A Dozen 10-Minute DIYs for a Pest-Free Home

Nothing spoils a backyard barbecue faster than a swarm of bugs moving in on the food and beverage stations. For that matter, you probably don’t want creepy-crawlies or furry friends invading your indoor dinner soiree, either. And after all of that hard work in the garden, who wants to see pesky pests destroy the fruits of your labor? But a bug-free home doesn't need to cost you a lot of money or time shopping for repellents, pesticides, or traps. The ingredients for many pest control products are already right there in your pantry or laundry room. Check out a few of our favorite DIY solutions to common home and garden pests.

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  1. Ward Off with Wine Bottles

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    Keep mosquitoes and biting flies from crashing your patio party with appropriately-themed wine bottle tiki torches. Fill a few empty glass bottles one- to two-thirds full with sand, small stones, or marbles. Then pour citronella-scented lamp oil in up to the neck of each bottle—this will give you several hours of burn time. Drill holes through the corks and thread a piece of cotton rope through it, with enough length to reach to the sand or stones at the bottom and an inch exposed above the cork. As soon as the wick soaks up the oil, light and enjoy a bug-free backyard.


    Related: Pests, Be Gone! 10 Natural Ways to Make Your Home Critter-Free

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  2. March Them Out of the House

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    Ants are as big of a nuisance inside the house as they are at the picnic. To keep them away from your food prep surfaces—and everywhere else, for that matter—deter them by washing countertops, floors, walls, and other surfaces with a mixture of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water.


    Related: 10 Plants to Grow for a Pest-Proof Yard

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  3. No Ants Invited

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    Another method for turning ants away from your picnicing zones involves mixing 1 cup borax with ½ cup flour. Carefully sprinkle the clumped solution around the foundation of your house. Note: Borax can be toxic if ingested by people or pets, so don't use this around the house if you have young children or small animals.


    Related: 10 Classic Cleaners That Have Stood the Test of Time

    flickr.com via Pietro Bellini

  4. Say Goodbye to Slugs

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    It might seem like a shame to waste a good brewski, but beer will help rid your garden of slugs practically overnight. Take a wide-mouthed plastic or glass container, then bury it about two-thirds in the ground and fill'er up about a quarter of the way with beer. The fermented yeast in the drink will attract slugs, causing them to fall in and drown. Empty the container every day or so and refresh the beer until your slug problems are a thing of the past.


    Related: 10 Zero Dollar Garden Hacks

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  5. Take Out Tiny Terrors

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    A mixture of ½ cup rubbing alcohol and 1 quart of liquid soap can make an effective pest control spray to get rid of whiteflies, aphids, mealy bugs, scale insects, and thrips. Fill a spray bottle, shake, and spritz directly on your plants. Let sit for 20 minutes, and then rinse the plant thoroughly to avoid damaging the leaves. But save this garden maintenance 'til dusk; in direct sunlight, this can burn the leaves. Spray every three days for two weeks, until the bugs are gone.


    Related: 10 Forgiving Houseplants You Can Grow Anywhere

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  6. Bite Me…Not

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    Prevent biting flies, horseflies, and mosquitoes from lunching on your skin with natural repellents. For example, lemongrass contains citronella, so mash up the inner leaves and rub the juice on your skin. Or, try making your own skin-safe bug spray: Fill a spray bottle with ½ teaspoon of pennyroyal essential oil, 1 cup isopropyl alcohol, and 1 cup water. Mix well and spray on skin, making sure to shield your eyes.


    Related: 7 Surprising Pantry Items Naturally Clean and Freshen Your Home

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  7. The Anti-Beetle Juice

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    If beetles are giving you trouble in the garden, whip up this recipe to protect your plants. Soak 2 cups of chopped tomato leaves in a pint of water overnight, strain to remove the leaves, then add another pint of water and 1/4 teaspoon liquid soap. Spray foliage and soil with this diluted mixture as needed. This solution also works against earworms and maggots.


    Related: 6 Common Houseplant Pests—and How to Get Rid of Them

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  8. Pest-Free Produce

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    Nematodes—tiny parasitic worms that live in the soil—as well as caterpillars and grasshoppers can wreak havoc on your vegetable garden. But molasses “tea” can be the natural solution for helping preserve your produce. To make, dissolve 3 tablespoons of molasses in 4 cups of warm water in a spray bottle, and shake well. Spray on your plants and the ground around them every few days to keep these pests at bay.


    Related: Power Up Your Cleaning Routine with... Caffeine?

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  9. Quit Bugging the Cook

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    You can have your bananas and eat them, too, without fighting off fruit flies in your kitchen. Craft a simple homemade trap by pouring a thin layer of apple cider vinegar and a squirt of liquid dish soap in the bottom of a plastic jar or butter dish. Then cover the container with plastic wrap and poke a few small holes in the top, so you can lure the flies in without them slipping back out.


    Related: 10 Unusual Tips for Your Cleanest Kitchen Ever

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  10. Shoo, Fleas

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    Save your pet from endless itching—and your home from picking up the biting pests, too—with a little DIY repellent. Simmer 2 cups of water, a sliced lemon, and fresh lavender sprigs in a saucepan for 30 minutes, strain out and discard your larger pieces, then add 2 tablespoons alcohol-free witch hazel to the cooled recipe. Transfer it to a spray bottle so that you can mist and rub the solution into your pet's fur before he heads outdoors.


    Related: How To - Get Rid of Fleas in Your Home

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  11. Buzz Off

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    Save your friends and family from stings this season with a homemade wasp trap. Cut a recycled water bottle in half, inverting the top (the bottleneck) and slipping it inside the bottom half like a funnel and tape together. Then fill with a seasonally appropriate bait: In spring, wasps go for grease from cooked meat with water and a little dish soap, but in summer they're more attracted to sugary fruit preserves with water and dish soap. The buzzing pests will fly in easily, but won't be able to leave out through the funnel's small hole.


    Related: No Sweat - 7 Best BBQ Shortcuts

    flickr.com via noricum

  12. Stuck on You

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    Sticky traps can be wildly effective at snagging winged pests before they swoop in on your garden plants, so why not recreate their magic with the materials you have on hand? Mix 1 quart corn syrup with 1 quart water on the stovetop until it comes to a boil, then brush it on a brightly colored paper to attract the offending insects. The sticky corn syrup spread shouldn't dry, and you can stick it in your garden on the end of a popsicle stick or clothespin, or by hanging from string.


    Related: The Good Guys - 8 Beneficial Bugs for Your Garden

    flickr.com via Elintarviketurvallisuusvirasto Evira

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