Natural Ways to Get Rid of Insects in Your Home

natural ways to keep pests and insects away illustration

Treehugger / Hugo Lin

Here's yet another reason to put down the bug spray. Children who have been exposed to pesticides in their homes may have an increased risk of certain cancers, according to a recent study.

A review of 16 studies done since the 1990s found that kids who have been around certain home pesticides have a greater chance of developing the blood cancers leukemia and lymphoma. The researchers found that children who had been exposed to indoor insecticides were 47 percent more likely to be diagnosed with childhood leukemia and 43 percent more likely to be diagnosed with childhood lymphoma than kids who had never been exposed to those chemicals.

"We don't know 'how much' exposure it takes, or if there's a critical window in development," senior researcher Chensheng (Alex) Lu, an associate professor of environmental exposure biology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, told HealthDay.

"I think it's important to get this information out to parents, and let them use their own best judgment," Lu said.

For the review, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers looked at the connection between childhood cancers and indoor insecticides, outdoor insecticides and herbicides. They also found that kids who were exposed to herbicides were 26 percent more likely to develop childhood leukemia. They found no link between the cancers and outdoor insecticides.

But that doesn't mean you have to share your home with insects to keep your family safe. Here are some ways to get rid of pests naturally.


Lemon juice. Cinnamon. Peppermint. Sounds like the ingredients for a great recipe, but they're really some simple remedies to keep ants out of your home.


From flypaper to flytraps, there are simple no-chemical ways to prevent pesky flies. Maybe a bag of water might even keep them from ever coming into your house!

Stink Bugs

You know it when you back one of these odiferous insects into a corner. Fortunately, a little dish soap might be a simple solution to get rid of stink bugs. (Just knock them into a bowl of soapy water to drown them.)


It can take a while to get rid of these hardy critters, but there are nontoxic methods to keep roaches out of your house. It starts with lots of cleaning, and then sealing up the spots where they get inside.

Fruit Flies

These annoying tiny pests love your leftover fruits and veggies. If you don't want to share, try setting a delicious trap for the fruit flies. (It's also smart, of course, to get rid of the tempting treats that lured them in.) The artificial sweetener in Truvia could also be a safe pesticide, according to a new study. The study was limited to fruit flies, but researchers say erythritol shows promise to wipe out other insects too.


These irritating bugs go where the moisture is, so get rid of temptations like rotting bananas and soft potatoes. If that doesn't do it, some solutions for removing gnats naturally include dish soap, vinegar and lots of hand clapping.


If these bloodsuckers managed to infest your dog or cat and have taken up residence in your carpet and upholstery, don't grab a flea bomb. First, go get your vacuum cleaner. Then consider boric acid, diatomaceous earth or flea traps to get rid of fleas naturally in your house.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Which are the most common house insects?

    Common insects you might find in your home include ants, cockroaches, fleas, flies, drain flies, fruit flies, gnats, stink bugs, and beetles (including ladybugs).

  • How can you prevent bugs from infesting your house?

    Keep bugs out of your home by making sure your trash is taken out regularly, dishes are washed, food (including pet food) is sealed, and countertops and floors are kept clean. If you can bear it, keep the spiders that make webs in your house—they're excellent natural insect repellents.

  • Can you get rid of bugs without killing them?

    For folks looking for a humane way to free your home of bugs, PETA recommends the age-old cup method. The organization even sells a "humane bug catcher" that captures bugs live without requiring you to get too close to them. This works best for the stray fly or bee rather than full-blown infestations.