Our pantries are precious commodities right now and a well-stocked pantry can really make meal preparation easier and help you avoid unnecessary trips to the store. Here’s how to protect them and keep pests out of the pantry.
If you’ve gone to the effort and expense to create a well-stocked pantry, you definitely don’t want any of it to go to waste because of a pest infestation. Having a well-stocked pantry can allow you to create meals out of just about anything you happen to have leftover in your fridge and it can keep you from feeling like you need to run to the grocery store constantly. I thought it might be helpful and timely to chat a bit about things that you can do to keep pests out of your pantry today. We’ve all had this problem come up at some point along the way and in my experience, the warmer months are usually when this problem comes up. Here are a few things that have worked for me!
Where do Pantry Pests Come From?
Often, pests will show up in the warmer months and can come in when a door is opened or just through tiny cracks and holes in you house. There isn’t too much you can do about them entering your house in the first place, but you can stop them from sticking around! The problem usually arises when they find a sneaky food source and tell all their friends.
Sometimes pests will even hitch a ride right on the food you bring home from the grocery store. In this case, no matter how clean your kitchen is or how tightly-sealed your home is, you can still end up with an unwelcome house guest or two. Not to worry – There are lots of things you can do!
Keeping Pests of Out the Pantry: Natural Solutions
There are a few things that common pantry pests really dislike, but the ones that I find easiest and most pleasant to use are dried eucalyptus and bay leaves. They’re tidier to deal with than powdered spices some people recommend sprinkling, they smell fresh, and of course they look great too!
Just tuck a sprig of dried eucalyptus here and there in your pantry to deter pests. You can often get different types of eucalyptus from your local flower shop and enjoy them in your home as decor. When they start to get too old for that, you can dry them and use them for this purpose! Here’s my post on How to Dry Silver Dollar Eucalyptus.
I actually prefer this smaller-leafed version for this purpose in the pantry though. It has a more upright growing pattern so it’s easier to find straight stems that can be tucked here and then without getting in the way or making a mess.
These may be a little less convenient than a sprig of eucalyptus, but a few little leaves tucked here and there, or in a mesh bag in your pantry shouldn’t get in the way too much.
Organizing Your Pantry to Keep Pests Away
Close Everything Up Really Well
Of course you already do this with everything in your pantry, but you’ll want to take extra precautions if you’re prone to getting pests. If you can’t transfer something to an airtight container (for example, with a bag of flour), the next best thing is to close it up really well by rolling the top down several times and holding it shut with a couple of sturdy clips. Then take the whole thing and place it in a heavy-duty ziplock bag and shut that. In my experience, this worked really well to keep pests out, but I don’t love to use disposable plastic bags very often, so this is always kind of a last-resort option for me.
Move Stuff to the Fridge or Freezer
If you have the space in there, this is the safest place. I’m sure this is really obvious to some people, while others just don’t think of it. We once had a package of mini cupcakes out on the counter that the ants discovered and they kept coming back looking for more for weeks after that. If I pick up a pack of store bought cupcakes these days, I just put them straight in the fridge. I haven’t seen ants in the kitchen in years. You can keep bread products and even pantry staples in the fridge as well if necessary.
Homemade Ant Killer
I can’t talk about ant problems without mentioning the homemade ant killer I discovered many years ago. So much less scary to use than the store bought pesticide stuff and it just plain works. I discovered a trail of ants that kept showing up in our living room years ago when we first moved into our house. I used this on them and they never came back, not even the next year. You can find the recipe here: The Best Homemade Ant Killer Recipe
Use Glass Jars for Everything
This right here is my holy grail of pantry pest solutions. Not only are these locking-lid jars easy to use and beautiful (unlike the bag o’ flour in the ziplock bag solution), but they really make everything completely inaccessible to pests. You can get these jars in all shapes and sizes now and once you have them, you’ll be able to use them over and over again. So they really do solve the problem once and for all. Just the best. Every kitchen should have these and any company that tries to sell us a new “better” solution for storing our pantry items is just doing us all a disservice. Wow, it turns out that I have some very strong opinions about pantry storage. Ha! 🙂
What have you found that works really well for keeping pests out of your pantry?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.