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Everyday Cheapskate: How to Make Nontoxic Natural Pest Control

Mary Hunt on


Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth onto your carpet with the sifter, and then brush or pound it in with a broom. Leave for 24-36 hours, and then vacuum up. This is a nontoxic and environmentally safe treatment, but wear a face protector because it is fine as powder.

The diatomaceous earth you get from a pool supply store is NOT food-grade. It has been chemically altered and does not kill fleas. Check with a garden supply store, or look for my favorite, Harris Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth, online.


Rubbing alcohol makes a great fly and insect spray. Fine mist evaporates quickly and is not harmful to anyone but the pests. This doesn't necessarily kill them, but it anesthetizes the little guys, so once they're asleep, dispose of them quickly.


Set out a small dish of apple cider vinegar (white vinegar will not work; it must be apple cider vinegar), to which you've added a drop of liquid dishwashing soap. Cover with plastic wrap, and then pull back the wrap along part of the edge to give an entry point. Fruit flies fly in and never come out. The detergent breaks the surface tension of the vinegar so they can't just sit on top of it; they'll fall in.



The easiest way to rid a home of mice is with oil of peppermint (aka peppermint essential oil). Put it on cotton balls where you have evidence of mice. You will never see them again. This has worked for me when I found their evidence in a grains cabinet. Gone for good. That was about 10 years ago. A friend moved into a rental, and the garage was infested with mice. I told her about the oil of peppermint, and she rid the garage in two days. She said it was a "miracle." Thanks, Nina!


To get rid of silverfish, put about 1/4 inch of flour in a small, straight-sided glass. Run a strip of adhesive or masking tape from bottom to top on the outside to provide traction. Silverfish will travel up the tape and drop into the glass, but they won't be able to get back out. Place one of these traps in each room where you've seen silverfish.


Would you like more information? Go to for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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