Charlotte’s web is cute in a story but not in your house. Here’s how to keep spiders away without resorting to products filled with chemicals.
Few houseguests are worse than spiders. Aside from snakes, they’re probably the creepy-crawly you least want to see scurry under your bed. Spiders come inside for two main reasons: food and shelter. They eat other insects, so if you leave your porch light on and a few bugs get inside, spiders will start looking for ways in once they get hungry. They also don’t tolerate freezing weather, so as temperatures start to drop, they look for a warm, cozy place to hunker down for winter just like we do.
If you’re not keen on your house being a spider B&B, here’s how to keep spiders away without having to resort to chemical-filled repellents that can harm your home worse than the spiders.
Why You Don’t Want Spiders in the House
Aside from the idea of spiders making you naturally cringe, there are a few more objective reasons to not let spiders in your home. For one, they’ll get into your food. Imagine seeing that in your spoonful of cereal in the morning. Another reason is that they bite. While it’s false that spiders bite humans for blood, they will bite if they feel threatened, like if you roll over and touch them while you’re sleeping or reach for a jar where one is sitting. Any spider bite is unappealing, but you definitely want to avoid a poisonous bite. Lastly, if you let one spider go untouched in your house, you’ll soon have many. When a spider finds a warm, hospitable home, it’s likely to decide that’s where it will lay eggs. Before you know it, you’ll have a spider colony in the house, and it will be all the more difficult to remedy the issue.
How to Keep Spiders Out
Whether you currently have a spider issue or just want to take preventive measures, here are 12 ways to naturally get rid of spiders.
Sprigs of eucalyptus make nice, freshly scented vase arrangements for us, but for spiders, they’re highly unwelcome. Spiders strongly dislike the powerful smell of eucalyptus, so if you want to keep them away, consider growing the plant in a pot on your counter or planting a bush near your entryways. You can also soak a cotton ball in eucalyptus oil and place it where you’ve seen spiders gathering.
On the fence about getting a cat? Not only do they scare away mice, but they’re great for keeping spiders out as well. Cats eat spiders, so if they see these four-legged giants lounging around your house, they’ll head the other way in a hurry.
Cinnamon is another one of those intense smells spiders detest. Because spiders pick up on smell through vibration, encountering cinnamon is overwhelming. You can sprinkle some cinnamon in problem areas, or place cinnamon sticks around your home, which make for less cleanup.
4. Move Your Bins
When the garbage starts to smell, it attracts all kinds of pests. The more you can keep insects in general at a minimum, the better chance you have at not attracting spiders. If your outside trash bins are currently near your backdoor or other entryways to your home, move them farther away. On that note, don’t let your inside trash sit long enough to attract flies and other insects. You’ll have spiders lined up.
As with eucalyptus, spiders don’t like the overpowering smell of mint. Not only does the smell deter them from coming any closer, but peppermint and many other essential oils contain monoterpenoids, which are essentially fumigants that naturally have insecticidal properties. You can grow peppermint in or outside your home, or like with eucalyptus, you can put peppermint oil on a cotton ball and keep it where needed.
White vinegar has endless uses around the home. You can make an easy, effective spider repellent by mixing half vinegar, half water in a spray bottle and applying it where you’ve seen or suspect spiders to hang out. Preventively, you can spray it around windows and doors. It’s completely non-toxic, and the smell will fade within 30 minutes. Just be careful not to saturate certain furniture finishes, as the vinegar could cause discoloration or warping.
7. Lemon Peel
Spiders hate citrus. Rub a lemon peel on surfaces like door frames, windowsills, baseboards, bookshelves, and in corners to prevent them from creating a web or laying eggs in that area. You can do the same with lemon oil. Just apply a bit to a cotton pad and wipe it on surfaces or leave the pad beside common entry points.
8. Seal Cracks
What keeps spiders away better than removing how they get in? Check your home for any cracks or gaps that provide easy entryways for pests. Assess all door openings, windows, baseboards, and other areas where spiders commonly crawl through. Apply caulk or weather stripping to any openings, especially ahead of cold weather when spiders are more persistent about finding their way in.
9. Clean Frequently
Spiders seek out undisturbed areas. By cleaning frequently, you’ll repeatedly tear down their home, and they’ll eventually find a more peaceful place to live. Pay special attention to corners, from the ceiling all the way down to the floor. Sweep under furniture, wipe underneath tabletops, and dust between stair railings and on top of cabinets. Shake out your drapes and check behind shelves. Keeping things tidy in your yard also helps. Mow the grass and trim plants back regularly to drive spiders out and keep them from getting too comfortable.
10. Cover Food
Spiders have to eat, so don’t make your house a buffet. Put away, or at least securely cover, all food, and don’t leave out open soda cans or cups with beverages. This will only draw in fruit flies, gnats, and other insects, which will in turn attract spiders. Don’t forget about the fruit bowl on the counter. Leaving out fruits and vegetables, even when they’ve yet to be cut into, still draws insects that spiders love to eat.
11. Baking Soda
Baking soda is a super cost-effective way to keep spiders out. You likely already have it in your pantry. Though it’s not known why, baking soda does seem to deter spiders. Sprinkle it around areas where spiders congregate, and they’ll likely pack up and leave in a day or two.
Lavender smells lovely to us, but not to spiders. You can use the cotton ball method, or you can also make a spray using lavender oil. Fill a bottle nearly full of water, then add 10 drops of lavender essential oil and spray it in problem areas. Not only will spiders see their way out, but your home will also smell like a meadow.
How to Catch and Remove a Spider
If you’re not okay with stomping or squishing a spider and simply want to remove it humanely, you’ll need a container and a thin lid like a piece of paper. As long as you’re comfortable getting close to the spider, you can place the container over it, then scoot the paper or other material under it to trap the spider inside. Take it outside and let it loose far away from your home or vehicle. There are also a variety of spider traps and the classic sticky strips out there.
How to Remove Spider Eggs
If you’ve found eggs in or near your home, your best bet for preventing a full-on infestation is removing the eggs before they hatch. If you suspect the spiders in question may be poisonous, don’t handle them yourself. Call a terminator. Otherwise, you can use a screwdriver or toothpick to loosen the eggs from whatever they’re adhered to, and then vacuum them up or transfer them to a container and discard them outside. If you choose to vacuum anything spider-related, be sure to dump the vacuum contents outside and away from your house.
How to Remove a Spiderweb
Skin crawling yet? Spiderwebs are essentially traps for a spider’s prey. They’re commonly found in corners and other undisturbed areas. The easiest and most efficient way to get rid of spiderwebs is to vacuum them. Again, don’t empty vacuum contents into your inside trash bins in case there is a spider stuck to the web. If using a vacuum isn’t feasible for reaching the web, you can put a sock on the end of a broomstick and use a circular motion to whip the web around the sock and discard it.
Pest problems are no fun, but there are thankfully many natural ways to remove them so we don’t have to use toxic chemicals. For more natural, non-toxic ways to remedy issues around the home, keep up with the Public Goods blog.
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