Welcome to Pantry Goals, your destination for all the practical tips and need-to-know tricks to get your space in tip-top shape (and keep it that way).
A few months ago, one of my dearest friends lived every baker’s nightmare. She opened up a bag of flour, intending to make cookies, only to be greeted by a swarm of creepy, crawly bugs. Flour mites had broken into her pantry, and she swears there were hundreds crawling around in the bag of flour—it sounds like the making of a cooking horror movie!
Unfortunately, this is a fairly common occurrence, as there are a whole group of bugs that absolutely love to snack on pantry essentials—rice, flour, cereal, beans, and the like. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to keep your pantry pest-free. Just use these easy tips to bug-proof your kitchen.
Embrace Airtight Everything
If you’ve been looking for a reason to invest in new containers for your pantry, this is a good one. The best way to keep pests like flour mites, grain weevils, and pantry moths out of your essentials is to store the ingredients in airtight containers.
Most of these bugs can burrow through paper bags and mesh, so you need a hard material like plastic or glass to keep them at bay. Luckily, there’s no shortage of good-looking, functional, airtight pantry containers to choose from.
Buy in Bulk—Only When It Makes Sense
A sale on your favorite brand of flour may seem too good to pass up, but it’s actually not a great idea to buy certain pantry essentials in bulk.
Think about it: If you buy multiple bags of flour, rice, or dried beans, they’re probably going to sit in your pantry for a few months before getting used. The longer you leave them there, the greater the chance of bugs finding them. And if pests do get into the bags of extra supplies, you might not find them for a while, giving them a chance to spread.
For this reason, it’s better to wait until you’re nearly out of flour, rice, and other pantry staples to restock. This will also give you the chance to completely clean and dry out your airtight containers before refilling them again.
Give Groceries the Third Degree
On a similar note, take a few seconds to inspect groceries before you buy them. Sneaky bugs may be hiding in damaged boxes or bags, and you don’t want to inadvertently invite them into your home.
Honor Expiration Dates
You’ll also want to pay attention to the expiration dates on your food supplies. Even items considered “non-perishable” can go bad, and if they do, they’re more likely to attract pests, according to Modern Pest Services. Bottom line? It might be time to toss that corn meal that’s been sitting in there for years.
Practice Pantry Hygiene
I learned the hard way that ants really like when you leave crumbs on the counter, and I don’t recommend experimenting this theory in your pantry. A runaway bean once may not seem like a big deal, but do you really want to test your luck?
Taking little steps to keep your pantry clean can save you a lot of hassle in the long run. If you spill something, take the time to clean it up properly. It’s also a good idea to deep clean periodically—as an added bonus, this will help you keep the space neat and organized. Win-win.
Bugs Already Moved In? Purge that Pantry!
Spotted a weevil, mite, or moth? Unfortunately, you’re going to have to purge and deep clean your pantry. Toss out any ingredients that have bugs, and any nearby items that could potentially be infested or otherwise compromised.
Once you’ve gotten rid of bug-infested ingredients, take everything else out of your pantry and vacuum it thoroughly. Scrub down the shelves with soap and warm water—Environmental Pest Control says not to use any pesticides, as this can affect your food.
Let everything dry, then do one final scan for bugs before you restock your pantry. And don’t forget those airtight containers this time!