As a food lover, chopper extraordinaire, and self-proclaimed neat freak, I always want my kitchen to be tidy, organized, and clean, in addition to staying bug free. Nothing saddens me more to see ants crawling all over my freshly baked semolina loaf or cockroaches eating up the little bits and pieces of dog food my pets drooled onto the ground. It makes me feel like my entire kitchen is crawling with germs and is completely unsanitary to cook in…and it sort-of is. 

Products such as sticky traps, outdoor sprays, and green products from places such as do it yourself pest control also help maintain a low bug count in your kitchen and are safe for family, friends, and pets. You can pick up a few of those products to eliminate small-scale issues or prevent any bugs from claiming your home. As long as you continue to clean up splatter, trash, and maintain your home properly, your problem with pests will be minimal.

Food safety is important whether you’re a top chef at a 5-star restaurant or a mini-chef just starting out with your first batch of cookies while in first grade. Keeping your ingredients safe from pests ensures that your food remains edible and that you don’t waste money throwing out bug-spoiled ingredients. You want to keep your grains and fruits safe from flies and mealy bugs and maintain a clean kitchen. A kitchen where everyone feels the cooking environment is safe and the food they’re eating isn’t filled with 6-legged creatures. By doing a little bit of sprucing up, grabbing the 409 or comet, or sealing up a few cracks, you can keep pests out of your kitchen.


  1. Do Not Use Pesticides

This is the number one rule! You can use pesticides in other places around your home if you choose, but do not ever use them in your kitchen. This is extremely hazardous to your health and your pets and it doesn’t guarantee your kitchen will stay pest free. Pesticides contain a lot of harsh chemicals that could be toxic to your nervous system and possibly cause cancer if you are around them often. Spraying them in your kitchen where food and friend spend quite a bit of time is exceedingly dangerous. Ant, mouse, rat, cockroach, or fly traps are ok, but when it comes to keeping the bugs out, do not use pesticides in your kitchen.


  1. Seal it Up

A major way pests enter your home are through cracks or gaping holes from improperly seated exterior doors, breezy pet doors, and exterior pipes. Without the proper fittings or sealant, pests find simple ways to get into your kitchen and start breeding. Make sure that any exterior door or pipe is properly sealed from the outside whether that’s caulking, refitting the door, upgrading to a double flap doggy door, or the Twin Draft Door Guard that we’ve all seen the infomercial for. Anywhere that air can get through, a bug can fit into the gap. Scorpions can easily get into your kitchen or home through a slit as thin as a credit card and ensuring they stay outside is critical to keeping your food and family safe.

In addition to all exterior doors and holes having the proper sealant, you want to store your food in food safe containers with locking lids or plastic bags. Keeping the air and bugs out maintains food safety and keeps it fresh. The locking lids make sure the bugs can’t enter the food and if there’s no food for your pests to eat, they’ll leave all on their own. Also important to note, do not mix older food and new food in the same container. This breeds not only germs but invites more bugs to join the party.

Having food readily available in takeout cardboard boxes, paper bags, or Styrofoam containers is like asking for the bugs to start making reservations at your dinner table. The extra effort to move your leftover pizza or chicken parmesan into a plastic bag should be minimal and allow you to keep your kitchen free or any extra visitors. Bugs only stay if they have a viable food and water sources so make sure your kitchen is pristine and everything is put away properly to keep the bugs at bay.


  1. Pretend You’re in the Desert

Along with sealing up food containers, you want to pretend as if your kitchen is part of the desert. Begging for spills or an ice cube melting in the refrigerator tray just for a splash of water, your kitchen should be bone dry to keep the pests partying somewhere else. Standing water, food spills, chicken juice, fruit on the counter, all are ways to bugs to breed, feast, and take over your kitchen. Wipe down the countertops to keep them free of germs and bugs. Check the fruit in your basket and when it becomes too ripe, either compost it or toss it. Verify the area where you cubed raw chicken for dinner is thoroughly cleansed with the proper kitchen-safe product. Your kitchen doesn’t have to be white glove pristine, but it shouldn’t have any wet spots for bugs to quench their thirst or procreate.


  1. Keep Food Away From Open Areas and Tidy the Trash

Along with the fruit basket, if you’re already having a bug problem or wish to never have one, leaving food along the countertop begs for a bug intervention. A package of rolls, fresh fruit, or an open bag of chips can easily lead to a bug infestation. The open areas just allow the bugs to congregate around the food and then work their way over to your cupboards and pantry. Keep the food sealed up in plastic bags in the pantry or store it away quickly in the fridge to prevent pests.

Keeping the older food, the garbage, sealed away in a trashcan is also extremely important. When you have a trash that’s overflowing with garbage, you set yourself up for fruit flies, cockroaches, and mice to have a feeding frenzy. All of the pests that are drawn to trash are hard to get rid of once they’re there. Investing in a trashcan with a locking lid keeps both pests and pets out for less mess or picking up trash bags that are thick enough to mask some of the odors deters bugs from entering your kitchen. I know we’re all lazy sometimes and hope that one more push down will give us a few more inches of trash space but in order to maintain a healthy, clean kitchen, you have to take out the garbage regularly.


  1. Keep Up with the Joneses

Maintaining your yard, replacing old screens with holes in them, cleaning near the foundation, and adding a few bird feeders will help control your pest population. Mowing your lawn regularly and making sure that there’s nothing near your home’s foundation lowers the chance that bugs will get into your kitchen. Not only will the mower seek out bugs making their way to your kitchen, but the shorter grass can reveal any large nests or holes that need to be tended to.

I’m a huge fan of open windows but nothing let’s in flies and pain pests faster than a window that’s been open for a few hours. If you have a screen with a few holes in it, spend the extra cash and replace it. This will allow you to feel the open breeze without suffering from the consequences of bugs crawling into your kitchen or even your bed.

Adding a few bird feeders around your property will also help you encourage pest’s natural enemy to do their good for society. There are tons of stylish designs to choose from and they add a little panache to any yard. Plus the added benefit that the birds will chomp on the bugs before they even get a chance to get to your kitchen.

Perpetuating the clean, pest-free kitchen is an art and even if you try your best, eventually, some sort of pest will find their way in. The key is to make the incident of pests extremely small. Closing up window gaps, keeping outdoor trashes away from windows and doors, ensuring your kitchen doesn’t have any lingering food or water, and keeping your trash can under control will help decrease any incident of pests wandering through your flour or fruit.

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I am in deep-fried love with food and travel. With Italian roots, I have a weakness for bread, marinara, and mozzarella. I’ll try anything once and am constantly searching for intriguing places to visit. When I'm not savoring the last bite or organizing my next trip, I'm indulging my inner bookworm and writing about my adventures. If you turn on college football and give me a local craft beer, you’ll see the happiest Hokie on the West coast.

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