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How to Keep Pests Out of Your Pantry

A pantry in a home
VH-studio/Shutterstock.com

Spring brings sunshine and flowers, but it also brings pests and bugs into your home. When it comes to keeping pests out of your pantry, prevention is key. A little effort and attention can go a long way in avoiding the nightmare of finding bugs or mice in your stored food. Here are some tips and tricks for keeping your pantry pest-free.

Keep It Clean

A woman cleans her pantry
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The first and most important step in preventing pests in your pantry is to keep it clean. Crumbs, spills, and food residue can attract pests, so make sure to sweep and wipe down your pantry regularly.

You should also check for any signs of pests, including droppings or webs, and clean them up immediately. If you find any of these, remove any items that show signs of infestation, including the food item and its packaging.

Then, thoroughly clean your pantry using warm, soapy water and disinfectant. Pay special attention to the areas where you found pests, as well as any cracks, crevices, and corners where they can hide.

Amazon Basics Disinfecting Wipes

Great for disinfecting all surfaces.

Use the Right Storage Containers

Plastic storage containers
Joni Hanebutt/Shutterstock.com

The type of storage container you use can make a big difference in keeping pests out. Glass, plastic, or metal containers with tight-fitting lids are your best bet. Avoid cardboard boxes and paper bags, as pests can easily chew through them.

Airtight containers are the best option for keeping pests out of your pantry. These containers create a seal that prevents pests from getting in and helps keep food fresher for longer. Look for containers with locking lids or tight-fitting seals, and make sure to use them for all dry goods, including flour, sugar, and cereals.

PRAKI Airtight Food Storage Containers Set with Lids

These come in multiple sizes for all your pantry needs.

Glass jars are another good option for storing dry goods in your pantry. They are airtight, easy to clean, and economical.

16oz Glass Jars with Regular Lids

For using in the pantry and in other parts of your home.

Pay Attention to Expiration Dates

The expiration date on a can
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Checking expiration dates is an important part of maintaining a healthy and pest-free pantry. When food expires, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria and other microorganisms, which can attract pests such as flies, ants, and rodents.

In addition to checking the expiration dates on packaged goods, it’s also important to pay attention to the freshness of fruits, vegetables, and other perishable items. Overripe or spoiled produce can also attract pests and contribute to a buildup of moisture and mold in your pantry. Even if you keep your produce on the countertop or in the fridge, it can still attract pests to your kitchen and, eventually, your pantry.

Sharpie 6 Pack 30101 Fine Point Permanent Marker Black

Label expiration dates more clearly if they're hard to read on the packaging.

Rotate Your Stock

A woman organizes her pantry
VH-studio/Shutterstock.com

Rotating your stock is a simple but effective way to ensure that your pantry stays organized and free of pests. When you add new items to your pantry, you should place them behind the older items and use the older ones first.

This helps to ensure that your food stays fresh and that nothing goes to waste. It can also help you avoid needing to throw away expired or stale food, which can attract pests and create a mess in your pantry. It might sound like a lot of work, but it’s not too bad if you do it after each grocery trip.

DecoBros Supreme Stackable Can Rack Organizer

This makes it easy to move old cans to the front and new ones to the back.

Keep It Dry

A pantry in someone's home
Alhim/Shutterstock.com

Moisture can attract a variety of pests, including ants, cockroaches, and rodents, as it provides a breeding ground for bacteria and funky smells. To keep your pantry dry, it’s important to address any sources of moisture or water damage in your home.

Start by checking for leaks or water damage in your pantry or surrounding areas, such as the kitchen or bathroom. Even small leaks can create a moist environment that is attractive to pests, so it’s important to fix them as soon as possible.

You may also want to consider using a dehumidifier or moisture absorber in your pantry or other areas prone to dampness. These devices can help reduce the air’s moisture and create a more inhospitable environment for pests.

Use Natural Repellents

A jar of peppermint oil
AmyLv/Shutterstock.com

Most people don’t want to spray chemicals in their pantries unless they absolutely have to. Fortunately, there are many natural repellents that can keep bugs and mice out of your pantry in the first place.

Bay leaves, for example, are a great natural repellent for ants, since they contain compounds that are toxic to the insects. Place a few bay leaves in your pantry or in areas where you’ve seen ants, and replace them every few weeks to keep the scent fresh.

Cinnamon sticks are another natural repellent that can help keep ants at bay. You can place cinnamon sticks near your stored food or grind them up and sprinkle the powder around the edges of your pantry.

McCormick Cinnamon Sticks

Use these in cooking and simmer pots, too.

Peppermint oil is another great natural repellent for insects, particularly spiders and mice. Simply mix a few drops of peppermint oil with water and spray it around the edges of your pantry and other areas where pests are likely to enter. You can also try placing cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil near your stored food to repel insects.

NaturoBliss Peppermint Essential Oil

No more spiders in the pantry.

Seal All Cracks and Crevices

Worker applies silicone caulk on the wooden floor
John Kasawa/Shutterstock.com

Sealing all cracks and crevices in your pantry is an important step in keeping pests out. Even the smallest openings can provide easy access for insects, rodents, and other pests. To keep your pantry clean, it’s essential to take the time to carefully inspect your pantry and identify any areas where pests may be able to enter.

Start by checking around doors and windows, as these are common entry points for pests. Look for any gaps or openings and seal them with caulk or weatherstripping.

It’s also important to check the walls and ceiling of your pantry for any openings, since even small cracks or gaps can provide an entry point for pests. Use caulk or plaster to seal any openings, and make sure to regularly check for any new cracks or gaps that may appear over time.


Remember, prevention is key when it comes to keeping pests out of your pantry. By following these tips and tricks, you can ensure that your stored food is safe from bugs, mice, and other pests. With a little bit of effort and attention, you can have a pantry that’s both organized and pest-free.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio ยป
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