10 Pest Control Tips: Keep Bugs, Insects and Mice Out of Your Home

Porch with American flag at night
Using yellow lights on and around the exterior of homes and buildings will help reduce flying insect attraction. Bill Boch / Getty Images

Do you get bugs, insects, rodents, or other pests in your home? Do you know the best ways to keep pests out?

If you are like almost half the households questioned in a University of Kentucky survey, a single cockroach in your home would cause you to pull out a can of bug spray or call a pest control professional. But instead of waiting to go on the defense against an insect, rodent or bird that has entered your home, take the offense by implementing 10 steps to keeping pests out.

Following are 10 tips for the exterior and interior of your home. 

  • The fewer pests you have feeding, harboring, or breeding outside your home, the fewer issues you will have inside.
  • Eliminating conditions in your home that appeal to pests will help reduce the attraction that brings them in and prevent damage in your home.

Plants and Mulch

Trim back any tree branches or shrubbery that touch your home to eliminate pest “bridges” to the house. Mulch, such as wood chips and pine straw, provide ideal shelter for pests. Instead of using these in areas that touch your foundation, place less pest-attractive ground cover, such as rock or stone.

Doors and Windows

Because pests can wiggle through tiny cracks and gaps, inspect and repair any warped or broken doors and windows, and those that simply don't fit well; repair rips or tears in screens. Use screen meshes size of at least 200 holes per square inch; these are generally available at home stores.

Cracks and Gaps

Inspect the entire exterior of your home for other cracks, crevices, and gaps through which pests could enter. Check for foundation cracks, loose siding, missing roof shingles, and gaps around incoming utility lines, including pipes, electric and cable wiring. Seal any openings with copper mesh, coarse steel wool, sheet metal or mortar.

Expanding caulk is not as good to use because many pests can chew through it.

Trash and Litter

Keep yards, patios, decks, and garages free of litter, weeds, and standing water. Ensure trash cans have tight-fitting lids and clean the cans and area regularly to remove debris and spills, on which pests can feed.

Lights

To reduce flying insects around doors and windows, replace standard mercury vapor lights with high-pressure sodium vapor or halogen lights. Bulbs that have pink, yellow or orange tints will be least attractive to the flying insects. Although it is common to place lights on exterior walls near doors, it is better to place the light farther away, using pole lights when possible, with the light shining toward the door for safety.

Interior Gaps

Some cracks and gaps will be visible only from inside your home. Check in, under and behind kitchen cabinets, refrigerators, and stoves, as well as between the floor and wall juncture and around pipes, floor and dryer vents. Seal any gaps found, especially those of 1/4 inch or greater.

Drains

Sink and floor drains often accumulate gunk and debris which can attract pests and provide an ideal breeding site, especially for small flies. Inspect and maintain all sink, tub, basement and laundry room floor drains.

Recycled Items

It is preferable to store recyclables outside and away from your home. If this is not possible, ensure that all containers are thoroughly rinsed and that the recycling bin has a tight-fitting lid. All recycling and trash containers should also be rodent proof and cleaned frequently.

Stored Foods

If opened bags and boxes cannot be completely closed, the food should be put into a resealable bag or plastic container to keep from attracting stored product (or "pantry") pests that invade the kitchen. Use older foods first and clean out stale or uneaten foods to help keep attractants down.

Cleanliness

The cleaner your home, the less attraction it will have for pests, the less chance a pest will have to live and breed – and the less likely it will be that you would need to go on the defense and pull out a can of bug spray or call a pest control professional