An All-Natural Guide to Apartment Pest Control and Prevention

By Steven Fox | Updated Dec 11, 2018 9:25 AM

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Living in the city has its perks. But it also has its pests. From mice to roaches to bed bugs, dreaded pests can and will descend upon our apartments. Why pay an exterminator hundreds of dollars to douse dangerous poisons, when myriad natural, non-toxic, economically priced solutions are at our disposal?

Related: 10 Natural Ways to Make Your Home Critter-Free

Of all the methods I’ve tried, the following are the most effective. Use them either to treat a present pest problem or to prevent a future infestation.

Peppermint is a beloved staple of soothing herbal teas, breath-freshening chewing gums, and bestselling toothpastes. Though for mice, this invigorating scent works like one of those prank stink bombs from yonder days of elementary school. They find it unbearable and will quickly scurry for the hills.

Apartment Pest Control - Peppermint Oil


– Spray Bottle
– Peppermint Oil

1. Fill your spray bottle with 1⁄4 cup of water and 40 drops of peppermint oil. Shake.
2. Spray liberally along baseboards and rear interior edges of kitchen cabinets, particularly beneath the sink.
3. Locate entry points; fill each with a cotton ball soaked in the oil.

Safety Tip: Keep your fingers out of entry points—you could get bitten! For safety’s sake, wear thick gloves or use tweezers.

Apartment Pest Control - Tabasco


Cockroaches are renowned for their ability to survive harsh conditions and hazardous environments. They do, however, avoid “spicy” situations. In fact, there’s a condiment that’s as painful for cockroaches as it is for people with ulcers. Even just the scent of this substance is intolerable for cockroaches. Yep. Tabasco sauce. The owner of that taco joint shut down by the health department is slapping his forehead right about now. Every table held the answer to his problem.

– Spray Bottle
– Tabasco Sauce
– Protective Eye Wear

1. Combine five tablespoons of Tabasco and a 1/4 cup of water in your spray bottle. (Tabasco may need further dilution to flow through the nozzle of a small spray bottle.)
2. Judiciously spray along baseboards, beneath radiators, and near doors. Don’t spray willy-nilly. I love Tabasco as much as the next guy, but its scent is undesirable for living quarters.

Safety Tip: Spray may accidentally return in your direction. I learned the hard way that protective eyewear is important.

Bedbugs are notorious for being extremely difficulty to eradicate. They’re impervious to most insecticides. So effectively removing them takes a somewhat aggressive approach. Enter diatomaceuous earth. When bedbugs journey across this gritty powder made from the fossilized skeletal remains of ancient marine life, their bodies are sliced open and drained of vital fluids.

– Diatomaceous Earth (go for the food-grade variety, which is free of stabilizers and chemicals)
– Spoon
– Powder Brush
– Protective Eye Wear
– Respirator Mask (a disposable one is sufficient)

Apartment Pest Control - Diatomaceous Earth


1. Spoon out a thin layer of diatomaceous earth at the base of your bed, along baseboards, in the crevices between floorboards, and at the interior edges of bookshelves and cabinet drawers.
2. Use your powder brush to spread the layer even thinner. This step is crucial. If the layer is too heavy, these crafty fiends will venture around it.
3. Patience. It may take up to a week to send bedbugs to their final resting place.

Safety Tip: Accidental eye exposure or inhalation may cause irritation. Be sure to wear protective eyewear and a respirator mask.

Thankfully, pests don’t magically materialize out of thin air—they sneak in from outside, or from the apartment of the eccentric hoarder living next door. To prevent their entry, it’s imperative to patch up entry points with expanding foam sealant. Also, heed your mother’s advice and remember to “clean your room” frequently. Roaches and mice thrive in filthy environments. These pests are more likely to set up shop where there are piles of dirty clothes and crumpled-up papers sprinkled with last year’s pizza crust crumbs.

And there you have it! A pest-free place. Now you can finally invite your friends over. Throw a party to celebrate! Just make sure you clean up afterward.

For more on pests, consider:

Termites! Now What?
How To: Rodent-Proof Your Home
Bob Vila Radio: Natural Pesticides