8 Tips to Bug-Proof Your Home

Ants

Springtime means budding trees, blooming flowers, soft breezes and, unfortunately, an influx of bugs. Eager to stretch their wings and legs and go in search of a food source, a host of bugs may soon start eyeing your home as a possible new residence. Making sure you bug-proof your house can help keep the bugs outside where they belong. With these eight tips, you can protect your home against unwanted guests.

1. Make Your Surroundings Inhospitable

Like humans, bugs have preferences when it comes to making a new home. In order to discourage them from cohabiting in your space, make your surroundings as inhospitable to them as possible. Spending some time cleaning up both your house and yard provides a first line defense against bugs. Being overly neat and clean around your house and property effectively makes you a rude host to these unwanted visitors.

  • In your yard, dump out any standing water. Stagnant water attracts mosquitoes. In fact, mosquitoes need water to pass through their lifecycle. Within a short time, just a few mosquitoes can lay hundreds of eggs in standing water. These eggs soon hatch into hundreds of new mosquitoes.
  • Mosquitoes aren’t the only insect hoping to take up residence in your yard. Wood piles are cozy and dark, making them ideal homes for a variety of crawling bugs. Be sure to keep piles of wood or debris away from the side of your home.
  • Inside, keep your home clean and tidy. Bugs, like ants, are searching for a food source. It’s easy for crumbs to accumulate on tables, countertops, and on the kitchen floor. A quick wipe-down after meals and frequent sweeping of kitchen and dining room floors can minimize the food trail.
  • It’s just as important to avoid standing water inside as it is outside. A lone mosquito can lay eggs inside your home just as easily as it can in the yard. Cockroaches also need a water supply to survive so drying up potential water sources can discourage them.

2. Watch for Invaders

Cockroach

Ants send scouts to check out a new area before sending in the troops. When you see a lone ant, don’t ignore it. Take care of any initial invaders promptly before they can carry the message back to the rest of the hill. Likewise, keep an eye out for other bugs like cockroaches and crickets that may sneak inside. If you catch them early, it’s much easier to eliminate them from your home before they make it their home too.

3. Guard Your Perimeter

Bugs search for ways into a cozy home. Eliminate the easy entry points. First, seal your doors or install door sweeps to fill in any under-door gaps. Weather stripping isn’t just for winter. Install it for both doors and windows to seal openings. Be sure to check for openings around pipes, vents, garage doors, and windows. Caulk any cracks you find to seal up obvious entry points.

4. Screen Your Windows

When warmer weather comes, many people like to open the windows and let in some fresh air. Make sure that both your windows and doors have good screens so that you’re not letting in more than fresh air. Check existing window screens to be sure they are in good working order. Repair any rips or tears that could let bugs inside. If you have a patio sliding glass door, invest in a sliding screen. Screens keep the fresh air coming in and the flying bugs and other debris out where they belong.

5. Keep it Clean

Food is a beacon to bugs. The pantry is a hotspot for these crawlers, which is why you should be sure to keep dry foods sealed and put away. Plastic or glass storage containers can seal up bug favorites like sugar and cereal. Don’t leave dirty dishes on the counter or in the kitchen sink. Also, avoid leaving overripe fruit out on the counter, which can increase your risk of a sudden infestation of fruit flies.

Be sure to take out the trash promptly as many types of bugs love to burrow into an overflowing trashcan. If you have a lot of food scraps, don’t just toss them in the kitchen trash can. Instead, keep compost and food scraps sealed, and take them out frequently.

Don’t forget about pet food either. Rather than leaving food out all the time, which can quickly become a creepy-crawly smorgasbord, feed your pets more frequently in portions that they can eat in a single setting.

6. Use Safe Chemicals

If, despite all your best efforts at warding your home against insects, you spot a bug or two, don’t despair. You can still get rid of them by using some common household ingredients. Many bugs, like ants, are repelled by strong smells. Reach for the vinegar and spray or wipe down surfaces where you’ve spotted bugs. Ants also do not like cinnamon so sprinkling a line across windowsills or on counters can keep them out.

What about everyone’s favorite home-invading critter, the cockroach? To get rid of pesky roaches, make a cockroach cocktail. Cockroaches love both cocoa and sugar. By mixing either with dichotomous earth or Borax, you can kill any roaches that eat it.

7. Encourage Natural Predators

Cockroach

You can also turn to natural exterminators. By attracting bug predators to your yard, you can help control the bug population. Bats, for example, can eat thousands of mosquitos. They’re also not picky, willing to snack on flies, wasps, and spiders in addition to mosquitoes. To attract bats to your yard, build a bat box and mount it high on a pole.

Bats aren’t the only natural bug predators though. Warblers and swallows also love to eat mosquitos. Put out a birdhouse with some birdseed or nectar to attract them to your yard. To encourage birds to stick around, keep a fresh water source available. Do remember to change it daily or invest in a moving water feature. Birds do not like stagnant water, but mosquitos certainly do.

