Home Hacks

5 Quick Ways to Get Rid of Creepy-Crawlies Around the House

Begone, bugs! No seriously, please leave.

October 31, 2018
Photo by Emily Dryden

Ants in the kitchen? Bees in the bedroom? No one likes having unwanted pests in their home, but it's one of the inevitable problems that comes along with homeownership.

If your living space has been infiltrated by creepy crawlies, fear not! There are lots of super useful DIY solutions that will help you combat infestation for all types of bugs. Follow these tips to get back to living your best bug-free life ASAP.

Adios Ants

If there are crumbs anywhere in your home, ants will find them. As such, it's pretty common to see ants marching through your pantry, along kitchen counters, or underneath the sofa. If you're ready to cut the ant parade short, there’s an incredibly easy and effective solution, brought to you by my dearest mother. (In all fairness, she probably found it on Pinterest, but I'll credit her for it because I love her.)

All you need to get rid of ants is sugar, Borax, and water. Mix together a 1/2 cup sugar and a tablespoon of Borax in 1 cup of water, then soak a few wadded-up paper towels in the mixture. Place the paper towels in jars or small bowls, then put them in the middle of your ant-infested area. (Keep animals and children away from the jars.)

Soon, the ants will find the mixture and tell their friends about it. There will be a mad rush for the sugary goodness, and the little workers will carry it back home for a feast. Just like that, you’ll be able to wipe out the source of the problem. I’ve used this solution myself and let me tell you, it really works. Just make sure to keep your counters crumb-free to avoid repeat problems.

Bye-Bye Bees

A lot of people are scared of bees, but these little buzzing bubs are pretty harmless as far as insects go. They don’t carry diseases or harm your home, and they play a key role in the pollination of plants. Plus, they won’t sting you unless they’re threatened.

That said, it’s still concerning if bees keep finding their way inside. To catch bees that may be buzzing around your home, Pests.com recommends cutting the top off a soda bottle and putting a mixture of water and maple syrup inside. Flip the top of the bottle over and put it back in the base, creating a one-way funnel. The bees will crawl in to get the sweet stuff, then you can let them go outside.

To keep bees out of your house in the future, you’ll want to figure out how they’re getting in. Check your screens, doors, and windows for holes or cracks, and block up the bottoms of gutters or pipes where bees might want to make a home.

See Ya Later, Spiders

Spiders are another tricky issue because on one hand, ew, but they’re also helpful creatures. See, spiders help to control other insects within your home, and similar to bees, they are pretty harmless. Most spiders don’t bite; they’re just creepy.

If you see a spider, the best plan of action is to rehome it outside if you’re feeling nice. In the long run, you’ll want to prevent these creepy crawlies from getting inside to begin with. Again, patch up any holes in your screens and doors, and make sure edges are sealed with caulk.

Keeping your home clean is another good way to keep spiders from moving in. A clean house means limited bugs, which means spiders won’t have anything to snack on.

Fly Away, Fruit Flies—and Imitators

Fruit flies are a pain in the butt when they’re zipping all around your home, but the good news is they’re easy to get rid of, as they don’t have a very long lifespan. Here are two ways to trap and rid yourself of fruit flies once and for all:

  • Place bowls filled with apple cider vinegar and a few drops of dish soap in areas where the flies frequent. They’ll be attracted to the sweet smell and meet their untimely end.
  • Leave the dredges of your favorite red wine in the bottle, and place it in the fruit fly zone. They’ll be attracted to the smell and won’t be able to escape out the bottle’s narrow neck.

Not having any luck? Fruit flies are often confused with fungus gnats, which live in the pots of your favorite houseplants. These little buggers lay their eggs deep in the soil, so you’ll have to “flush” the plants with a gnat-killing pesticide, unfortunately.


As someone who grew up in the country, I’m all too familiar with this next situation. You’re lying in bed, letting the crickets serenade you to sleep, when all of a sudden, there’s a chirp nearby. Wait, is it in the house?! However, the minute you turn on the light and head toward the sound, the cricket will hunker down and hide, making it near impossible to catch them.

Luckily for me, my cat got quite good at catching crickets—it’s how he earns his keep. If your feline isn’t as skilled in the fine art of catching crunchy jumpers, you can trying putting a bowl with 1 part molasses and 10 parts water. No cricket can resist molasses. Oh, and again, seal up entry points to keep the hoppers outside where they belong.

When to Call in the Pros

If you have a severe bug problem or are dealing with particularly nasty guys like termites, cockroaches, fleas, or bed bugs, it’s best to leave the job to the trained professionals.

“Realistically, pesticide use should be left to the professionals,” says Tyler Hopkins, inspector for Catseye Pest. “Exterminators must take classes and become licensed to handle pesticides. They’re trained on when to use specific types and the amount to use in one area to correctly treat and remove the pest.”

Moral of the story: Don’t go spraying chemicals around your house willy-nilly. Now go enjoy your bug-free home.

How do you keep unwanted pests at bay? Share your tips with us below!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Susan
  • Lindsay Schneider
    Lindsay Schneider
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    Matilda Luk
Freelance writer, product tester & baking enthusiast.


Susan November 1, 2018
I shared some thoughts on the spider blog, but it just disappeared
Susan November 1, 2018
The spider solution isn't 100% accurate. In my own exsperiences with spiders, and I get the joy of experiencing this every fall, spiders do come in even if your house is clean. I keep a tidy home, and every year around the time the kids go back to school, and the weather starts to cool down the spiders begin to move in. I live in Washington state so this is just my exsperience. We know they are moving in because we begin to see alot of them when we normally don't. The other thing is we all begin to wake up with spider bites which didn't occur before the spiders came. I assume they bite us, my family, because there are no other bugs, and they are hungry. I have heard peppermint oil around doors abd Windows will detour them, but have not tried it myself. Unfortunately after they move in I go buy bug bombs to get rid of them. The ones I see as they move in I will try to catch them and put back outside, but you don't see everyone that comes in.
Lindsay S. October 31, 2018
For months now, we've been battling small dark brown moths that have been living in our pantry. They chew holes into plastic bags containing any kind of grain or nut (pasta, polenta, flour, oats, almonds, you name it), and lay eggs. I have started keeping as much as possible in solid containers, but certain things, like long noodles, won't fit in anything I can find. Three times now, I have cleaned out the pantry completely and gotten rid of anything that looks even remotely possible to be contaminated, and I kill every moth I see, but they keep coming back. Any suggestions on how to get rid of them for good? Also if you know where to find glass containers long enough to hold spaghetti, let me know!
Matilda L. October 31, 2018
Hi Lindsay, I use an OXO Pop container--I think it's the 3.4 quart "cereal" one--which is perfect for about 3lbs of spaghetti or linguine.
Matilda L. October 31, 2018
Oh, sorry--the OXO is plastic, not glass.