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19 DIY Non-Toxic Natural Pest Control Recipes and Solutions

Recently, a friend sent me an S.O.S. asking if I knew of any natural pest control to rid an apartment of fleas—a method that would not be toxic to small children. 

illustration of household pests and rodents encircling a red brick home

Treating all pets and animals would be the first step, but surprisingly these folks have no animals. The truth is that flea infestations often occur simply because neighborhood cats or dogs like to lounge near their home or they have purchased an infested piece of furniture from a yard sale.

I headed right for my collection of pest control recipes and retrieved the perfect solution for fleas. I thought you might enjoy knowing that one for fleas, plus natural, non-toxic remedies for all kinds of home and garden pests.

Flea treatment for the home

Commercial flea exterminators charge anywhere from $300 – $1100 to treat your home with natural pest control—food grade diatomaceous earth. You can do this yourself with a flour-sifter and a 5-pound box of diatomaceous earth.

Sprinkle the food-grade diatomaceous earth onto your carpet with the sifter, then brush or pound it in with a broom. Leave for 24-36 hours, then vacuum up. This is a non-toxic and environmentally safe treatment but, wear a face protector even so because it is fine as powder.

The diatomaceous earth you get from a pool supply is NOT food-grade. It has been chemically altered and does not kill fleas. Check with a garden supply store or get my favorite, Harris Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth online.


Repel an ant invasion with this natural pest control: Wash countertops, cabinets, and floors with equal parts water and vinegar.

Or, if you have ants or other bugs around the house, pour a 50/50 mixture of Blue Dawn dish soap and water into an empty spray bottle and keep it handy. When you see the insects, spray them with the mixture. Provided you really saturate those little critters, the soap actually breaks down their exoskeletons, and they die almost immediately. Cheap and easy cleanup, too.




Mix 1-gallon water, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and 2 tablespoons liquid dishwashing detergent. Spray on plants where aphid damage is evident.

Bugs, spiders, ants

To prevent ants, spiders, and bugs from entering your home or other structures, spray the foundation and the grout within a foot of the wall with a mixture of 1/2 cup ground up lemon including the rind (puree in a blender or food processor) plus one gallon of water. Apply with a garden sprinkling can with holes large enough to dispense the pulp. Not only is the weak solution versatile, but it’s also mild, cheap, and environmentally sound.


Mix 1/4 cup shortening with 1/8 cup sugar. In a separate container mix 1/2 pound powdered boric acid (also available at pharmacies) and 1/2 cup flour. Add to shortening mixture. Stir well with enough water to make a soft dough. Form into small balls the size of marbles and hide in those out-of-way places roaches love to hide. This recipe works far better than commercial products. Just make sure you keep this out of the reach of children and pets.

Fly and insect spray

Rubbing alcohol makes a great fly and insect spray. Fine mist evaporates quickly and is not harmful to anyone but the pests. This doesn’t necessarily kill them but anesthetizes the little guys, so once they’re asleep, dispose of them quickly.

Fruit flies

A bowl of soup, with Fly and Fruit

Set out a small dish of apple cider vinegar (white vinegar will not work, it must be apple cider vinegar) to which you’ve added a drop of liquid dishwashing soap. Cover with plastic wrap then pull back the wrap along part of the edge to give an entry point. Fruit flies fly in and never come out. The detergent breaks the surface tension of the vinegar so they can’t just sit on top of it—they fall in.

All-purpose outdoor insect spray

Mix one chopped garlic clove, one chopped small onion, and one tablespoon cayenne powder with one-quart water. Allow to steep one hour, then add one tablespoon liquid dishwashing soap. This all-purpose insect spray remains potent for only one week, so use it up by spraying the exterior perimeter of the house.

Garbage cans

Sprinkle powdered detergent soap or borax into garbage cans after they’ve been washed and allowed to dry; it acts as a repellent to flies.


Use peanut butter as bait for your mousetraps. You can reset the traps and catch several mice before you need to add bait.