8. Call in the Pros

When all else fails, you can always call in the exterminators. If your bug situation has gotten out of hand, consulting with a professional can help you get on top of the situation. Exterminators can give you information and options for addressing infestations.

This spring, spend a little time bug-proofing your house. With a few tips and a little preparation, you can discourage bugs from invading your space. By creating a less-than-welcoming environment, you can keep bugs where they belong, outside your home.

Clean With Steam: Why You Should Clean Filthy Floors With Steam Mops

If you’re only worried about how dirty floors look when your family and friends come tramping through your house in their shoes, think again. You may be exposing them to more health hazards than you think. I would know because I have a husband, three kids, two birds and two dogs living under my roof.

Floor Mop with Steam

According to recent research from the Scott Kelley Biology Lab at San Diego State University, which was published in the scientific journal Genome Biology, we live with an array of bacteria we bring into our homes via our shoes. All of this bacteria may affect our family’s health.

In fact, you track in dirt and more all over your house when you don’t leave your shoes at the door. Your pets bring in even more than things, like dust, dirt, bacteria, viruses, molds, fungi and other allergens.

Germs on your floors matter because they can exacerbate allergies and make you sick. For example:
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How to Clean Your Ice Machine: Step-by-Step Instructions

It can be easy to take some machines for granted. Ice makers are a machine that might get overlooked in the maintenance department. When you go and grab some ice from your machine, you might not think about how long it has been since it was last cleaned, or even notice that the quality of your ice cubes has gone downhill.

Ice Maker

Like any other machine that you own, regular maintenance and cleaning will help keep your ice maker in great working condition.

Why Cleaning is So Important

Water — especially hard water — naturally has many different minerals and microscopic sediment in it. If left unfiltered, these minerals can build up in your machine. Eventually, it becomes clear to the naked eye just what is in your water. Dirt and rust are two culprits that can clog up your machine over time. Lime scale and mold can also build up and make it difficult for your machine to produce ice.

If left unclean, all of this buildup can lead to unnecessary wear on your ice maker. Even if you use a filter, at some point your machine will need some cleaning. The good news, however, is that cleaning your machine will help it to maintain peak ice production and keep your ice looking and tasting great. It can also prolong the overall life of this important kitchen appliance.
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21 Ways to Clean with Vinegar

Vinegar

Most cleaning products fall into one of two categories: toxic or expensive. While both types will clean almost anything, or at least what they are designated to clean, there’s a third option. It’s inexpensive and not at all poisonous to humans. It’s multi-purpose as well–one container will take care of laundry, kitchen cleaning, even bugs and weeds. You don’t have to look farther than your kitchen cabinet for this “miracle cleaner” – Vinegar.

Vinegar is a weak form of acetic acid that forms through the fermentation of sugars or starches. It is completely edible, and cannot harm your stomach and is safe to use around children. And luckily for us, many things can be cleaned using it.  The uses of vinegar are nearly endless. In addition to cleaning, it is an excellent item for cooking and even home science experiments.

For most uses you can fill a spray bottle with a vinegar and water mixture, which will make it much easier to use.  Here are 21 popular uses for cleaning with vinegar:

Uses around the House:

  • Removing stickers and sticky things that have been stuck around the house on walls and furniture.
  • A bowl of vinegar in room overnight gets rid of constant unpleasant odors.
  • If something is spilt on the carpet soak up as much liquid as possible with towels or sponges and spray with a mixture of half vinegar, half water. Wait 2 minutes and then blot with towel.
  • Wood paneling can be cleaned with 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup vinegar and 2 cups warm water.
  • With persistent stains, you can mix 1 teaspoon vinegar, 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap and 1 cup warm water. Follow the procedure above and then dry with a hairdryer.
  • To clean windows, spray with half vinegar, half water. Wipe clean with either newspapers or cloth.
  • 1 teaspoon of salt in one cup vinegar and 1/4 cup of flour can be used to create a polishing paste for silver, pewter, copper or brass. Apply to item, let stand for 15 minutes, rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.

Bathroom Uses:

  • Soak showerheads in vinegar overnight to remove deterioration or chemical build-up.
  • When cleaning the toilet bowl, spray vinegar to get rid of rings and spots.
  • To prevent mildew, spray shower walls and shower curtain with vinegar.

Kitchen Uses:

  • Spraying  vinegar along doorways, windowsills, countertops, cabinets, etc. will get rid of ants.
  • Wash your sink out with vinegar and pour some down the drain to remove unwanted odors.
  • For a clogged drain,  pour in 1/2 cup baking soda and ½ cup vinegar. Rinse with warm water after bubbling occurs.
  • Vinegar is great for removing odors and bacteria  from a chopping board after use, as well as your hands after handing smelly foods like onions and garlic, etc.
  • Use it for any counter tops or surfaces.
  • For microwave cleaning purposes, put a bowl of 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 cup water inside and cook until it boils. This will get rid of odor and unstick food stains from the walls of the microwave.
  • Vinegar and salt together can be used to remove stains from china.

Who would have thought you could get so much out of such a common product!