A Clean, Safe, Healthy Kitchen & Home: Controlling the Critters

Cleanliness and order in the home are important. Pests such as ants, cockroaches, flies, and mice eat and spoil food, damage belongings, and carry germs that may spread diseases. The best way to control pests is to keep them out of your home in the first place!

Do not leave any food out or uncovered. Always store food in tightly covered containers.©Liz Kasameyer, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health,

Do not leave any food out or uncovered. Always store food in tightly covered containers.
©Liz Kasameyer, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health,

Tips for Maintaining a ‘Pest-Free’ Home

Seal Your Home

Seal any cracks or openings around sinks, toilets, or water pipes with putty. To keep insects out, make sure windows and doors fit tightly and screens are secure and in good repair.

Seal Your Food

Do not leave any food out or uncovered. Always store food in tightly covered containers. When food shopping, verify that all boxes or bags of dry goods are sealed and not broken. For more information, see HGIC 2439, Pantry Pests.

Seal and Dispose of Your Garbage

Get rid of any trash, including food and other wastes that pests like to eat. Use a garbage can with a lid and empty the trash regularly. Use trash can liners to keep garbage bins clean.

Steps to Properly Clean a Garbage Can

  • Put on waterproof gloves and empty the contents of the garbage can
  • Scrub the inside and outside of the garbage can with a clean rag or long-handled brush with hot soapy water.
  • Rinse the garbage can with water. Add a 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach to the rinse water to kill germs.
  • Dispose of cleaning water (away from plants). Turn the garbage can upside down to drain. Leave the lid off and open to dry before using or dry with a clean cloth.

Clean Your Dishes

Even if you cannot wash the dishes or pans immediately after a meal, scrape them, and put the food scraps into a covered garbage can or plastic bag and seal shut. Rinse dirty dishes in hot water and leave them in the sink until you can properly wash them.

Clean Your Home

Regularly wash sinks and toilets. Vacuum or dust kitchen drawers and shelves-especially those not used often. Vacuum or clean around baseboards, window frames, cracks, and openings in cabinets, walls, and floors.

Remove Any Clutter

Clutter can provide hiding places for household pests. Keep piles of clothing or linens, newspapers, magazines, and paper to a minimum.

Clean Your Yard

Keep trash (old boards, tires, and cans) out of the yard. Piles of trash can become nesting or breeding places for household pests.

If pests do get into your home, go after them right away. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get rid of them. Household pests multiply quickly if not dealt with immediately.

Check with local city or county public works departments to determine what can be recycled and what must go to the landfill.


  1. Information for the ‘Clean, Safe, Healthy Kitchen and Home’ factsheets were adopted from: ‘A Clean, Safe, Healthy Home’ curriculum developed by Clemson University Faculty and Staff, 1994.
  2. Additional information was adopted from:
  3. South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control, office of External Affairs.

Originally published 03/21

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at or 1-888-656-9988.

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