When your apartment is swarmed with flies, ants, silverfish, or roaches, it’s easy to feel like an insect infestation is an overwhelming sourceless and unsolvable problem. There are simple, concrete steps you can take to make your apartment feel clean and safe once more. As always, though, calling pest control experts can end you problem much faster and easier than DIY solutions.

Is My Apartment Infested?

The first step to treating any problem is determining if you have one. While seeing the insects in person is a sure way to tell if you have a big problem, there may be other signs that you have an infestation.

  • Bundles or “nests” of dust, shredded paper, crumbs, and other debris are one indication, as well as buildups of filth or grime along with the corners of walls, behind cabinets, and cupboards, underneath or behind large appliances like refrigerators or TVs.
  • Cast off wings, shells, or droppings, which often appear to be brittle, black dust, are also worth looking for.

Why Do Insects Come Inside?

When insects do swarm into your apartment, most likely they are searching for one or more of the following: heat, food, and water. By preventing access to these resources, you discourage any further insects from infiltrating your apartment and can take care of the immediate issue.

Keeping Insects Out of Your Apartment

Make sure any cracks or gaps in walls, floors, window sills, and door frames are sealed with weatherstrips, silicon, or caulk, and take care to replace torn screens with new ones to prevent insects from entering that way. While this may seem like a chore, all the supplies necessary to perform these tasks can be easily obtained at a hardware store, and the work itself can be done in an afternoon.

Many insects dislike the scent of strong citrus or eucalyptus scents, meaning that dashing a few drops of natural essences like peppermint, basil, lemon, tea tree, or cinnamon around your doors and windows will both help to prevent insect intrusion as well as making your apartment smell fresh and pleasant. Consider infusing a spray bottle of water with citrus or herbal essences as an easy way to reapply the odor, and refresh the areas near any potential entry points daily.

Once you have ensured no further insects are entering your apartment, it’s time to deal with those left in your living space. Start by deep cleaning your home, vacuuming under furniture and beneath cushions, and mopping any other dust or dried spills from the floor. By removing dust and food debris, you are denying insects shelter and food, and you will very quickly start seeing their numbers decline.

Make sure to put away all your food every time you get it out. Insects may chew their way through cardboard and nest in opened plastic bags, so use mason jars or similar containers to store dry goods like flour, rice, beans, and pasta, all of which are common targets for insects.

Taking out your garbage daily will also help remove the main source of food for your infestation, as the longer, your trash sits around, the more insects will come to feed on it.

Make sure you are wiping down your cooking and eating spaces after using them; a cleaner infused with citrus or herbal essences is a great way to add additional preventative measures to your daily cleaning routines. Additionally, try to limit where you cook and eat to one consistent space since you don’t need to worry about cleaning your whole home for food garbage if you only ever eat in one room. Especially avoid eating in bed, since crumbs can get lost in sheets very quickly, and most people do not wash their bedding more than once a week.

A Constant Battle

As lovely as it would be to imagine that taking these steps once would be enough to solve your insect problem, sadly this is not the case. You must incorporate these cleaning practices into your routine and find ways to make them part of your schedule. One good way to do this is setting a chore calendar; maybe one day you vacuum, another day you wipe down surfaces, and a third day you mop. If maintaining a calendar isn’t for you, it can be useful to instead simply tack on these chores to things you already do daily. If you remember to grab your sponge and wipe off the table every time you bring your plate to the sink, you will quickly find that soon it becomes almost reflexive, and you will not have to dedicate any more time and energy to remembering to do this. Likewise, if you drink tea every morning, try making a point of sweeping the floor while you wait for your water to boil. In this way, you will not feel like these chores are eating into your precious free time, and you will reap the rewards of a clean, bug-free apartment without exhausting yourself.

If you have taken these steps to secure your apartment, incorporate cleaning habits into your daily routine, and are still dealing with insect issues, it may be time to think outside your own apartment. Living near others means that the bugs may be coming into your apartment from your neighbor’s. Try reaching out to your neighbors to see if they are dealing with the same issues, and if they are, offer some of these solutions. By offering to help your neighbor with the issue, you both are building a positive relationship with your immediate community, but also benefiting yourself by preventing bugs from entering your neighbors apartment from outside and spreading into yours either through walls or vents, etc.

It may be the case that despite all your efforts, your insect problem remains. If it comes to this, consider notifying your landlord so they may call a professional pest removal service. Pesticides and insecticides are both hazardous and toxic, and any situation that is bad enough to warrant their use should involve a professional to avoid any accidents that may occur from mishandling them.