Alternatives to pesticides

It is often hard to rid our homes of insects, there is a tendency to revert back to certain commercial pesticides.

One possible course of action would be to make alterations in the home to make it less susceptible to invading animals. For example, cover up the holes where they can hide or make them completely inaccessible using a strong cleaner, so as to cut off their access to food. This, along with finding and destroying cockroach nests, is vital for deterring insects such as ants or cockroaches. For flies, cover the foods that attract them. For mosquitos, you can also cover windows with netting or mesh, or put a mosquito net over the bed to block their path. Putting your clothes in bags can protect them from moths.

Aside from these you can try other measures which make an even less hospitable environment for them in our homes. To deter cockroaches, you can put things in corners that they don’t like e.g. wormwood leaves, borax or bay leaves.  As well as borax, chilli powder, cucumber peel, mint, cayenne pepper, lemon, ground coffee with juniper oil, rue etc. can all work as ant repellents.  You could also clean the infested areas with vinegar. As for flies, apart from citrus peels or common rue, they don’t like pennyroyal (type of mint), eucalyptus, cloves, laurel, cornicabra, mastic or walnut, as well as some living plants e.g. mint or elder and, of course, basil, thyme or rosemary. These herbs, as well as smelling good, can deter other flying insects e.g. mosquitos. To repel bloodsucking insects, you can put rosemary, lavender, pennyroyal or essential oils (lavender, lemon, germanium or lemon balm). It also helps to eat things with garlic in them. Marjoram, lavender or lavender seeds, as well as citrus peels, help repel moths. Before using products such as naphthalene, you could try using natural essential oils e.g. clove, mint, orange, cypress etc. or adding a bunch of or a small laundry bag filled with rosemary, lavender or cedar.

There are also options if you want to kill the pests. To kill cockroaches, you can use sticky tape to trap them or put a pot in the corner with a small ramp so they can get in. Put fruit in the pot to attract them and make sure the inside is slippery so they cannot escape.  Taking care when using this substance around children, you can also try borax mixed with flour and cocoa powder. Borax with sugar can also be used to kill ants. To get rid of flies, you can use sticky tape with something sweet on it to attract them. In some eco shops, they also have natural pesticides for killing mosquitos, but you should still check them thoroughly and ask an expert if they are suitable. You can also hoover up mosquitos when they land on your walls.

To combat rodents in your home, apart from using physical barriers to stop them from getting food or shelter, there are some options which do not contain harmful chemicals, such as traps. These can kill the rodent or just trap them and keep them alive. There are also less toxic poisons on the market too.

In the garden

Before using pesticides in the garden, which is not recommended, it is a good idea to find out why there are pests and whether it is because the plants are unhealthy.  It can make a difference if we use plants which are suitable for the climate or the soil, if they are well nourished (e.g. insufficient or unsuitable fertiliser) and sufficiently watered (i.e. not too much or too little) etc.

If you have a problem with weeds in your garden, after making sure they are safe to touch, you can often just pull them up using your hands or with a hoe, instead of using herbicides.

Once we have done as much as possible to keep the plants strong and healthy, we can do other things to help them, for example planting other plants nearby which emit chemicals which, in turn, can repel possible pests. These plants include common rue, lavender or rosemary, and some worms don’t like marigolds, for example.

Placing a clove of garlic between the roots of a plant under the surface can help to repel various pests. For some pests, just using pressurised water on its own or with a bit of soap can be enough. To prevent greenfly infestations, some people recommend putting the contents of an ashtray on the ground.

In cases where pesticides are absolutely necessary, there are more natural pesticide products on sale in organic shops for agriculture and/or gardening, which use garlic extract, nettles, thyme, basil, bacilus thuringiensis, as well as using ladybirds (who eat aphids) etc.


There are also options if we ourselves, for example, have lice. A well-known alternative is to cover the head in vinegar and putting a bag over the scalp to trap the vapours, before passing a fine-toothed nit comb through the hair. In extreme cases, you can cut your hair very short, in eco shops, there are some natural products which you can use.

For pets, there are some similar options which are on sale or which can be made at home e.g. combing strong infusions of pennyroyal or eucalyptus through the hair or fur. However, we have to be careful with pregnant females. You should also always make sure that their beds are clean and you could put cedar woodchip, pine needles, pennyroyal etc. under where they sleep.