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Natural and DIY Insecticides: What You Should Know Before You Spray


There was a time, not so long ago, when getting rid of bugs from homes (and offices) was a ‘hit-or-miss’ affair. Usually a miss! The problem was that while a good deal was already known about insect physiology and habits, almost all of the pesticides we now take for granted simply didn’t exist.


For those out there who prefer that we have the ideal solutions to all our buggy woes, a lack of pesticides might seem like a good thing. It isn’t! Were it not for insecticides we would be unable to produce the amount of food needed to feed the world’s ever-growing population. Of course, mistakes have been made in the past, or course. We only have to remember the problems created by the overuse (and misuse, in some cases) of substances such as DDT. However, we've come a long way from the days of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and the welcome changes its publication brought about.


Just consider the role that pesticides have played in reducing the risk of mosquito-borne disease like malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, chikungunya, yellow fever, encephalitis, and Zika virus, to name but a few. It’s worth keeping in mind, for instance, that in 2018 alone there were 228 million cases of malaria worldwide, resulting in an estimated 405,000 deaths. That number would be much, much greater were it not for the existence of pesticides and their role in combating the mosquito.




Considering Homemade Bug Killers? Here’s What You Should Know

Few of us have the time, the energy, or the disposition, to conduct in-depth research into the substances we use around the house, e.g., disinfectants, cleansers, etc. But we don’t have to! A whole range of US government organizations- the EPA, the CDC, HHS, the FDA, and the NIH, among many others- do that for us.


Chances are that you have, at some point or another, found a pest somewhere in your home (or office) and you just want to get rid of it- fast. So, you decide you want to handle it on your own and, instinctively, you’d like to do it with familiar ingredients that you have around your house. No expensive, time-consuming pest management company, no chemicals you can’t pronounce, and certainly not one of those over-priced pesticides from one of the major manufacturers. Get hold of an old-fashioned remedy!


Many of the homemade or herbal pesticides that are available today ̶ many online, but also found on store shelves nationwide- pose a number of problems, such as:


  1. Most herbal bug killers lack accurate labeling to explain how to properly use them, how much you should actually use, where you ought to use them, and how often.

  2. The (usual) lack of a label often means that the bug spray in question probably doesn’t offer guidance about how, and why, you should wear gloves, goggles, or other kinds of protective clothing.

  3. If you use an herbal or homemade product, you won’t know what harm it could cause to people, pets, plants, bees, and other living things.

  4. Home remedy ingredients- such as dish soap- may seem okay because they are familiar, but can still contain additives that are harmful.

  5. Some home remedy recipes may ask you to extract or concentrate substances. Just be aware that working with extracts and concentrates could increase your exposure to toxic and dangerous substances.

  6. Homemade and all-natural bug killers are not approved by the EPA for use as insecticides.



Pest Identification: Know Your Enemy

If you’re still determined to try and take on the fight, you should first be sure you know what you’re dealing with. Check out our bug identification guide if you need some help. It’s actually easier than you think to misidentify some insects. Bees and wasps, for instance, are often mistaken for hover flies, which can be fatal for the former. Likewise, ladybugs are often confused with firebugs, while mantises are commonly misidentified as mantidflies. And mosquitoes are frequently mixed up with their friendlier, non-biting cousins, crane flies.

Once you know for sure which bug is bugging you, you are better equipped to try and combat it on your own.

Common Herbal and Homemade Insecticides

We’ve been in business a full 100 years, so we’ve done the research and have heard it all. The many professionals who use Sterifab to get rid of everything from bed bugs and dust mites to rats and mice can attest to having seen it all. We can’t cover every concoction here, but we’ve created a list of the most common DIY and herbal bug killers that people generally try, along with a few of the reasons they are usually ineffective.


  1. Coffee grounds- True, coffee grounds are fatal to ants, but rain will leech them into the ground and kill surrounding plants.

  2. Borax and sugar- This the ‘classic’ ant killer, but these wily bugs soon catch on and avoid the bait.

  3. Apple cider vinegar fruit fly trap- Not an entirely ineffective bug deterrent. Fill a bottle with apple cider and watch the bugs drown themselves.

  4. Bananas and tinfoil- An old remedy, but only rids your garden of aphids, nothing more.

  5. Chrysanthemum flower tea- A fairly efficient pest repellent because they contain pyrethrum, a natural insecticide.

  6. Dust Mite Oil- Mix clove, eucalyptus,lavender, peppermint or rosemary oil into a spray bottle of water, mist your bed lightly, and the mites will run away.

  7. Tomato leaf- Soaking tomato leaves in water leaches out an alkaloid called tomatine, which makes for an effective insecticide. But it’s quite poisonous.


Of course, there are lots of other homemade recipes out there, but we urge you to use caution before you start mixing and spraying. Keep in mind that many insects quickly learn to avoid these substances and will avoid them at all costs. Plus ̶ and this is very important ̶ children and pets can sometimes be harmed by seemingly harmless substances. Exercise great caution!



Why Sterifab® is the Smart Choice!

While we don't recommend making your own insecticides and disinfectants, that does not mean you need to hire an exterminator (pest control professional.) It also doesn't mean you need to spend a lot of money or use products that leave long-lasting chemicals in their wake.


If you do want to “Do-It-Yourself” in a way that's safe for you, your family and the pets, we recommend Sterifab!


In light of the importance we’ve placed on using pesticides that have been approved by the EPA, you’ll be pleased to hear that Sterifab is the only EPA-registered virucide, disinfectant and insecticide in one product. It’s a powerful and potent agent for killing everything from lice, ticks, dust mites and bed bugs to fleas, scabies, ants, cockroaches and many others.


​What’s more, Sterifab is an antimicrobial agent, and one of the only products labeled for use on mattresses and upholstered furniture. It dries in 15-20 minutes with no trace, so you don’t have to contend with unpleasant after-odors.


(And honestly, it’s what the pros will use if you hire them anyway.) Sterifab has been the ‘go-to’ pesticide for the pest management industry for over 50 years.


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