10 Ways to Bug-Proof Your Home

You can't keep all bugs out, but you can make it harder for them to get in

Flyswatter (fly-flap), dead flies

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Let's be honest. It's impossible to bug-proof your home completely. Like it or not, some insects will find a way into your house. Although an occasional ladybug or stinkbug is inevitable, you don't have to make it easy for them to enter your home.

When attempting to bug-proof your home, you need to do two basic things: prevent insects and spiders from getting inside and eliminate existing bug habitats in your house. Your goals are to keep as many bugs out as possible and to make your house inhospitable to the few that find their way in.

By investing a little time and money in these home maintenance and housekeeping tasks, you will greatly reduce your chances of a serious pest infestation.

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Install and Maintain Screens on Doors and Windows

Use fine-mesh screening to prevent all but the tiniest insects from entering your home. If you don't have screen doors on your home, install them. Inspect all window screens regularly for tears and holes, and promptly repair or replace any damaged ones.

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Seal Around All Doors

Man screwing brush seal to edge of door

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If air and light can pass through, bugs can get in. Install tight-fitting thresholds and door sweeps to the bottom of exterior doors. Use door seals to fill the gap around the sides and top of each door, too.

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Seal Cracks in Foundation, Walls, and Vents

Any crack in an exterior wall of your home is like a welcome sign to insects. Grab a tube of caulk and inspect your home from top to bottom. Seal any cracks you find. Insects also may enter your home through tiny gaps around your dryer vent, gas line, or even telephone line. Seal these areas from the inside using a spray foam product or caulk, as appropriate.

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Take Out Garbage Often and Rinse Recyclables

If you can smell it (even a little), it's going to attract bugs. And even if you can't smell it, it may still attract bugs; insects are much more sensitive to odors than we are. In fact, one of the best ways to keep pests out of your home is to empty your garbage often. Line your cans with plastic garbage bags, and tie them tight before you take the bags out for pickup.

Don't forget the recycling bin; it's a smorgasbord for bugs. Soda cans, beer bottles, and pet food cans will all attract insects if they aren't rinsed out thoroughly. Rinse each item before dropping it in the can.

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Install Critter-Proof Mesh on Vents in Attics and Crawl Spaces

Louvered heating and cooling vent for indoor climate control

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Raccoons, squirrels, mice, and even birds may make themselves at home in crawl spaces and attics if you don't install barriers, such as mesh, to keep them out. These animals may carry mites, fleas, or other pests that will then infest your home.

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Eliminate Moisture by Fixing Leaks

Most insects require a certain amount of humidity to survive. Any source of moisture can attract them, even condensation on pipes. Fix any plumbing leaks, however minor, promptly. If your basement or crawl space takes on water during heavy rains, you're asking for insect problems. Install a proper drainage system, and run dehumidifiers if needed.

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Keep a Tidy House

Where there's food and water, bugs will happily make themselves at home. Do all you can to keep your kitchen clean. Wipe up crumbs, sweep or vacuum the floor, and clean up spills right away. Don't leave dishes in the sink overnight. Clean out the toaster and microwave regularly. Scrub down your stovetop every day. Throw away food scraps and packages.

Store cereals, grains, rice, and other pantry items in airtight containers. Keep opened food containers in the refrigerator.

Insects need places to hide, and a cluttered home is a bug's paradise. Recycle unneeded boxes and newspapers promptly. Keep laundry in clothes hampers. Keep your floor clear of belongings, and put things away after you use them.

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Clean Up After Your Pets

Some bugs like pet food, and others like pet waste. Clean your pet's food dishes regularly, and don't leave extra pet food accessible. Store dry food in airtight containers. Scoop and clean your cat's litter box daily. Wash your pet's bed or favorite blanket regularly.

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Scrub Your Trash Bins

Even with your garbage in plastic bags, there's bound to be a spill or torn bag now and then. Scrub out all of your trash bins to eliminate smells and sticky substances that may attract insects. Several times each year, use a solution of bleach to clean your outdoor cans thoroughly, especially if you keep them close to your house.

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Keep Your Yard Tidy

Mulch, leaf litter, and garden debris can all harbor insects. Keep mulch away from your home's foundation, and clean up any accumulated organic matter. Mow your lawn regularly, and keep it short near your house. Pull annuals out at the end of the growing season, and trim back perennials as appropriate in the fall.

When trees and shrubs come in contact with your home, they function as highways for insects on the move. Keep tree branches pruned so they don't rest on your roof. Prune shrubs away from windows and doors.