You probably already have a few of these natural repellents in your pantry.
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The kitchen is a natural breeding ground for insects. Crumbs that fall to the floor or get stuck in the corners welcome unwanted pesky critters into your home. Even fruits that are left out for a little too long attract those annoying fruit flies that seem to multiple within seconds. Obviously, the last thing that you want to do is spray your kitchen—the place where you prepare your food—with harsh chemicals to get rid of bugs. The good news is, you don’t have to; there are a handful of common pantry items that can help in evicting the creepy crawlers from your home. And with the increasing variety and accessibility of non-toxic products on the market, you can also purchase natural bug repellent sprays that are safe to use around your family and pets.

As a general preventive measure, it’s important to seal any visible openings in your home that leave space for bugs to enter. Open spaces can include gaps around your door frames, cracks in the window seal and any small holes in the wall. Even a leaky faucet, open drains, and loose pipes can be an entry point for bugs, so tighten up. They get in wherever they fit in—and anyone who’s ever struggled with an insect infestation knows, they are determined. Also, regularly taking out the trash, sweeping the floors, vacuuming carpets, and cleaning out the garbage disposal will help keep the pests away. If you dread the sight of creepy crawlies scurrying across the kitchen floor when you flip the lights on, try protecting your home with a few of these natural remedies.

Bay Leaves

Bay leaves have the surprising power to repel many pests that may hide in your pantry. Bugs despise the pungent smell of the leaves in both fresh and dried from. To protect your pantry's dried goods, be sure to store them in thick, airtight plastic containers topped with a bay leaf. You can also add dried bay leaves to food items stored in plastic bags such rice, grains, and cereal.

Hot Pepper Wax Insect Spray

This natural spray uses the power of capsaicin extracted from cayenne pepper, along with refined paraffin wax, to repel bugs. The spray is most effective again soft-bodied insects like aphids, cabbage loopers, beet armyworms, spider mites, and whiteflies. The product is delicate enough to spray on houseplants and can easily add a layer of protection in hard-to-reach corners around your kitchen. Capsaicin can be irritating to your eyes, so remember to wear protective wear as you apply the spray.

Essential Oils

Essential oils have practical uses in the kitchen when you mix them into a water-based solution. Lemongrass, citrus, peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, citronella, catnip, and lavender oils all possess properties that repel bugs. The oils can be used individually or combined to make a simple anti-bug potion. Mix about 1 cup of water with 25-30 total drops of oil into a small spray bottle. Shake well and spray crevices in your kitchen where the bugs might be entering from. Bonus: Your kitchen will smell lovely.


Buy a basil plant for both pest control and culinary purposes—it’s the best of both worlds. You can easily find basil plants in a local garden shop or in the produce section of most grocery stores; simply transfer it to a small pot and keep it on your kitchen counter. Basil is wonderfully fragrant and tasty in recipes, but many insects can’t stand the smell and are naturally repelled by it. (Fun Fact: Rosemary bushes planted outdoors have a similar effect on mosquitos.)


It’s not exactly a secret that vinegar is a tried-and-true cleaning agent in the kitchen. When you combine white distilled or apple cider vinegar in a bowl or glass with a few drops of dishwashing detergent, you have a natural remedy against fruit flies. Cover your container of the solution with plastic wrap or foil and poke small holes into the surface with a toothpick in order to create a trap for the flies.

Diatomaceous Earth (Food-grade)

Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring substance sourced from fossilized diatoms (plankton). It has numerous valuable uses, such as purifying water, detoxing the body, improving bone density, and removing toxins from the skin. And most importantly (for the purposes of this article), diatomaceous earth helps to kill insects in your home because of its ability to dry out the external layer of a bug’s “skin” causing it to dehydrate and die. Diatomaceous earth is safe for human consumption, however, be sure to purchase from a reputable source with a food-grade label.