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Natural Pest Control in the Pantry

February 1, 2017 Honest to Goodness

Insects are a common occurrence in homes especially during the summer months. But how do you send them on their way without using harmful solutions? Forget about the chemical laden pest sprays - here are some helpful tips on how to naturally keep the critters out of your pantry for good!


  • Look around your house and seal any cracks, holes, leaks or other easy access points that will let little critters get into your home easily.
  • Regularly clean shelves, bins, and all other locations where there is any possibility of flour or other food particles accumulating. Wipe down surfaces & cupboards with 1 part vinegar to 1 part water to remove odours and food particles. 
  • To help clear out your drains mix ½ cup baking soda and ½ cup vinegar, pour down and after 5 mins pour in boiling water to clear everything out.
  • Seal off all your garbage in airtight containers that can’t be penetrated and keep your compost bin lid on tight/regularly empty from kitchen and rinse recyclables before putting them in the bin.
  • Keep your house dry and make sure that it’s got no water leaks – insect pests love moist, humid hideouts & need water to survive!
  • Don't put exposed food on shelves
  • Check the toaster, microwave and stove for any crumbs and clean them away if present. 


  • Store all dried foods in pest-proof containers (preferably tight fitting screw top glass or metal containers) this will prevent escape or entry! 
  • Routinely placing newly purchased susceptible products in the freezer before placing in the pantry is very worthwhile, especially organic products that have never been fumigated. It is worth considering allocating some freezer space just for this, especially in summer. 
  • High risk products including flours, grains, nuts, seeds should be kept in a cool dark place.
  • Clean old containers before filling them with fresh food. They may be contaminated and cause a new infestation.
  • Don't mix old and new lots of foodstuffs. If the old material is infested, the pest will quickly invade the new.
  • Pantry pests can also breed in rodent baits. Be sure to frequently check and discard infested baits.
  • Dried bay leaves in your pantry have also been used for many generations deterrent for pests and will certainly do no harm. 

Dried Bay leaves natural pest control


If you discover any of these pests in your pantry, it is important to identify the pest and locate the source as soon as possible. 


  • Hate cinnamon and coffee grounds; both can be used in strategic entry locations to repel the little insects from your home’s interior.  
  • For stronger solution to eliminate nest mix 1 tablespoon of sugar with 1/8 teaspoon of borax.  Add enough water to make a syrup.  Place about a teaspoon of this mix on something like a flat lid in the affected area, but out of reach of pets and children.  The ants will carry the syrup back to the nest and eliminate it.  

Coffee grounds natural pest control


  • Cut off cockroaches with catnip – Add a small amount of dried or fresh catnip to some water and steep it as if you were making tea.  Cool, strain and place in a spray bottle.  Apply wherever your ugly cockroach problem is showing itself.
  • Leave bay leaves, cucumber slices or garlic in the affected area as deterrents.
  • Keep a spray bottle of soapy water on hand. Spraying roaches directly with soapy water will kill them.


  • A few drops of eucalyptus oil on a scrap of absorbent cloth will deter flies. Leave in areas where flies are a problem.
  • You can make your own flypaper with this simple recipe: Mix 1/4 cup syrup, 1 tbsp. granulated sugar and 1 tbsp brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut strips of brown kraft paper and soak in this mixture. Let dry overnight. To hang, poke a small hole at the top of each strip and hang with string or thread. 

Fruit Flies:

  • Deter fruit flies by applying a small wad of of crushed mint leaves to window entrances and near doorways.  Fruit flies seem to hate natural mint.
  • Or fill a jar with about 2 inches of Apple Cider Vinegar –cover top with plastic wrap and poke with holes – the flies will be attracted to the sweet smell and drown. 

Apple Cider Vinegar natural pest control

Moths & Weevils:

  • To take care of the immediate problem of moths, trap them with pheromone moth traps, which attract and kill them with a sticky substance that they can't escape once they touch.
  • Sachets made with dried rosemary, thyme, cloves, lavender, or bay leaves. Simply fill a small cloth bag with these ingredients, tie it with a string, and hang it up.

Are you a business?

For more information download the Pest Control in Food Businesses Fact Sheet from the Department of Primary Food Industries Food Authority.

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