Or you may be able to toss the mousetraps for good when you follow one of my reader’s quite amazing solution:

“The easiest way to rid a home of mice is oil of peppermint. Put it on cotton balls where you have evidence of mice. You will never see them again. This has worked for me when I found their evidence in a grains-storage cabinet. Gone for good. That was about 10 years ago. A friend moved into a rental and the garage was infested with mice. I told her about the oil of peppermint and she rid the garage in two days. She said it was a miracle.” Thanks, Nina!

Mosquito repellents

Plant basil around the patio and house to repel mosquitoes. Keep it well-watered so that it produces a stronger scent.


Make sachets of dried lavender or equal portions of rosemary and mint. Place in closets, drawers, or closed containers to mothproof garments.


To get rid of silverfish put about 1/4 inch of flour in a small, straight-sided glass. Run a strip of adhesive or masking tape from bottom to top on the outside to provide traction. Silverfish will travel up the tape and drop into the glass, but they won’t be able to get back out. Place one of these traps in each room where you’ve seen silverfish.

Snails and slugs

To keep snails and slugs out of your garden sink pie pans in the garden so the rims are flush with the ground. Fill with beer. The slugs and snails will be attracted to the beer which will be their final undoing and a lovely object lesson for kids who think it’s cool to drink beer. Simply empty the pie pans when they get full.


Snails will turn around and go the other way rather than cross a protective border of sand, lime, or ashes.


To discourage spiders spray rubbing alcohol on windowsills.

Tacky fly swatter

For fruit flies and other tiny flying insects that a regular fly swatter just seems to miss, put a few strips of double-backed tape on your flyswatter.

Tape that sucker

Don’t squash a bug crawling on your wall, drapes or anywhere else it can stain. Just “apply” a strip; the bug adheres to it and can be disposed of.

Wasp repellent

Toilet-bowl deodorizers nailed by the door, placed near wastebaskets, or set on a windowsill will keep wasps away. They hate the smell. Disclaimer: This one isn’t completely natural, but it really does work.


Updated 6-10-21

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  1. Mia says:

    Regarding mice, you need to remember they potentially can be carrying viruses, or be infested with insects that carry viruses (like deer ticks that carry Lyme disease). I have always thought buying new mousetraps is well worth the expense to avoid contact with the mouse and its bodily fluids that might be on the trap. I never reuse mousetraps. I took it a step further and started using a water trap just outside the back of my house, which seems to work so well that I don’t need to use mousetraps indoors anymore. There are plenty of instructions elsewhere on how to build one. I used all repurposed materials to make my two traps. I fill them with rain water, and pour some old bleach into the water. (I purchase new bleach yearly because it loses its effectiveness at the rate of 20% per year.) I bait it with old pb that’s past its expiration date. The whole trap is, therefore, nearly free, and uses up old stuff I would probably have thrown away. Occasionally I get a chipmunk (the nasty things eat my tomatoes, and they can be very destructive, so, good riddance). I also caught one vole, also a pest. I empty the bucket into the woods and therefore never touch the mice. The only downside is the squirrels are probably getting into it and eating the pb. Next task is to figure out a better (water) mousetrap. Overall, they’re very effective. As an aside, I happened to see a centipede in my house today. I never kill them. They cause no harm to humans, but they do eat other insects. They’re our friends, therefore. If you find them creepy, please learn to appreciate them by reading about them, and leave them alone. Free, natural pest controllers, as are spiders.

  2. Beth Cline says:

    What good for keeping flies at bay when eating outside? We are surrounded by farms and the flies are awful. Want to get ahead start this year! Thanks for your help!!

  3. Tim says:

    Hi Mary,
    Do raccoons like beer? I could probably keep our dog and neighbor’s cats out of the beer slug trap but raccoons are another story. 🙂
    Thank you,

  4. Amelie Hilton says:

    Try getting rid of bugs by utilizing recycled coffee grounds around your home in the area from which you think the bugs are emerging.

  5. Tina says:

    Great tips, thank you!!! Do you have any solutions for bed bugs? We were recently given a set of bunkbeds from a sweet neighbor, and although we cleaned them before bringing them into the house, we have seen a few telltale signs. Eeeek! Help!

  6. Barbara Smith says:

    Hi Mary,
    I just wanted to add that I heard recently on a podcast that if you sprinkle Nutritional Yeast on your dog’s food, fleas hate that so they stay away from your fur babies.

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