Home-grown Pest Control for Tenants
Sorry, We’re Not Talking About Your Neighbors (This Time).
If you’ve ever seen — or think you’ve seen — a mouse skitter across your kitchen floor in the middle of the night, you’ve felt genuine adrenaline. And if you’ve ever seen a cockroach waving its antenna at you from your kitchen wall, well, you’ve felt genuine disgust. Only you know whether or not you’ve done something to attract these pests — and if you have, you know that your landlord is going to tell you that you have to hire the pest control folks to take care of the problem.
Is there a less pricey option? Well, sure there is.
Step 1: Prevention
It’s worth a pound of cure — or in this case, rat poison:
- Check Your Seals on your windows and doors — if they don’t seal properly, you may be spending too much on heating and cooling, but you’re also possibly letting cockroaches and other nasties in. This, at least, your landlord should tackle regardless of the bugs. The same, by the way, is true of anything that comes in through your walls — AC pipes, coaxial cable, whatever it may be, it needs to be sealed up tight.
- Wash Up Thoroughly and Immediately After a Trip; a stunning number of pests get inside by riding along on laundry, trinkets, or food that you bring home from basically anywhere you spend the night. Bedbug eggs will hatch within a day, so don’t just leave your laundry in your suitcase — wash it the same day, preferably the same hour that you get home!
- Clean Your Feet every time you come in from outside — your shoes can carry in ant eggs, cockroach eggs, live ticks, and all kinds of other nasties from outside.
- Invest in a Steam Cleaner, and not the carpet-cleaning, vacuum-looking kind — the kind that has a long tube and a nozzle you aim with your hand like a garden hose. This will allow you to steam your mattress — the most common place for bedbugs to hide.
- Stay Clean, because honestly filth is the number one attractor of nasty critters. Take your trash out at least every other day. Do your dishes every day and your laundry every week. Keep boxes full of paper, fabric, and other soft materials that mice might nest in well off the ground.
- Keep your garbage secure open garbage cans or leaving debris out is an open invitation to all types of pests. They need food & water to survive – don’t roll out red carpet and give these things!
Tackling a Mouse Infection
If you do end up with mice in your house despite your best efforts, you’ll find a surprising ally in ordinary peppermint. Not the artificial stuff, but real peppermint oil. A teaspoon in a spray bottle full of water, sprayed anywhere you think a mouse might like to go, will keep them away. They’re allergic. You can also get a long way by stuffing cotton balls full of peppermint oil into every hole you think they might travel through.
The most effective, safe, and humane mouse trap you can make at home is pretty dang effective, safe, and humane. Take a paper towel tube, and balance it on your kitchen counter with the ‘off’ end over a tall garbage can (no bag.) Put a bit of peanut butter on the ‘off’ end. Done deal — the mouse will head into the tube to get the goods, the tube will tip off into the garbage can, and you can take the contents outside and dump it several blocks away without putting yourself in any danger.
Tackling a Roach Infection
If you end up with cockroaches somehow, it’s not as easy as dealing with mice…but it can be done. Make your spray out of:
- 1 crushed clove of garlic
- 1 minced white onion
- 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon of dishsoap, and
- 1 quart of water.
Let that soak for 24 hours, then strain it into a spray bottle. It doesn’t smell nearly as good as the peppermint (sorry), but if you’re thorough and you spray everywhere you’ve seen or think a roach might hang out, you won’t see a trace of them for weeks.
If you need to take the next step up, you can build your own roach motel using an empty bleach or similar bottle. Cut a couple of 1-inch squares out of the top part. Using a funnel, fill the bottom 1/3rd of the container with a mix of:
- 1/2 pound of borax
- 1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar
- 1/2 oz. cocoa powder
- 1/2 oz. salt
(You might not use all of the mix, that’s OK — save the rest for Round 2.) Set that up somewhere the roaches are already checking out, and once there’s several dead nasties in it, rinse it all out with hot water, and do it again until the roaches aren’t bugging you any longer.