Pest-Free, Naturally

When insects or vermin invade your home, spraying mystery chemicals where you sleep and play is a less-than-appealing solution. Fortunately, there are many organic, nontoxic ways to protest these pests. The following remedies are adapted from Home Enlightenment (Rodale, 2005) and Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers, 1999) by Annie Berthold-Bond, arguably the queen of domestic green. Her website is

All-purpose spray: Combine two tablespoons of liquid peppermint castile soap with one gallon of water to make a particularly effective pest deterrent. Spray around baseboards and countertop edges to create barriers against flies, ants, fleas, and mice.

Fleas: When your dog or cat starts scratching, the last thing you want to do is douse your pet with a harsh chemical. Grind together 1/2 teaspoon of eucalyptus, 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary, and 1/2 teaspoon of pennyroyal. Combine with 1/4 cup cornstarch. Massage the mixture into your pet’s fur.

Rodents: To kill mice and rats without poison, mix up vitamin D bait. Crush an over-the-counter vitamin D pill and mix it with cheese or peanut butter. The vitamin D lethally disrupts rodents’ calcium metabolism.

Flies: To make your own fly paper, cut a brown paper bag into two-inch-wide strips. Mix 1/4 cup corn syrup with 1/2 cup sugar and spread the mixture onto the strips. Hang them up and watch the flies swarm toward the sweet stuff.

Ants: Ants are among the most common pests. To get rid of them, mix one cup of borax with one cup of sugar water. Pour the mixture into small jars filled with loose wads of toilet paper, punch a few holes in the lids, and place them wherever ants congregate.

Roaches: Drunken roaches apparently have as little control over themselves as intoxicated humans. Put a saucer containing 1/2 cup of beer on the floor. When the roaches are drunk, sweeping them up will be a cinch.

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.