The sight of bugs is nothing new in an Aussie household. From mozzies to spiders to flies, name it, we have it! No matter the season, they can infest our garden, slither into the garage or fly into one of our bedrooms. That’s why we are never out of commercial bug spray at home. But if you want your solution to be non-toxic, eco-friendly or less costly, then homemade bug repellents are for you. These quick fixes with natural ingredients are just as effective in getting rid of common creepy crawlies.
Roaches are perhaps the most notorious house pest around. They bite (and even fly!) and carry diseases we do not want. Good thing they are pretty easy to deter. All you need is to keep your home clean, particularly your kitchen and bathroom. Make sure to vacuum and wash these areas with soap regularly. Also, ask the kids to avoid eating in their bedrooms.
These insects can be persistent, though. If that’s the case, consider prepping one of these homemade bug repellents:
- Prep a soapy water spray. Combine one cup of water with one teaspoon of dish soap in a spray bottle, then use it to spray roaches when you see them. This homemade bug spray can block the roaches’ air holes and suffocate them.
- Make catnip bags. Catnip contains a natural, non-toxic substance called nepetalactone that roaches hate. So, try to put some in small pouches made from scrap fabric, then place them where cockroaches often lurk. Alternatively, you can also simmer some catnip in water and spray it around the house.
- Wipe peppermint oil on surfaces. We love the fresh scent of peppermint, but most pests don’t, including roaches. That’s why wiping some peppermint oil onto your clean floors or counters should keep these bugs at bay.
2. Fleas and Ticks
If you have pets at home, chances are fleas are part of your pet care routine. The problem with these insects is that they stick to almost anything. They linger on clothes, toys, carpets, beddings and furniture. It’s then essential to launder everything that you can. Make the vacuum cleaner your best friend, too, and empty the bag after use.
After cleaning the house, you can use the following natural remedies for fleas:
- Prep a lemon spray. Slice about three lemons and put them in a pot with three cups of water and 1½ cups of vinegar. Simmer your mixture for about 30 minutes, then allow it to steep overnight. The next day, strain it and transfer the solution to a spray bottle. Spray it on areas where your kids and pets often hang out. The D-limonene extract from the lemons should work as an effective insect repellent. Did you know that you can use lemon for house cleaning, too?
- Make a herbal rinse for pets. Bathing your pet is another way to solve your flea problems at home. But for added protection, bring a pot of 470ml water to a boil. Turn off the heat, then stir in dried (1 teaspoon) or fresh (1 tablespoon) rosemary. Let it steep for 10 minutes, then strain and cool. To use, pour the mixture onto your dog or cat after the final bath rinse. Rub and towel them dry without further rinsing.
Buzzing houseflies do not bite but can be annoying, especially when they appear during mealtime. And like roaches, they carry all sorts of germs and diseases. But don’t worry. If you are growing potent herbs at home or have sugar in your pantry, then you are all set to make these natural repellents:
- Put strong-smelling herbs in a bag. Flies are not fans of plants from the mint family. So, look for a small porous bag that you can hang onto doors or windows, then fill it with crushed fresh mint. You can also use a combination of herbs like bay leaf, clove and eucalyptus.
- Use eucalyptus oil. If you have this oil at home, put a few drops on an absorbent cloth. Then place it in areas with fly problems. The refreshing scent should shoo the flies away.
- Make flycatchers. Have you tried making these sticky homemade bug repellents? All you need is to combine ¼ cup each of white sugar, honey and water in a saucepan. Bring your natural ingredients to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Allow the mixture to cool before submerging strips of kraft or brown paper into it. Let the paper strips dry, then hang them somewhere where flies gather.
Mosquito bites not only cause skin irritation but also bring mosquito-borne diseases. But before you start concocting homemade bug repellents for pesky mozzies, you need to stop them from breeding. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, so make sure to remove all stagnant water indoors or in your garden. Cover stored water or replace birdbaths and wading pools regularly.
Now, to prevent these dangerous insects from getting near your kids, you can:
- Plant citronella in the garden. Citronella is a component of most bug repellents. And it is good news that this lemongrass plant grows well in Australian weather. So, when you can, grow some in your yard to ward off the mozzies. You can also make a DIY bug repellent spray by combining ½ cup each of water and witch hazel, 30 drops of citronella oil and ten drops of lemon eucalyptus essential oil. Aside from citronella, you can also grow Thai lemongrass as a natural mosquito repellent.
- Throw sage and rosemary on hot coals. Are you fond of barbecues at night but without pesky mosquitoes tagging along? You can drive them away by putting sage and rosemary into the barbie.
- Make a garlic water solution. Did you know that eating lots of garlic can work as an effective mosquito repellent? Your body will naturally secret the garlic odour that mozzies hate. But if you’re not fond of garlicky dishes, you can also combine five parts water with one part garlic juice. Spraying this on your skin or a piece of cloth should repel the biters for about 5 hours.
Cobwebs are perfect for your Halloween celebration. But no one wants to live in a haunted house year-round, with spiders crawling everywhere. So, keep the eight-legged creatures away with these homemade bug repellents:
- Make a peppermint spray. Like flies, spiders hate the smell of mint, too. So, try adding a few drops of essential peppermint oil to water, then spray the mixture around your house.
- Rub citrus peels on surfaces. Spiders do not like the smell of citrus fruits either. So, after enjoying your fresh oranges or grapefruit, do not throw the leftover peel away. Rub it onto your countertops or wall corners where spiders tend to frequent. It’s a great way to put kitchen scraps to good use. The citrus oil fragrance should keep your home smelling fresh and clean, too.
- Make a vinegar spray. Combining white vinegar and water is another way to deter spiders. This solution will not make your home fragrant, though. But it should be effective outdoors when you spray it in between crevices or cracks where spiders often stay.