck to the strips when they are flying around the house. Wipe countertops and tabletops with a damp cloth that has been dipped in salt solution. Flies get repelled by lime and green chillies. So, hang these things at the door of the house or kitchen. Spray chemicals that help to get rid of flies inside the garbage bins. Get netting done on the windows and doors of the house so that you can keep them open and still prevent flies from coming inside. The netting also helps to prevent mosquitoes from getting into the house. If there is any hole in the netting, get it repaired immediately. The best preventive measure is to keep garbage bins that have lids. Also never store the trash inside the house. Throw them out every day especially before sleeping.
- Using boric acid is a great way to prevent cockroaches from entering the house. Nowadays, there are also a number of chemical sprays which help to keep the cockroaches at bay. Boric acid can be poisonous so be careful that they don't fall on the food items. Also keep children away from such areas. Baking soda and powdered sugar is also good to keep the cockroaches away. So spray them in the parts where cockroaches are mostly seen especially inside the drains. There are spray chemicals which help to get rid of cockroaches that have already entered the house. The best preventive measure for cockroaches is to keep the house (especially the drains and kitchen sinks) clean and dry.
- Wash your kitchen towels and hand cloths in boiling water (with dettol) so that they are less attractive to pests.
- In order to get rid of rats, place potato starch at strategic points in the house with water close by. This is because after the rats munch on potato starch, they usually move on to drink water after which they bloat and die. Place rat traps in the kitchen or places where you expect to find them. Keep some bait in the traps so that the rats get attracted towards it. Some good rat trap baits are peanut butter, nuts, cheese, fish and chocolate. Using rat traps is not an easy job and might take a lot of attempts until you finally catch the rat. Rat poison is also available in the market but be very careful to keep such poisons away from babies and children. Rats can get through almost anything by chewing. Seal any gaps in pipes and drains. Never leave food at night in the open. Even if you cover it with a lid, the rat can push it off and get inside.
- Chalk lines also help to get rid of lizards. They are also repelled by egg shells which can be kept in the areas where the lizard is likely to enter the house. Another alternative is by spreading toothpaste on cotton wool and placing them at the entry points of lizards.