The holidays are a festive time and a traditional time to do extra baking, extra eating and extra socializing. This also means extra chances to inadvertently attract “guests” that you don’t want: Insects and other pests.
But you don’t have to forego holiday cheer to protect yourself. You just need to take a few sensible precautions. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the holidays, with no pest-related regrets:
1. Take Out the Trash Promptly
It is generally a good practice to take the trash out every evening before bedtime. This helps reduce germs in the home and can reduce the chance of attracting pests with the smell of rotting food. But if you are throwing parties for the holiday season, make plans to take the trash out as soon as the party is over. Don’t put it off until morning. More people means more food and that means more trash and more smell to attract potential pests.
2. Shake Out the Tree
For some people, the smell of a live Christmas tree is one of the best holiday smells. But did you know that they can be a means to introduce unwanted pests? If you buy a live Christmas tree, shake it out and inspect it before taking it indoors. This will help reduce the odds that you will be bringing in spiders and other unwanted pests that may have hitched a ride on it when it was cut down out in the woods and then taken directly to the lot.
3. Limit Food-Based Decorations
Yes, stringing popcorn to decorate the tree may be loads of fun, but it can also attract pests. For the sake of hygiene and pest control, it is best to stick to non-food decorations. If you have small children around, whether they are your own kids, your grandkids or just guests, food-based decorations can be downright dangerous for little ones who don’t understand that you aren’t really supposed to eat them. Bonus: If stored properly, non-food decorations can be reused next year at no cost.
4. Inspect and Repackage the Decorations
The best way to store decorations during the off-season is in heavy duty plastic bins with snap on lids. If your decorations are not stored this way, make your gift to yourself this holiday season a set of storage bins. Then set aside part of one Saturday to thoroughly inspect your decorations, make sure they are pest-free and transfer them to proper, pest-free storage for the future. Future you will thank you.
5. Clean Up The Kitchen
If you go on a baking spree, you may be inadvertently covering every available surface of your kitchen with flour, sugar and other baking ingredients. Don’t get so deeply involved in baking that you forget to do a thorough cleaning once in a while. It is much easier to clean up spills early, before they have a chance to set, get baked on and so forth. A quick wipe down every day after your latest baking session is quicker and better for pest control than one deep cleaning after it is all over.
6. Buy Local Yule Logs
Another thing people do at holiday time is light up the fireplace, sometimes even if it isn’t particularly cold. Firewood that has been imported from elsewhere can also be a source of imported pests. Buy firewood harvested close to home, store it outside and use it up quickly once it does come into the house. This will help reduce the odds of introducing new Yuletide critters into your home with your Yule logs.
7. Close Up Your Outdoor Trash Cans
If you want to keep pests out of your house, it helps to avoid letting them get a foothold in your yard to begin with. Rodents that first come for the outdoor trash may decide they want better digs and then move indoors. Don’t give them a guest house out back if you don’t want them to become houseguests. One of the best ways to do this is to use solid trash cans in good shape and be consistent about closing them up properly. It can also help to properly tie off plastic trash bags before they go outdoors.
8. Inspect and Clean Your Pantry
If you are doing a lot of baking, you probably have a lot more flour, sugar and other baking ingredients on hand. Inspect them for chew marks, tears and other evidence of compromise. Throw out anything that has been compromised. This is also a good time to empty out your pantry, wipe down the shelves and put in new shelf liners.
Just as humans do not like the cold, pests typically don’t like the cold either. If they can find a warm cozy spot in your pantry with plenty of food, they would much rather be in there than outside. Remember: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you think doing some maintenance cleaning is a hassle, you don’t want to know what is involved in cleaning up after a real problem has developed.
9. Use Disposable Dishes
If you really can’t cope with cleaning up properly right after your big party, before going off to have sugar plums dance in your head, then plan on using disposable plates, bowls, cups and utensils. You can even get one use bakeware and serving items. You should still try to gather up all the trash and get it out the house promptly, but this can be less of a hassle than trying to deal with washing dishes, especially if the party is large enough that you are going to have more dishes than your dishwasher can handle in one go. While this may sound like an environmentally irresponsible thing to do, it may be less of an environmental cost than what can be involved in getting rid of an infestation of pests.
The holidays should be a time for family, good food, and good clean fun. If you don’t want any pest-related regrets during the holidays, contact Fischer’s Pest Control to get your home inspected before your holiday party.
Happy Holidays! Party on, but stay clean.