Thinks outside of the box
Polina-Petrenko/ShutterstockNews flash: Even that unopened box of quinoa can be infested by bugs and that's taking organic a little too far for most of us. Your best bet is to dump that quinoa, flour, or rice into a glass or BPA-free plastic container with a tight-locking lid. And don't forget about the garbage. The right containers will not only keep pests out of your food, but our of your trash. Dispose of garbage in sealed receptacles to keep out both bugs and unwanted animals. Mr. Raccoon will have to go dumpster diving somewhere else.
Don't cry over spilled milk
showcake/ShutterstockWhen it comes to spills and crumbs, clean them up as soon as they occur. Wipe down counter tops and tables with a sponge and soapy water. (Just make sure you clean that sponge regularly.) You can also buy disinfectant wipes for a quick fix, but keep in mind these anti-bacterial wipes do use chemicals. Sweep, wash floors, and wipe down tables and shelving where food has probably migrated from unsealed containers and use. Although you might not see food debris anywhere, those six-legged critters will be sure to find them. Check out how to get rid of ants naturally and keep them out of your kitchen for good.
Clean your cupboards
think4photop/Shutterstock"It's good practice to periodically empty cupboards and clean them with soap and water to get rid of any bugs that may be hiding inside," recommends Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). Mannes warns, "As you dig through your pantries in search of baking ingredients, it's important to check expiration dates and make sure the packaging of all items has not been tampered with."
Eat your fruits and veggies
ielanum/ShutterstockA colorful bowl of fruit is not only attractive, it makes it easy to grab a healthy apple instead of a sugary sweet. Just keep an eye on ripening fruits and vegetables, because they can attract fruit flies if left out too long. Check them frequently for over-ripening or signs of decay or store them in the refrigerator. Since female fruit flies lay an average of 500 eggs on the surface of fermenting fruit, the National Pest Management Association also recommends disposing of the fruit in outdoor trash cans to prevent those eggs from hatching in your indoor trash. Too late? Put out a bowl of apple cider vinegar with a few squirts of dish soap. The fruity vinegar scent attracts the flies and the dish soap pulls them down into the water where they drown.
Home improvement is a must
Serhii-Krot/ShutterstockTake care of those hidden cracks and crevices on the outside of the home to keep critters from sneaking in. But don't forget about the inside too. Seal around kitchen stoves and water pipe openings; these are invitations for pests to come in and hang for a while. And if there's any moisture to be found, bugs are sure to gather and linger. Take a gander around your garbage disposal and other moisture heavy sites in your kitchen, like leaking pipes and clogged drains. The NPMA also recommends installing door sweeps on exterior doors and to repair damaged screens to keep those creepy crawlers outside. Even trimming back exterior tree limbs that are too close to your home can help keep bugs from entering.
Do the dishes
tum3123/ShutterstockCleanliness is a turn off to pesky insects. Soap and detergent are their mortal enemies. But if you let the dirty dishes and food scraps pile up in the sink your kitchen becomes fair game. Put your dishes straight into the dishwasher or wash and dry them by hand. Teenagers have a habit of snacking all around the house and leaving dirty dishes as reminders they've been there. Stress to your kids that leaving a bowl with remnants of dried cereal and milk in their bedrooms is not only gross it's an invitation for Peter the Pest to move in with them.
Holidays and seasonal items could get buggy
mssy/ShutterstockBelieve it or not those lovely pre fragrant potpourri, or decorative Indian corn you display every Thanksgiving need to be kept in airtight containers during off seasons. Make sure to unpack them outside your home and inspect for tiny visitors between leaves and particles so that the only visitors on Thanksgiving will be the ones you actually invite.
Bugs aren't pets
Jiri-Hera/ShutterstockPet food and snacks are filled with grains and other ingredients that pantry bugs love to fester in. Make sure you are sealing opened packaged properly or move them to an airtight container. Also don't let water and food bowls sit out all day or you might be inviting some unwanted pets into your home. Periodically wash and dry Spot's dishes and refill water bowls as necessary, because stagnate water can also attract mosquitoes. Plant these in your backyard to keep those bloodsuckers away.