Pests happen. A kitchen doesn’t have to be dirty for the occasional little critter to make an appearance, but when they do it can be disheartening. Especially after a big kitchen remodel when everything seems so clean and new! Don’t call the exterminator yet – there are simple ways you can discourage bugs without subjecting your new kitchen to harsh chemicals.

Karyn Siegel-Maier’s book The Naturally Clean Home has recipes for naturally cleaning every room in your house. Her tips are both easy and eco-friendly, which means you can implement these way before you ever see your first pest!

Ants: Wipe cabinets with a damp sponge and 6-8 drops of peppermint or citronella essential oil. Then place 3-5 drops of the same oil on windowsills, doorway cracks and in the corners of cabinets under the kitchen sink. (You can also sprinkle cinnamon, paprika or cayenne pepper across their trails.)

Centipedes, earwigs, silverfish: Place several drops of peppermint, eucalyptus or citronella essential oil in areas that collect moisture such as basements, garages and cabinets that house plumbing fixtures.

Cockroaches: Sprinkle a mixture of washing soda and sugar in dark areas where roaches like to hide, but avoid this method if you have children or pets.

Mice: Place sprigs of fresh peppermint between pantry items in your cabinets.

Mites and weevils: Place a few whole nutmegs in flour containers.

Other insects: Place loose bay leaves in kitchen cabinets.

Remember that little habits can make a big difference, too. Tackling spills quickly, wiping down the outside of used bottles to remove leftover residue (like sticky honey jars) and making sure all your food is properly stored and sealed are all important pest deterrents. Keep the bugs away and keep your kitchen looking brand new!

Our intern is Desiree Johnson, a recent journalism graduate and Texas native. The 27-year-old loves painting, her dachshund Munchie and using what she calls her “real, adult-sized kitchen.”