A close up of a green plant

How to Make Non-Toxic Natural Pest Control

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.

Treating their 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.


Ant and Pest

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, plus remedies for all kinds of home and garden pests.

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.


A flock of birds sitting on top of a wooden table

Repel an ant invasion by 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.


A close up of a green leaf

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. Not only is the weak solution versatile, but it’s also mild, cheap, and environmentally sound.

Everyday Cheapskate participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon affiliated sites.


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.

Psst! Remember those five legal documents you need?

I want to recommend Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2020 from Nolo Press, a highly regarded and reputable online legal organization specializing in helping ordinary folks like you and me handle our own basic legal needs.

computer program

Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2020 includes dozens of forms including the big five documents mentioned here and also practical forms you can use every day to help run your home and keep your family safe, including authorizations and agreements, promissory notes, limited powers of attorney, and child and elder care forms, and lots more.

Bonus: Quicken’s Living Trust, is included with the 2020 WillMaker.

Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2020 is compatible with the laws in every U.S. state (except for Louisiana*, U.S. Territories; not compatible with Canada). And boy is it easy to use—just fill in the blanks. And you can revise it in the future as necessary, without another big legal bill. Compatible with Windows or Mac (OS X 10.12 or later).

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Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2020 also available on Amazon.

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.

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’ll fall in.

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 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.

A person sitting at a table eating food, with Cash

Dumb Things To Do with a Tax Refund

Last year, the U.S. federal government paid out $260.9 billion in tax refunds, at an average of $2,725 per refund. And 61% of taxpayers expect that this year, they’ll receive some sort of refund on their returns. While there are many dumb ways to spend it, now is not the time to do any of these


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 4-15-20

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11 replies
  1. Sunrise Pest Management says:

    Treating their pets and animals would be the first step, but surprisingly these folks have no animals.

  2. Holiday says:

    Any solution for frogs & toads? Especially toads; we live in SE Florida, ‘bufo’ toads are pretty prevalent & toxic to our curious dogs! Neighbors had major issue w/them using his pool as a condo/maternity ward. Someone told him to toss mothballs around, so that’s what he does. He’s also switched to salt-water pool pump system, & guess all that’s lovely for him, but not us. The noxious mothball fumes are always in our backyard, & sometimes the little balls roll into our yard, too. (We share a property line & he’s paved 90% of his yard, stuff just kind of drains our way sometimes, but that’s another story.)
    Looking for a non-toxic alternative to repel frogs & ‘bufo’ toads, please. Anyone have suggestions? We have dogs & cats, but no toddlers & prefer natural as possible. Thanks in advance for any remedies and thoughts on this matter.

    PS- I’m going to try that peppermint oil solution with our attic visitors. That’s amazing. 🙂

    – Holidaybug

  3. Brenda says:

    My sister-in-law told me that they put bars of Irish Spring Soap around their camper and no mice has come in during the winter season. I’ve put slivers of the soap around where I have found mice droppings especially during the winter. When I went back to look a week later, no mice droppings. It was the first winter that I tried this method and Iwill repeat it for the next winters!

  4. Mel Edgar says:

    For ants, my favorite way to rid them is to put out any kind of uncooked cereal, such as: oatmeal, cream of wheat, cream of rice, malt-o-meal… Put this uncookld cereal where you see them come in, or as a barrier by doors and windows. Ants love the these. They eat some, take more back to their hill and then, gradually the uncooked cereal absorbs water from their system and breaks them open. Thankfully, as this takes time, the ants return to their hill and no clean up is needed. Be sure to put more outside after the rain.

    For mosquitoes, I planted some citronella in a pot. The plant has lovely flowers. Mosquitoes hate the scent. This plant takes over and fills in like weeds, so be careful not to plant in the open ground.

    Also, for Aphids, I usually get lady bugs at the hardware store. Store them in the refrigerator. Water the plants you will place them onto, and place them out at dusk. The ladybugs fly off in the morning, but will eat all the pests during the night, a true blessing! Mel

  5. Susan Mowen says:

    We used to live across the road from a cow pasture in Flat Creek, TN, so you KNOW we had flies! We put water in small plastic zip bags, hung the bags over doors and open windows and NO flies!

  6. Lula J Hanson says:

    When we built our house 30 years ago, I sprinkled boric acid under the kitchen counters before they set them in. I’ve never had a cockroach in all this time. Eight years ago we remodeled the kitchen and I did it then too. It’s out of sight and pets and kids can’t get in it and it keeps on working!

  7. nina says:

    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 cabinet. Gone for good. That was about 10 years ago. Also, 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.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      This is new to me, Nina! Thanks for the tip and report for how this works for you and your friend! I have added it to the post above.


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